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Best Hikes in Joshua Tree National Parks, Including Hidden Valley

Although rock climbers are familiar with Joshua Tree National Park, many people are unaware that it is also one of the best winters hiking destinations.

In the summer, Joshua tree, which straddles two deserts, is blistering hot. Temperatures drop from fall through spring, making it the optimum season to stroll through the park’s trees, stones, and wildlife.

The greatest treks in Joshua Tree National Area are highlighted in this piece, as well as the best time to visit, where to stay, and how to travel about this beautiful park that should be on everyone’s USA bucket list.

Joshua Tree National Park hiking

Joshua Tree National Park is located in California’s southeast region, just a few hours from major cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The distinctive Joshua Trees are its claim to fame.

Visitors to Joshua Tree can discover the unique geology and fauna up close on nearly 30 hiking paths. Joshua Tree includes trails for all levels of hikers, from simple nature, walks to hard desert excursions.

Top 10 Joshua Tree Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

Cap Rock

The Cap Rock Trail winds through a cluster of Joshua Trees and twisting boulder fields. The stones that flank the trail are suitable for scrambling, making this a great trip for adventurous kids.

This is also an excellent area to get up close and personal with Joshua Tree’s plant life and wildflowers. The Botanical Walk Guide at Joshua Tree can help nature lovers identify flowers and plants along the trail.

Barker Dam

Early settlers and cattle ranchers previously called Joshua Tree home. The loop to Barker Dam provides some historical context.

Early cattle ranchers constructed Bark Dam as a water storage tank for their animals. In today’s desert, it’s a rare supply of water. On your hike, you might even see a bighorn sheep!

The 1-mile circle out to the dam is ideal for sunrise or sunset, when the sky and surrounding rocks are reflected in the quiet river.

Hidden Valley

Previously, Hidden Valley was inaccessible. The valley was totally encircled by massive rock mounds. Cattle herders discovered this previously unknown valley after removing the rocks.

The short circular walk takes you through the park’s plant and animal life, passing past boulder formations and Joshua Tree groves.

This is a fantastic trek for families with children who wish to boulder climb. A post-hike lunch can be enjoyed at the neighbouring picnic spot.

Cholla Cactus Garden

Although Joshua Tree is known for its trees, Cholla Cactus’s can be found in the park’s southern section. The small, fluffy cactus are clumped together and stretch for miles down Park Boulevard.

This short nature walk through the cactus garden takes you on dirt trails and boardwalks. However, avoid getting too close to the cactus’s because they are quite spiky and thorny!

This hike is best done around sunrise, when the orange glow of the Cholla cactus catches the warm morning light.

Skull Rock

Skull Rock, one of the park’s unusual rock formations, resembles a human skull. Water pools eroded the limestone over time, hollowing out what appear to be eyes.

It may be seen from Park Boulevard, but it can also be reached by a short trail from Jumbo Rocks Campground.

One of the most popular campgrounds in the park is Jumbo Rocks. You may reach Skull Rock directly from your campground by a short, meandering walk through the boulder fields.

Keys View

Keys View is a short, paved hike that should be at the top of your Joshua Tree bucket list. The trip to Keys View will take you to one of the park’s highest locations.

The entire Coachella Valley and adjacent mountain ranges may be seen from this vantage point. You might even be able to see into Mexico on a clear day!

The parking area fills up quickly because it is one of the best sites in the park to see the sunset. Arrive around an hour before sunset if you want to see the sunset from Keys View.

Ryan Mountain

Ryan Mountain is one of Joshua Tree National Park’s only peaks. Ryan Mountain is one of the most popular paths in the park because it offers such spectacular vistas.

The ascent to the summit of Ryan Mountain is short but difficult. You ascend right up the mountain’s slope, climbing almost 1,000 feet in less than 1.5 miles.

You can see the surrounding valleys and mountains from the summit, making it an ideal sunset climb.

Lost Horse Mine

Joshua Tree was not only home to cattle ranchers, but it was also a gold mining hot spot. In the early 1900s, Lost Hose produced almost $5 million in gold and silver.

The trail to Lost Horse Mine follows the road that was once used to transport supplies to the Lost Horse miners.

The National Park Service has done an excellent job of preserving Lost Horse Mine. The ancient mine shaft and superstructure can still be seen today.

Stay away from the gated areas surrounding the mining shaft and historical structures, as they can be unstable and dangerous.

Forty-nine Palms Oasis Trail

An oasis is a rare respite from the scorching heat of the desert. In the middle of the desert, the Forty-nine Palms Oasis provides much-needed cover and water.

This route attracts fewer tourists because it is one of the few that does not begin on Park Boulevard. This hike’s remoteness makes it an ideal spot for a picnic when you’re looking to get away from the desert.

Before descending into a palm tree oasis, you’ll follow a cactus-filled ridge line. This trail isn’t particularly lengthy, but it is extremely hot, so carry plenty of water.

Boy Scout Trail

The Boy Scout Trail passes across a variety of landscapes. You’ll walk past Joshua tree groves, the Wonderland of Rocks, and desert washes on this journey.

This is the finest hike to get away from the tourists and into the solitude of Joshua Tree.

A one-way trail is the easiest method to complete this hike. The trail begins at the south end and ends at Indian Cove.

You’ll need to park one car at each trailhead to return to your starting location because the park doesn’t provide a shuttle.

Final Thoughts

Joshua Tree National Park is a great place to go hiking in the off-season. If you only have one day in Joshua Tree National Park, Hike Keys View, Ryan Mountain, and Cholla Cactus Garden.

Joshua Tree is a wonderful complement to a California road trip or a road trip to other Southwest national parks if you’re searching for extra excitement.