The Perfect Joshua Tree Day Trip from Los Angeles

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There is so much more to Joshua Tree than the intriguing landscape that for decades has lured famous musicians on a spiritual pilgrimage. Or the unique flora that inspired artists such as Dr Suess to create characters to tickle our imaginations.Joshua Tree National Park represents the beauty of California deserts in all their unique glory. And, the only way to truly experience the allure of the unique desert landscape is seeing it first hand. While a weekend (or more) in Joshua Tree is ideal, it's feasible to make a day trip to Joshua Tree from Los Angeles.If you plan only to have a day in Joshua Tree, it is advisable to map out your itinerary and stops in advance to maximize your time in the unique national park. Which is where this guide comes in. This Joshua Tree day trip guide gives you everything you need to plan the perfect day trip to California's southernmost national park.Rather than creating a strict itinerary of where you have to go in Joshua Tree in one day, this guide takes you through how to plan a Joshua Tree day trip to suit your style. Pick and choose from all the different activities in the park to make a day trip that most appeals to you. Grab your favorite travel bag and get ready to explore one of California's most beautiful national parks. Tips for Planning a Joshua Tree Day Trip from Los Angeles.Plan your stops ahead of time - Joshua Tree National Park is 1,235 square miles. If you only have a day in the park, it's worthwhile prioritizing the must-visits and would-like-to-visits before you leave. It's also good to plan where you're going to eat, fill up with gas (there aren't any gas stations in the park), and what you plan to bring with you.Stop by the Joshua Tree Visitors Center First - Grab a free Joshua Tree National Park map and purchase your park pass from here. It will cut down the time you have to wait in your car at the entrance gates. Start from the West Entrance - The landscape and attractions in the northwestern side and the southeastern side of the park are very different. The reason is Joshua Tree covers two California deserts - the Mojave and the Colorado Desert.Most visitors start from the west entrance, so there will be more traffic entering from this side. But, if you only have a day, the northwest side is where the majority of the top attractions and best Joshua Tree hikes for day-trippers are. Try to be in the park early. It will ensure you get to as many of these attractions and hikes as possible. The west entrance is also right next to the visitor center, so convenient for grabbing your park pass and map before entering the park.Cell Service is Spotty – Cell service throughout the park is hit and miss. Make sure to download any maps or information you need ahead of time. Don’t expect always to have data as you explore Joshua Tree, especially when you’re hiking. Bring Plenty of Water and Sunscreen – The desert is dry and hot. More than people anticipate. Bring extra water, slather on sunscreen, keep your sunglasses handy, and wear a hat while you’re hiking to cut down on direct exposure. There isn’t always a ton of shade on the trails, so it’s also good to avoid hiking in the hottest part of the day if possible.Know Your Accommodation Options If You End Up Wanting to Stay Overnight – Make sure you do your research ahead of time for possible nearby accommodation options. Check out this post for a detailed look at the best accommodation around Joshua Tree, including favorite budget campsites and luxury hotels.Although it’s a decent trek to get to Joshua Tree from Los Angeles (131 miles), especially with LA traffic, some planning will make the trip less daunting.If you plan to drive to Joshua Tree from Los Angeles, leave as early as possible. The drive usually takes 2-2.5 hours with no traffic. Since it’s good to get to Joshua Tree no later than 8 am or 9 am to give yourself a full day at the park, you should leave Los Angeles no later than 6 am or 7 am. Sure, it makes it a long day, but certainly doable. To get to Joshua Tree from Los Angeles by car, take I-10 E to CA-62 E/29 Palms Hwy to the visitor center.