5 Exciting Things to Visit at Joshua Tree NPS

By hintonthetrail | Oct 19, 2021
North America > United States > California > Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is located in California where the Mojave Desert meets the Colorado River. The two different ecosystems make for an interesting and exciting area to explore! This is a thrilling park with lots of history and diversity. In its 800,000 acres, you'll find not only the picturesque Joshua Trees but also immense boulders, meandering trails, many varieties of cactuses, a plethora of wildlife, and a unique homestead.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Park Boulevard


If you only have a couple of hours to visit Joshua Tree NPS, you should drive Park Boulevard. You'll see Joshua Trees and many other sights along the road that leads from one end of the park to the other. There are also many hikes and other turn-outs to see the different ecosystems Joshua Tree NPS has to offer. Among the roadside attractions are Skull Rock, Cap Rock, and Hidden Valley.

Jumbo Rocks

Jumbo Rocks

Skull Rock & Jumbo Rocks


Skull Rock is a really cool rock formation that you can see from the parking lot when you visit Joshua Tree NPS. This rock eroded over time from the rain and now looks like a skull. It's very cool and makes for a nice picture. There is also a fun, family-friendly 1.7-mile trail where you can climb and explore the Jumbo Rocks and maybe spot the many different animals that call Joshua Tree home. We saw numerous rabbits, squirrels, and birds. The trail has beautiful wildflowers in the spring and quite a variety of cactuses with their colorful blossoms.

Skull Rock

Skull Rock

Hall of Horrors


This 0.6-mile trail is well-trafficked but very hard to find… even though it's just off the road! It features many rock formations to climb on, a fun path to explore, and tons of beautiful plant life. It's also great for those fun pictures of you posing with the rocks!

Hall of Horrors

Hall of Horrors

Cholla Cactus Garden


The Cholla (pronounced cho-ya) Cactus Garden is full of the Teddy Bear Cholla and is a stop you should make on your visit to Joshua Tree NPS. These cacti aren't the hugging type though. In fact, the chollas are known as jumping cacti because they quite often break off and attach to your clothing! There's a thorn removal kit at the entrance, just in case the cholla jump on you. You can meander around this 10-acre garden on the 1/4-mile trail at the edge of the Pinto Basin. The cacti are everywhere and there are great views of the surrounding mountains. This trail is best done earlier in the day as there is no shade and it gets hot!

Choola Cactus

Choola Cactus

Keys Ranch Guided Tour


If you have the time to spare on your visit to Joshua Tree NPS, the Keys Ranch guided tour is one you need to do. The tour must be booked ahead of time as there are only 25 slots for each tour. You can book up to 60 days in advance on recreation.gov or by calling the park. Tickets are $10 per adult, $5 for 6 to 11 years of age. The tour is about 90 minutes long and covers ½ miles. Depending on the time of year, be prepared for the weather. We went in February and it was cold and blustery! However, it is a desert so the summer temperatures are most likely really hot.

Keys Ranch

Keys Ranch

The tour takes you to the Keys Homestead deep in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park. Many people settled here to try cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading and to try to make a life in the Mojave Desert. Bill Keys came to the area in the early 1900s to work as a caretaker for the Desert Queen Mine. When the mine closed in 1917, Keys decided to stay. He and his family lived here from 1910 to 1969.

Keys Ranch

Keys Ranch

Over the years Keys, his wife, and their children worked hard to make a living in this desolate area. They planted fruit trees, a huge vegetable garden, dug four wells, and built a dam to ensure they had sufficient water for the property and the family. Bill and Francis rented cabins on the ranch and owned a little store. Bill collected anything he found and kept it on the ranch in case he or someone else needed it. From cars and trucks to nuts and bolts, if you needed it Bill had it. The ranch also had many schoolhouses throughout its time and plenty of teachers to instruct the Keys children and other children from the area. Click HERE to listen to an audio tour of the ranch or make sure to schedule your ranger tour to see it in person. It's well worth the visit!

Keys Ranch

Keys Ranch

Visit Joshua Tree NPS


This is a great national park with diverse ecosystems. It's got something for the whole family! Hiking, rock climbing, scenic drives, and ranger-guided tours are waiting for you! Go now!

North America National Parks California Joshua Tree National Park United States

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Written by Hinton the Trail
We're the Hintons, a full-time travel family sharing our journey around the world with blogs, vlogs, and travel reviews. We've been traveling full-time for over two years and have learned a lot. Our goal is to share the where-to, how-to, and how much for great locations the world over.

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