Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree for Digital Nomads (or Long-Term Travelers)

Replete with dusty trails, volcanic rock formations, bristly ground cover, juniper networks, many cacti species, and the iconic Joshua trees, the Joshua Tree National Park is an unforgiving land.

Despite its temperature extremes and rugged landscape, Joshua Tree has a thriving ecosystem and plenty of attractions that fascinate globetrotters and nature lovers alike.

The Joshua Tree National Park remains open throughout the year – even on national holidays. So, the best time to visit Joshua Tree depends on what you are looking for.

This ‘best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park’ guide will help you plan your trip based on your personal preferences. Keep reading!

A Bit About Joshua Tree National Park

landscape of joshua tree at national park

Sitting east of Los Angeles & San Bernardino and north of Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is located in southeastern California. It was declared a National Monument in 1936 and a National Park in 1994.

One of the many national parks in the US, Joshua Tree is spread across 800,000 acres. Joshua Tree derives its name from Yucca brevifolia or Joshua trees native to the Mojave Desert.

This national park is the confluence of two distinct desert ecosystems – the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert.

Joshua Tree is one of three International Dark Sky Parks in California. The other two are Anza-Borrego State Park and Death Valley National Park.

The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

milky way galaxy at joshua tree

Image Credit: Rami Ammoun, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To enjoy stunning views of the Milky Way, visit Joshua Tree during Spring (March to May) or Summer (June to September).

For the best rock climbing experience, visit the national park during Winter (December to February), Spring, and Fall (October and November).

To score a camping site at one of the best campgrounds, schedule a Winter visit.

The Climate in Joshua Tree National Park

best time to visit joshua tree monthly temperature graph

Graph Source: Average Temperature by Month in Joshua Tree 

Joshua Tree experiences four seasons:

  • Summer: June, July, August, and September are the summer months. Daytime temperatures can range between 34°C & 37°C and night temperatures can range between 18°C & 23°C.
  • Fall: October and November are the Autumn months with average daytime temperatures staying between 22°C & 29°C and nighttime temperatures ranging between 6°C & 12°C.
  • Winter: December, January, and February are the winter months. Average daytime temperatures stay between 16°C & 19°C and nighttime temperatures stay at around 3°C.
  • Spring: March, April, and May are the spring months. Average temperatures during the day can range between 23°C & 30°C and average low temperatures can range between 6°C & 13°C.

For tourism, the climate of Joshua National Park is grouped as:

  • High or Peak Season: Spring (March to May) and Fall (October and November).
  • Low Season: Summer (June to September) and Winter (December to February).

What is the Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park – Month by Month Breakdown

Joshua Tree is one of those national parks in the US that you can visit year-round, but the time you select will depend on your weather preferences and the things you want to do.

Here is a month-by-month breakdown of the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park:

Visiting Joshua Tree in January

stargazing on top of the trees

January falls in the low season and it is winter now. Days are significantly colder and you can see snow at some higher elevations.

Though days will have comfortable temperatures, you will need warm clothes in the early morning and at night.

Don’t forget your waterproof jacket because January is one of the wettest months with 0.06 inches of rainfall.

Hiking the Hidden Valley Trail is popular in January and so is rock climbing because the rock surfaces are cool to the touch. Stargazing is one of the most popular nighttime outdoor activities.

Visiting Joshua Tree in February

skull rock at night

February is the final winter month and the low season ends in February. Temperatures are slightly warmer than in December and January.

February is also the wettest month with 0.13 inches of precipitation and the wildflower season starts this month at lower elevations.

Winter clothes will be necessary for early morning and night trips in the Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree attracts rock climbers and stargazers just like December and January.

Skull Rock is another prime attraction to visit. It can be viewed across Park Boulevard. The rock is also easily accessible from the Jumbo Rocks Campground.

Visiting Joshua Tree in March

yellow wildflower blooms at the desert

Image Source: Wildflowers

March marks the beginning of Spring, which is considered the best season to visit this desert park.

Pleasant temperatures during the day and the blooming wildflowers attract tourist crowds. It is better to visit mid-week and arrive early in the morning.

It is even better to camp overnight so that you can stay ahead of the crowd that will pour in when the Joshua Tree Visitor Center opens.

March is great for family trips. You can learn about local flowers and plants along the famous Cap Rock Trail.

Visiting Joshua Tree in April

cholla cactu -garden

It is mid-Spring with mild temperatures during the day. However, from mid-April onwards, temperatures start climbing at Joshua Tree.

Because of National Park Week, you can enjoy free admission on the 3rd Saturday, but it will be very crowded.

If you plan overnight camping, carry a warm sleeping bag for the late evening and early morning.

April is a great time to take the Pinto Basin Road for a slow transition to the low Colorado Desert from the high Mojave Desert. The road runs from the Oasis Visitor Center in the north to Palm Springs.

Within the Pinto Basin is the Cholla Cactus Garden with a one-of-a-kind mix of wildlife and native plants.

Rock climbers usually head for the Hidden Valley Campground because of its magnificent and towering rock formations.

Visiting Joshua Tree in May

joshua trees

It’s a little hotter in May. Spring comes to an end this month. Pleasant temperatures at night make May ideal for outdoor camping.

The Black Rock Canyon Campground is one of the most famous places to find campers with RVs and tents. You can find hikers and horseback riders, too!

Only 99 RV and tent sites are available and bookings start as early as September. So, book in advance.

You will find a vast Joshua tree forest within the campground site.

Visiting Joshua Tree in June

discovery trail signage

Image Source: Discovery Trail

It is hot and dry in June because Summer has officially started. Be prepared! The Summer sun can be deadly. Bring something that can give you shade.

You can enjoy early morning short treks. The most famous short tour is the Discovery Trail planned and created by students of the nearby schools.

In the northwest section of the park is Warren Peak next to the Black Rock Campsite. You can hike to the summit during the early morning, but I will recommend a night hike to beat the heat.

The summit will give you sweeping views in the morning, but the night hike will let you photograph the Milky Way. You can also enjoy stunning views of the highest mountains of Southern California.

Visiting Joshua Tree in July

barker dam with rock formation and body of water in between

July, like June, will have fewer tourists because of the scorching desert heat. It is the hottest month with the least possibility of rainfall, but it can rain and lead to lightning strikes and flash floods.

Because of the sweltering heat, limit your physical activities from morning to late afternoon.

You can enjoy a 3-mile round-trip hike to Ryan Mountain for early morning and sunset photography. The hike is best suited for intermediate and pro hikers.

Another attraction is the Barker Dam Nature Trail east of the Hidden Valley.

Built many years ago to keep cattle and wildlife hydrated, the dam is a great place to spot native wild animals like bighorn sheep and coyotes.

Visiting Joshua Tree in August

perseid meteor shower

Image Credit: Joshua Tree National Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

August will also have fewer crowds because of the hot weather. Some campgrounds will remain closed but you can access the others.

Some sections of Indian Cove, Cottonwood, and Black Rock campgrounds will be closed.

In August, the annual Perseid meteor shower will brighten up the Joshua Tree National Park night sky.

Ensure that you are not using any bright light while stargazing or enjoying the magical meteor display.

Visiting Joshua Tree in September

night sky festival

Image Credit: Joshua Tree National Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

September is the last leg of the hot summer months. Fewer visitors will allow you to enjoy the hauntingly empty beauty of desert solitude at your own pace.

As always, avoid the scorching desert sun during the day and enjoy the comfortable evenings.

The Night Sky Festival is the main attraction in September. It is organized by Sky’s The Limit Observatory and Nature Center and Joshua Tree Residential Education Experience in partnership with Joshua Tree National Park. The festival is also supported by the City of Twentynine Palms.

You can enjoy free entry to the park on the 4th Saturday because of National Public Lands Day.

Visiting Joshua Tree in October

a man photographing a rusty car in keys ranch

Image Credit: Joshua Tree National Park, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fall Season starts this month. Daytime temperatures are relatively warm and nights are cool.

For overnight camping, you will need a light sweater and a warm sleeping bag. Daytime explorations are safe.

Tourist influx is not as high as in Spring break, but there will be some crowd.

You can enjoy a ranger-guided 90-minute Keys Ranch Tour and learn about the colorful story of the 60 years of marriage of Bill and Frances.

Visiting Joshua Tree in November

white tank campground under the stars in the sky

November offers the most pleasant temperatures. So, expect some crowd, but not as crowded as in Spring. There will be a heavy tourist surge in late November during Thanksgiving week.

Daytime temperatures are ideal for climbing rocks, hiking, and other outdoor activities. But nights will be cold. Prepare accordingly!

Fortynine Palms Oasis is a top attraction with great wildlife viewing opportunities. The Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail is a free three-mile trek.

Another unmissable attraction is the White Tank Campground nestled among towering granite rock formations. It is located in the darkest section of the Joshua Tree National Park, making it a perfect spot for stargazing.

Visiting Joshua Tree in December

snowy joshua tree national park with big stone formation

Winter begins in December and is officially the coldest month in Joshua Tree National Park. Warm clothes are necessary for both day and night activities.

If you are fortunate, you can witness a snowy desert.

Be prepared for a massive tourist influx around Christmas and New Year. Book accommodation well in advance.

Rock climbing is a popular wintertime activity because the possibility of snowfall is low compared to popular destinations like Yosemite.

The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park for Viewing Milky Way

In April and May (Spring), you can see the Milky Way between midnight and 5 AM. In June and July (Summer), you can see the galaxy with your naked eyes. In August and September (Summer), the Milky Way is visible all night.

The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park for Rock Climbing

Winter, Spring, and Fall are all ideal for rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park. Avoid Summer months due to the high risk of heat strokes and also, the rock surfaces are too hot to touch.

The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park for Digital Nomads & Long-Term Travelers

Digital nomads and long-term travelers with a bit more flexibility should ideally avoid Spring (March to May) & Fall (October & November). Both are considered high season, though Spring sees more tourists.

This is when prices are very high and there are long queues. Campsites must be booked well in advance and both travel and accommodation costs are very high.

For those on a shoestring budget, the low season of Summer (June to August) and Winter (December to February) is the ideal time to visit Joshua Tree National Park.

However, since there will be more tourists in winter compared to summer, expect a little price hike.

The Overall Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a year-round tourist destination. However, you can save money by scheduling your trip during Summer or Winter.

If you don’t mind large crowds and high prices, Spring is undeniably the best overall time to visit Joshua Tree National Park.

Many visitors prefer Autumn (Fall) not only because of relatively lower prices than Spring but also because they can avoid the summer heat and the winter chill.

FAQs in Relation to The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Which is the closest airport to Joshua Tree National Park?

Palm Springs International Airport is the closest airport to Joshua Tree National Park. It is only a 45-minute drive from the airport to the park.

Where is Cottonwood Spring Oasis located?

Cottonwood Spring, which accidentally opened because of an earthquake, is only 7 miles from Joshua Tree National Park’s southern entrance.

How many entrances are there to the Joshua Tree National Park?

There are only three entry points – one is from Twentynine Palms in the north, another from Yucca Valley in the west, and one from Cottonwood Springs in the south.

Can I take my dog to Joshua Tree National Park?

Most national parks will not allow dogs on trails because they can be potentially disruptive to the natural ecosystem. They are usually allowed where cars can go. So, check the rules before you visit the park.

The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park; Summary

The perfect time to visit Joshua Tree National Park depends on your personal preferences. Peak or high season (Spring: March to May and Fall: October-November) is great if you want comfortable temperatures and don’t mind the crowds. However, this is when everything is expensive and you must book everything well in advance.

If you can brave the scorching desert sun with proper precautions, Summer (June to September) is the cheapest time to visit Joshua Tree National Park.

Winter (December to February) is another cheap time to visit Joshua Tree, but carry warm clothes as it gets very cold, especially during the nights.

No matter what’s on your mind, Joshua Tree National Park is a beautiful place to visit. I hope this article on the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park has helped with your travel plans.

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