Joshua Tree National Park, Joshua Trees, overland, over land, overlanding, off-road, off-roading, off road, off-road trails, california off-road trails, California overland trails, vehicle supported adventure, adventure, expedition,

Directions:  Joshua Tree National Park  is located between I-10 and HW 62 in Southern California. It’s about 2-3 hrs from Los Angeles, 3-4 hrs from San Diego and 3-4 hrs from Las Vegas. Covering close to 800,000 acres, “J-Tree” straddles the transition zone between the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts.

Site Description and Location:  Though there are only a limited number of overland 4×4 trails, the park is a paradise for star gazers, rock climbers, hikers and photographers. Temperatures range widely across the seasons with searing highs in the summer and the potential for snow in the winter. Average temperatures are Jan 62F/30F, April 85F/50F, July 108F/71F and Nov 70F/38F. Camping is predominantly in 9 controlled sites, although registered backcountry hike-in camping is allowed. Obvious times to visit are spring and fall when the temperatures are the most moderate. Unfortunately, the park can get very crowded and only some sites are possible to book. The majority are first-come, first-serve; if you get skunked, there is an alternative primitive campground just outside the Cottonwood entrance in the southeast corner of the park. The Mojave zone of the park is the most widely used and is at an elevation of 3000 ft and above. It has a cooler climate than the Sonoran and has the classic large boulder formations and Joshua trees.

Joshua Tree National Park-Campground Information and Rules: 

There are 9 campgrounds and nearly 500 campsites. Campsites are limited to six people, three tents, and two cars (a vehicle towing a trailer, popup, tent trailer, fifth wheel or a motorhome pulling a vehicle is considered two vehicles). Holding or reserving campsites for persons not present is not allowed, nor can campsites be left unattended for more than 24 hours. Group sites accommodate 10 to 60 people. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire grate. Water and flush toilets are available in Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds. Showers are not available.

Water is available at the Oasis Visitor Center, Indian Cove Ranger Station, West Entrance, and Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds.

Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am. Generator use is limited to six hours a day: 7 to 9 am, noon to 2 pm, and 5 to 7 pm.

Food-storage containers capable of preventing access by wildlife are required. Any scented or odorous items must be similarly stored.

Campfires are allowed in the fire grates porvided.  All vegetation in the park is protected. If you want to make a campfire, bring your own firewood.

RVs: There are no hookups for recreational vehicles. Black Rock and Cottonwood have fresh-water fill-up and dump stations. Motorhomes and habitable trailers are prohibited at Cottonwood and Sheep Pass group sites. At Hidden Valley and White Tank campgrounds, and at Indian Cove group sites, motorhomes and trailers, including their tow vehicle, cannot exceed a combined vehicle length of 25 feet.

Reservations: Sites at Black Rock and Indian Cove campgrounds may be reserved from October through May by calling 1-877-444-6777 up to six months in advance of the date you want to reserve. Or you may make reservations online at

First-come, first-served campgrounds: Belle, Hidden Valley, Ryan, and White Tank. Black Rock and Indian Cove campgrounds are first-come, first-served only during the summer-June through September.

Group Site Reservations may be made up to 12 months in advance throughout the year by calling 1-877-444-6777 or online at Group campsites are available at Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Sheep Pass campgrounds. Cottonwood and Sheep Pass group sites are limited to tent camping only.

Camping Limits: There is a 30-day camping limit each year. However, only 14 nights total may occur from October through May.

Overflow Camping: There is no overflow camping in the park, however there are some BLM areas nearby. Click here for a map (270k PDF). The park also offers backcountry camping.

Overflow Parking is not available in the park. All overnight vehicles must be parked in a designated campsite.

Questions About Camping call 760-367-5500

 CampgroundsSeasonElevationFeeSitesWaterHorse CampToiletsReservations
BelleYear round3800 ft$1018nonopitno
Black RockYear round4000 ft$15100yes$15flushyes
Cottonwood Reservation onlyYear round3000ft$15/$25-40 group62yesnoflushno/group yes
Hidden ValleyYear round4200 ft$1044nonopitno
Indian Cove Year round 3200ft $15/$25-40 group 62–3 group no no pit yes
Jumbo Rocks Reservation onlyYear round4,400 ft$10 124nonopitno
RyanYear round4,300 ft$10 31nonopitno
Sheep PassYear round4,500 ft$25-40 group 6 groupnonopityes
White TankYear round3,800 ft$10 15nonopitno

Check out our Overland Trails section for more info on driving trails in Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree Rock formations

Joshua Tree Journey Part 1: Video courtesy of Gavin Heffernan