The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is from March to May and September to November. The temperature averages in the mid-80s during the daytime and mid-50s at night.
Most visitors find that the conditions in the park are just perfect for hiking, camping, and general outdoor activities.
June to September
The summer months are the hottest, and thus Joshua Tree has lesser visitors.
If you’re visiting during the summer, remember to bring lots of water, dress appropriately, and avoid vigorous activities when it’s hot outside.
What’s on :
- National Park Service Birthday Free Entrance Day (August)
- Night Sky Festival (September)
October to November
Early to mid-fall is the best time to visit Joshua Tree when the temperatures start to drop to a comfortable range. The daytime is in the mid-80s and nighttime in the mid-50s.
The popular, yearly Joshua Tree Music Festival also happens during this time.
What’s on :
- Pioneer Days (October)
- Joshua Tree Music Festival (October)
December to February
Winter is quiet at Joshua Tree, with daytime temperatures around the 60s and freezing at night. Expect to see some snow at higher elevations.
March to May
The wildflowers bloom at higher elevations in March and April, attracting huge crowds of tourists.
In some years, the blooming season is unpredictable as the weather plays an important role. The park has an online wildflower report that you can check before visiting.
If you’re considering camping, it’s a good idea to reserve a spot far in advance because they get booked out quickly. Alternatively, you can try other campgrounds on a first-come, first-served basis.
What’s on :
- National Park Week (April)
Best time for good weather
The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park for good weather is from March to May.
During the spring, the average daytime temperature is around 85ºF (29ºC) and there is usually very little, if any rain – not that the desert gets very much precipitation anyway.
If you really want to beat the heat, the months of April and October usually provide just the right mix of moderate daytime highs and comfortable nighttime lows for most people to enjoy.
Best time for camping
The best time for camping in Joshua Tree National Park is from March to May and October to November.
Throughout the spring and the fall, you can expect comfortable daytime temperatures and moderate overnight lows.
Plus, the nighttime temperatures in the spring are usually just around 50ºF. As a result, you can normally camp with a summer sleeping bag and a summer-weight sleeping pad and be perfectly warm at night.
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Best time to avoid crowds
The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park to avoid crowds is from June to August and December to February.
Throughout the summer, Joshua Tree sees substantially fewer visitors. However, this is because the daytime temperatures are very, very hot – usually at least 100ºF (38ºC).
As a result, anyone visiting the park during this time needs to be prepared for the conditions with plenty of water in their water bottles. You should expect to hike only during the early morning and evening to avoid the midday heat.
Alternatively, winter is another great time to visit if you want to avoid the largest of crowds. By December and January, you can often get a mid-week campsite with relative ease, though the park is seeing more and more winter visitors each year.
Best time for bird watching
The best time for bird watching in Joshua Tree National Park is from March to April.
Although birding in Joshua Tree is excellent all year long, the spring months often give you the chance to see transient bird species that stop in the park during their semi-annual migration.
Warblers commonly migrate through the park during the spring and many birds that overwinter in Joshua Tree will stick around until at least mid-March. Sometimes, large groups of hundreds of turkey vultures will even stop in the park during their spring migration, which is truly a sight to see.
Best time for mountain biking
The best time for mountain biking in Joshua Tree National Park is from November to February.
During these times, you can expect nice weather and minimal traffic on the park’s roads. Plus, the winter, late fall, and early spring all bring cool daytime temperatures, which means going on a long bike ride is that much more enjoyable.
Best time for stargazing
The best time for stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park is from December to February, within 3 days before or after a new moon.
Winter generally brings the clearest skies and the earliest sunsets, which means you don’t have to stay up quite as late to see excellent stars.
As with any stargazing location, the best star viewing is within a few days before or after a new moon. This is because the reflection of the sun’s light off of a full or partial moon can make it harder to see the stars.
Best time for rock climbing
The best time for rock climbing in Joshua Tree is from the end of October to early May.
Historically, fall and spring have been the best time to climb in the park due to the region’s excellent and dry weather. However, Joshua Tree’s increasing visitation numbers in recent years do mean you may have to wait for some of the park’s most popular climbs during these seasons.
Alternatively, winter climbing in Joshua Tree is second to none as the daytime temperatures are very comfortable and the crowds are substantially smaller.
Best time for horseback riding
The best time for horseback riding in Joshua Tree is from September to April, or after 4pm in the summer.
Joshua Tree is an excellent place to horseback ride, though the desert heat can be hard on horses. Therefore, the moderate daytime temperatures in the fall, winter, and spring, are ideal for riding.
If you’re visiting in the summer, anytime after about 4pm is usually cool enough for an evening ride throughout the park to see the sunset.
Best time for photography
The best time for photography in Joshua Tree National Park is in the hour before and after both sunrise and sunset each day.
Every season in Joshua Tree National Park brings its own unique photographic wonders, though the harshness of the midday sun can wipe out much of the park’s natural beauty. For the best photos, consider getting up early or staying up late each day to capture that stunning golden light over the desert.
Best time to visit Keys View
The best time to visit Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park is in April or October.
Keys Views is known for its exceptional vistas, which are especially fantastic during periods of clear weather. In fact, on very clear days, it is even possible to see Signal Mountain, all the way in Mexico.
Keep in mind, however, that Keys View is very popular, so you should expect some crowds during the fall and spring. If you want to beat the crowds and see snow-capped peaks, consider visiting during the winter months.
Gaby is a professional mountain guide with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She works primarily in the polar regions as an expedition guide, though she can be found hiking, climbing, skiing, sailing, or paddling in some of the world’s most amazing places when not at work.