Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree (in 2023)
👉 Jump to: Best Time to Visit | For Weather | For Cheap Prices | For Families | To Avoid Crowds | For Hiking | For Camping | Seasons | Weather & Climate | Tips | FAQ
The best time to visit Joshua Tree is typically during the late fall or early spring, because the weather is not excruciatingly hot and the winter crowds have fizzled out. Summer is a good time to camp under the stars and hike after sunset while winter is the peak season in Joshua Tree.
Sitting in the low Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree California has desert magic in every season. It has extremely high summer temperatures and often below-freezing winter temps.
I grew up only an hour from the park entrance and have spent copious hours hiking, sightseeing, bike riding, vintage shopping, and more of the top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.
In this article, I’ll spill the beans on the best time to visit Joshua Tree for the kind of experience you want to have. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- When is the Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree?
- Joshua Tree Travel Seasons
- Joshua Tree Weather & Climate
- Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree
- FAQs About the Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree
Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!
When is the Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree?
Late fall or early spring are the best times to visit Joshua Tree for better weather and fewer crowds.
With that said, when to visit Joshua Tree depends heavily on the season and less on the activities you want to do. The colder months are more enjoyable in Joshua Tree, with a smaller chance of getting heat-related illnesses.
Summer in Joshua Tree experiences sweltering temperatures – the kind of heat that can be downright dangerous. Spring and Fall are considered shoulder seasons in Joshua Tree, with moderate temperatures and crowds. Meanwhile, Winter is peak season in Joshua Tree – bringing the best weather and the highest amount of people.
When to Visit Joshua Tree for Good Weather
Winter is the best time to visit Joshua Tree for good weather. Joshua Tree National Park rarely experiences rain or snow and winter temperatures can even exceed 80 degrees.
Winter nights in Joshua Tree National Park may be on the colder side, but that’s nothing a healthy campfire can’t fix. Winter is also the best time to see wildlife, as they are more active in cooler temperatures.
Additionally, winter is one of the best times for outdoor activities. Joshua Tree has some of the best hikes in California, but you will need to pack multiple layers if hiking in the winter. I recommend bringing a sun layer, a light jacket, a down jacket, and a rain jacket in your daypack, just in case.
When to Visit Joshua Tree for Cheap Prices
Most California national parks experience their peak season in the summer but Joshua Tree’s peak is flipped. Winter experiences the busiest crowds and the highest prices in Joshua Tree. Therefore, visit in the summer or shoulder seasons if saving money is your main prerogative when visiting Joshua Tree National Park.
House rentals are the most expensive commodity in Joshua Tree, with winter prices almost doubled. Visit Joshua Tree in the summer for cheaper accommodation prices and during the week to avoid spiked weekend restaurant prices.
I also recommend purchasing an America the Beautiful annual parks pass, which costs $80 per year for unlimited national park entrances. This can save you some serious money in the long run if you’re an avid national park goer.
You can also save money by shopping at the local Joshua Tree grocery stores and cooking your own meals at your rental accommodation or on your camp stove.
When to Visit Joshua Tree for Families and Kids
There’s really not a bad time to visit Joshua Tree National Park with children. If you’re visiting the area with elder family members, however, I recommend visiting in the non-summer months. The colder the weather, the less likely heat exhaustion will occur.
Additionally, the local Joshua Tree ghost town, Pioneertown, hosts a rowdy wild west showdown every second and fourth Saturday at 1 pm. The show is a major hit with families.
Other popular activities to do with families and kids in Joshua Tree National Park are easy hiking trails like Hidden Valley and Barker Dam. Ryan Mountain is also a good trail if you’re up for a slight challenge.
The Joshua Tree Visitor Center is another family-friendly activity. Pick up a map, use the restroom, or learn from the informative exhibits at this Park Boulevard visitor center.
When to Visit Joshua Tree to Avoid Crowds
Winter is the peak season in Joshua Tree National Park, so visit during the late spring, summer, and early fall months if you want to avoid crowds. Keep in mind that Joshua Tree will be extremely hot at these times so you will definitely need to be prepared.
There’s nothing worse than visiting a jam-packed national park. The temperature may be hotter during the summer season, but the payoff of a near-empty park will be worth the extra sweat.
It’s common to pass hundreds of other hikers and rock climbers in the park during the winter, but the hotter months bring more solitude, empty trails, and an overall more pleasant national park experience.
Joshua Tree accommodation will also be cheaper in the spring, summer, and fall, making your trip to Joshua Tree National Park more affordable overall. I recommend hiking during sunrise and sunset if visiting Joshua Tree during the off-season summer months for more enjoyable weather.
When to Visit Joshua Tree for Hiking and Climbing
A golden boulder acropolis, this Joshua Tree-laden national park summons rock climbers from all over the Southwestern United States to ascend famous yet challenging routes throughout the park.
The best time to visit Joshua Tree for hiking and rock climbing is in the fall, winter, and spring. Winter is the most crowded time to rock climb and hike in Joshua Tree National Park because this is when the park experiences the best weather. The fall and spring months are typically less crowded.
Hiking trails tend to be more crowded than rock climbing routes, as rock climbing requires technical skills and gear, but the easy hiking trails are open to all fitness levels. Barker Dam, Ryan Mountain, Arch Rock Trail, Hidden Valley, and Skull Rock are among the most popular hikes in Joshua Tree National Park.
I’ve personally hiked in the national park during the summer before and do not recommend it. Even with 3 liters of water, sunscreen, and a sun hat, I was still feeling the effects of the intense heat.
When to Visit Joshua Tree for Camping
The best time to visit Joshua Tree for camping is year-round! Several of the best campsites in California are in Joshua Tree, after all. Summer nights cool to the perfect desert temperature for relaxing under the stars without perspiring, and winter is the ideal time to warm up by the campfire.
Fall and spring are ideal months to camp in or around Joshua Tree National Park. The day temperatures are still hot at this time but the desert nights bring a slight wind chill that prompts a warmer sleeping bag or sleeping next to the fire.
I’ve camped in Joshua Tree National Park every season, both inside and outside of the park. There are various campsites inside the national park, five of which require either a same-day or a 6-month advance reservation, three of which are first-come, first-serve.
Joshua Tree Travel Seasons
- 🧗♀️ Rock Climbing – The end of fall is one of the best times to rock climb in Joshua Tree. Crowds aren’t at full capacity yet from October-December, giving you full access to famous J-Tree climbing routes. The fall is also relatively dry for climbing and the sun isn’t as intense as in the summer months.
- ♨️ Hot Springs – Many non-locals don’t know that there are hot springs in Joshua Tree. There are a few desert accommodations that offer natural water-fed hot springs just outside of Joshua Tree in Twentynine Palms. You don’t have to stay at the rental to access the soaking tubs, which can be acquired for a small day-use fee.
- 🛍️ Shopping – Late fall is cool enough to enjoy walking around downtown Joshua Tree again. This is one of the most enjoyable times to go rummaging around old vintage stores on the main street or hit up the desert boutiques in nearby towns.
- 👘 Weekend Vintage Market – The Joshua Tree weekend vintage market is one of my favorite activities in J-Tree. Located right across from Park Boulevard, this pop-up event sells one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, which all somehow possess the funky Joshua Tree spirit.
- 🎶 Live Music – While you can find live music year-round in Joshua Tree, live outdoor performances are in full swing during the winter. Outdoor live music venues host new artists every weekend in the desert town at various dive bars, helping the quirky town come alive.
- 🥾 Weekend Ranger Programs – Because winter experiences the best average temperatures in Joshua Tree, the J-Tree Visitor Center offers more weekend ranger programs during this time like guided nature walks and informative talks.
- 🎹 Joshua Tree Festival – The biggest music festival in Joshua Tree takes place each springtime in town. This “global music experience in the magic Mojave” hosts a fun array of genres like jazz, electronic, funk, and more!
- 🌼 Wildflower Super Bloom – Don’t forget your camera gear at home because you’ll want to catch the Joshua Tree super bloom on film! Witness an animate desert landscape through vibrant yellows, oranges, and purples as desert wildflowers engulf the once-barren Joshua Tree terrain.
- 🦌 Wildlife Photography – Spring is the perfect time to practice wildlife photography due to the pleasant temperatures of the season. You will want to arise early for a chance to catch the active wildlife during dawn.
- 🌴 Palm Springs – Because the Joshua Tree average temperatures frequently exceed 95 degrees, I recommend spending time at your resort pool. The famous Palm Springs town is located just down the highway and offers travelers plenty of resort options with freezing-cold pools. They’re perfect to escape the desert heat and relax after experiencing other fun things to do in Palm Springs.
- 💫 Stargazing – Due to the dry weather in the summers, this is the prime time to view millions of night stars in Joshua Tree. I recommend camping inside the park for the best, darkest view of the constellations.
- 🪨 Geology Tour Road – Take a self-guided scenic geology tour the next time you find yourself in Joshua Tree in the summer. Not only will you learn more about the cool geologic features that define the landscape, but you will also stay cool in your air-conditioned car while doing so.
Joshua Tree Weather & Climate
Joshua Tree National Park encompasses both the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert and has a subtropical desert climate. The hot season typically lasts from June-September with an average temperature in the high 90s. July is the hottest month and averages high 90s-triple digits with lows in the 70s.
The cool season is generally from November-February with high averages in the 60s and lows in the 30s. The desert nights may be even colder when considering the wind chill. Joshua Tree is sunny year-round, even in the cold winter months, and overheating is still possible in the “colder” months in Joshua Tree National Park.
Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree
No Dogs Allowed on the Trails
Only leashed pets are allowed in Joshua Tree National Park within 100 feet of roads, picnic areas, and campgrounds. You won’t be able to take your four-legged friend hiking in the backcountry with you but you will be able to camp under the stars with them in Joshua Tree.
The presence of dogs in the national park disturbs the natural balance of the fragile Joshua Tree ecosystem. Their scent throws off the native wildlife and contaminates their drinking water. Please respect these rules next time you visit the national park.
Always Bring Enough Water
You can never have too much water when exploring the Joshua Tree desert. A good rule of thumb is to always have at least three liters of water when adventuring through the intensely hot Mojave Desert.
Even if you’re just sightseeing in Joshua Tree and not doing any strenuous activities, heat stroke is still a very real possibility. Water is crucial in the desert and I always bring extra, just in case I come across another explorer in need.
👉 Pro Tip: This REI water bottle is my favorite because it holds up to 1.5 liters of water at a time. Another good option for carrying a lot of water on you at once is this CamelBak backpack.
Spend Time Exploring the Town
The desert towns around Joshua Tree are often overshadowed by the national park but they embody more desert magic than one would think. Take some time to explore the towns of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Pioneertown, and Twentynine Palms next time you’re in the J-Tree area.
There are so many cool thrift stores, desert aesthetic stores, hipster cafes, juice bars, and Western-style saloons in these desert towns that are well worth checking out. I recommend spending the night in Joshua Tree so you can visit the park one day and then explore the Mojave Desert towns the next.
Get to the Park for Sunrise
The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is in the early morning to catch the sunrise. This is especially important in the hot summer months when any other time besides after dark is too hot to enjoy the desert beauty of the park.
Keys View is one of the best places to head for an iconic view of the sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park. View towering rock formations, wild animals, and hundreds of Joshua Trees at this time from above.
This is also one of the best times to enter the park to avoid crowds, as there are far fewer tourists in the park this early.
Know Which Day of the Week to Visit
When you visit Joshua Tree depends on what you want to do. The weekends bring many visitors but most stores are open at this time, plus there’s a trendy pop-up vintage clothing market on the weekends across from Park Boulevard.
Weekdays experience far fewer visitors in the park but more town stores may be closed. If viewing desert wildflowers and hiking in solitude are high on your list, then visiting Joshua Tree during the middle of the week is your best bet.
Bring Sun Protection, Even in the Winter
Besides water, sun protection is one of the top Joshua Tree essentials. The hot weather persists even in the winter and the beating desert sun never seems to take a break.
You will want to be prepared with sun protection when you visit Joshua Tree, including sunscreen, an SPF long sleeve, a sun hat, and polarized sunglasses. With these desert essentials and plenty of water, you are almost guaranteed to prevent heat stroke and dehydration.
Leave No Trace
As with all nature areas, be sure to leave no trace. This means packing out whatever you brought into the park including trash, equipment, and clothing items. The principle of “leave no trace” is leaving the outdoor space as clean as you found it or better so the next visitors can enjoy uninterrupted nature as well.
Get There Early for Parking
Parking can be an issue during peak season in Joshua Tree. I recommend getting to the park early to find a parking space, especially if you’re in a big rig.
I frequently visit Joshua Tree in my motorhome when I camp overnight in the area and can never find parking if I arrive at a trailhead after 10 am. Even regular sedan spaces fill to capacity during the winter months, so be sure to enter the park as early as possible to snag a parking space.
🚗 Where to Rent a Car: Renting a car is the best way to view the huge national park. Plus, the air conditioning comes in handy after hiking under the hot desert sun. Discover Cars is my go-to California rental company – they even have off-roading trucks so you can explore the Joshua Tree backcountry.
FAQs About the Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree
What is the best time of year to visit Joshua Tree?
Winter is the best time of year to visit Joshua Tree. This is the peak season in Joshua Tree National Park because winter in the Mojave Desert experiences the best weather year-round.
When are the best Joshua Tree festivals?
Joshua Tree Music Festival, Timelapse Film Festival, and the nearby Stagecoach and Coachella Music Festivals are all popular festivals in the Joshua Tree area.
What is so special about Joshua Tree?
Joshua Tree has one of the largest concentrations of Joshua Trees in the United States. It also inhabits many desert critters and local flora that thrive in the harsh desert ecosystem.
You made it to the end of my best time to visit Joshua Tree guide. Check out this epic list of things to do in California for even more fun!
Help us help you travel better!
Your feedback really helps ...
What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?