I recently returned from a weekend up at Joshua Tree National Park. I initially went searching for beautiful landscapes and fun hikes. I not only got that, but also discovered off-roading trails for my Jeep and bouldering on rock faces. It made me feel like a little kid again.
Joshua Tree is a great local escape for people who live in the SoCal area. We were able to go on a last minute trip during the high season (October to May) with some careful planning.
We knew we wouldn’t be able to leave earlier than noon on Friday so we booked our first night through recreation.gov. We would have booked both nights online, but the 4 campsites in Joshua Tree that allow online reservations were completely full for Saturday. We booked Friday at Black Rock Campground at $20 a night. This campsite was on the north end of the park outside of the normal entrance. It had running water and bathrooms. There was also a 4.4 mile West Loop trail right next to our campsite. Since we arrived at sunset we walked that trail for a few minutes before turning back to the campsite.
Black Rock Campground had a fire pit and table at each campsite. We could have bought hot dogs and burgers at the local Walmart, but we had some left over food from our Zion trip that we decided to cook on our MSR Whisperlite Stove. This stove is mainly used for backcountry camping, but was still useful in this vicinity.
The next day we went into the actual park and went off roading and bouldering. Before we started the fun activities we went to find a campsite to use. We left Black Rock around 830 am and went to the Jumbo Rock Campground. We figured that would be our best bet with over 100 camp grounds. There is no running water in this part of the park so make sure to bring plenty. There is some water at the entrance visitor center if you are desperate for water.
We found a campsite in the very back and put our first come, first serve pass on it. These are the yellow tags that you can get when entering these campsites. The night cost $15.
From there we moved over to Geology Trail Road for an off roading adventure that all go into more details about later. The rest of our activities we found my looking at articles on pinterest and the newspaper that we got from the visitors center. There was more than enough to see and do in weekend, and I’ll definitely go back to hike more trails at a future date.
The two nights of camping only cost us $35 which is less than what a dinner out would cost. At this point we have a nice selection of camping gear because of our Zion Christmas trip, but if you owned no camping gear it could be expensive.
If you have ever been to Joshua Tree, what were your favorite parts?