6 Best Places To Visit In Joshua Tree

NPS/Lian Law

As winter slowly but surely turns to spring, it’s time to start planning those hikes that are perfect in cooler weather — and just a little rougher on those summer days. Joshua Tree is one of the most beautiful hiking spots in California, a famed rock climbing destination, and the closest National Park to Los Angeles by travel time. However, it is notorious for averaging highs of near (and sometimes over) 100 degrees in the summer. The best times to visit Joshua Tree are in the spring, but it can get pretty crowded. Early spring, like March or April, are the perfect months to check out the hiking trails in this famous National Park. 

So, before the temps start rising again and the crowds start forming, check out these 6 places in Joshua Tree you’ll definitely not want to miss. 

Ryan Mountain 

This moderately difficult hike clocks in at just under 3 miles, and is one of the best hikes in Joshua Tree for views. From the top of Ryan Mountain, you can enjoy nearly 360 degree panoramic view of the park. Although you will probably see many others joining you on this excursion, there’s plenty of room, and most other hikers you encounter tend to be respectful, so don’t be deterred! 

Mastodon Peak 

Take full advantage of springtime in Joshua Tree and enjoy the blooming wildflowers that line the trail. Besides flowers, you can also spot a few ruins along the way, including Winona Mill and Mastodon Mine, which began operation in the 1930s. This is a great hike for wildflower lovers and history lovers alike, and ends up at around 3 miles. 

Skull Rock Trail

NPS / Robb Hannawacker

Have you ever wanted to encounter a huge rock skull on your desert hikes? The midpoint of this 1.7 mile loop culminates in the giant skull-like formation, with erosion contributing to the large holes that resemble the eyes and nose of a skull. There’s plenty of opportunity for rock scrambling as you pass through large stacks of boulders. There’s also lots of flora to experience on the trail, including California buckwheat and Mojave yucca. 

Hall of Horrors

NPS/Robb Hannawacker

Don’t be deterred by this trail’s scary name. The Hall of Horrors is actually the easiest hike in Joshua Tree! At only 0.6 miles, it’s a family-friendly destination with tons of boulders for scrambling and climbing, as well as narrow slots between boulders that are conducive to some cool photo opportunities. This short trip makes for a great quick, interactive stop. 

Discovery Trail

NPS/Brad Sutton

This 0.7-mile  trail is one of the newest paths in the park — and was made especially with kids in mind. In fact, it was made by kids, in a way. The placement of the trail as well as the signposts were created by students from the Morongo Unified School District, and the trail itself was built by high-school-age students in the Youth Conservation Corps. All this was done with the intention of highlighting the coolest rocks around.  

Boy Scout Trail

Hannah Schwalbe / NPS

For overnight backpacking trips, the Boy Scout Trail is the place to be in Joshua Tree. It’s fairly solitary, and traverses along the Wonderland of Rocks. You can do this two ways — experienced hikers looking for a big trek can opt to take this trip as a 16-mile out-and-back. Otherwise, you can park at the West Entrance of the park and experience the trail as an 8-mile one-way. This is usually preferable to the longer option, as there are no water sources along the way.