What to do in Joshua Tree National Park in one day

Stunning Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California, where the Mojave and the Colorado Deserts meet.
Every year more than 2.5 million people visit the park and its iconic trees the Yucca Brevifolia, renamed by the Mormon settlers Joshua trees, because their branches resemble the prophet raising his arms toward the heavens.
With its landscapes that seem straight out of a children’s picture book (if you love Dr. Seuss you’ll feel like you have landed in one of his pages!) boulders to climb, and trails to explore, Joshua Tree is the perfect destination for a day of outdoor fun with the children, a true must in a SoCal itinerary (Los Angeles is only two hours away!).

In this post:

When to go
How many days should you spend in Joshua Tree National Park
What to do with kids in one day

When to go

Low season runs from June to September, when the heat is prohibitive and the average temperatures reach 98 degrees.
Many hotels and restaurants in the area are closed, while those that remain open offer attractive deals.
In spring tempratures start to drop, the desert blooms and Joshua Trees fill with spectacular white flowers.
The best time to visit is from December to April, when the weather is at best for hiking and exploring the park.

How many days should spend in Joshua Tree National Park

A full day is enough to explore Joshua Tree’s main attractions.
If you want to get off the beaten track, take two to three days.

What to do with kids in one day

If you have only one day to spend in Josua Tree National Park plan to start your day early: there are so many things to do and see here!

Hidden Valley Trail

This beautiful, easy, 1 mile loop is a must do with kids in Joshua Tree.
Hidden Valley is a small valley surrounded by rock walls and boulders, a true natural playground. Kids of every age will enjoy climbing around and exploring the rocky landscape.
Signs along the walk illustrate the park’s animals and plants.

Skull Rock

Skull Rock is a fun stop along the road through the park. A few steps separate the parking lot from this incredible rock formation that the wind and climatic conditions have shaped in the shape of a skull. For my kids this was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the park!

Arch Rock Trail

This beautiful trail is just under a kilometer long, but there are so many boulders to explore and climb that it is worth taking the time to complete it. The main attraction of the trail is a rock shaped as a natural arch. It takes a while to find it, especially since there are several oddly shaped boulders to find along the way, such as Turtle Rock, and a very special one in the shape of a heart. Finding Heart Rock takes a bit of effort, but it’s definitely worth it.

Cholla Cactus Garden

Rather than a trail, this is a pleasant walk in a beautiful cactus garden. The mountains in the background make it the ideal place for taking pictures, especially at sunrise and sunset. Beware of the cacti, they seem soft, but they have very insidious thorns that stick to clothes and skin.

Keys View Trail

Keys View Trail is a great spot to watch the sunset, and end an intense day of exploration in Joshua Tree. On a clear day the view here is breathtaking. Coachella Valley, Salton Sea and the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains are tinged with pink at sunset.
Tip: bring warm clothes, sunset temperatures drop dramatically and the cold can be bitter!

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