Joshua Tree National Park

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Joshua Tree over Xmas break?

Sept 2010

We are looking for a warm place to travel to over the holiday break. Airfare and lodging in Latin America/Hawaii looks prohibitive, so we thought maybe the desert? We are considering renting an RV and driving. Has anyone been to any of those places during the winter? What would be a good route? We were hoping to see some sites, natl. parks and then spend some time by a pool. Am I off my rocker.

Thanks for any suggestions! warmseeker

Not sure about other places that you mentioned, but Joshua Tree is definitely not a warm place in the winter, especially if a front is coming through! The high desert - anything above 3,000 feet can be very cold! Good luck! Rita

You will want to steer clear of Joshua Tree, CA if you are looking for truly warm weather during the Xmas break. The days are OK (60ish F) but the nights can get as low as the 20's. However, the low desert (Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Indio) usually has poolside weather weather during Xmas and you can access Joshua Tree National Park from the I10. There's also a great place, the Living Desert, complete with big horn sheep. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is also fun. Can't say I would know a good route as I usually take 5 on down so as to maximize the time spent in the desert. Good luck with your travels and have fun! anon

Places to stay near Joshua Tree

Oct 2006

We are going to be driving to Tucsan Arizona for Thanksgiving and looking for a midway place to stop and take a little site seeing and break at. I see that Joshua Tree seems right in the middle so we were thinking of stopping there? any recommendations on where to stay do with 2 kids (3 and 5) Scott

I had a good stay at the Harmony Hotel about 7 years ago. It is in Twentynine Palms near the park's north entrance. It has been gussied up since I was there but rates are still great.

We have stayed in Twenty-Nine Palms several times, spending our whole time visiting Joshua Tree national park, and the whole family has loved it. There is wildlife, incredible landscapes, clear air, shouldn't be too hot or cold right now. We have stayed in two different hotels, at differing price ranges. Roughly Manor (760-367-3238) is a bed and breakfast in an old stone manor and a few surrounding cottages. It is family run, and they serve a great breakfast in the morning. They have a web site, although I couldn't find it just now--I think it says 2 day minimum, but we have found them flexible about that. Best Western has a hotel right on the highway--a bit lower cost, they have 2 room suites that work well for families--just be sure to ask for a room toward the back, off the highway. The highway rooms were very noisy because of the traffic We Love the Desert

There is a charming place called ''The Inn at 29 Palms''. They have a website. It the only privately owned oasis in the country (I think). Family run by the same family since the 1920s. Bungalows of different sizes, many that will accomodate 2 children. Huge garden, nice restaurant/bar, swimming pool, hot tub, shady oasis with lush grass and ducks. There is not a spec of blacktop on the property. This is not swank and fancy, but comfortable, clean and friendly. A real oasis complete with a family of white owls that fly around at sundown. It is surrounded by Joshua Tree Park. I did the trip from Tucson to Oakland three times last year, I wouldn't dream of staying anywhere else. Must book far in advance during season. I'm happy to share more information if you'd like. Happy trails. Tracy

Camping in Joshua Tree over Easter Break

Jan 2003

We're thinking of going camping with our 6 and 8 yr olds in Joshua Tree after visiting folks in San Diego over Easter Break. Any thoughts on kid-friendly hikes and campsites? Also, we had contemplated Death Valley, but it seems like distances are pretty daunting. Does anyone have experience with both areas and have strong feelings re one vs. the other? By the way, we are experienced campers, just havn't been to these two areas. Thanks for any advice! sara

As a child, my family went camping a lot and spent time at both Death Valley and Joshua Tree. However, I have a special love of Joshua Tree, and I really encourage you to go to that magical place with your family. We most often camped at Jumbo Rocks and Hidden Valley. If I remember correctly, we also enjoyed hiking, if not camping, at Rattlesnake Canyon. Easter is a wonderful time to go, as you are more likely to see flowers blooming, but it can get cold in the high desert then: we sometimes had snow. I remember hours and hours of rapturous rock scrambling. However, you do have to watch kids carefully: at one Girl Scout campout, a girl wandered off a ledge and broke her ankle and had to be taken out by a rescue team. Joshua Tree is one of my favorite places in the world. The stars are bright, the wildlife surprising, and after several days of grubby camping, you can go (at least that what we did) to Palm Springs to clean up with a swim in the public pool and eat a good meal. Enjoy yourselves! Elizabeth

Your camping trip is going to magnificant no matter what you do. I camped for close to a week years ago (pre-child) at Joshua Tree and absolutely loved it. We were there during Easter time as well which was a bit busy but fine. We stayed at the Jumbo Rocks site which was very easy to get to and there were gorgeous walks in any direction. I loved all those rabbits that were all of the place when you walked around. You are right about Death Valley though. Not only is it a good distance from JT but it entailed a lot of driving to see the sites. I remember it was about an average of 45 minutes between places and our campground (near Mosaic canyon, a must ! if you go) was a big parking lot. I might opt instead to go to the Anza Borega State Park which is really close to San Diego. My friend from there was completely enthralled by the place and how easy it was to access from San Diego. Have fun and I wanna go too! Ilona

Like the previous respondents, I would choose Joshua Tree over Death Valley, both because of the drive to get there, and because of the distances once you are in the park. If you do go to Joshua Tree, be sure to get the extremely helpful book, ''On Foot in Joshua Tree'' by Patty Furbush. Be forewarned: my husband and I are fit and experienced hikers, and usually beat the time estimates in guidebooks by quite a bit. Using this wonderful book, however, we never did a hike faster than she estimated! Melissa T

You are wise to think about how much time you want to spend in the car in planning your post-San Diego camping trip! Distances ''down there'' are indeed vast -- especially with kids in the car. It's a great time of year to visit the desert, but if you don't want to chew up your vacation time with a LOT of driving, you should consider Anza-Borrego State Park. (Click here for the rest of this review).