FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Extreme Beauty: Explore Rugged Desert Landscapes at Joshua Tree National Park

by Teresa Bitler

Aug 17, 2023

© Lunamarina | Dreamstime.com

August 2023

Spanning nearly 800,000 acres between Palm Springs and the Colorado River, Joshua Tree National Park protects native cacti and succulents, including its namesake, the Joshua tree. Many visitors take a self-guided tour of the park simply to see these otherworldly members of the agave family, but guided tours allow you to further explore the two desert ecosystems here and gain a deeper understanding.

© Tsebourn | Dreamstime.com

For a self-guided tour, start by visiting one of the park’s three visitor centers, each located near one of the entrances: one in the town of Joshua Tree, one in the town of Twentynine Palms and one at the park’s south end off Interstate 10. Passenger cars can tour Joshua Tree on paved Park Boulevard, which connects the Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms entrances. Pinto Basin Road, also paved, intersects Park Boulevard and runs south to I-10.

While most two-wheel-drive vehicles can handle the Queen Valley roads and a few miles of the Geology Tour Road, all other backcountry roads require a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle to navigate. However, companies like Red Jeep Tours and Adventure Hummer Tours offer backcountry-road trips through the park.

Hiking proves another popular way to explore Joshua Tree National
Park. Options range from paved loops and easy hikes to treks so physically challenging the National Park Service warns against attempting them during the summer. For a safer alternative, consider booking a guided hike through the Desert Institute. The institute also offers photography, art and nature classes.

© Bonandbondw | Dreamstime.com

With more than 8,000 climbing routes and 2,000 boulder problems, Joshua Tree National Park attracts rock climbers from around the world. You don’t need any experience to join them, though. Several guides offer guided climbing adventures for all skill levels, from beginners to seasoned climbers. Because of heat, most operate October through May.

You don’t need a guide to appreciate the night sky. Joshua Tree National Park is an International Dark Sky Park, recognized for
its extremely dark skies. Bring your own binoculars or telescope or take advantage of the park’s small observatory near the Twentynine Palms entrance. The park also hosts ranger-led astronomy programs

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