Each season adds its personality to the desert’s character.
Three entrances to the park—Oasis Visitor Center, open all year 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.; Cottonwood Visitor Center, open all year 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.; and Black
Rock Nature Center, open October through May, Saturday through Thursday 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. and Friday noon to 8:00 P.M.
The Joshua Tree National Park charges a $15 fee per car entering the park and allows unlimited entry and exits for seven days. Persons with a Joshua Tree National Park card or a Golden Eagle Pass can enter the park without paying the fee. The JTNP card is $30 per year and is only valid at this park. The Golden Eagle Pass is $50 per year and is valid at all U.S. national parks.
Motels, stores, restaurants, and auto services are located in the nearby towns of Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree Village, and Twentynine Palms.So close to SoCal! Something so close to home... this National Park... has taken us way too long to visit... 12 years since we've had kids! Joshua Tree is only 2 hours away from Disneyland, LA, and our home, Orange County, and it is a natural playground for kids. Our kids were sure they could climb every rock, crawl through every tunnel, and stay there forever just playing. We got some great advice online from a NP Ranger and we followed his game plan for the day: Start at a Visitor Center (Joshua Tree VC or Oasis VC) off of Hwy 62 to the north of the park. We failed to pick up Jr. Ranger books but saw lots of kids with them and they looked top-notch. We then drove into the park (another 20 minutes) and passed, with reluctance, the Jumbo Rocks area because we were advised that it gets crowded. It was crowded but we were anxious for some exploring (thus the reluctance). We finally stopped at the Hidden Valley Picnic area and soon got all the exploring and adventure we desired. Next stop was the Barker Dam Nature Trail (1.1 mile loop) which was excellent. Our final stop was an extra 10 minute drive down to Keys View where the view was amazing and we were glad we made the trip. There were several times on our exploring where I quickly became nervous about my 4 and 6 year olds wanting to climb rocks that were too tall for them... that and I was afraid they would lose their balance on the ones they were standing on. It wasn't always a happy time for me! But the best time was when we found some cracks and canyons in a large rock and hid and explored without being high off of the ground. TIP: be careful of kids who explore too high... could be dangerous. Take a helpful adult with you... I was so glad my hubby was there with the older boys and could teach them how to scramble safely! The November sun set early and quick (5pm) so our exploring time was limited but the weather was absolutely perfect. The sun kept us warm but we were not hot in our jeans and sturdy shoes. I can't wait to bring my kids back for some more exploring. TIP: We forgot to fill up our water bottles at the Visitor Center. There is NO water available in the main section of the park... just at Oasis VC, Indian Cove Ranger Station, West Entrance, and Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds.