If you have never been to Joshua Tree National Park you may be wondering how people could possibly blunder when planning a trip. But the truth is, first-timers never get absolutely everything right. As a first timer myself, I wanted to share everything I knew that could be helpful for anyone who is planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park.
Mistakes to avoid when Planning a Trip to Joshua Tree
Not Packing Enough Water
There is no water in Joshua Tree. No flushing toilets, no sinks, nothing! It is important to pack enough water, not to just drink, but to also wash and do dishes with.
It is recommended to bring 1 gallon of water per person per day and to travel with at least 1/2 liter on you at all times. Considering you will want to wash your hands and some dishes if you are camping, you will want even more.
Not Planning Properly for the Weather
Deserts can get cold, really cold!
Not Planning your Hikes in Advance.
There is very little service in Joshua Tree. Just a few pockets here and there. If you want to download trail maps, or even research which trails to hike you will want to do that before you get to the park
Thinking Summer is a good time to Visit Joshua Tree
Summer in Joshua Tree National Park is HOT! The best and most popular months to visit Joshua Tree National Park are March-May and October/November
Not Packing Your Patience
Joshua Tree can be busy! Really busy in high season! Expect lines to get a park pass and busy parking lots.
There is no escaping the Wind
For those who are not familiar with spending time in the desert, or camping in the desert, there is no where to get away from the wind. If there is wind in your forecast (you should check) you will want good tent pegs (not the ones that come with a tent), bins to put your stuff in (it will fly off the table), a windbreaker and layers!
Touching that “Soft” Cactus
Cactus can bite! I swear! You will be minding your own business and whack! it brushes against your leg! OUCH!
Even those cute fuzzy Cholla Cactus. They might look soft, but they are not! They also drop their prickles everywhere so when you sit or pick up anything, you need to make sure you are not grabbing on by mistake!
Thinking it is an easy day-trip from LA
While you can visit just for the day, Joshua tree National Park is huge, and a decent distance from LA. You will be spending most of your day in the car.
Not filling up with Gas before you enter the Park
There are no gas stations inside Joshua Tree National park. When planning your trip, make sure you fill up in Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms or Yucca Valley before heading into the park. You can spend a few hours driving in the park and do not want to be cutting your trip short to have enough gas to get out of the park.
Not Leaving a Note
Always make sure someone knows where you are or where you plan to be.
Wearing Improper Footwear.
As mentioned above, those prickly cactus do jump out at you. While hiking boots are not really required, avoid walking around in flip-flops. You might just get a few cactus bites!
Thinking you can show up and Camp
Joshua Tree National Park is home to almost 500 campsites! While there are some FCFS (First Come First Served) campsites and some wild camping (permits required) most campgrounds can (and should be) reserved well in advance. All of the campsites that take reservations were sold out when we visited! You can make reservations up to six months in advance, and it is highly recommended if you are planning to camp on a holiday, a weekend, or anytime in the spring.
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.