With over 800,000 acres of rugged, otherworldly terrain to explore Joshua Tree National Park should be on every hiker’s bucket list. Once inside the park boundaries you’ll feel as if you’ve left planet earth entirely without even stepping foot on a hiking trail. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you stay in the car and don’t lace up those boots! Hike among a forest of the park’s namesake trees, find where the Mojave and Sonoran deserts meet, explore an abandoned gold mine, or re-discover a hidden man-made cave from the turn of the century.
The diversity and colorful history of Joshua Tree National Park will be sure to impress you. While it’s hard to choose a favorite, check out what we consider to be the best hikes in Joshua Tree National Park.
While short, the 3-mile roundtrip hike to the summit of Ryan Mountain is by no means a breeze. You’ll climb just over 1,000 feet over 1.5 miles from the desert floor to the summit on a sun exposed trail. This hike might get your heart pounding, but it’s well worth the effort! Upon arrival at its summit, you’ll find yourself taking in panoramic desert views from one of the highest points in the park! Give yourself about 2 hours to get this hike done.
Hike deep into the Wonderland of Rocks to a hidden oasis of lush willow trees. While hiking through a maze of granite boulders, you’ll quickly discover why the Wonderland of Rocks is a favorite among photographers and climbers. Your turn around point is about 3.5 miles in at Willow Hole, a seasonal water source that’s popular for desert wildlife. Be sure to stick around for a bit if there is water, you never know when a bighorn sheep will make an appearance! The total mileage for this hike is 7 miles, but only 400 feet of elevation gain, so set aside 4 hours (give or take) to do this hike.
Take a stroll back in time and explore ruins from Joshua Tree’s gold rush days! Joshua Tree’s colorful history is on full display as you follow the path from the Barker Dam trailhead parking area all the way to Wallstreet Mill. Highlights include the best-preserved gold mine in the area, an abandoned ranch, and a gravestone. The hike is only 2.8 miles, but you’ll want at least 2 hours for the hike to check out all of the highlights.