Joshua Tree National Park + Camping + Travel Tips

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It was another spontaneous, fun-filled, grab-and-go weekend trip that I had with my travel buddies Kristine and Tony. We wanted to do a road trip that won’t require a lot of planning and can fit in a short weekend getaway. And so, what can be more perfect than a 2 to 3-hr drive from LA and an overnight camping trip? 

(drum roll…)
Target Acquired!!! JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK 
(Ba dum tss!!!)


Another bonus is that, lately I’ve decided to make it my lifetime goal to visit all the National Parks (at least) in the US. That makes this trip even more worth it. So far, Joshua Tree is my 3rd.

We barely knew anything about Joshua Tree before we went, but I looked for pictures online and I’m SOLD. A totally different kind of paradise in a not-so-faraway land (at least not from LA :P). 



Joshua Tree is a perfect destination for hikers and rock climbers because of its humongous display of different rock formations. It has more than 4,500 routes for beginners and experts alike. There are Rock Climbing schools too where you can enroll and be guided. (I prolly would try that one time if I gotz the nerve :P)

It’s a popular choice for campers too because of its campgrounds. The thought of camping + bonfire + s’mores in a desert was just far beyond awesome. Back to basic. No data signal, no social media, no water (errr), no electricity; only nature and paradise. Just wow!

Fun Fact: Joshua Tree National Park is named after Yucca brevifolia which is a plant species belonging to the genus Yucca. It is tree-like in habit, which is reflected in its common names: Joshua tree, yucca palm, tree yucca, and palm tree yucca. There you go, thanks Wikipedia! :D 

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Even if you just want to have a break and relax and be away from the busy life in the city, Joshua Tree is something that you would want to consider going to. You will fall in love with the beauty of the desert. Its rocky slopes, Joshua trees and cacti, ruins of the ghost towns not to mention sunsets and stargazing all together beckon adventure-seekers and travel-goers to visit and experience the place.

OUR TRIP 

We hit the road Saturday morning at roughly almost 7. The weather was nice and sunny. The drive was good and there wasn’t much traffic so we arrived early, around a little passed 9. 

We didn’t really knew that much, but we knew that 1) we want to camp; so 2) we need a campsite; and 3) we want to hike, so 4) we need to search for trails. 

There are at least 8 campgrounds in Joshua Tree and only 2 of them offers prior reservations online. It’s Spring break, needless to say that we weren’t able to secure an online reservation of either of those campgrounds. So, everything’s just gotta happen when we get there. Bahala na :P

We drove to each of the remaining 6 campgrounds. The plan was to look for a camp site, set up everything we need before we really go for the hike. It wasn’t an easy find. Everything was occupied. We drove around for more than 2 freaking hours, going back and forth. Just when we were about to give up and just opt for a private campground outside Joshua Tree, we finally found a spot, I asked the previous occupants and sure they were getting ready to leave. I was smiling from ear to ear! :)
Our campground! Lucky :)

Putting up our very huuuuuge tent!

Important Tips: 
There’s a lot of helpful tips in the internet, these are just few based on our experience :)
  1. Secure a campsite by asking. If you are planning to go to Joshua Tree without prior reservation, if you aren’t very lucky, most likely everything’s gonna be full. But don’t give up. You can do either one of these: (a) Observe people, whether they’ve just arrived or already leaving the place. Check out time is at 12, so people are packing up their things earlier. Ask so you’ll know, (although, most of them were saying “No, we’re not leaving yet sorry”) and if they say “Yes’, then you can just wait. This was how we secured a place. We got a million No’s and finally a Yes. (b) Ask people if you can share campsite. If you find a campsite that’s big enough, you can ask if you can share with them, then you can even win friends. The reason why i tell you this is because an individual campsite can have a maximum of six people, three tents, and two licensed vehicles provided that there’s enough space. So sharing is definitely possible. See more on the Camping Regulations here.
  2. Be sure to pack light and only the essentials.
  3. Download road maps to your mobile devices. Be sure to download all the possible trail maps and campground maps on your phone or tablets prior to the trip. There’s no data or phone signal inside Joshua; so for sure you’ll find it handy for navigation.
  4. Opt to buy for annual pass. If you are planning to visit any other national parks or planning to go back to Joshua tree, it’s better and more budget-friendly to get the annual pass per commercial vehicle which is only around $80. Compared to $25 for one visit.
After we put up the tent and unloaded our things to the campsite, we were ready to roll to the rocks! LOL (get it get it???)
Feeling like a Pro haha, but honestly, it's the shoes! :D


TIme to go crazy-er haha

Not-so-new-but-I-still-want-to-emphasize Tips:
  1. Invest in good, trusty pair of hiking shoes. Whether or not you’re a newbie in hiking/climbing, you might want to invest in a good hiking shoes, especially one that’s slip-resistant. I’m a newbie myself and I found that having good shoes makes a very big difference. It makes it easier (not that it’s easy :P) for you to climb rocks, steep slopes and other different types of trails and terrains.
  2. Choose comfort AND fashion. (It really should be comfort over fashion but who doesn’t want to feel good and look good at the same time? :P) Wear the right clothes. When you know you’ll be doing hikes and rock climbing, you wanna make sure you can move. So opt for dri-fit fabric (for all the sweats and hard work LOL) and stretchable type of clothing that wouldn’t restrict your movements. Play around with colors and styles as well. What works for you works for you :P
  3. Check the temp. Joshua Tree is a desert, where it can be very hot during the day time and really cold at night time. and even when you go on non-winter season, be sure to know the temperature and be ready to pack light clothes with thinner fabric for when it’s really scorching hot and layers and jackets for when it gets colder at night.
Cholla Cactus Garden

Barker Dam :)

Soul Sisters <3
with my favorite  :)
It was already dark when we got back to the campsite. The thing about camping is that you will take care of everything. We built fire, prepared and grilled our food, made s’more for desert. It’s lot of work but we don’t mind. Not at all :)
Keys View sunset :)
The best part??? Stargazing! OMG! I was amazed of how many stars you can see from there. BEAUTIFUL! 
We weren’t able to capture a long exposure night sky shot, but just to give you an idea, here’s a photo from the net. Enjoy! :)
Photo via Good Free Photos
Here we are the next morning haha where are you tony??? Those swollen faces though XD
And that concludes this weekend trip, we went home the next day, surely tired but happy with another travel experience. :)
'Til next time :) See you again

[Photo and Video credit: Kristine Doctor]

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