8 Best Campgrounds in Joshua Tree That Won’t Disappoint

August 6, 2020

by Rina Bernardo

campground in joshua tree national park

Camping is one of the best ways to spend time at Joshua Tree National Park. Its distinct Yucca trees, breathtaking rock formations, and clear clouds cemented its position as one of the best national parks near Las Vegas. All-year round, campers flock to this park to spend time away from the bustling city streets and be one with nature. Joshua Tree National Park is also one of the best places for rock climbing in the U.S. frequented by beginners and seasoned cli mbers. You can also find the best campground in Joshua Tree National Park, whether it is for stargazing or activities like hiking and rock climbing.

Take note that during this year, people are more hesitant to go out due to the Coronavirus risk. However, with proper planning and adhering to the safety protocols, you can still enjoy outdoor recreational activities. Certain areas of the park are also starting to resume operations in a phased approach following instructions from the White House and state and local public health officials.

That being said, continue reading to find out which campgrounds are the best, when to go camping in Joshua Tree as well as what to expect camping in Joshua Tree. This article also provides additional safety tips and know-how so visitors can adjust to the “new normal”.

Which Campgrounds Is the Best at Joshua Tree?

The best campground in Joshua Tree depends entirely on your camping preferences. If you want to camp where there are fewer people, Bella and White Tank campgrounds should be on your list. Jumbo Rocks and Black Rock are two of the widely recognized family and child-friendly campgrounds in the park.

For those looking for the next Instagram-worthy picture, Indian Cove Campground is the best place to take pictures of the sunset. Black Rock Campground also has stunning views of the Yucca Valley, especially at night. Rock climbers and enthusiasts can choose a campsite in either Hidden Valley or White Tank due to its proximity to some popular climbing trails.

 

Best Campground in Joshua Tree National Park

 

 

1. Hidden Valley Campground

 

Hidden Valley Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

The Hidden Valley Campground is the best campground in Joshua Tree for climbers due to its proximity from climbing routes. This campground is situated in a desert landscape with picturesque views of the park. It is also a good option for those who want to want to watch the stars at night. Across the road from the campsite is the Hidden Valley Nature Trail and the Boy Scout Trailhead for those who want a longer hike. Individual campsites at Hidden Valley Campground are usually nestled into the rock formations, providing shade from the sunlight. Take note that this is one of the most visited campgrounds, so it may be difficult to get a campsite especially on high tourist seasons.

This is also one of the closest campgrounds to the visitor center and can be packed with campers during high season (September to April). If you find its 44 campsites full, you may opt to camp at Ryan Campground some two miles away. Potable water is not available at the Hidden Valley Campground so campers are advised to bring plenty of water. RVs and trailers are allowed but must not exceed 25 feet in length.

Cost per night: 15 USD
Number of campsites: 44
First come first serve: Yes

 

2. Cottonwood Campground

 

Cottonwood Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

If you are going stargazing at the end of the day, Cottonwood Campground is the best campground in Joshua Tree National Park for it. Although it has less shade from vegetation as compared to other campgrounds, it is also the best place to see the wildflowers in spring. Cottonwood Campground is also one of the two camping locations with potable water. The campground is also ideal for camping in winter since it is generally warmer than other locations, but can be uncomfortable during summer.

Despite being one of the smaller campgrounds, it provides the best views and has potable water, flush toilets, and other modern facilities. It also has easy access from Interstate 10, making it one of the more popular stopovers for travelers. Cottonwood Campground is also perfect for small to medium-sized RVs.

Cost per night: 20 USD (individual campsite), 40 USD (group campsite)
Number of campsites: 62
First come first serve: No (all sites are available for reservation)

 

3. Jumbo Rocks Campground

 

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

Jumbo Rocks Campground is a family-friendly campground surrounded by giant granite boulders and steep rock formations. The campground is centrally located, offers the best views of the rock formations, and is the largest campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Adventurous campers can enjoy hiking, bouldering, and rock climbing while those who prefer relaxing activities can go biking, wildlife viewing, and stargazing on clear nights. The Skull Rock, a rock formation with perplexing skull shape, can be found near the campground.

Its 124 campsites have a fire pit, grill, and a concrete picnic table. Ranger programs are also available on Friday and Saturday nights. Take note that although it is a family-friendly campground, potable water isn’t available so families and campers will have to provide their own. Make sure to bring plenty of water especially during the summer months.

Cost per night: 15 USD
Number of campsites: 124
First come first serve: Yes

 

4. White Tank Campground

 

White Tank Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

The White Tank Campground is the best campground in Joshua Tree if you want to spend the night somewhere more peaceful and quiet. This small campground is also close to the Arch Rock Nature Trail, one of the easier hikes at Joshua Tree National Park. The giant boulders scattered around the campgrounds also make it a good playground and shelter for kids and younger campers. Like most campgrounds, you can find great views of the rock formations and boulders. White Tank Campground is also located in the central area of the park, so most hiking and climbing trails can be easily accessed within the campgrounds.

With just 15 campsites, the White Tank Campground is the smallest campground in the national park. Potable water isn’t available so you will need to bring plenty of water, especially during summertime. Each campsite also comes with a fire pit, fire grate, and a stand-up grill.

Cost per night: 15 USD
Number of campsites: 15
First come first serve: Yes

 

5. Ryan Campground

 

Ryan Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

Another centrally located site, Ryan Campground is one of the two designated campgrounds with equestrian sites. There are also sites for bike camping. Most of the sites aren’t too clustered and if you want a more private camping experience, Ryan Campground is the best campground in Joshua Tree for you. The campground is also near the California Riding and Hiking Trail, a 37.6-mile trail that takes you through some of the most breathtaking yet secluded areas of the park. On top of that, campers can find the ruins of Ryan Ranch, a six-room house built by miners Jepp and Tom Ryan, just a short hike from the campground.

Ryan Campground has 31 campsites and 4 equestrian sites. All campsites come with fire rings, picnic tables as well as pit toilets. Campers are advised to bring enough water supply for drinking, cleaning, and cooking.

Cost per night: 15 USD
Number of campsites: 31
First come first serve: Yes, but the 4 equestrian campsites must be reserved

 

6. Black Rock Campground

 

Black Rock Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

Black Rock Campground is another family-fr iendly campground that also offers a separate area for campers with horses. Although the campground is located in the northwest corner of Joshua Tree California, it also boasts stunning views of the park. Because of its distance from Yucca Valley, you can see the small town illuminated by sparkling city lights at night. The campground is also near the Little San Bernardino Mountains where you can catch the best views and take postcard-perfect photos.

The campground has 99 campsites with picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms. It is also one of the two campgrounds with potable water, although it is highly recommended to bring additional water. Campsites at Black Rock vary in sizes and can suit both tents and RVs. With its amenities and activities offered, Black Rock Campground is the best campground for first-time and seasoned campers.

Cost per night: 20 USD
Number of campsites: 99
First come first serve: No. You need to reserve from late August to early June.

 

7. Indian Cove Campground

 

Indian Cove Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

Despite being one of the larger campgrounds, Indian Cove Campground has several large sites that give you privacy as well as magnificent views of the rock formations. Indian Cove Campground is located far from the main section of the park but is relatively closer to Twentynine Palms if you need to buy anything from the stores. Although it has fewer trees and vegetation, campers can still find Mojave yuccas, wildflowers, and even desert tortoises in spring and early fall. Hikers will love this campground since it is close to hiking trails such as Rattlesnake Canyon and Boy Scout Trail. Indian Cove Campground is also the best campground in Joshua Tree for beginner rock climbers.

The campground has 101 sites, including 13 group campsites. The site is also known for having local parties although there are larger campsites that give you privacy. Potable water isn’t available and can only be accessed at a ranger station two miles away. The stores and restaurants at Twentynine Palms are just miles away if you need anything else. Due to the lack of vegetation and trees, sun exposure can be an issue in the summer months.

Cost per night: 20 USD (individual campsite), 50 USD (group campsite)
Number of campsites: 101
First come first serve: Group campsites require a reservation. The rest are on a first-come-first-served basis.

 

8. Belle Campground

 

Belle Campground

Photo by Joshua Tree National Park on Flickr

If you are looking for a more secluded and private site, Belle Campground is the best campground in Joshua Tree for you. Both White Tank and Belle Campgrounds are the smallest in the park and are both on a first-come-first-served basis. Like other campgrounds in Joshua Tree California, Belle Campground is laden with large boulders, Joshua trees, and shrubs. The campground is perfect for stargazing and can serve as a good basecamp for rock climbing enthusiasts. It may be a little far away from most of the park’s main attractions, but it also gives you access to some hiking trails like the Arch Rock Nature Trail. 

All 18 campsites at Belle Campground are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Potable water isn’t accessible, so campers need to bring plenty of water. Most of the sites include fire rings, picnic tables, and vault toilets.

Cost per night: 15 USD
Number of campsites: 18
First come first serve: Yes

 

Joshua Tree Camping Tips in 2020

 

best campground in joshua tree

Photo by Fum Bally on Unsplash

Given the situation considering the Coronavirus pandemic, certain adjustments have been made to ensure the safety of the park’s visitors and employees. For a safe and memorable trip to Joshua Tree California, always remember to maintain social distancing and to wear a mask. Additional safety tips and precautions are as follows:

  1. Before visiting a park, be updated with its operating status via the National Park Service official website.
  2. Make sure to have everything reserved before heading out. Also, be sure to bring everything in your camping gear to avoid last-minute trips to stores and shops and risk infection.
  3. The campgrounds prohibit attaching lines to Joshua trees and other forms of vegetation. Hammocks must be tied to rocks and climbing bolts, and are not allowed in the campgrounds. 
  4. Bring plenty of water, especially during the summer months. Although there are sites where potable water is available, it’s highly recommended to bring your own water. Be sure to bring at least one gallon of water per person per day to avoid dehydration.
  5. Campfires are allowed only in designated fire rings and grills found within the park campgrounds and specific areas. Due to the park’s dry climate, fires must be kept small and campers should provide their own firewood.
  6. Gathering park vegetation to fuel campfires is not allowed. If you plan to have a campfire, bring water to extinguish it thoroughly.
  7. Group sites must be reserved up to 6 months in advance.
  8. Practice social distancing at campsites between you and those who don’t live in the same household as you. 
  9. Bring extra cleaning and sanitizing supplies. Provide your own soap, cleaners, hand sanitizers, towels, and toilet paper.
  10. Adhere to the rules given by the park management. Some areas may be closed or may require masks. Follow the rules not only to keep yourself safe but for other visitors as well.

 

FAQ

How Much Does It Cost to Camp at Joshua Tree National Park?

Camping fees depend on which campground you’ll be staying at. They start at 15 USD for sites like Hidden Valley and Belle Campground. For other campgrounds like Indian Cove and Black Rock Campground, the camping fee is at 20 USD. Group campsites range between 40 to 50 USD depending on the number of campsites. 

Camping fees must be paid within an hour of selecting a campsite and should be ideally paid in the exact amount.

Is It Safe to Camp at Joshua Tree National Park?

Camping at Joshua Tree National Park is safe, even at night. Roads are properly marked and there are patrollers roaming around the park to ensure everything is safe.

When hiking, make sure to bring plenty of water and avoid hiking or rock climbing alone as much as possible. Always inform a friend or a family member of your route and your expected time of return. Check the weather forecast before heading out and make sure to carry a map and compass. Venomous animals such as rattlesnakes, scorpions, and black widow spiders also live in the park, so it’s important to look before placing your hands or feet on a surface.

Lastly, make sure to bring a first aid kit in case of unforeseen events. Combs and tapes are also helpful for removing cactus spines and cholla. A camping knife is another multipurpose item you can use for food preparation, first aid, and even for splitting firewood. 

For a safe camping experience, please refrain from feeding animals since it may lead them to become aggressive. Don’t approach animals to take pictures and make sure that children should not chase or pick up animals. Keep wildlife wild.

Should you need emergency help, dial 911. Cell reception is weak and limited inside the park. There are emergency phones located at the ranger station in Indian Cove should you need it. Emergency phones are also available at the parking lot at Intersection Rock near the Hidden Valley Campground.

Can I Go on Dispersed Camping in Joshua Tree? 

 

Dispersed camping in Joshua Tree California is allowed, but only on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). There are no campground facilities or amenities, but these lands have their own regulations that should be followed.

Dispersed camping is allowed near the north and south entrances of the park. Take note that there are no restrooms available and campfires are only allowed if you are able to present a permit.