Aside from the desert climate and sweeping natural beauty, there's something you'll notice pretty quickly upon arriving in Joshua Tree: things to do abound here, whether it's hiking and climbing or wildflower sightseeing. You can visit the park on a day trip or plan a Joshua Tree camping trip and stay awhile. Either way, you'll discover that for what at first glance seems like a monochromatic swath of rock, there's more going on here than meets the eye—enough to keep you busy for days, and coming back again and again.
Joshua Tree is one of the most magical places in California (and the country, we think). The National Park's varied and alien landscapes—due mostly to gnarled, ancient Joshua Trees and giant boulders strewn willy nilly—make for impressive scenery during hikes, bike tours or leisurely drives. If you visit in spring, head south to Pinto Basin to see colorful wildflowers in bloom. The stargazing is choice here, and wild coyotes may howl you to sleep if you plan an overnight camping trip.
Notable stops along the way to the Park include Pappy & Harriet's for lunch, live music and a ghost-town stroll; the Integratron for a new-age sound bath, and the town of Joshua Tree itself, which offers unique hotels, a few tasty restaurants, some good thrifting and the kind of quirky public art that only exists in tiny, warm-weather communities. Enjoy your desert trip!