The Best Place to Camp in Joshua Tree National Park
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Joshua Tree National Park is a place like no other.
Although it’s smaller than many of the better-known parks, it’s truly outstanding when it comes to breath-taking scenery and opportunities for adventure. If you want to get away from the madness of LA and really get back into nature, this is where you need to come.
Boasting awe-inspiring rugged mountains, breathtaking rock formations, desert plains, Joshua trees, flowering cacti, epic sunrises and sunsets, and one of the best views of the stars for miles around (including views of the Milky Way), you’ll feel like you’ve just landed on a whole new planet when you come on a camping or hiking trip here.
As it’s located right in the place where the high Mojave Desert meets the low Colorado Desert, there’s a huge variety of scenery here which is almost guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
However, a trip here should be undertaken without plenty of preparation. As we’re talking about a desert landscape, make sure you bring plenty of water and pack those layers as temperatures can fluctuate widely. Also, bear in mind that there’s not much shade in the desert so bring plenty of eco-friendly sunscreen with you.
With that said, we’ve gathered together our favorite campground in Joshua Tree National Park including one larger campground to several smaller and more intimate places that we love.
1. Hidden Valley Campground
Close to some of the best hikes and climbs in all of Joshua Tree National Park and surrounded by awe-inspired boulders, Hidden Valley campground is one of the most popular in the park.
With just 44 sites and only available on a first-come-first-served basis, this place gets really busy during the high season so it’s well worth arriving here early if you want to grab a spot.
Bear in mind that facilities are basic here and include vault toilets but no showers or running water so come prepared to get back to basics.
2. White Tank Campground
If you’re looking to escape from it all and get back into nature, White Tank Campground could be the place for you.
At the northern end of the park and surrounded by granite boulders, it’s a cozy place with just 15 sites. It’s also perfectly placed for those most spectacular trails, some excellent rock-climbing adventures and a spot of late-night stargazing.
Like Hidden Valley, it’s only available on a first-come-first-served basis and facilities are just a vault toilet (no showers) so get here early to avoid disappointment and make sure you bring plenty of water.
3. Jumbo Rocks Campground
Jumbo Rocks Campground is the biggest of all the campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park.
Boasting 124 camping sites in a range of sizes that can suit everything from a 35-foot RV to a single tent, it’s a great campground for families, groups and those who love to hike and climb. As it’s a popular place, you’ll need to book for stays during the busy season which runs from August until June.
Centrally located and with an amazing backdrop of rocks, this is the place to come for that perfect photo opportunity or to escape the chaos of the modern world and make new friends.
As with the other campgrounds on this list, there are only vault toilets, there aren’t any showers and you’ll need to bring plenty of water with you as none is available nearby.
4. Ryan Campground
Located at the west end of the park, Ryan Campground often gets ignored by campers in favor of the better-known places.
But if you’re a big fan of bouldering, hiking or horse-riding, consider a stay here at this smaller campground. It’s also close to the Ryan Ranch Trail which is well worth a visit if you’re a fan of history.
With just 31 (spacious) sites and only open from October to May, it’s a great place to escape from the crowds and explore the great outdoors on your terms.
It’s available on a first-come-first-served basis and features a minimum of facilities such as vault toilets but no showers to keep your experience authentic. Again, remember to come with plenty of water!
5. Belle Campground
Enjoy getting away from the crowds, experience the beauty of Joshua Tree National Park, and soak up the night sky and the stars by coming to stay at Belle Campground.
This place has just 18 sites which are available on a first-come-first-served basis, which offers just the right amount of space and privacy so you can enjoy your tranquil camping trip. Even though this place isn’t located right in the center, it’s still within reach of some of the best hiking and climbing spots so you can have the best of both worlds.
Again, there’s no running water, showers or cellphone reception here and facilities are only a vault toilet but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?
6. Indian Cove Campground
Even though this is one of the largest campgrounds in the area, the Indian Cove Campground feels surprisingly secluded and is a great place to enjoy the sunset. There are also plenty of fantastic hikes nearby and it’s great for bouldering, exploring and having fun.
Located just outside of the park gates, available to reserve online, and able to accommodate tents and RVs up to 35 feet, it’s a great place to stay with a family or a group.
Again, there are only vault toilets and no cell reception or running water, so come prepared!
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the national parks that you absolutely have to visit at least once in your lifetime. So, pick one of these campgrounds and head out there for an adventure!
Learn more about 13 Best National Parks for Camping and Hiking.