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NPS Passport: Joshua Tree National Park

NPS Passport: Joshua Tree National Park

The United States has 63 national parks, which are congressionally designated protected areas operated by the National Park Service. National parks are renowned for their natural beauty, unique geological features, diverse ecosystems, and recreational opportunities. Equity Estates residences enjoy close proximity to over a dozen national parks.


Nestled within three distinct ecosystems—the Mojave Desert system stretching across the northern part of the park, the Colorado Desert system in the south and east, and the small, high-elevation Little San Bernardino Mountain system to the far west—Joshua Tree National Park is a one-of-a-kind haven for nature lovers, spiritual seekers, and outdoor adventurers alike.

With its otherworldly landscape of twisted Joshua trees, wildflowers, and native cacti set against towering boulders and vast expanses of dry, open scrubland, this unique 800,000-acre California park offers visitors a chance to explore and experience the raw desert terrain up close.

Joshua Tree is on Travel + Leisure’s list of 15 Best U.S. National Parks You Should Visit. It’s been featured in movies and documentaries; has inspired musicians, authors, artists, and photographers for decades; and plays host to over 2.5 million guests each year who come to hike, bike, camp, climb, meditate, or stargaze in the heart of the high desert.

Less than an hour’s drive from our Equity Estates residence in Palm Springs and a scenic three-hour drive from the San Diego home, it’s a uniquely interesting place to spend a vacation day.

There are three entrances to Joshua Tree: West, North, and South. West is the park’s main entrance and is the closest to both the Palm Springs and San Diego properties. There, about six miles before you enter the park, you’ll find the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center, where you can pick up maps, check out exhibits on the history of the park, book a guided hike with one of the park’s rangers, and shop for souvenirs in the gift shop.

Once inside the park, consider driving along the 34.6-mile Park Boulevard loop connecting the West Entrance to the North Entrance. This rugged two-lane road winds through some of the most stunning scenery in Joshua Tree, and offers access to numerous hiking trails, photo-worthy vistas, and popular rock-climbing spots. Some of the highlights of the drive include Scull Rock, Hidden Valley, and groves of Joshua trees, making it an excellent way to see many of the park’s main attractions.

Stop for lunch at one of the designated picnic areas, take an easy hike along ranch roads and rock-enclosed valleys, or make a short detour to explore the historic Barker Dam site and trail.

Just remember to come prepared with water, snacks, sunscreen, maps, flashlight, emergency whistle, and a first aid kit, especially if you decide to get out and see the sights on foot.

What the park is best known for:

The park is best known for its namesake Joshua trees. Native to the Mojave Desert, these trees (actually part of the Yucca family) only grow in a very slim stretch of land in the southwestern United States and help define the park’s iconic landscape. It’s also famous for its diverse desert wildlife, amazing rock formations, and stunning dark-night skies (perfect for stargazing).

Top three things to do in the park:


With over 100 miles of trails winding through the sprawling terrain, hiking is a must-do activity in Joshua Tree. From short and easy nature walks to strenuous backcountry hikes, there are trails here for every level of hiker.

The 1.7-mile Skull Rock Trail, near the Jumbo Rocks Campground; the short Discovery Trail loop through boulder piles and desert washes; and the well-marked Arch Rock Trail to Heart Rock are all popular and relatively easy trails to access if you’re new to desert hiking.


Designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2017, Joshua Tree is one of the best places in the country for stargazing—a surprising fact since so many major cities are just a short drive away. But with clear, open skies and a lack of light pollution within the park, it’s an ideal spot to sit back and enjoy breathtaking overhead views of stars, planets, and even the Milky Way when conditions are right.

Inside the park, you can to stop and gaze upon the night sky from almost any location, though some of the best and darkest roadside pullout spots are along Pinto Basin Road between Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood.

Be sure to check out the stargazing tips on the NPS website to make the most of your nighttime adventure or consider signing up for one of the ranger-led Night Sky Programs.

Rock Climbing

Due to its unique rock formations and stunning scenery, Joshua Tree is a fantastic destination for rock climbing, featuring over 8,000 climbing routes and hundreds of natural rock gaps throughout the park. The terrain ranges from beginner-friendly to expert, so whether you’re a seasoned climber or an active vacationer looking to try something new, you’re sure to find an experience to match your interest and skill level.

Books and trail maps are available at the park’s visitor centers, and guided climbing tours and classes are also offered—and recommended—if you’re new to the sport or want to improve your desert climbing skills.

About the Equity Estates home:

Palm Springs

With its gated courtyard surrounded by high walls and hedges, this stunning 4BR, 6BA resort-style home is the ideal spot to enjoy the beautiful California weather and views of the surrounding mountains. The newly remodeled residence is a true desert retreat in a prestigious neighborhood with a distinct Modernism architectural style.

It features an open indoor/outdoor living concept, chef-grade kitchen, private pool with spa, rooftop deck, and a patio with endless views for dining and entertaining—all just a short 45-minute drive from Joshua Tree National Park.

San Diego

Take California living to a whole new level in this beautiful 5BR, 5.5BA beachfront vacation home. Steps away from Mission Beach, a short drive to La Jolla, and a scenic three-hour day-trip drive to Joshua Tree National Park, the residence features a spacious, light-filled indoor/outdoor living space, floor-to-ceiling windows, chef-grade kitchen, and an expansive deck space with relaxing ocean views.

With incredible weather year-round and easy access to some of the area’s top attractions, including the famed San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Legoland, Disneyland, and more, it’s the perfect location for your next family vacation.