California or The Golden State is known for a lot of things. People see it as one of the most vibrant and lively places in the US and we can’t blame them as it is the most populous state there is. The state is nearly synonymous with the glitz and glamour of the high-life but what a lot of people tend to overlook is the fact that there are serene and naturally beautiful places in California. One such place is the Joshua Tree National Park.

The Joshua Tree National Park is an American national park in southeastern California. It is near San Bernardino and Palm Springs. Named after the Joshua trees that are bountiful in the park, the place is a sight to behold for nature lovers. Sadly, the place was shut down at the beginning of 2019 for a couple of reasons. However, people can still visit the place but they should not expect accommodation from the local authorities anymore. Hopefully, the state of California opens Joshua Tree National Park when it is returned to its natural beauty.

Regardless of its current condition and issues, there is no doubting that the Joshua Tree National Park has been embedded into the hearts of Californians. With its rich history and amazing sights, people are surely going to miss all there is to see about the national monument. Before anything else, let us look at the gorgeous history of the Joshua Tree National Park.

A Closer Look at Joshua Tree National Park

The earliest known residents of what is now considered as the park were the people of the Pinto culture who lived between 8000 and 4000 BCE. A lot of the tools of the Pinto people were discovered in the Pinto Basin back in the 1930s. These suggest that the Pinto hunted game and gathered seasonal plants to survive. A lot of other groups resided in the area and many made use of its abundant local wildlife and fauna.

joshua tree
One of the great spots in Joshua Tree for camping (Source)

In 1772, Spanish explorers led by Pedro Fages were the first to see the Joshua trees in the area. The next explorers that made their mark on the area were Mexican explorers that landed on it in 1823. After struggles in the Civil War, the US was able to reclaim California and the park along with it in.

The park began to take shape in the mid-1930s. Minerva Hoyt and several others encouraged the state and federal government to protect the area on Aug. 10, 1936. Using the power vested by him in the 1906 Antiquities Act, then sitting US President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Joshua Tree National Monument.

The law protected about 825,000 acres of the land. The size was reduced by about 290,000 in 1950 to make way for mining projects. However, the government added a total of 234,000 acres of land once again when the monument status was upgraded to a National Park status on Oct. 31 1994 under the Desert Protection Act.

Current State of the Joshua Tree National Park

The Joshua Tree National Park was once an amazing sight to behold but years of neglect by the local authorities and the abuse of visitors has forced the government to shutdown the area. The campgrounds were closed due to health and safety concerns over the near-capacity pit toilets. Of course, the shutdown has affected the livelihood of all those who worked in the park previously.

joshua tree shutdown
A sign posted on a fence near an entrance to Joshua Tree National Park’s Bunker Hill Monument (Source)

People can still visit the park to their liking but the campgrounds which is it is best known for has been closed to the public. For now, no one knows whether or not the campgrounds will reopen its doors but those in the area and those that want to get the full Joshua Tree National Park experience hope that it does happen eventually.

Although the campgrounds are close, that does not mean that the Joshua Tree National Park and the area surrounding it is no longer worth the visit. In fact, it would still be amazing to visit that side of California to see all that it has to offer. Before anything else, it would be nice to prepare for the trip ahead.

When is the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park?

Now that the park’s camping grounds is closed, the best time to visit the Joshua Tree National Park has been affected greatly. Honestly speaking though, no one visits that side of California solely for the park alone so it would be better to prepare for a visit in the state of California ahead of the planned trip.

When visiting the area, people should consider what kind of weather they want. The days between the months of March to April and perfect. The temperature is mild so it is perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking and rock climbing. That is also the time when desert wildflowers bloom so people can see more of the natural wonders that the park as to offer. This is a great time for exploring California as well. The hotel rates are fairly decent too but people should not expect big deals as the winter season just finished.

If travelers want to visit the Joshua Tree National Park and see its iconic night sky, then the best time to visit would be during the summer. The temperature at night during summer is balmy and relaxing. It is something that can help people enjoy the natural wonders even more. Although there are great times to visit, the truth is that the Joshua Tree National Park and the state that surrounds it are worth visiting all throughout the year.

That being said, it is now time to check out some of the amazing things to do near Joshua Tree National Park. The good side to the campsite being closed is that the park will have more time to recover. Moreover, people will have more time to enjoy what California has to offer.

Things to Do in Joshua Tree Other Than Camping

Joshua Tree camping is one of the best things to do in California. This is because here, you will not just be filled with memorable camping experiences with your friends and family but it also has a lot of views to offer that will make your travel experience all the more memorable. It has distinctive giant sculptural rock formations and has nice hiking and camping spots. It’s also a few distances away from the city lights so if you’re lucky enough to travel to this area, you can even get to see some incredible clear and starry night skies.

However, you might not be able to experience this kind of Joshua tree camping for now. According to reports, the government has recently shut down Joshua Tree National Park’s campgrounds due to health and safety concerns. You see, the place is really a nice spot for camping, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Hence, a lot of people frequent the area, resulting in a lot of trash everywhere and other environmental concerns which led to the government’s decision to shut the campgrounds down.

There is still no information about when the campgrounds will re-open. Even so, you can still visit the place but the park rangers say that it would be a risk if in case an emergency happens as they lack staffing.

If you have already planned a trip to the said national park, don’t fret much as your travel efforts won’t be put to waste. There are still a lot of things to do near the national park aside from the popular Joshua Tree camping activity. Here are some of which that will give you a whole new travel experience.

1Go to a Salon *slash* Museum

joshua tree beauty bubble salon and museum
Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum’s cute exteriors (Source)

Although we have been to many cities and tried out different attractions, it is actually the first time that we’ve seen a salon that doubles as a museum and you can check it out too at the Joshua Tree Town. Since you can’t go on a Joshua Tree camping (yet), you can just prep yourself up at the nearest salon named Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum.

Here, you can get your hair styled (the stylists specialize in organic hair coloring and other modern coloring techniques, by the way) and even get to see an impressive vintage collection of old hair and other beauty products from the 1800s. One of the coolest finds in the museum is the kerosene curling iron and the colorful collection of old hair dryers that are displayed on the walls. You’ll see a lot of retro surprises even on the bathroom and their back patio as well.

2Go Museum Hopping

joshua tree crochet museum
A look at the self-proclaimed World Famous Crochet Museum (Source)

Speaking of museums, another thing that you can do near the Joshua Tree National Park aside from the popular Joshua Tree camping activity is to go museum hopping. Aside from the salon that doubles as a museum, there are a lot of unique museums that you can find near the area too. Here are some of them.

World Famous Crochet Museum

As the name suggests, you can find anything crocheted here. You can get to see a huge collection of crocheted animals like bears, poodles, and even unicorns. There are colorful abstract designs as well that will surely fascinate you. This museum is free and is open 24/7. The parking is free as well so don’t be sad if you can’t go on a Joshua Tree camping just yet.

Joshua Tree Art Gallery

joshua tree art gallery
Some of the art works that you can get to see at the Joshua Tree Art Gallery (Source)

If you love art, you can head on to the Joshua tree Art Gallery too. You can get to see a lot of fresh artworks, which are mostly primitive or expressionist, that are always displayed. What’s even better is that if you’re lucky enough, you can get to talk to the artists themselves.

Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture

joshua tree desert art gallery
Some of the odd finds at the Desert Art Gallery (Source)

This museum is one of the unique ones as well. Here, you can get to see sculptures, as the name suggests. But what makes it one-of-a-kind is that these sculptures are made of common household and construction materials. The displays are so unique and are worth talking about as it’s not your typical sculpture museum and it will make your supposed Joshua Tree camping experience very unique.

3Listen to Live Music

joshua tree pappy and harriets
The beautiful exteriors of Pappy and Harriet’s that looks straight out of a movie (Source)

Visiting Pappy and Harriet is also one of the popular things that you can do in Joshua Tree aside from Joshua Tree camping. Sure, you can just visit other restaurants and music venues but this one is a cut above the rest.

Here, they serve delicious dishes and some good booze. Some of the good eats that we recommend you to try are their mac n cheese, pulled pork, top sirloin steak, Santa Maria tri-tip, and burger. Their booze prices will run you for about $7 for a draft beer and less than $5 for bottled ones. You can also get to listen to some good live music and you’ll never be disappointed. The reviews say it all. Also one of the things that set this restaurant apart from the others is its setting as this place looks as if it’s straight out of a movie. This is because the establishment is apparently used as an old movie set. Visiting this place is definitely worth it.

4Go Sound Bathing?

joshua tree intregratron
An inside look at the Intergratron (Source)

Joshua Tree camping activities may be fun and relaxing but there’s a more relaxing thing to do than that: a sound bath at Integratron. You might find this one a bit skeptic but this will surely relax and soothe your mind and your body on levels that you won’t achieve in any other spa and the reviews are convincing.

Designed by a ufologist and contactee George Van Tassel, this activity will “bathe” you with sounds for 60 minutes. This sonic healing consists of sessions of 25 minutes of crystal bowls played live. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. If you want to try out this out of this world experience, you can book a sound bath here. You might want to hurry, though, as they say that the tickets sold out fast.

5Go Shopping

joshua tree the end
A rack of stylish clothes that you can find at The End shop (Source)

This one may be a common thing to do but it sure is something that’s still worth a try if you can’t go on a Joshua Tree camping yet due to the shutdown. This is because the shops in and near the Joshua Tree National Park has unique items that will also make your trip memorable. Here are some of the shops that caught our attention that we’re sure you’ll love too.

The End

If you’re looking for adorable outfits, The End shop is something you might want to check out. Here, you’ll find beautiful printed vintage styled clothes that are very comfortable to wear. Plus, they look good in photos. One of the popular items here is their maxi dress with floral print. It’s going to make your OOTD an upgrade.

Coyote Corner

joshua tree coyote corner
Some of the cute handcrafted finds that you can buy at the Coyote Corner as souvenir or gifts (Source)

Coyote Corner is also one of the shops at the Joshua Tree National Park that are popular among many visitors. Here, you can buy books, maps, and gears that will help you as you camp just in case the park re-opens to welcome visitors who want to go on a Joshua Tree camping. They also sell antiques, handcrafted pieces of jewelry items, and other gift items that you can take home as a souvenir from your trip.

However, note that during certain seasons, some shops in the national park may not be open. Still, you’ll have better luck during the weekends. Also, since the national park has recently closed, we’re quite unsure if all of these shops are still open so we suggest that you take a look at the shops’ website for updates.

A trip to Joshua Tree National Park may be one of the best things to do in California because of the outdoor activities that it can offer. However, since it has recently closed, you might not be able to experience going on a Joshua Tree camping or hiking for a while, especially that there is still no word as to when the national park will welcome campers and hikers again. It’s probably temporary, though. But in the meantime, there’s still no need to be sad if you can’t go there as there are still a lot of fun and unique things to do near the area that is not Joshua tree camping. You can try out these activities for a different experience. If you have, tell us which one did you like the most in the comments below.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here