Joshua Tree Travel Diary

Last weekend I took a little day trip to Joshua Tree, which I have had on my list for quite some time now. It was unlike anywhere I have ever been before, and certainly did not disappoint! For those who aren’t familiar, Joshua Tee is a national park here in Southern California (roughly two and a half hours from LA, and just outside of Coachella Valley). It is in the Colorado and Mojave deserts, and mostly known for rugged rock formations, Joshua trees, and crazy cacti.

Whenever I go somewhere new, I like to create a little travel diary to showcase my top recommendations for you in case you’re planning a trip of your own. I typically give my suggestions for everywhere to eat, play, shop, and stay, but today’s guide is a little different. I left out the “shop” category since I didn’t do any shopping while I was there, and didn’t feel like there were any must-sees in that category. So, without further ado, here is my Joshua Tree National Park travel diary. I hope you enjoy x

{pin this to your travel pinterest board for future trips!}

Since I only spent one day in J-Tree, I’m going to give you what I would describe as the perfect day there:

So just outside of the national park there is the little town of Joshua Tree. I would suggest starting your morning there, with breakfast at Crossroads Café — they even have soyrizo as an option on the menu for my fellow vegans 🙂 Once you’re fueled and ready to go, I would make a pit stop at Joshua Tree Coffee Company and get a coffee to-go, then head into the park.

Since it is a national park, you will have to pay a fee to get in, but the pass is good for a few days. Once inside the park, I would hit a few things off the list under the “play” category. Arch Rock, Skull Rock, and Cholla Cactus Garden were some of my favorite hot spots. Driving through the park is also a sight within itself, and there are tons of places to pull off and take pictures or take in the scenery, which we did a few times.

We brought a lot of snacks with us, and there are a few stops along the road with picnic tables which was perfect. If you want to leave the park and go back into town for lunch or snacks, I would highly recommend Natural Sisters Café; they have juices and smoothies, soups, salads, sandwiches — the works. They even have options for vegan desserts… Take something to go to enjoy once back inside the park.

One thing that I would consider a must-do would be to watch the sunset at Key’s View. This is — I believe — the highest point in the park, and it overlooks all of Coachella Valley. It’s a beautiful view and makes for a perfect sunset viewing point. It was pretty crowded while we were there, so a lot of people had the same idea! J-Tree is known for its stunning sunsets so you won’t be disappointed 🙂

There was one thing on our list that we didn’t get to do, and that was the Smith Ranch Drive-In. I haven’t been to a drive-in movie theatre since sometime in middle school, and would have loved to go to one. It is outside of the park, a little ways past the town of Joshua Tree in Twentynine Palms. It’s a classic, cash-only drive-in, open Thursdays–Sundays. They also have a concessions stand with popcorn, candy, drinks, etc. Next time I am 100% planning on going here!

Since the park is so secluded and dark at night, it’s also a great place to stargaze. This was something I was really excited about! I have always really, really loved looking at the stars, so when I get to be in places like this where I get a great view of them, it always makes me really happy.

A few miscellaneous things to note: Dress in layers! There were times where it was super nice and warm in the sun, and others where the wind was blowing so much we couldn’t stay warm at all, lol. Definitely be ready to take layers off and put them back on at your next stop. Also, beware of rattlesnakes and other dangerous wildlife. We were told just to “not put your hands or feet anywhere you can’t see.”

Those are my top travel tips for a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. I hope you enjoyed!


What is your favorite weekend getaway destination? I’d love to hear about it 🙂 Thank you so much for reading x

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