Visiting Joshua Tree National Park in the Winter
By Kimberly Merryman
With average summer highs of 99 degrees fahrenheit, Joshua Tree is just too hot to enjoy for much of the year. However, a great time to take an Escape Campervan to Joshua Tree National Park is in the winter. In January, February, and much of March, Joshua Tree will treat you to mild temperatures and relative quiet. Book your Escape campervan from the Las Vegas or Los Angeles depots and see this strange beauty before the mercury rises and the Coachella and spring break crowds arrive.
Joshua Tree is not only a national park where the Mojave and Colorado deserts converge, but also the name of the funky little town outside the park. Give yourself two or three days in the area to explore the park as well as the shops and curiosities along the main drag on Twentynine Palms Highway.
Places to Sleep at Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park has several campgrounds; they’re all beautiful and feature the namesake yucca. Some are first-come, first-served, but there are quite a few that take reservations. They do fill up on the weekends, so reservations might be best if staying on a Friday or Saturday night.
We stayed during a holiday weekend, so we reserved a site ahead of time at Indian Cove, a big campground with sites tucked among giant boulder formations jutting out of the desert. This is a great spot for those wanting to stay close to many of the park’s best climbing routes. Hidden Valley Campground and Jumbo Rocks Campground are also highly recommended.
Things to Do While Visiting Joshua Tree National Park In The Winter
There are several hikes in the park, but Ryan Mountain is a great summit. The trail is only 3 miles, but it still allows for a decent workout and gets you some gorgeous long views of the desert.
Joshua Tree during the winter is famous for bouldering and rock climbing. If you’re new to the sport, take a lesson with a professional. Several companies in the area offer climbing lessons in the park and they include gear rental.
The Cholla Cactus Garden is a flat, 1/4-mile walk through a huge patch of cholla cacti. They’re adorably nicknamed the teddy bear cholla because they look fluffy enough to cuddle (don’t do it). Different varieties of flora flowers grow throughout the year and accent the cotton-candy cacti. Try to catch them at sunset for the best light.
Don’t Forget to See the Town While There
The town of Joshua Tree is a great place to hang for a day. Start the morning with a yoga class at Instant Karma Yoga then grab a cup of locally roasted organic coffee at Joshua Tree Coffee Company. Make sure to grab a bag of beans (and have them grind it for you!) for camp pour overs.
Spend the day meandering down Twentynine Palms Highway and pop into the art galleries and second-hand shops. Art Queen and the World Famous Crochet Museum are definitely worth a wander.
Grab a meal and a couple of beers at the Joshua Tree Saloon. Cross your fingers for a warm day so you can sit in the old West-style outdoor seating area.
Whether you make it a stand-alone trip or make it a stop as part of a longer trip, visiting Joshua Tree National Park during the winter is worth it. Book your Escape campervan and get ready to explore this unique desert landscape.