Camping in the Joshua Tree National Park: Plan Your Trip into the Great Outdoors

Camping in the Joshua Tree National Park: Plan Your Trip into the Great Outdoors

There’s nothing like reconnecting with the great outdoors and sleeping under the stars. And at Joshua Tree National Park, everyone can be a happy camper!

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks in the world, and one of the top camping destinations in the US. With over 800,000 acres of pristine desert wilderness, 9 campsites, and three visitors centers, it’s no wonder campers come from across the world to trek through the rugged land.

Centrally located in California, this national reserve is a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, nature spotting, and— of course— camping.

If you’re ready to pack up your camping gear and venture into Joshua Tree National Park, read on for everything you need to know before planning your trip.

Reserving a Campsite at Joshua Tree National Park

As one of North America’s top camping destinations, it should come as no surprise that Joshua Tree camping is in high demand. Planning your trip early is key to reserving your campsite ahead of time and avoiding disappointment.

Joshua Tree camping reservations start as early as 6 months out for a single campsite and a year in advance for group camping or horse camping. Reserving your site early is the best way to ensure you’ll be able to sleep in the desert under the stars.

October through May is the busiest time of the year for Joshua Tree National Park camping. In fact, campgrounds often book out from mid-February to mid-May and around holidays. If you wish to visit during this time, it’s essential that you book your campsite early.

Visiting during the off-season (June to September) is another great option if you want to ensure availability. During these quieter months, no reservations are needed and campsites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Keep in mind, however, that certain camps may be closed during the summer so it is important to check the specific site’s calendar for months of operation.

Rates for Joshua Tree camping can be as low as $15 per night, with options for equestrian camping and group sites.

Joshua Tree Campgrounds

There are nine campgrounds available inside Joshua Tree National Park, with varying degrees of amenities. Below we have outlined each campsite to help you understand which is the best fit for your trek into the great outdoors.

Bell: Bell is a great option for those truly looking to disconnect from the day-to-day and reconnect to nature.

This small campsite offers stunning views of the dark night sky, and features minimal amenities, with no water, pit toilets, fire grates, camping chairs or  picnic tables. It is located at 3,800ft elevation and is available year-round on a first come first serve basis.

With no cell reception or staff, Bell delivers a true camping experience.

Rental fee is $15.00 and allows a maximum of three tents, 6 people, and two vehicles per campsite.

Black Rock: Black Rock is one of the most popular campgrounds in Joshua tree, and it’s also one of the sites with the most amenities.

With 100 campsites, including equestrian camping, Black Rock is a great option for those who want a fun camping experience without sacrificing too many modern comforts. Located in the northwest corner of Joshua Tree National Park, Black Rock is only 5 miles away from shopping facilities at the town of Yucca Valley. The site is also equipped with flush toilets, running water, cell phone reception, picnic tables, an amphitheater, and more.

The rental fee starts at $20 for tents, RV, and horse sites. Reservations are encouraged between October and May, as this campground is highly popular. You can book your reservation up to 6 months in advance.

A separate area is available for equestrian camping and reservations are required.

Cottonwood: Located adjacent to the Cottonwood Visitor Center, this campsite is 30 miles from the closest town of Indio. Cottonwood offers 62 campsites and features flush toilets, potable water, fire grates, picnic tables, and a dump station.

The rental fee is $20 per night or $40 for a group campsite. Reservations are encouraged between October and May, as this campground is highly popular. You can book a reservation up to 6 months in advance.

Hidden Valley: Surrounded by massive boulders and beautiful Joshua trees, the Hidden Valley campground truly engulfs you in the California wilderness.

This campground offers minimal amenities with no running water, pit toilets, fire grates and picnic tables.

44 campsites are available at Hidden Valley on a first come first serve basis.

The rental fee is $15 per night.

Indian Cove: This secluded campground is located on the north side of the majestic Wonderland of Rocks. This is a great option for families and groups who want a true wilderness camping experience.

One of the largest campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National park, Indian Cove has 101 campsites, including 13 large group sites.

Indian Cove also features minimal amenities with no water, pit toilets, tables, and fire grates. However, there is a Ranger Station at the entrance of the grounds where water is available.

The rental fee at Indian Cover is $20 per night for a regular campsite or $50 per night for group sites. Reservations are available and encouraged from October to May.

Jumbo Rocks: Just as its name suggests, Jumbo Rocks is centrally located right in the middle of beautiful stone formations. With 124 campsites located at 4,400 ft, this is not only the largest campground inside Joshua Tree, but it is also the highest.

Features include pit toilets, fire grates, picnic tables, and no water.

The rental fee at Jumbo Rocks is $15 per night and all sites are available for reservation October to May.

Ryan:  Known for spectacular nighttime vistas, Ryan offers 31 campsites available on a first come first serve basis. The site is centrally located next to the California Riding and Hiking Trail. There are also 4 designated horse camping sites that require reservations.

No water is available at this campground, and it features pit toilets, fire grates, and picnic tables.

The rental fee is $15 per night.

White Tank: Surrounded by giant boulders, this campground offers beautiful views by both day and night. Located near the darkest part of Joshua Tree park, White Tank campers will have beautiful views of the night sky and stars.

White Tank is one of the smallest campsites in Joshua Tree, with only 15 sites available on a first come first served basis for $15 per night. The area also features pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire grates.

Sheep Pass: Exclusively a group campsite, this area is centrally located in the park and is surrounded by beautiful rock formations and the park’s signature Joshua trees.

Sheep Pass has 6 group sites available by reservation only, offering the perfect site for families and larger groups to reunite in nature.

The rental fee for a group site is $50 per night. Reservations are required as Sheep Pass and all other group camping sites. Each site can accommodate anywhere between 10-60 people and you can reserve your site up to 1 year in advance.

Campsites Outside Joshua Tree

In addition to the campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National Park, there are also many options just outside the grounds. Some of the most popular options for camping near Joshua Tree include:

  • Twentynine Palms RV Resort
  • Little Pioneertown RV
  • Joshua Tree Retreat Center Campground
  • Chiriaco Summit
  • Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA

Dispersed camping is also available in designated sections of the park. To see what areas allow dispersed camping, click here.