Frequently Asked Questions


The Basics


The park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. When the entrance stations are not staffed at night, we leave the gates open. You are welcome to drive in and out of the park during these hours. Stargazing is a popular nighttime activity.

There are four visitor centers. The Joshua Tree Visitor Center is located in downtown Joshua Tree at 6554 Park Boulevard. The Cottonwood Visitor Center is located near the park's southern entrance on Pinto Basin Road. The Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center is located in downtown Twentynine Palms at 6533 Freedom Way. The Black Rock Nature Center is a smaller visitor center located in the Black Rock campground in Yucca Valley at 9800 Black Rock Canyon Road. Visit our visitor center webpage for more information on visitor center hours and amenities.

Temperatures are most comfortable in the fall and spring, with highs typically in the range of 70-85°F (21-29°C) and lows around 50 (10°C). In the winter, highs are usually around 60°F (15°C) and near or below freezing at night. It occasionally snows at higher elevations. Summers are hot. The highs are typically over 100°F (38°C), and lows are usually around 75°F (24°C) at night. Springtime and holidays are the busiest times of the year and the park can be very crowded. During any season, Joshua Tree can be prone to strong winds and flash flooding.

No, there is no reservation system to enter the park. You are welcome to enter and exit the park at any time.

There are picnic areas, campgrounds, hiking trails, vista points, and pullouts with interpretive information. There are no hotels, restaurants, or gas stations. Make sure to have sufficient food, water, and gas/electric charge before entering the park. Vault toilets can be found throughout the park at campgrounds and popular trailheads, pullouts, and attractions. Flush toilets are available at the visitor centers and the West Entrance Station.

The drive between the West Entrance in Joshua Tree and the North Entrance in Twentynine Palms is approximately 45 minutes. Between the North Entrance and the South Entrance (Cottonwood), the drive is approximately 1 hour. Between the West Entrance and the South Entrance, the drive is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Water bottle fill stations are located at the Black Rock Nature Center, the West Entrance Station, and the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center. Water jugs can be filled at the West Entrance Station, Indian Cove Ranger Station, Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds, and at Park Headquarters (in the Northeast section of the parking lot). RV fill stations are located at Black Rock Campground (near campsite 6) and Cottonwood (between the visitor center and campground). The center of the park does not have potable water. Please enter the park prepared with plenty of water stored in your car and/or backpack.

There is very limited cell phone reception in the park, and cell service should never be relied on. Free public WIFI can be accessed at the Black Rock Visitor Center, the Joshua Tree Visitor Center, and the Joshua Tree Cultural Center. Before entering the park, download the official National Park Service app to access the free offline maps.

Yes, we recommend downloading the official National Park Service app. You can find information on visitor centers, campgrounds, trails, things to do, and more. You can also download an offline map to use when you don't have cell phone reception. For visitors seeking campsite and Keys Ranch tour reservations, download the app to view availability and book reservations.

If you lost or found an item, make a report on our lost and found webpage. If your lost item was turned in to us, we will contact you as soon as possible.

Fees and Passes


We strongly recommend you purchase a digital pass before your visit. Buying a pass beforehand will help expedite wait times to enter the park. Passes can also be purchased at any visitor center or entrance station.

The cost varies depending on which pass you purchase. The most common pass is the Entrance Pass which covers a single, non-commercial vehicle for 7 days. Browse our Fees & Passes page to find out which pass is right for you and what it will cost.

Yes! Find out more about discounted and free passes on our Fees & Passes page. For the 4th grader "Every Kid Outdoors" Pass, apply on the NPS every kid outdoors webpage before arriving. Print and bring the voucher with you—images on cell phones are not acceptable.

Yes, it is available to purchase at all visitor centers and entrance stations. It can also be purchased online at If purchasing online, shipping and handling charges apply and allow four to six weeks for shipping.

No, the senior pass will cover you and anyone else in the vehicle. Simply show your senior pass and ID at the entrance station.

Yes, a pass must be purchased or shown to enter/exit the park.



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 can only made on or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Reservations be made up to six months in advance (subject to availability).

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.

After occupying an open site, proceed immediately to an entrance station to complete registration and pay. You must pay for the site within one hour of set up. We only accept debit and credit card payments for campsites.
If arriving after entrance stations close, payment may be delayed until the following morning. Fee collection rangers may be available in the campgrounds as a convenience to visitors in the morning, but should not be relied upon as a primary means for site registration.

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

For reservation-only campsites, please check the campsite information on 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.

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.

No. You are only allowed to bring the stated number of allowed vehicles listed in the campsite information on 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.

There is no overflow parking in the national park. For extra vehicles, seek parking outside of the park and carpool in.

Yes, a vehicle towing a trailer, popup, tent trailer, or fifth wheel—or a motorhome towing a vehicle—is considered two vehicles.

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.

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.

To avoid cancellation, please call 760-367-3001 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 to give others the opportunity to use the campsite.

No, we never close the gates. You are free to enter and exit the campgrounds 24 hours a day.

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.

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.

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.

Yes, they are reserved for equestrians. If you show up without a horse, you will forfeit the site.

No, none of the park campgrounds have showers. However, campers can pay to shower in the local communities. Some private campgrounds outside of the park have shower options for their campers.

There are a few shower options in the local community, and most require a payment between $5-$30. If you are looking for a place to shower, we recommend contacting private campgrounds, gyms, motels, and travel centers.

RV-Related Questions


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.

Yes, there are water fill stations at Black Rock campground (near campsite 6) and at Cottonwood (between the visitor center and the campground).

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, click on the "filter" button and adjust the vehicle length to the length of your RV.

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 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 app or website.

Generator use is only permitted 7–9 am, noon–2 pm, and 5–7 pm.

Outdoor Activities


Hidden Valley, Barker Dam, Arch Rock, and the Discovery Trail are all around one mile and very scenic. Check out our Hiking page or the official National Park Service app for more information on hiking.

There is no bad spot to watch the sunset. Unique locations and stunning views can be discovered throughout the park. Some popular places include Indian Cove, Quail Springs, Cap Rock, and the Cholla Cactus Garden. Keys View is very popular but can be crowded and difficult to find parking.

Yes, the park is open 24/7. We leave the gates open at night, so you are welcome to drive in and out.

There are many fantastic spots to view the night sky. You are welcome to use roadside pullouts and the designated stargazing areas of Hidden Valley, Ryan Mountain, and Quail Springs. Please stay awake and close to your vehicle. The Pinto Basin Road between Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood has the darkest skies and the least amount of traffic. Before stargazing, check the current moon phase and the time that the moon rises and sets. For more helpful tips, check out our Stargazing webpage.

Pets are not allowed on hiking trails, except for the Oasis of Mara trail. To hike with your pet, we recommend hiking down a dirt road or walking your pet through the roads in campgrounds. Dogs must always be on a leash and can't be more than 100 feet from a road. This is for the protection of our animals and yours. Please read more about visiting with pets on our pets webpage.

  • Oasis of Mara Trail near the Park Headquarters in Twentynine Palms. This trail is paved and suitable for all wheelchairs.
  • Lower Keys View Overlook - near accessible parking spots. This trail is paved and suitable for all wheelchairs. Views may be limited by signage and naturally growing vegetation.
  • Bajada Nature Trail near the South Entrance. This trial has areas of deep sand and is scheduled for improvements. The terrain of this trail is not suitable for most motorized wheelchairs.
  • Cap Rock Nature Trail at the junction of Park Boulevard and Keys View Road. The terrain of this trail may not be suitable for most motorized wheelchairs.

Biking is allowed on dirt and paved roads in the park. Bikes are not permitted on trails or "off-road." We recommend only bicycling on the park's backcountry dirt roads which offer opportunities to explore many areas and have less traffic than the busy paved roads. If biking on the paved roads in the park, please be advised that there are no paved shoulders or bike lanes. The roads are winding and can be congested with heavy traffic during weekends, holidays, and weekdays in the busy spring season. Please ride with caution, wear a helmet and bright clothing, and travel on the right side of the road in a single file.

Ranger Programs


Ranger program scheduling varies by season and available staff. For current programming, check our web calendar, inquire at a visitor center, or call 760-367-5500. Keys Ranch tours usually run from October to April. Besides Keys Ranch tours, ranger programs are free to attend and do not require reservations.

Tickets for the Keys Ranch tour are only available at Tours typically run from October-April. Tickets are available up to 60 days before the tour date. No walk-up tickets are available. Ranch tours frequently sell out, and reservations are the only way to attend. Visitor centers do not sell tickets and cannot make changes to existing reservations. Keys Ranch is a protected historical site. Visiting is restricted to ranger-led tours only. Unauthorized access may result in arrest and/or fines.

The amount of tours we provide per week depends on staffing and visitation trends. Because of these fluctuations, we only schedule tours 1-2 months in advance.



Spring wildflowers are dependent on winter rains. After dry winters, the park doesn't see many wildflowers. After wet winters, we may get an abundance of wildflowers. Wildflowers usually begin blooming in the lower elevations of the Pinto Basin and along the park's south boundary in February and at higher elevations in March and April. Desert regions above 5,000 feet may have plants blooming as late as June. There is not typically one best place to see them. They are spread throughout the park and can be viewed on a variety of trails.

There is no one best place. During your visit, keep on the lookout and listen for verbal clues. Crowded visitor areas typically scare animals away. Wildlife is most active at night and after a rain event.

Antelope ground squirrels, jackrabbits, coyotes, red-tail hawks, ravens, and great basin fence lizards. Animals can sometimes be difficult to spot in the desert. Many are nocturnal or crepuscular (meaning they mainly come out around sunrise and sunset). Some live in burrows in the ground or in cracks in the rocks. Reptiles don't like to come out if it's too cold and mammals don't like to come out if it's too hot. With that said, Joshua Tree has 57 species of mammals, 46 species of reptiles, and over 250 species of migrant and resident birds. So don't forget to look up from the trail!

Timing and luck. Both species are not frequently seen in the park. Desert tortoises are spread throughout the park and are most commonly seen in the springtime. Bighorn sheep are most active in the early morning and evening. They roam in rocky, mountainous areas and sometimes hang out near water sources like Barker Dam. If you see either species, give them plenty of distance and enjoy observing from afar.

There are seven species of rattlesnakes in the park. However, snake bites and negative interactions with snakes are very rare. If you are getting too close to a rattlesnake, they will usually let you know with their rattle. They are not typically aggressive towards humans unless they feel threatened to defend themselves. Stay on trails and do not place your limbs into holes, under vegetation, or rocky crevices. If you keep your distance, you should be fine. They see you as a predator and not their food source!

The Northwest portion of the park along Park Boulevard and Keys View Road is a great place to see the Joshua trees. If you have high clearance and four-wheel drive, the Covington Flat area is also an excellent place. If entering or exiting through the southern part of the park, few Joshua trees are found between Cottonwood and Wilson Canyon (near White Tank Campground).

History and Culture


The lands currently managed by Joshua Tree National Park include parts of the traditional homelands of the Maara’yam (Serrano), Nüwü (Chemehuevi), and Kawiya (Cahuilla), and the traditional use area of the Aha Macave (Mohave). Today, these communities are comprised of 15 tribes: Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, Cahuilla Band of Indians, Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeño Indians, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Ramona Band of Cahuilla, Yuhaaviatam of San Manuel Nation, Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, and Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians.

According to legend, Mormon pioneers considered the limbs of the Joshua trees to resemble the upstretched arms of Joshua, leading them to the promised land. However, this tale is not substantiated in record and might be more myth than history. Joshua trees have gone by many names, including hunuvat chiy’a, huêlye, dirk pear tree, yucca tree, and dragon yucca. It is currently unknown how the name, Joshua tree, stuck while the others did not. Learn more about Joshua trees.

Last updated: April 26, 2024

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74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

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