I’m beginning this post with a confession….I’m not a desert person. Don’t get me wrong, I love nature and have been camping since I was 6 months old. The desert however, has never been my cup of tea. I have never seen anything remotely beautiful or exhilarating about the place…until I went to Joshua Tree.
It was Memorial Day weekend, my new husband and I had our sights on camping somewhere we have never been before. Neither one of us were keen on camping in the desert but with so many people raving about the place, we had to check it out.
We get all our camping gear together, bought and loaded our firewood for the cold nights, and set out on a 2.5 hour car drive into the desert in hopes of finding a cool spot to set up camp next to a…cactus?
Some things you should know when going to Joshua Tree:
Get there EARLY. I mean like Thursday or maybe even Wednesday if you’re going in season. There are 9 different campgrounds available, around 500 spots. When we got there, ALL of them were taken…except for the one handicap space (who puts handicap spaces in campgrounds anyway? That was the first time I have ever seen one!)
Bring your hiking shoes. There are so many things to see here and a lot of different historical routes to hike into and around. There is even petroglyphs to look at!
Rock climbing. Come to find out the rock formations here have become a hot spot for rock climbers drawing professionals from around the country to climb these majestic boulders of granite.
Bring Water. There are only 3 campsites that have water available, leaving the other 6 sites to your own discretion. The park rangers advise you bring at least 2 gallons of water. If you are going during the hot summer months I would bring more.
Nearby town. There is a small nearby town in case you forgot something. There is also a gas station before heading into the park so if you are at half a tank before heading in, I would fill up just in case.
Beauty. This place made me feel bad for not liking deserts. It is actually gorgeous. The camp sites are nuzzled up against the granite and the interesting Joshua Trees make the desert feel more like a forest.
The camp sites. In each camp site you have your standard bench, a fire pit, a BBQ pit, and places to either set up a tent and/or park your RV. Though some spaces only have a spot for one car. There are also bathrooms randomly places at every site.
Fees. There is a $15 a night fee to stay in the sites with no available water and $20 a night for the sites with water. Bring cash or check as they don’t take card.
Pets allowed. You may bring your pet as long as it stays on a leash and by you at all times.
Peace + quiet. The desert is large and the surrounding rocks allow for privacy and stop a lot of noise from coming back and forth. while we were there we were able to climb and rest in the shade of a giant granite boulder with no sound but the wind and our breathing to interrupt our thoughts.
If you are looking for a quiet getaway in nature, this place is definitely a good place for it. It is beautiful in a unique way, quiet, and allows you to connect with nature in a hands on manner with climbs small and big, hikes through wilderness, and watching the sky turn colors during the sunrise and sunset.
ps: in case you were wondering, we ended up taking the handicap spot. There was literally not another spot left and we weren’t about to waste a trip. We never got caught but I wouldn’t recommend it except for desperate circumstances. Hey, don’t judge me. The spot had nothing different or special about it, it was probably marked as handicap because the state made them. We would have shared if a handicap person actually came. Find a way to win right?
Have you ever been to Joshua Tree? What was your experience there? What was your favorite part? Let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you!