The United States Congress designated the Joshua Tree Wilderness in 1976 and it now has a total of 594,502 acres. All of this wilderness is located in California and is managed by the National Park Service. The Joshua Tree Wilderness is bordered by the Sheephole Valley Wilderness to the north and the Pinto Mountains Wilderness to the north. The California Desert Protection Act of 1994 transformed Joshua Tree National Monument into a national park and expanded the old designated Wilderness by 133,382 acres. The additions thrust north into the Pinto Mountains, northeast into the Coxcomb Mountains, southeast into the Eagle Mountains, and southwest into the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Most of the park away from road corridors is wilderness, a fabulous meeting place of two desert ecosystems. The lower, drier Colorado Desert dominates the eastern half of the park, home to abundant creosote bushes, the spidery ocotillo, and the "jumping" cholla cactus. The slightly more cool and moist Mojave Desert covers the western half of the park, serving as a hospitable breeding ground for the undisciplined Joshua tree. You'll find examples of a third ecosystem within the park: five fan-palm oases, where surface or near-surface water gives life to the stately palms. By day, you might spy bighorn sheep on mountainous slopes, numerous lizards lazing in the heat, and eagles soaring in bright sunlight. Still, it's nighttime that truly brings the desert to life, with tarantulas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, kangaroo rats, and burrowing owls responding to the lure of the dry, cool air. You'll witness some of the most fascinating geologic displays to be found in any of Southern California's desertland: twisted rock formations and granite monoliths painted with faded colors into a giant and beautiful mosaic. These rocks are an immense attraction to rock climbers. You won't find a lot of trails, but you will find travel relatively easy in multitudes of arroyos and playas, bajadas, and narrow ravines that require scrambling over skin-scraping boulders. Carry water. Joshua Tree National Park is made up of 75 percent wilderness and lies 140 miles east of Los Angeles, 175 miles northeast of San Diego, and 215 miles southwest of Las Vegas. You can approach it from Interstate 10 and Hwy 62 (Twentynine Palms Highway). The closest airport is in Palm Springs. Public transportation to the park is not available. There are three park entrance stations: 1) The west entrance is located five miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Park Boulevard at Joshua Tree Village. 2) The north entrance is in Twentynine Palms, three miles south of the junction of Highway 62 and Utah Trail. 3) The south entrance at Cottonwood Spring, which lies 25 miles east of Indio, can be approached from the east or west, also via Interstate 10.
This is a really great hike. It had some of the best open scenery I'd ever seen. The last part of the hike before the turn around was thru sand which became a bit of a workout. There was a basin with some water, non drinkable, but full of toads who were mating. ot was really awesome site
Out of 20 of the National Parks I've been to, this is in my top 3. The hikes here were so quiet, and beautiful. I opted to stay at a less occupied campground which was a great decision. The sky at night was unbelievable. Id never seen so many stars in my whole life.
We did this trail starting in 29 palms and then drove south instead of how the trail suggests. There is mostly long stretches of smooth sand where you can travel very quickly. Once you get into the mountains, it becomes a bit more tricky but still quite doable. There is only one true moderate portion and that would be near the beginning (if you are driving north), once you are beyond that most of it is a cake walk. There are several mines (that we missed) before you exit the park that I would suggest going to. Plenty of scenic views as well. You do need a 4x4 and relatively high clearance for this trail. There appears to be remnants of flash flooding and river beds that you drive through so keep in mind if you go during the rain season. This was completed in a Dodge powerwagon.
The trail to the mill is a mix of desert trail and walking in washes. This means quite a lot of trudging through heavy sand. This, and a general lack of shade makes what would otherwise be an easy walk a bit more strenuous. The mill is a pretty cool destination, but the "trail" is a bit of a letdown.
Very nice trail, but longer than indicated. At the trail head it said 3mi (appr. 4.5km) to the oasis but this app recorded 6.5km and we didn't even finish the loop at the end, so back and forth this was 13km or even more if you complete the loop around the oasis. Be prepared for the heat and start in the morning, there is no shade at all and bring enough water and snacks.
Wish I could've spent more time here!! A mere few hours was not enough time to see all that Joshua Tree has to offer. It has a lot of unique, desert views unlike anything that I've seen before. Bring lots of water and dress for the heat!
So beautiful and a wonderful desert hike! Just make sure to bring more than lots of water because you will dehydrate super fast in the heat, regardless of hiking or not. Also, if you bring your dog, be careful and know that they are only allowed on certain trails.