The stark desert wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park in California is scenic year-round. True to its name, the park is packed with plenty of whimsical Joshua trees. Depending on your interests, favorite weather, and lifestyle, the most advantageous time to visit Joshua Tree varies by the time of year. After booking your Joshua Tree vacation rental, create your itinerary with these seasonal tips and activity ideas.
Visiting Joshua Tree in the Summer
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the darkest places in California, making it ideal for stargazing, and summer offers warm desert nights perfect for taking in the beauty of the heavens. Lay back and enjoy the glorious milky way, or bring along a telescope to get and up close and personal look at planets. Choose a night when the moon is new for the best views, and have layers ready to put on as the dry desert air cools quickly after the sun sets. A mid-August vacation adds the Perseid Meteor Shower to your night-time show. Vacation rentals with a clear outdoor view give you the opportunity to stargaze with the comforts of home nearby. The downside of a summer vacation is hotter daytime temperatures, making this a less than ideal time if you want to participate in more strenuous outdoor activities. To beat the heat, be sure to always carry plenty of water with you, and plan outdoor activities for the early morning or evening hours. Joshua Tree National Park offers four visitor’s centers throughout the park for you to get a break from the heat, refresh your water supplies, and learn more about the desert ecosystem.
Visiting Joshua Tree in the Fall
The heat of the summer starts to break in October, making this a great time to explore Joshua Tree. Plan a getaway in October or November for more comfortable outdoor adventuring than in the summer or winter, and fewer crowds than in the popular spring vacation season. If you’re visiting the park with kids in tow, be sure to pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at one of the park’s visitor’s centers for some cool activities your kids can do to earn their Junior Ranger’s badge. The one-mile Hidden Valley hike gives your family a great overview of the beauty of the area without being too long for younger hikers. Introduce your family to the global music scene with an October Joshua Tree vacation during the Joshua Tree Music Festival. This family-friendly event includes art displays, yoga and healing workshops, and four days of powerful global music acts. The popular Bhakti Fest also takes place in the fall, with sacred music and dance, meditation, and great vegetarian cuisine. Head to The Bhakti Family Village for children’s activities to get the whole family relaxed and refreshed.
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Visiting Joshua Tree in the Winter
If you are a rock climber, head to Joshua Tree in the winter for great climbing without the heavy ice of more northern climbing areas. If you’re a novice, sign up for a basic course with Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School to get you started. If you’re a more advanced climber, consider hiring a guide from the school to help you quickly find the best climbing spots and offer climbing tips during your excursion. Winter in Joshua Tree also offers hikers kind temperatures, especially during the midday period with temperatures running between the low 60s and mid-70s. When considering what to pack, keep in mind that the desert does get chilly in the winter so bring along plenty of layers to be prepared for the large temperature variations that occur daily. If you want to learn more about all the wonders you see at the park, wintertime is the perfect time to sign up for the 10-mile geology tour offered by Joshua Tree Adventures.
Visiting Joshua Tree in the Spring
Spring brings the best daytime and nighttime temperatures to Joshua Tree plus the breathtaking beauty of the desert in bloom, but it also brings the largest crowds. Expect some of the most popular trails to be quite busy during the spring season. The crowds are the largest on weekends so try to schedule your trip for midweek if you want a little more quiet. If you hope to get a peek at those stunning wildflowers, aim for a March, April, or May vacation. The exact dates of the flower display are hard to predict. If the winter is dry, sometimes the flowers do not bloom at all, but don’t worry. If you miss the display, there is still plenty of beauty to enjoy in Joshua Tree. Check the National Park Service website’s flower forecast to get up-to-date news on the likelihood of observing different types of desert flowers, such as mariposa lily and canterbury bells, in each part of the park.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Joshua Tree?
If you hope to get a glimpse of the desert in bloom, March and April are the best months to visit Joshua Tree. Expect comfortable temperatures for hiking and rock climbing, and early morning and evening hours are the least crowded times for viewing popular attractions, such as Keys View, Skull Rock, and the Cholla Cactus Garden. If you’re willing to forgo the spring display, October and November offer comfortable temperatures with slightly less crowded conditions. As in the spring, hiking outside of the peak hours that occur between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is ideal. Morning and evening hours are also cooler for your comfort.
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