The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is either in the spring months of March to May or during the autumn months of September to November.

During the fall and the spring, the temperatures are relatively comfortable within Joshua Tree National Park. Although it can get chilly at night during these times of the year, most people find that the conditions in the park are just perfect for hiking, camping, and general outdoor activity.

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Best time for good weather

The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park for good weather is in the spring.

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

Camping in Joshua Tree

The best time for camping in Joshua Tree National Park is during the spring and the fall months.

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 in the summer months between June and August or in the middle of winter, around December and 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

Bird Watching​ in Joshua Tree

The best time for bird watching in Joshua Tree National Park is during the early spring months of March and 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

Mountain Biking​ in Joshua Tree

The best time for mountain biking in Joshua Tree National Park is during the winter or the late fall and early spring.

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

Stargazing​ in Joshua Tree

The best time for stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park is during the winter months 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

Rock Climbing​ in Joshua Tree

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

Horseback Riding​ in Joshua Tree

The best time for horseback riding in Joshua Tree is either in the fall, winter, and the spring or in the summer after about 4pm.

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

Photography​ in Joshua Tree

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

Keys View​ in Joshua Tree

The best time to visit Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park is during the fall or the spring, particularly during 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.

Joshua Tree National Park Seasons

Joshua Tree National Park is open all day, every day, throughout the year. However, each season in Joshua Tree brings with it a unique set of weather conditions that greatly influence your adventure plans.

Summer

Joshua Tree National Park - Summer

Joshua Tree is one of the few US national parks where summer isn’t the peak season. In fact, summer is the least busy season in the park because of the desert’s scorching daytime temperatures.

During the summer months at Joshua Tree, you can expect daytime temperatures that average over 100ºF (38ºC) and nights that are warmer than 75ºF (24ºC). Extreme temperatures are common, particularly at lower elevations.

While you certainly can visit the park during the summer, especially if you want to beat the crowds, you should be prepared to handle these potentially dangerous daytime temperatures.

As a general rule, it’s best to avoid hiking during the middle of the day in the summer. Plan your days so that you can hike early in the morning or in the evening and nap in camp in the middle of the day. Also, don’t forget to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration!

Read More : What Should I Pack for Summer Camping?

Fall

Joshua Tree National Park - Fall

Fall is one of the most popular months of the year in Joshua tree. Daytime temperatures normally hover around 85ºF (29ºC) and lows are usually around 50ºF (10ºC), so the conditions are quite moderate.

The fall crowds are usually slightly smaller than what you’d normally find in the spring at Joshua Tree, which is good if you’re looking to secure a campsite. However, by late fall, the park can get quite popular, especially as people look for snow-free alternatives to some of the more mountainous parks in the state, like Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Finally, although there’s no fall foliage in Joshua Tree, the evening light tends to get a nice golden glow, which is perfect for aspiring desert photographers.

Winter

Joshua Tree National Park - Winter

Joshua Tree’s winter weather varies between mild 60ºF (15ºC) daytime temperatures and nights that are well below freezing. That being said, snow does happen occasionally at higher elevations, though isn’t a common sight down at most of the campgrounds.

Traditionally, Joshua Tree’s winter months were fairly quiet, with relatively few visitors. However, the increased popularity of rock climbing in the park has caused a fairly large influx of winter visitors.

These days, winter is an excellent time to visit if you’re okay with colder temperatures and if you’re willing to pack your winter sleeping bag. Unlike areas that get a whole lot of wintertime snow, most of the popular attractions in Joshua Tree are still very accessible during the winter months, you just have to be prepared for cold nights.

Oh, and if you do get to see the park during a snowstorm, consider yourself lucky! Snow on Joshua trees is a beautiful sight, indeed, though you might want to pack your winter boots.

Read More : What Should I Pack for Winter Camping?

Spring

Joshua Tree National Park - Spring

The spring months of March through May are by and large the most popular times to visit Joshua Tree. Not only are temperatures generally quite mild at this time, but spring traditionally brings very clear skies and excellent all-around weather.

Plus, spring in Joshua Tree also provides a chance to see the desert’s wildflowers in full bloom, especially at Cholla Cactus Garden. That being said, it can be very hard to get a campsite in Joshua Tree during the spring, so be sure to book your site 6 months in advance to avoid disappointment.

Gaby Pilson

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.