10 Things to Know Before Camping in Joshua Tree

#10 This may seem rather obvious, but there isn’t a convenient/close place to get firewood or any other type of supplies in the park so be sure to stock up on everything you need before you enter. (Water, propane, batteries and wood usually tend to go fast so pack more than you think you’ll need.)

#9 Layer, layer layer! The best time to visit Joshua Tree is during the winter months and temperatures then tend to plummet suddenly! Pack for temps in the 30’s and very high winds. At certain points I had on three long-sleeved tops, a jacket, two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants and was wrapped up in blankets while sitting fireside. Seriously, pack for Antarctica.

#8 There’s little to no cell phone reception anywhere in the park so you may want to think about getting walkie-talkies, especially if you plan on separating for a solo hike. Let’s try to avoid any repeats of 127 Hours, mmm’kay?!

#7 A word of caution, if you’re bringing small pets be very, very careful and leash ’em an hour or two before dusk (if not at all times). We had a coyote come right up to our site while we were sitting around the campfire! We also had an adorable bunny and several teeny, tiny chipmunks.

#6 If you plan on visiting Joshua Tree more than once in 365 days opt for the year pass at the visitor’s center for $40 instead of the $25 day pass at the park entrance.

#5 …..while you’re there ask the ranger for a map. It will be invaluable! Also pick their brain on any cool tours or events in the park for the time you’re there.

#4 Joshua Tree is at it’s most beautiful when the Milky Way galaxy is visible above the horizon. You’ll have to go between February and October to catch a glimpse. (It will blow your mind!)

#3 Try to plan your trip around a new moon. You will be in awe of how many more stars appear when that big ‘ole ball of light isn’t trying to take center stage.

#2. All of the first come, first serve campgrounds will have a FULL sign out front. Drive through anyway. Always.

#1 Since nobody wants to camp in the desert in the middle of summer when it’s 120 degrees outside the colder months are when Joshua Tree really heats up in terms of visitors! There are only a few campgrounds that offer reservations, you’re best bet is to plan early enough to make one and then once you arrive drive through the park to see if you can find a better spot at one of the first come, first serve sites. If you do though, be sure to pay it forward. Once your new site is secured, call and cancel your existing reservation so someone else can snag it. (Otherwise people like me end up sleeping in a parking lot outside the park even though there are empty sites available.)

Be sure to check out Part I and Part II of my photo diary to this majestic desert!

Also learn How I Found the Best Campsite in Joshua Tree so you can avoid sleeping in a parking lot like I did, I mean, unless that’s your thing. And then, by all means…

Follow my journey on Instagram @lindseyfoard!

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