If you’re looking for some desert seclusion with a mix of accessible amenities, make the 130 mile journey east to Joshua Tree National Park. The majority of services for those visiting the park are found in the nearby communities of Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, or Twentynine Palms.
A vehicle is paramount for visiting this area as bus service, public transportation, and ridesharing services are limited. We even recommend a 4×4 vehicle for those wanting to offroad or access all that the area has to offer. Take a day or two to explore the distinctive desert environment, shop the local boutiques, or simply unwind and unplug in the serene landscape.
If you have some time en route, swing into Palm Springs for a quick bite, caffeine fix, or poolside cocktail.
Where to Dine: Our Favorite Spots to Eat and Drink Near Joshua Tree National Park, CA
The famed Pappy + Hariett’s is located in Pioneertown, about 15 minutes away from Joshua Tree and 10 from Yucca Valley. Photo c/o Pappy + Harriet’s.
To get to Joshua Tree National Park, you pass through the town of Yucca Valley on Highway 62. The town has major grocery outlets and is a good stop for stocking up on essentials. Stretch your legs and pick up a coffee and a light snack or meal from Frontier Café, conveniently located at the intersection of Pioneertown Road.
Take the trek up the windy 4 mile road and you’ll arrive in Pioneertown, a 1940s Western film set that now houses several local businesses. No visit to the area is complete without sampling from the legendary BBQ menu at Pappy & Harriet’s, a famed watering hole with regular live music ranging from local open mic nights to national touring acts. For a casual menu and great drinks, Red Dog Saloon is another local gathering space on the other end of Mane Street that also offers a lively atmosphere and occasional live music.
The Copper Room in Yucca Valley, CA is the newest hang in the high desert, housed in the dinner house of a former private airport. Photo: Belathée Photography.
Just off Highway 62 in Yucca Valley you’ll find yourself in the mix with locals, travelers, and the odd feline friend at The Tiny Pony Tavern. A small but succinct food menu is well enjoyed either indoors or on their back patio. Service is friendly and you can strike up a conversation at the pool table or snap a memento in the photo booth.
Yucca Valley’s newest hang is the Copper Room – although its storied past begins in the 1950’s. The landmark restaurant & lounge was previously a private airport and dinner house; these days, it’s serving up shareable plates, crafted cocktails, and all the vibes.
From the center of Yucca Valley, an 8 mile drive up Old Woman Springs Road brings you to the Flamingo Heights neighborhood. Here you’ll find Giant Rock Meeting Room for microbrew and pizzas (our favs are the Mushy Tina or the Flamingo Pig pizza) in addition to hosting regular live music. On the other side of the highway you can expect a line at La Copine where French inflected dishes are served alongside a small selection of beer, cocktails, and wines – many of which are available by the glass.
In the village of Joshua Tree you can’t miss the Joshua Tree Saloon which commands one corner of the main intersection in town. Expect a classic Western saloon with expansive outdoor seating serving up standard bar fare. Another mainstay in town is Crossroads Cafe, notable for their top-notch vegetarian and vegan options. The best coffee game in town is at Joshua Tree Coffee, a local roaster where you can pick up an espresso or snag a bag of beans to take home as the perfect souvenir.
Out There Bar, a “psychedelic desert monument” in 29 Palms. Check their Instagram for their event calendar, hosting dance parties, pizza nights, bingo and more. Photo c/o Out There Bar.
There are a few quick grab and go options in Joshua Tree. The DEZ Fine Food is a standout for their selection of fresh and seasonal salads and prepared takeout meals. For healthy wraps, vegan baked goods, and a juice and smoothie bar, the Natural Sisters Cafe is another excellent choice in the village.
Further down Highway 62 you’ll come across the town of Twentynine Palms, also where another main Joshua Tree National Park entrance is located. Here you can enjoy a Caribbean meets New American menu at Kitchen in the Desert on their outdoor patio perfect for sunset or stargazing. Tucked away in town is The Restaurant at 29 Palms Inn who offer happy hour and dinner menus that incorporate fresh produce from their onsite farm. While both restaurants do have a bar menu – you can always polish off an evening at Out There Bar, the town’s cool and laid back dive bar. Regular events include Tits & Palms (a queer-friendly dance party), bingo, pizza night by I Fall to Pizzas and more.
Where to Shop Near Joshua Tree National Park, CA
The Station in Joshua Tree, CA is hard to miss, thanks to Big Josh (right.)
Small local shops and boutiques are scattered throughout the communities in the area and many are worth a browse. For the flora afflicted, stop at Cactus Mart on Highway 62 in Morongo Valley to browse their vast collection of cacti, succulents, and other native plants. In Yucca Valley, design types can swing into Acme 5 Lifestyle for bohemian and modern furniture and homewares or peruse what’s on offer at The End or Nitty Gritty Antiques for funky desert vintage pieces.
For unique wine picks and high end spirits pop into Desierto Alto in Yucca Valley. They also stock a small selection of home goods and snacks to pair perfectly with your libations. The Yucca Valley outpost of the Mojave Flea Trading Post is perfect to browse a wide selection of local makers and merchants under one roof. Hoof & The Horn is a go-to in town for apparel and gifts or make the trek up the hill to Pioneertown General Store for a well-curated vintage shopping experience. In Joshua Tree, The Station is a quirky gift shop where souvenir tees are stocked next to vintage nick nacks.
For the adventurous shopper, catch the Sky Village Swap Meet on Saturdays and Sundays in Yucca Valley to browse vintage curios, cowboy boots, and almost anything else you can imagine.
Outdoor Adventures in Joshua Tree National Park, CA: Hiking, Cactus Gardens, and Stargazing
At sunset, the cacti in the cholla cactus garden appear to glow, inside Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park is a must if visiting the area. This slice of desert is where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet and is one of the only spots in the United States where you can find Joshua trees (aka Yucca brevifolia, part of the Agave family of plants). There are plenty of hikes within the park boundary, rock climbing opportunities, and campgrounds for taking in the great outdoors.
An easy 1.1 mile loop, Barker Dam Trail offers a glimpse into early ranching efforts in the area, and if you are visiting after a rain you may even see water amongst the boulder laden landscape. Don’t miss the rock art or the interpretive exhibits along the trail! Another nearby short and easy hike is the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. This easy 1 mile loop is a favorite among rock climbers and offers a nice variety of landscape and plant life for a trail its length. For those seeking a more challenging hike, Ryan Mountain is a 3 mile out-and-back trail up to the summit for rewarding views of the park. Elevation gain is 1,050 feet and well worth the effort.
The Cholla Cactus Garden is a dense naturally growing patch of prickly cholla cactus. Stay on the trail as the plants easily detach with the slightest contact. Always worth the quick stop is Keys View, especially at sunset, for expansive views of the San Andreas Fault, Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Gorgonio, and the Salton Sea.
Clear night skies offer ample stargazing opportunities and, since the park is designated as an International Dark Sky Park, it is the perfect place for novices or experts to view the cosmos. Rangers regularly offer programs within the park about the night sky and additionally the Sky’s the Limit Observatory in Twentynine Palms offers some events that are open to the public including the annual Night Sky Festival.
Activities and Attractions Near Joshua Tree National Park, CA: Sound Bathing, Off-Roading, and Outsider Art
The popular Integratron sound bath experiences book months in advance. Photo c/o Integratron.
Though the park is the main attraction (especially if this is your first visit to the area), there is so much more to explore in the area.
Spend a day up in Landers and drop by Gubler Orchids for a greenhouse tour of one of the top quality orchid growers in the world. Make a reservation to stop in for the sounds of 20 quartz crystal singing bowls at The Integratron for an unforgettable live sound bath experience in George Van Tassel’s 1954 all wood dome originally constructed for rejuvenation and time travel. There are many other sound healing providers offering private sessions in the area (consult a website like AirBnB experiences) or try a class at
Also up in Landers is a notable and relatively easy off-roading destination, Giant Rock. Though to be the largest freestanding boulder in the world, this almost seven-story high rock comes with its own legendary status. Regarded as a spiritual place for Native Americans for thousands of years, the site of Giant Rock was also home to a German miner named Frank Critzer who lived underneath the rock in the 1930s, and later as a site for UFO conventions in the 1950s. There are a few ways in and out of the Giant Rock site so plan your route ahead as service is limited in the area.
For the more dedicated off-roaders out there, King of the Hammers is an annual off-road race held at a dry lake in Johnson Valley. Expect a combination of desert racing and rock crawling in the ‘toughest one-day off-road race in the world’, or plan to attend as a spectator to check out the desert T1 Trucks, Buggies, Class 11 Volkswagen Bugs, UTVs, and more.
Back in Joshua Tree, take an hour or two to explore the Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Art. This vast display of found object art took 15 years to assemble across 10 acres of land and speaks to art as a tool for social change. Downtown, drop by the slightly tucked away Art Queen and World Famous Crochet Museum for more offbeat art. Lastly, for those who are interested in mid-century architecture, stop in at the gift shop at the Institute of Mentalphysics to get a glance at the compound that encapsulates the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings.
Where to Stay Near Joshua Tree National Park, CA
There is a wide selection of vacation rentals in the Joshua Tree area, plus a few motel and hotel offerings for low key and laid back stays. From Wild West inspired to luxury (and everything in between), this patch of desert has offerings for every type of traveler.
Originally built in 1954, this three bedroom ranch has been recently remodeled to pay homage to the Old West. Wood finishings add tons of character, with vintage furnishings, colorful art and beautiful plants scattered throughout.
The exterior is just as special, with rusted walls enclosing a private garden, where visitors will enjoy an outdoor bathtub and cowboy steel pool. ~$450/night.
A favorite for those who want to partake in the libations of Pioneertown’s two drinking establishments, the Pioneertown Motel offers chic and simple rooms that are designed with just the right amount of Western flair.
Book a King Room for a bit of extra comfort after a day (or night) out. ~$550/night.
We love (and designed) this sunny modern ranch, Las Palmas, conveniently located less than 10 minutes to Joshua Tree National Park. The home is named after its many plants, but also a nod to the historic neighborhood in Palm Springs that inspired the midcentury vibe of this home.
After a day hiking at JTNP, rinse off in the outdoor shower with living ocotillo walls, then watch the sunset from the patio or in the plant-filled sunroom. Cowboy pool for summer! ~$200/night.
Located in the aptly named Wonder Valley, this tastefully rustic oasis is our furthest flung, immersing guests into the Mojave.
After a day of exploring Wonder Valley, Mojave National Preserve, or Joshua Tree National Park, settle into this peaceful hideaway with its own private hot spring tub, for sunset. ~$230/night.
This magical dome home sits on 2.5 acres of beautiful Mojave landscape, and is a vision straight out of our wildest dreams.
We love the play between the angular architecture of the geodesic dome, made soft with all the boho vibes. Cowboy pool for summer. ~$230/night.
Conveniently located minutes from downtown Joshua Tree, this upscale motel offers 5 rooms and suites. Fire up the BBQ or simply enjoy the native desert plants in the cozy communal courtyard.
Book a Suite for the added kitchenette perfect for those staying more than a few days. ~$185/night.