How I Found the Best Campsite in Joshua Tree

I’ll be honest, we were not fully prepared for how busy the park would be. With over 500 campsites to choose from, I didn’t think we’d run into any trouble getting one. I was wrong, every site was taken. Like every single one. So we had to resort to plan B (we didn’t have a plan B) which meant that we had to set up camp in a glorified parking lot outside of Joshua Tree for the first night. (All the airbnb’s were full too, we checked and then checked again.) We made the best of it with a yummy dinner and drinks around the campfire but fulfill our expectations it did not.

SO, the next morning we quickly packed up camp and got our butts back to the park early so we could snag a site. As we were driving through the Jumbo Rocks campground we got out of the car to check out a few spots that were open when a man who was hiking nearby yelled out to us “Get that site, it’s the best one in the park”! And that’s how we discovered #79, the best campsite in all of Joshua Tree. The site is completely private, you can’t see or hear any other campsites. (Although, you do get a few people walking through as there are trails and amazing hikes behind it. We didn’t have any problems though, everyone was super cool!)

The desert doesn’t care who you are, and neither does anyone or anything who lives in it.
-Deanne Stillman

We had the best time hiking and exploring our new terrain. It was like having our own, private extraterrestrial playground. Though, when you’re surrounded by such a strange assortment of plants and enormous rock formations like that it really does make you feel like you’re on another planet. It kind of messes with your sense of reality, in a detached-feeling sort of way. Like home could be light years away. It’s a very odd sensation; I guess its part of the beauty of Joshua Tree.

That night we knew the sky was going to put on a show and we wanted front row seats. So we filled my backpack chairs with libations and extra layers of clothing, grabbed the Farkle (a rad dice game) and hiked up one of the many rocky outcrops behind our site. We settled at the top of the world, busted out the dice and some M83 while we watched the sun slowly sink below the horizon. Without getting too deep here, being out in the middle of nowhere under the open sky like that procures a certain lightness of spirit. You let go of pretenses you didn’t know you held onto and a feeling of tranquility washes over you that is hard to come by living in the city, especially one as busy as Los Angeles. It turned out to be a wildly magical evening, one I won’t soon forget.

Be sure to check out Part I and Part II of my photo diary to this majestic desert and 10 Things You Should Know Before You Go Camping in Joshua Tree.

Follow my journey on Instagram @lindseyfoard and be sure to tag me if you go to Joshua Tree, especially if you luck out and snag campsite #79.

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