California Deserts Visitor Information

Joshua Tree National Park

This national park is famous for its uniquely shaped cactus and the wildflowers that bloom in spring.

Two deserts, two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree. Joshua tree forests occur in the western half of the park. The western part of the park is also includes some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California’s deserts. In addition, five fan palm oases dot the park, indicating those few areas where water occurs naturally and where wildlife abounds.

Vehicles, including bicycles are prohibited off established roads. The desert ecosystem is fragile. Off-road driving and riding creates ruts, upsetting delicate drainage patterns, compacting the soil, and leaving visual scars for years. Plants are crushed and uprooted. Wildlife homes and shelters destroyed, and their food and water supplies are altered and obliterated.

While pets are allowed in the park, their activities are quite restricted. They must be kept on a leash at all times, they must never be left unattended – not even in a vehicle, and are prohibited on trails.

Water is available at the Oasis of Mara in Twentynine Palms, at Black Rock and Cottonwood Campgrounds, at West Entrance, and at Indian Cove Ranger Station. Water sources within the park are not potable and are reserved for wildlife.

Ranger-led programs are offered on the weekends from mid-October through mid-December and from mid-February through May. Check at visitor centers, at entrance stations, and on bulletin boards for the current schedule.

The park’s main visitor center is located at the Oasis of Mara in Twentynine Palms. It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Joshua Tree Visitor Center is open 8 am to 5 pm, 7 days and is located in the village of Joshua Tree at 6554 Park Blvd. Turn south onto Park Blvd from Hwy 62. The Cottonwood visitor center at the south entrance (off I-10) is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Black Rock Canyon Campground visitor center off Joshua Lane in Yucca Valley is open September through June, Thursday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; times may vary.

7-Day Vehicle Permit: $15

Admits the passengers of a single, non-commercial vehicle. Valid for the day of purchase and the next six days.

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Top Attractions in the Deserts Area

Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, Death Valley Junction
Boomers, Palm Springs
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, Desert Hot Springs
Death Valley National Park
Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
Joshua Tree National Park
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Palm Desert
Mitchell Caverns
Palm Springs Aerial Tram
Wet ‘n’ Wild Palm Springs

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