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11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park

01.01.18

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11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
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  • Cottonwood Spring Nature Trail - Mastodon Peak Loop.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Cottonwood Springs Nature Trail - Mastodon Peak Loop.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Acton encelia (Encelia actoni) along the Cottonwood Springs Nature Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The interpretive trail at the Cholla Cactus Garden.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree National Park.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The Cholla Cactus Garden is a great stop for families. Be sure curious children don't touch the cactus, however.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The Arches Rock Nature Trail in Joshua Tree National Park.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Exploring an arch at night along the Arches Rock Nature Trail in Joshua Tree National Park.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Arches Rock Nature Trail in Joshua Tree National Park.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • California juniper.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Skull Rock.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The Skull Rock Nature Trail continues across the road.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Heading out on the trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View of the Split Rock picnic area from the trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View from the Split Rock Loop Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Looking out west from the Ryan Mountain Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View up toward the summit of Ryan Mountain.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View northwest to Lost Horse Valley and the Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park from Ryan Mountain.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View of Cap Rock from Ryan Mountain.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View east over Queen Valley toward Jumbo Rocks from Ryan Mountain.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Hikers along the Ryan Mountain Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View of the Ryan Ranch adobe ruin.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Adobe ruins at Ryan Ranch.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View of the Ryan Ranch adobe ruin.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Views from the Cap Rock Nature Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • View from the Cap Rock Nature Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The Cap Rock Nature Trail winding between boulders.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Signs along the trail make this a great way to learn about the area.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Hidden Valley Nature Trail is an excellent choice for families.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Blooming beavertail cactus along the Hidden Valley Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • The Hidden Valley Nature Trail proceeds through remarkable boulders and rock piles.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Ruins of the old Wonderland Ranch along the Wall Street Mill Hike.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Ruins of the old Wonderland Ranch along the Wall Street Mill Hike.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Wall Street Mill Hike.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Barker Dam Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Petroglyphs carved into a boulder along the Barker Dam Trail.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
  • Barker Dam Trail in Joshua Tree National Park.- 11 Best Day Hikes in Joshua Tree National Park
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When the rest of the country is socked in, snowing, or raining from sun up to sundown, it’s the perfect time of year to hike in the desert southwest, particularly places like Joshua Tree National Park.

Known for it’s scorching summer heat, it’s usually preferable to visit this national park in the winter, when average highs are usually measured around 60 degrees (although it can reach sub freezing temperatures at night). This area is also extremely popular when the wildflowers bloom in the spring, so visit over the coldest months to avoid the crowds.

The open, desert landscape is a welcome respite for city or forest dwellers. Hikes here feature large, lumpy boulders, quirky and distinctive Joshua trees, bluebird skies, and dramatic mountain ranges that obscure an otherwise flat horizon line.  

The park features a range of lengths and difficulties with it’s day hikes. Whether it’s an interpretive trail or a long trek into the desert, bring plenty of layers and water. The weather is very fickle in the desert, and you can’t always rely on current conditions to stay nice when setting out.

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing place to explore, and here are a few fantastic hikes that prove the point:

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