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Where to Stay in Joshua Tree National Park: Best Accommodation Options

Where to Stay in Joshua Tree National Park: Best Accommodation Options

Joshua Tree National Park is an incredible and unique natural wonder that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. This national park is like no other. People flock from all over the nation to see the beautiful landscape and special trees that make up this National Parks Service site.

If you’re planning a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, one of the first steps is to figure out where you’re going to stay during your trip.

There are many different accommodations options in this area. Some people choose to camp in or around the park; others prefer hotels, resorts, or vacation rentals instead.

Whatever type of traveler you are, there’s a great accommodation option for you in or near Joshua Tree. In this guide, we’ll tell you about all of your options so you can be better equipped to decide where to stay in Joshua Tree National Park.

TLDR: Our Favorite Accommodations in and near Joshua Tree National Park

Desert Plants in Joshua Tree National Park

Where to Stay In and Near Joshua Tree National Park

Rock Formations in Joshua Tree National Park

No matter what type of traveler you are, you’ll find the perfect accommodations for you in or near Joshua Tree National Park.

If you like camping, there are plenty of campgrounds both in and out of the park itself, and there are options for dispersed camping as well. For many, this is the best way to truly experience the park. When you settle into your camper or tent, you’ll be surrounded by Joshua Tree’s natural wonders twenty-four hours a day for the duration of your visit.

However, camping isn’t for everyone. Some people like to enjoy a bit more comfort when they travel, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Joshua Tree National Park is near a number of cities and towns and therefore there are many hotels, resorts, and rental properties available to park visitors.

This is fairly uncommon for national parks; although there are parks with plenty of lodging nearby, there are many parks in the United States national parks system where hotels are quite limited. Visitors to Joshua Tree are lucky in that they have a wide variety of accommodation options available to them. There are properties of all kinds, and they are available at every price point – from very affordable to very high-end.

So, the type of accommodation you choose for your Joshua Tree National Park adventure can be anything you want it to be. Read on to learn more about some of the many options that are available to you so you can book something and get even more excited about your trip!

  • Best area for first-timers/tourists – Twentynine Palms or camping in the park
  • Best area for budget travelers – Twentynine Palms
  • Best area for luxury travelers – Palm Springs
  • Best area for safety – This whole area is very safe throughout
  • Best area for families – Twentynine Palms
  • Best all-round area – The park itself!
  • Best area for food – Palm Springs
  • Best area for culture/historyPalm Springs
  • Best area for adventures Joshua Tree National Park
  • Best area for nightlife – Palm Springs
  • Best area for older travelers – Las Palmas
  • Best area for unique experiences – Palm Springs & the park itself
  • Best area for entertainment/music/sports – Coachella
  • Best area for access to the rest of the destination – Twentynine Palms
  • Best area for shopping – Palm Springs
  • Best area for romance/weddings/honeymoons – Palm Springs
  • Best area for long stays – Yucca Valley, Indio 
  • Best area for photographs – Within the park itself and Palm Springs

Campgrounds

Joshua Tree National Park is a Mecca for people who love camping. There are so many campgrounds in this area. Not only are there numerous campgrounds inside the park, but there are many other options for camping nearby as well.

Campgrounds In the Park

There are nine campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National Park. This is more than you’ll find in most other national parks of similar size and they are all well-maintained and quite lovely.

However, it’s important to know that only two of the campgrounds inside Joshua Tree have water – Black Rock and Cottonwood Campgrounds – so you’ll have to bring your own for the rest of them. You should plan for at least a gallon of water per person per day, and two during the warmer months.

Altogether, there are five hundred campsites in the park’s nine campgrounds. The vast majority of them are reservable and it’s very wise to reserve your site in advance. Even though five hundred sites sound like a lot, they do fill up during the park’s busier months.

You can reserve a site up to six months in advance right up until the day of your visit; however, be aware that there is no cell phone service in the park, so if you’re trying to book a site at the last minute, you’ll have to do it before you arrive.

The first six campgrounds listed below are reservation campgrounds; the last three, starting with Belle Campground, are first-come, first-served campgrounds.

Black Rock Campground

Camping Tent and Cars in Joshua Tree National Park

Black Rock Campground is quite large, has ninety-nine sites, and is open all year. It’s in the northwestern corner of the park near the west entrance.

Many people like this campground not only due to its size but also because it’s only five miles away from the town of Yucca Valley which makes getting water and other supplies quite easy.

All sites come with fire rings and picnic tables and most work for tents or RVs. This campground also has twenty horse sites, if you’d like to bring your horse and do some trail riding.

Cottonwood Campground

Table and Firepit at Cottonwood Campground

Cottonwood Campground is rather remote; it’s thirty miles from the closest town (Indio), but it’s the closest campground to the park’s south entrance and the only official park campground on that side of the park.

Fortunately, however, there’s potable water in this campground so it’s also the only one in the park where you won’t have to bring your own.

Cottonwood Campground has sixty-two sites (including three group sites) and none have any shade, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to camp in a tent.

Indian Cove Campground

Camp Grounn in Joshua Tree National Park

Indian Cove Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds in the park, and also one of the largest with 101 sites, including thirteen group sites.

It’s accessed from the Indian Cove entrance and it’s not far from stores and restaurants in the town of Twentynine Palms. It’s strikingly beautiful and your campsite will be surrounded by towering rock formations that you’ll dream about forevermore.

See Related: How to Pack for a Camping Trip

Jumbo Rocks Campground

table and a Camping Tent at Jumbo Rocks Campground

Jumbo Rocks Campground is also famous for its spectacular rock formations and it, too, is quite popular. It’s the largest campground in the park.

It’s accessible from the north entrance, but it’s deeper in the park than Indian Cove. You’ll have to drive on Park Boulevard for about twenty minutes to get back to Twentynine Palms for water or supplies.

Ryan Campground

Camping Tent Beside a Tree at Ryan Campground

If you keep going on Park Boulevard from Jumbo Rocks Campground, you’ll soon pass Ryan Campground.

You can also get to this one from the west entrance of the park. It’s the smallest reservable campground with only thirty-one sites; four are designated for travelers with horses.

Belle Campground

Rocks and Trees at Belle Campground

Belle Campground is a first-come, first-served campground that has only eighteen sites.

It’s accessed from the north entrance, is open from September to May, and is adjacent to the California Riding and Hiking Trail. Park rangers say this is the best campground for stargazing due to its location in the park.

White Tank Campground

Table in White Tank Campground

White Tank Campground is just a little further down the road from Belle. It has fifteen sites and you may be able to find some shade amongst its many large boulders. 

It can accommodate tent campers and small RVs. Like Belle, it’s a great option for those who wish to spend their evenings observing the night sky. It’s also first-come, first-served.

Hidden Valley Campground

Spacious Camping Ground at Hidden Valley Campground

This first-come, first-served campground is near the west entrance f the park and has forty-four sites. It is full of large boulders and Joshua trees and is centrally located to many great trails and viewpoints.

Backcountry Camping in the Park

If you’re experienced in desert hiking and camping, then you can also strike out on your own and camp in the backcountry of Joshua Tree National Park.

Unlike other national parks, there is no limit on backcountry camping permits in Joshua Tree; all you have to do is fill one out yourself at the trailhead, hike until you’re out of sight of all the trails and roads, find a good spot, and set up your site for the night.

However, this type of camping is only advised if you are experienced in doing this type of camping and hiking. Many people have become lost on Joshua Tree’s trails.

Also, you’ll have to be prepared to carry all your own water, and when hiking in Joshua Tree, you’ll need a lot of it. Even experienced hikers generally avoid backcountry camping in Joshua Tree in the warmer months.

Campgrounds Outside of the Park

There are other campgrounds outside of the park boundaries also. These campgrounds are privately owned on private property.

If you’re looking for a site with hookups for your camper, you’ll want to choose one of these campgrounds, since the campgrounds in the park do not have water or electricity.

Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground; Joshua Tree

This campground is not far from the west entrance of the park. There are RV and tent sites, hot showers, paid WiFi, and a small lake for catch-and-release fishing.

JT Sportsman’s Club; Joshua Tree

JT Sportsman’s Club is also near the west entrance of the park. The club has been in existence since 1947 and is very active in supporting local causes in the area.

In addition to the organization’s legion hall, it also owns this small campground which is open to the public. The campground is pet friendly and offers sites with no hookups, partial hookups, and full hookups.

Twentynine Palms RV Resort; Twentynine Palms

This large RV resort in Twentynine Palms is close to the park’s north entrance. In addition to RV sites, it has tent sites and cottages, and tons of amenities including a gym, an indoor heated pool, a game room, and more.

Little Pioneertown RV; Yucca Valley

Little Pioneertown RV is close to the west entrance of the park. It’s on a busy road and isn’t the largest or most natural campground but every site has hookups and the spacious sites are wide and easy to back into. If you plan on sticking around a while, they have medium-term rates available too.

Chiriaco Summit Campground; Chiriaco Summit

This is a free campground near the south entrance of the park. It’s behind the General Patton Memorial Museum; just look for signs that say “Welcome to Chiriaco Summit Dry Camp Area.”

Cell phones work here and pets and campfires are allowed.

It’s near the interstate, but it’s quiet, and there’s a gas station and mini-mart within walking distance. There are no bathrooms or water, but there’s a campground manager available to answer questions.

Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA; Desert Hot Springs

If you’re looking for a resort-style campground, then KOA will be perfect for you and your family.

It is open all year and it has a pool, mini-golf, bike rentals, pickleball courts, laundry, a rec room, a playground, and more. If you don’t have a camper, you can rent a cabin or eco-tent that’s all ready for you.

However, even though this campground is immediately adjacent to the park, you’ll have to drive almost an hour in either direction to reach the park’s west and south entrances, so it may not be the best choice if you want to spend a lot of time in the park.

Dispersed Camping Outside of the Park

Another option is to engage in dispersed camping on Bureau of Land Management land. In the west, this type of camping is popular and common.

There are no established campgrounds on BLM land near Joshua Tree, but you can camp on this public land as long as you follow the rules and regulations. Best of all – this type of camping is absolutely free.

There are no amenities when you camp on BLM land; there are no bathrooms and you’ll have to bring all of your own water. 

Also, it’s paramount that you clean up after yourself when camping in this way – educate yourself in the principles of Leave No Trace before you go.

There are two BLM dispersed areas just outside of Joshua Tree National Park. One is just outside the park’s south entrance (search BLM Joshua Tree South on Google Maps to find it) and the other is not far from the west entrance (search North Joshua Tree BLM for that one).

Hotels, Resorts, & Vacation Rentals Near Joshua Tree National Park

In addition to the area’s many options for camping, there are also plenty of hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals in this area if you’d prefer to sleep in a bed inside a building with running water and everything. Here are a few options to consider in each of the nearby, surrounding towns.

Twentynine Palms

The town of Twentynine Palms is north of the park and is close to the park’s north entrance

Budget

Sunnyvale Garden Suites – Joshua Tree National Park
Building Front of Sunnyvale Garden Suites - Joshua Tree National Park
Photo by Booking.com

This is a cool little hotel that’s modeled to look like an Old West town; your kids will love it. There’s a barbeque area outside and all rooms have kitchens. It also has a gym, a playground, and a hot tub, too.

See Related: Hotel vs Motel vs Inn

Mid-Range

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Twentynine Palms
Spacious Room with a  Queen-sized Bed
Photo by Booking.com

Clean, comfortable rooms with air conditioning, microwaves, and refrigerators await you at this Holiday Inn Express. Enjoy the fitness center, outdoor heated pool, and laundry facilities.

Rental

Midcentury Desert Escape
House in the Desert
Photo by VRBO

This 1950s home sleeps four and is secluded and on the edge of town. However, it’s still only fifteen minutes to the north entrance of the park. and are also quite close to stores and restaurants in Twentynine Palms. You may see wildlife in the yard and at night you’ll see tons of stars.

Yucca Valley

Yucca Valley is to the northwest of the park and is a small town of about 20,000 people. It’s very close to the west entrance of the park so you’ll have easy access if you stay here. There aren’t any hotels in Yucca Valley that we’re willing to recommend, but check out these rentals.

Rental

The Om Dome Experience
Dome Shape Room in the Desert
Photo by VRBO

Stay in this geodesic dome with up to two other people for a night you’ll never forget. Comes with great views, a patio, a Talavera pizza oven, a fire pit, an indoor/outdoor shower, a hot tub, an infrared sauna, and more.

Bohemian Rhapsody Villa
living Area with Many Picture Frames
Photo by VRBO

This two-bedroom villa is Freddie Mercury themed but even if you don’t love Queen, you’ll still love it anyway. It has two patios, a fire pit, a hot tub, hammocks, swing chairs, a swinging bed, and more.

You’re welcome to play the acoustic guitars, bongos, or piano, or even play some records on their vintage Victrola.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is known for being a desert vacation destination frequented by the rich and famous.

It’s a cool town with lots to do including hot springs and shopping, and it’s right between the west and south entrances of Joshua Tree National Park. Here are just a few of the many accommodations options in Palm Springs.

Budget

Caliente Tropics
Pool in Caliente Tropics
Photo by Booking.com

This unique property has a Tahitian theme and was built in the 1960s. You’ll love the mid-century modern design and pool. Pets are allowed and rooms have mini-fridges and air conditioning. Stop by The Congo Room & Reef Bar for food and drinks.

Mid-Range

Skylark Hotel
Overview of Skylark Hotel Grounds
Photo by Booking.com

This is another older property that’s quite Instagram-worthy with great views of the mountain from the pool. The rooms are larger than average and are very comfortable. WiFi and continental breakfast are included.

Luxury

Dive Palm Springs
Room with Wooden Inspired Furnishings
Photo by Booking.com

This classy, high-end accommodation option is highly-rated. Rooms are large and include private patios. Some rooms have hot tubs. Pets are welcome, and there’s a bar and free WiFi.

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

Rental

Palm Desert/Indio/Coachella

You’ve likely heard of Indio and Coachella because this is where that giant festival happens every year. With that in mind, if you are not planning to attend the festival, you should probably steer clear of this area during it.

The rest of the year, this is a great place to stay for Joshua Tree National Park if you plan to enter the park from the south.

Budget

The Inn at Deep Canyon; Palm Desert
Pool and the Rooms in The Inn at Deep Canyon
Photo by Booking.com

The Inn at Deep Canyon is a small and pleasant property arranged around a swimming pool.

Mid-Range

Best Western Date Tree Hotel; Indio
Palm Trees and  a Swimming Pool
Photo by Booking.com

You’ll love this comfortable Best Western. There’s a heated pool and hot tub, free WiFi, and laundry on site.

Luxury

Embassy Suites La Quinta Hotel & Spa; La Quinta
Building Front of Embassy Suites La Quinta Hotel & Spa
Photo by Booking.com

This all-suites hotel is close to everything. Every room has a living room and dining area that is separate from the bedroom space. The hotel has a gym, a business center, a games room, a library, and bicycle rentals.

The hotel’s spa has eight treatment rooms for massages, facials, and other treatments. There’s also a restaurant on site.

Rental

INDIAN SPRINGS COUNTRY CLUB BUILDER MODEL HOME; INDIO
The pool at Indian Spring Country Club

If you’re looking for a great property with a fantastic pool area, this is the one! This 2200-square foot home sleeps eight in three bedrooms and has three bathrooms, too.

The interior of this property has been professionally decorated since it was at first a model home, but the outdoor entertainment area is an even bigger draw. Enjoy a raised rock spa, a pool slide, and a gas fire pit. The whole family will love this vacation rental. 

Getting Around the Joshua Tree National Park Area

When visiting Joshua Tree National Park and surrounding areas, you’ll need a car to get around. Although there are taxis and some public transportation in some (not all) of the nearby towns, none of these are accessible inside the park.

The park is quite large; you can explore much of it on foot, by bike, or on horseback, but to reach the various areas within the park to begin these activities, you’ll need to drive. 

Many visitors choose to drive to Joshua Tree in their own car. However, you can also rent a car from various car rental companies at whatever airport you fly into. The largest airport near Joshua Tree is Los Angeles International, but that’s still almost three hours away from the park.

San Diego International Airport and Harry Reid International Airport (Las Vegas) are both about the same distance. In all cases, you’ll be able to find an affordable rental car at or near these airports.

If you don’t want to drive several hours to get to the park from the airport.

You can also fly directly into the smaller Palm Springs International Airport and rent a car there, but because this is a smaller airport than those listed above, you may pay more for your flight and your rental car than you would at the others. Be sure to compare prices before you book.

FAQ

What’s so special about Joshua Tree National Park?

This park is a popular one due to its proximity to Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, but there are so many things to see and do within this giant park’s boundaries that it would likely be busy with park enthusiasts regardless of where it was located.

It’s quite large; in fact, Joshua Tree National Park is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. Much of that space is generally unseen and unexplored by park visitors, though – the busiest parts are in the western portion, where there are a few roads and many campgrounds.

This park was designated as a national monument in 1936 and was elevated to national park status in 1994.

One of the things that makes it special is the fact that it includes parts of two different desserts -the high Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado desert. The southern portion of the park also includes some of the Little San Bernardino Mountain Range.

What natural wonders can one expect to see in Joshua Tree?

Another thing that makes this park special is its natural wonders. The park’s oldest rocks are 1.7 billion years old, and over time, they have eroded into amazing and unique rock formations. Over 250 bird species visit the park; seventy-eight of their nest and raise their young there.

Other wildlife is abundant in Joshua Tree National Park too, you might see snakes, bighorn sheep, coyotes, bobcats, jackrabbits, desert tortoises, lizards, and more during your visit. And, of course, everyone loves the Joshua trees.

What is there to do inside the park?

People find Joshua Tree National Park to be a special place because of all the recreational opportunities they can enjoy there. Camping is just the tip of the iceberg. Joshua Tree is full of nature walks and hiking trails.

Rock climbers love the many options to practice their sport. Birdwatchers flock here to see common and rare species. Professional and amateur astronomers come at night to observe the wonders of the night sky in this unusually dark part of the country.

What is the best time of year to visit Joshua Tree National Park?

Joshua Tree National Park is amazing in all seasons. Many people who go back to this park time and time again say that it is different every time they go.

It’s true; because this park is in a desert environment, a small difference in the amount of moisture can change the overall look of the park immensely, even on a day-to-day basis.

However, even with that said, there are times of the year in which visiting Joshua Tree National Park is at least more comfortable for the average guest.

As you might imagine, the summers in Joshua Tree National Park are quite hot. The average daily high temperature in the park in July and August is over one hundred degrees, and it’s in the high nineties for both June and September.

It’s possible to visit the park during these months, but unless you really love the heat, you might not enjoy it.

Most people choose to visit Joshua Tree National Park in the spring or fall when temperatures are more comfortable. Most days in March and November don’t get much above the low seventies, and the average highs are in the eighties for April, May, and October.

Winter isn’t a bad time to visit Joshua Tree either, although the nights can get a bit cold for tent camping. You’ll find high temperatures in the sixties in December, January, and February, which is perfect for desert hiking. You’ll find fewer crowds during the winter months, too.

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