Joshua Tree is one of the most accessible weekend trip destinations from Southern California, Arizona, and even parts of Nevada. Escape into nature and discover the unworldly Joshua Tree as you explore the National Park, the town of Joshua Tree, and the surrounding areas. This weekend getaway guide to Joshua Tree will help you plan your ultimate desert retreat!
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Best Time of Year to Visit
Joshua Tree is considered a high desert. It has an arid climate with cold winters and hot summers. Each season has its pros and cons. Overall, I think the best time to visit Joshua Tree is in the spring or fall.
Warm days, crisp nights, and beautiful wildflowers are in bloom. Great time to visit for hiking and exploring the entirety of Joshua Tree National Park.
If you want to explore the park at night for stargazing or to see a meteor shower, summer is the time to go!
October and November are great times to visit Joshua Tree. Expect lower temps, fewer crowds, and experience a nice golden hue that casts over the desert landscape.
Chilly temperatures keep the park empty of crowds. If you are lucky you may even experience a snowstorm!
DAY ONE: ARRIVE
Arrive in Joshua Tree towards the late afternoon and check into the most unique homestead.
Reader’s Note: Joshua Tree and Joshua Tree National Park are two separate areas. You can only camp inside Joshua Tree National Park. There is no running water, restaurants, or gas stations inside the park so come prepared. I suggest staying in the town of Joshua Tree and exploring the actual park during the day.
The Night Hawk Homestead. This homestead was originally built in the 1950s. Located close to town and Joshua Tree National Park, yet still has a tranquil and relaxing setting. Not to mention, soaking in the outdoor bathtub after hiking all day is the perfect way to end your afternoon. Still not sold? Just look at the photo below! There is also a hot tub on-site, wild animals you can feed by hand, and the homestead itself is beautifully decorated.
In the evening, enjoy a tasty dinner in town. I suggest eating dinner at Crossroads Cafe, Pie for the People, or if you are looking for a bar setting check out Joshua Tree Saloon. After dinner, head back to The Night Hawk Homestead and take a soak in the hot tub while stargazing the magical night sky.
DAY TWO: EXPLORE JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Joshua Tree National Park
Wake up early and head to the park before the crowds arrive! I suggest purchasing your pass online a few days in advance to avoid waiting in line to enter the park. Also, if you purchase your pass in advance, you can even enter the park before it officially opens!
Enter Joshua Tree National Park at the West Entrance. I suggest driving through the entire park and having your first stop be Cholla Cactus Garden for sunrise. It is a beautiful place for photos.
The perfect Joshua Tree National Park Route:
- Watch the sunrise at Cholla Cactus Garden
- Take the short trek to Arch Rock
- Stop roadside to see Skull Rock
- Walkthrough the Hall of Horrors
- Hike Hidden Valley and enjoy lunch on the shaded park benches
- Take the loop hike through Barker Dam
- Hike the Wall Street Mill
- Optional: Drive to Keys View, with a 5,000ft elevation gain to watch the sunset
After exploring the park all day, you will be ready to soak in the outdoor bathtub at The Night Hawk Homestead. After you are nice and relaxed, freshen up and get ready to dance the night away in Pioneertown!
Pioneertown was founded in the 1940s by a group of Hollywood investors. They created Pioneertown to look like an old west town with an 1800s style. Stables, jails, and saloon lookalikes are really homes to shops, restaurants, and motels. Over 50 films and television shows were filmed in Pioneertown. If you are lucky, you may catch a mock old western fight on “Mane” Street!
After strolling through the town and shops, it is time to visit the town’s staple, Pappy & Harriet’s. The legendary Pappy & Harriet’s has been serving travelers since 1982 with delicious BBQ, live music, and dancing!
Mel’s Travelers Tip: Put your name in at Pappy & Harriet’s when you first arrive to Pioneertown. The restaurant wait is typically 1-2 hours (on weekends). This way you can walk around the town while you wait for your table to be ready.
DAY THREE: TAKE A SOUND BATH & HIKE 40 PALMS OASIS
Enjoy your last morning moments feeding the wild animals, taking in the peaceful scenery, and maybe even hopping in the outdoor bath again!
Have breakfast in Joshua Tree. Walk through the tiny town of Joshua Tree if you did not have time on Friday, and visit the famous Crochet Museum.
It is now time for an unforgettable sound experience. You will partake in deep relaxation while you take a Sound Bath in the Integratron Room. Make sure you book tickets a few weeks (maybe even months) in advance before your trip to Joshua Tree. The sound baths do book up fairly quickly.
Now that you are nice and relaxed, it is time to hike! Tucked away in the hidden desert valley lies the 49 Palms Oasis. You will hike 1.5 miles along a rocky ridge until reaching the grove of towering palms. Once you arrive to the oasis, enjoy the shade of the palms as you take in the beautiful scenery.
49 Palms Oasis Trail. Overall the hike is moderate, with little to no shade. Make sure you pack lots of water and wear a hat to keep the sun off your face. It is definitely worth the trek!
RESTAURANT OPTIONS IN JOSHUA TREE:
The town of Joshua Tree is tiny, but there are a few delicious restaurants. Check the restaurant times before going, many of them are only open for lunch hours.
- Cross Roads Cafe Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner
- Serving hearty meals all day! Here you can find delicious huevos rancheros for breakfast or dinner-time burgers, but whichever meal you have, make sure to try their baked goods!
- Natural Sisters Cafe Breakfast / Lunch
- This cafe has a variety of healthy options and is a great spot to grab breakfast before heading into Joshua Tree National Park.
- La Copine Lunch
- Located a short drive outside of Joshua Tree is the Chic indoor-outdoor restaurant offering New American cuisine. Call ahead to make reservations!
- Pie for the People Lunch / Dinner
- Who doesn’t love pizza? With slices named David Bowie and Johnny Popper, you will be sure to leave with a happy full stomach.
- Joshua Tree Saloon Lunch / Dinner
- This quirky restaurant has an old-west vibe. You can play pool or darts while you wait for your steak dinner.
I hope this guide helps you plan the perfect weekend in Joshua Tree! If you need any help planning or have any questions, please reach out or message me on my contact page! I would love to hear about how your trip went as well. Which restaurants did you go to? Which part of Joshua Tree National Park was your favorite?
Want more desert weekend trip ideas? Check out Tombstone Arizona!