“Joshua Tree Season”
In the fall, when the sun is low, lighting in this desert park is beautiful, sunsets are spectacular, and the skies are extra blue. “Joshua Tree Season” is how frequent visitors, mostly climbers, refer to the fall and spring times in Joshua Tree National Park. Historically, visitors will experience the best weather in the park in the months of October/November, and March/April/May. Following a wet winter, the spring desert bloom is worth a trip to the area, when bright cactus flowers pop up between boulders and across the sand. During “Joshua Tree Season,” temperatures tend to be mild, and winds moderate. Off-season temperatures can be scorching hot or freezing cold with a biting wind. If your schedule is flexible, pockets of good weather can be found throughout winter months.
Preserved for many years, this desert area was designated a National Monument in 1936. Then, the Monument expanded and became National Park status in 1994, while 420,000 acres within the monument retained Wilderness status.
Joshua Tree National Park includes two desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado. As a result, there are abundant plant and animal species within park boundaries. Furthermore, geologic features that scatter the landscape are unique and beautiful. The dark night skies are spectacular. After one visit, you will be ready to return for the desert experience once again.
Intersection Rock, the Center of Things
Intersection Rock is easily seen from the main road because is a monolithic, stand-alone rock, and crawling with climbers on all sides. National Park signs direct visitors to each area throughout the Park, but the, relatively large, parking for Intersection Rock is the most central. Just behind Intersection Rock is Hidden Valley Campground, a well-loved area by rock climbers because classic rock climbs are within walking distance of campsites.
Hidden Valley campsites are first-come, first-serve, so they can be challenging to obtain. When driving into Joshua Tree National Park, it will be about thirty minutes before arriving at a turn for Hidden Valley Campground and Intersection Rock. Pass a few day-use parking areas first, picnic tables, pit toilet restrooms, and trashcans before arriving.
Finding a Campsite
Securing a place to set up your tent or park your trailer can be challenging in Joshua Tree National Park. Most campgrounds within the park, with the exception of Jumbo Rocks, are first come, first serve. That means you will have to drive through each campground looking for an unoccupied site to claim for the night. Fees are deposited in a metal depository at campground entrances. Jumbo Rocks campsites can be reserved online , as can outlying campsites at Indian Cove Campground and Black Rock Campground.
Roadrunner Shuttle Bus
Joshua Tree National Park is testing a shuttle bus service during fall of 2018 and spring of 2019. This bus system brings visitors into the park and stops at major destinations, like campgrounds and Intersection Rock. Shuttle bus riders are not required to pay park entrance fees.