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5 Cool Things to See in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular desert parks in the National Park Service system. Containing incredible rock formations, desert tortoises, and Joshua trees, the park is a fantastic experience for guests of all ages. Here are five cool things to see in Joshua Tree National Park.

5. Skull Rock

skull rock in joshua tree

This is a popular spot to stop, but for good reason. It’s a great introduction to what Joshua Tree has to offer. Skull Rock, as the name implies, looks like a giant skull. It’s a short drive from the main park entrance and is a roadside attraction of different boulders. You can park right next to the rock and snap a picture of the formation that appears to have two large eye sockets. From there, you can explore other nearby rock formations or even do a short mile or so hike toward Jumbo Rocks campground.

4. Heart Rock

heart rock trail

While Joshua Tree is best known for its namesake plant, rocks are a close second. Heart Rock, like Skull Rock, is named for its familiar shape. Heart Rock is a little trickier to get to and requires a short hike. Plus, you need to locate the rock in a sea of other rocks. However, once you spot Heart Rock, it’s easy to know you’ve arrived at the destination. The trail leaves from Arch Rock Trailhead, which is closer to the town of Twentynine Palms. As a bonus on the hike to Heart Rock, you get to see Arch Rock, reminiscent of the rock formations in Arches National Park

3. Bouldering in Hidden Valley

Bouldering is a great thing to see in Joshua Tree National Park

This is the last cool thing on the list that is rock-related, but it’s here for a good reason. Incredible bouldering routes cover the Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree and these short rock climbing routes are a great way to connect with the outdoors. According to the popular rock climbing website Mountain Project, more than 400 boulder routes exist in this area alone. The grippy routes are so plentiful that you’ll feel the solitude of the outdoors even though it’s the most popular climbing area in the park. It’s important to remember that bouldering takes training and proper safety steps, including a crash pad. Hiring a local climbing guide service to help you get started could be a good idea.

2. Keys Views

keys view in joshua tree

Compared to other parks, it’s easy for Joshua Tree to feel pretty flat. Sure, you can see mountains off in the distance, but it may not seem like the epic experience you would get at Yosemite or the Grand Tetons with a mountain clearing. However, Keys View is the go-to place for a great view. Don’t expect a strenuous hike, either. You can drive to the spot in about 20 minutes from the main park road. The overlook sits in the Little San Bernardino Mountains. On a clear day, you can see as far as Mexico.

1. Stargazing

cool things to see in Joshua Tree National Park

Finally, this last one is more of an experience than a destination. Despite being an easy day drive from the Los Angeles area, stargazing in Joshua Tree is something to witness. On clear nights, it’s easy to see a sea of stars, planets, the Milky Way and even a few meteors. Park officials say for the best experience, pick a night with a new moon or less moonlight. Also, some advice: Joshua Tree may get scorching hot during the day, but be sure to bring some layers of clothes as the temperatures can drop quickly at night.

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