Reservation CampingThe majority of the 500 campsites in the park are available by reservation. Reservations can be made the same day or up to 6 months in advance and can be booked on recreation.gov. Book your site before entering the park. Cell service is unreliable and nonexistent in Joshua Tree National Park.
Reserving a site is highly recommended if you plan to camp on a holiday, a weekend, or any day of the week in the spring. Our busy spring season runs from November to May.
Summer Status: All reservation campgrounds are open year-round. Some sections of Indian Cove Campground, Black Rock Campground, and Cottonwood Campground close in the summer.
First-Come, First-Served Camping
Hidden Valley, White Tank, and Belle Campgrounds are first-come, first-served. A ranger will come by with portable registers to collect the campsite payment throughout the day. There is no longer a self-registering, pre-payment system for first-come, first-serve campsites. The fee is $15 per night.
Can't Find A Campsite?
The park has become an extremely popular destination in recent years. Due to this popularity, all park campgrounds are usually full on weekends October through May.
If you arrive too late to get a site in a designated campground, you have the following options:
Sleeping in your vehicle overnight along the roadside or at a roadside pull off is not allowed, and violators may be subject to a citation.
For more information, visit our Camping Outside of the Park page.
Group SitesThere are three areas that have group campsites: Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Sheep Pass.
Black Rock and Ryan Campgrounds have designated horse camps. Ryan is closed in the summer months. See the horseback riding page for more information.
RegulationsVisit our Camping Regulations page to learn more about general rules, pets, quiet hours, and fires/firewood. Attaching lines to vegetation, including Joshua trees and junipers, is prohibited. Hammocks, slacklines, and other horizontal ropes must be tied to rocks and climbing bolts, and are not permitted in campgrounds.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I get campsite reservations?
Reservations are required at the following campgrounds: Indian Cove, Black Rock, Jumbo Rocks, Ryan, Cottonwood, Sheep Pass Group Campground, Cottonwood Group Campground, and Indian Cove Group Campground. Campsite reservations must be made on recreation.gov. They can be made up to six months in advance up to the day of the camping trip (subject to availability).
How do I get a first-come, first-served campsite?
When you arrive at a first-come, first-served campground (Hidden Valley, Belle, or White Tank), look for an open site. If you find a vacated site without equipment, move into the site and set up camp.
How do I pay for a first-come, first-served campsite?
A ranger comes around to first-come, first-served campgrounds multiple times a day to register campers and take payment. You can also pay at an entrance station after you’ve moved into a site. We only accept debit and credit card payments for campsites. You may also pay at the entrance stations. You do not need to seek out a ranger to pay. It is our job to charge you for the campsite.
What are my chances of getting a first-come, first-serve site on the weekend?
First-come, first-serve campsites are highly competitive on holidays, most weekends, and the springtime. They are full nearly every weekend from Sept-May and most weeknights during our busy spring season from mid-February to April. On the weekends, they are typically full by Friday afternoon. The earlier you arrive in a week, the better your chance of securing a site. To avoid disappointment, reserve a site at recreation.gov.
How many tents will fit in my site?
For reservation-only campsites, please check the campsite information on recreation.gov before you book. Not all campsites can accommodate the maximum number of people and tents. For first-come, first-served campgrounds, up to six people and three tents (if they fit) are allowed. If site capacity is exceeded, extra guests will be asked to leave or the site may be forfeited.
Can I sleep in my vehicle?
You are welcome to sleep in your vehicle at a lawfully occupied, designated campsite. It is illegal to sleep in your vehicle outside of campgrounds e.g., trailheads, dirt roads, parking lots, roadsides, etcetera.
If my campsite only allows 1 or 2 vehicles, can I bring an extra and squeeze it in?
No. You are only allowed to bring the stated number of allowed vehicles listed in the campsite information on recreation.gov. It’s typically two and sometimes one. For first-come, first-serve sites, it’s a two-vehicle limit if they fit. The stated vehicle limit is based on available parking space. If exceeding this limit, it typically leads to illegal parking, obstructing the roadway, and vegetation damage. If you bring an extra vehicle, you will be asked to move it. This applies to group sites too; do not exceed the vehicle limit.
If I have more vehicles than my campsite allows, where can I park the extra vehicle(s)?
There is no overflow parking in the national park. For extra vehicles, seek parking outside of the park and carpool in.
Does a trailer or camper count as a vehicle?
Yes, a vehicle towing a trailer, popup, tent trailer, or fifth wheel—or a motorhome towing a vehicle—is considered two vehicles.
What if I have more people than my campsite allows?
Then you will need to book an additional site. Exceeding the maximum number of allowed guests commonly leads to out-of-bounds camping, vegetation damage, and noise complaints. If site capacity is exceeded, extra guests will be asked to leave or the site may be forfeited.
How do I check-in if I’m arriving late?
You don't need to. There is no formal check-in process at the campgrounds. Once you arrive, simply move into your reserved site. A campground host or ranger may or may not greet you and go over campground rules. Campground rules are also posted at the entrance to each campground.
If I’m not going to make it to the first night of my reservation, will my reservation be canceled?
To avoid cancellation, please call 760-367-5554 and leave a message for the park if you are arriving one or more nights late. If you do not plan on using your reserved nights, please cancel them on recreation.gov to give others the opportunity to use the campsite.
Do the gates to the campgrounds close at a certain time?
No, we never close the gates. You are free to enter and exit the campgrounds 24 hours a day.
Can I have a campfire?
Campfires are allowed in the provided campfire ring within designated campsites. Occasionally, we have fire bans in the summer/fall due to high risk of wildfires. If there is a fire ban, check our alerts and conditions webpage to read more about it. If there are no alerts on this webpage about a campfire ban, then you are allowed to have a campfire at your site. Campfires are not allowed in the backcountry or outside of designated campsites in the campgrounds. Charcoal grills are okay to use. When you are done with the fire, dump excess amounts of water on it, stir it up, and check for any remaining heat. Do not leave a smoldering fire unattended.
Where can I buy firewood?
It can be purchased in town from gas stations, grocery stores, and roadside vendors. It is not sold in the park or at visitor centers. You may not gather park vegetation, whether living or dead, to fuel your campfire. Do not burn combustible objects other than firewood.
Can I leave my food and trash bags out during the day?
No, please protect these from the wildlife in a secure container or your vehicle. If you leave your food and trash out, rodents and ravens will likely get into it. This creates behaviors that are detrimental to the wildlife, to you, and to future visitors.
Do I need a horse to book an equestrian site?
Yes, they are reserved for equestrians. If you show up without a horse, you will forfeit the site.
Are there dump stations?
Yes, they are located at Black Rock Campground (near campsite 6) and at Cottonwood (between the visitor center and the campground). They cost $5 to use. Payment can be made before or after use at any entrance station.
Are there water fill stations?
Yes, there are water fill stations at Black Rock campground (near campsite 6) and at Cottonwood (between the visitor center and the campground).
What size of RV's can you accommodate?
White Tank and Hidden Valley campgrounds have a length limit of 25 feet combined. Belle campground can accommodate up to 35 feet but most only accommodate 25-30 feet RV's. For reservation-only campgrounds, check the individual campsite information for the maximum vehicle length allowed. If you're searching for a campsite to accommodate a specific RV length on recreation.gov, click on the "filter" button and adjust the vehicle length to the length of your RV.
What if my RV is slightly longer than the campsite parking length?
Then it will not fit, and you should choose a different campsite to book. If your RV extends out into the road, it is prone to being hit or causing an accident. Campsite information on recreation.gov has details about parking limitations for each site. If you book a site and discover your equipment does not fit, reservation changes depend on the availability of suitable sites. Modifications are subject to a fee and can be completed on the recreation.gov app or website.
When can I run my generator?
Generator use is only permitted 7–9 am, noon–2 pm, and 5–7 pm.
Last updated: August 4, 2022