City Guide Joshua Tree: A Rustic Desert Escape

Joshua Tree is a gorgeous desert escape with its towering rock formations, starry skies and quirky art installations. This is a complete guide for all the wonderful activities there are to experience in this quaint desert town.

Tip: There is a great Self-Driving Audio Tour on Get Your Guide for the National Park if you enjoy having a historical background on the gold prospecting and cattle rustling of Joshua Tree’s past.

To stay.

Relax at Mountain Shadow Cabin Airbnb

This little cabin sits on 5 acres of gorgeous desert landscape and its only a 10 min drive to the park entrance.

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Camp at Hidden Valley Campground in Joshua Tree National Park


To do.

Visit the Cholla Cactus Gardens

This is a spectacular sight to see, nearly 10 acres of landscape dominated by the teddybear cholla. These furry cactus are anything but cuddly, so don’t get too close! It’s best to see this sight at sunrise or sunset so you can see how these fuzzy plants light up in the glow! Read more


Hike Ryan Mountain

A challenging 3 mile hike to a 360 degree view of Joshua Tree National Park. This hike is my favorite in the park! Read More


Walk the Arch Rock Loop Trail

Walk the flat 1.3-mile loop hike that begins from a trailhead along Pinto Basin Road to see this spectacular rock formation. Best to go at sunset for some great photography. Or if you’re a pro, this can be an amazing night shot with stars. Read More


Hike Lost Horse Mine

This is a 4 mile moderate hike to see an old gold mine, with the best preserved mill of its kind inside a national park. Read More

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Hike to Barker Dam

Hike Wall Street Mine

Hike 49 Palms Oasis

You can do this 3 mile moderate hike to a palm tree oasis without paying for a park pass. The parking lot is just outside the boundaries and has some great desert views along the path. Read More


Hike Goat Mountain

This 3.5 mile hike is off the beaten path in Landers, north of Joshua Tree National Park. It’s a challenging hike to find and scale, but its low traffic and boasts incredible views of the vast Mojave Desert. Read More


Plan a backpacking trip

Joshua Tree has many well marked trails that can make planning a backpacking trip easy. If you’re inexperienced you can always do a guided trip. Read More


Shop Hiking Gear & Guide Books


Desert Art Installations

Visit Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum

If you love junk art (like me!), visit Noah Purifoy’s. It’s an odd arrangement of found objects ripe for interesting photography. Read more

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Visit the Wild West set of Pioneertown

Pioneertown was once the set of many Wild West films back in the 40s. Today, you can browse the many buildings and even shop at some of them. Read more


Visit The World Famous Crochet Museum

A quirky sight in downtown Joshua Tree, Crochet Museum is filled will crocheted items from teddy bears to tacos. Read more


Visit The Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum

This is a quirky retro roadside attraction. The Beauty Bubble Salon & Museum was started by stylist and historian Jeff Hafler over 25 years ago. This collection is a vast array of hair products from the past century plus. Learn More


The Glass Outhouse Gallery


~Take in the View

See the stunning vista from Key’s View

This drive-up destination has fantastic views of the Coachella Valley. On a clear day, you can see all the way to The Salton Sea, California’s largest lake. Read more

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Go Rock-Climbing

Joshua Tree has worked class rock-climbing. All over the park you can see climbers scaling the endless stacked boulders.
Book a rock-climbing course

Go on a Rock Scrambling Adventure
Book now


Sign up for a class

Take a night photography class
Capture the magic of the desert skies with a night photography course, or just go out on your own if you’re a pro photographer!

Take a block-printing class
Block Shop textiles have block printing workshops from time to time.
Check the schedule

Go on a yoga & hiking trip
Book now

Go to a sound bath at Integratron
Relax with an immersive sound bath at this Historic Landmark.
Read more


To eat & Drink

Eat Lunch or dinner BBQ in an old western setting at Pappy & Harriets

Your Pioneertown visit is not complete without grabbing BBQ from Pappy & Harriets, great for lunch or a night out. It’s also a great bar that features occasional live music. Read more

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Dine at La Copine

Brunch, lunch, or dinner at a hip and trendy restaurant in the middle of the desert. Read more


Eat or Drink at Joshua Tree Saloon

Eat lunch or dinner western style burgers in downtown Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree Saloon also has live music on the weekends. Read more


Brunch at Frontier Cafe

Grab a vegetarian or vegan brunch in Yucca Valley at this trendy restaurant off highway 62. There’s a lot of good shopping close to this location as well.

Local Selections in Yucca Valley

I personally love Aki Sushi for no frills quality sushi at a good price and go here often with my parents. They have bottles of wine for $14, and the sushi is really fresh!

Another local favorite for food quality is Yucca Kabob Middle Eastern Cuisine. The food is phenomenal, but the ambiance and service are lacking. You can grab takeout, or just expect slow service. The food is REALLY good. Try the Chicken Kabob Platter.

Kasa Market burritos are cheap and delicious! It’s a Mexican Market right off highway 69, and in the very back of the market is a hole in the wall. My favorite is the chili relleno burrito. So good!

Taste Craft Brews at Joshua Tree Brewery (Temporarily Closed)


Pizza and/or Live Music at Giant Rock Meeting Room

Giant Rock Meeting Room is a great locals spot in Yucca Valley near the popular restaurant La Copine, and has delicious pizza all days and live music Friday and Saturday nights.

Grab a cup of Joe at Joshua Tree Coffee Company

If you’re looking for a coffee shop in downtown Joshua Tree, stop by Joshua Tree Coffee Co. Good brews and good vibes.


“Raise your Spirits” at Joshua Tree Distilling

Try a sampling of spirits and cocktails made with locally named Lost Horse Whiskey, Black Hole Vodka, and Giant Rock Gin.

Dine or have night cap at Awe Bar

Awe Bar is a recent addition along Highway 62. Most bars in the desert have an old mining town western vibe, but Awe Bar is more modern with pink and blue lighting and an array of infinity mirrors. They host live music and DJs on the weekends. If you’re looking for night life in the high desert, this is where you’ll find it.


To Shop.

Acme 5 Furniture

Gorgeous desert chic home decor.

Moon Wind Trading Co.

A boutique shop with desert flair.

Wine & Rock Shop

The Wine & Rock shop in Yucca Valley is a quirky little shop with a great assortment of organic wines and craft beer. The array of selections are a super cute curation of artistic labels that feel desert inspired. They also sell candles, backpacks, coffee table books and you guessed it, rocks!

The Station

A retro gift shop with photo ops galore! Don’t leave without a T-shirt of Big Josh, the 20ft cowboy. Read more


JT Bee Co.

Buy some local honey and help a local veteran Marines in their effort to increase awareness and help honeybees thrive.


Book Your Trip

These are some of my favorite sites for finding the best prices, places to stay, book tours, and more:

Book Your Accommodations

Use for the best hotel deals and easy change or cancellation

Find A Tour

Search Get Your Guide to book a variety of tours and activities

Book Your Flight

Browse Expedia for deals on flights, hotels, rental cars and more

Shop Comfortable Hiking & Athleisure

Shop Vuori for long-lasting comfortable hiking and workout apparel for men and women (my fave!)

Shop Travel Gear

Shop Herschel for nice luggage and other travel goods and accessories that are made to last

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