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Joshua Tree RV Camping Tips to Know (Before You Go)

Published on March 16th, 2023

One of the best RV destinations in Southern California is Joshua Tree National Park. This is one of those places everyone should see at least once. The huge boulders, sweeping desert views, and unique scenery all make this a spectacular RV camping experience.

Taking your RV to Joshua Tree National Park has upsides and downsides, too. Here’s everything you need to know for an unforgettable Joshua Tree RV camping experience in this desert paradise. 

The Best Places for RV Camping at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park features several different campgrounds within the park. Most campsites are RV-friendly, but the majority of camping spots are for smaller RVs less than 30-feet long (including tow vehicle). The RV-friendly campgrounds at Joshua Tree include:

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Black Rock Campground

  • Length limit: 35 feet
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, potable water, dump station
  • Reservations: Yes

Get RV Info on Black Rock Camping at Joshua Tree

Indian Cove Campground

  • Length limit: 25 feet
  • Amenities: Vault toilets
  • Reservations: Yes

Learn Facts About RV Camping at Indian Cove Campground

White Tank Campground

  • Length limit: 25 feet
  • Amenities: Vault toilets
  • Reservations: No

What to Expect RVing at White Tank Campground

Cottonwood Campground

  • Length limit: 35 feet
  • Amenities: Flush toilets, potable water, dump station
  • Reservations: Yes

Take a Tour of Cottonwood Campground in Joshua Tree

Jumbo Rocks Campground

  • Length limit: 35 feet
  • Amenities: Vault toilets
  • Reservations: Yes

Here’s What RVers Think About Jumbo Rocks Campground

Ryan Campground

  • Length limit: 35 feet
  • Amenities: Vault toilets
  • Reservations: Yes

Here’s Ryan Campground RV Information

Hidden Valley Campground

  • Length limit: 25 feet
  • Amenities: Vault toilets
  • Reservations: No

Read About RV Camping at Hidden Valley Campground

What to Know Before You Try RV Camping at Joshua Tree

Like many national parks, this one has campgrounds that were built decades go. Overall, RV camping at Joshua Tree is limited to small travel trailers. Many of the campsites are on the shorter side. Trailers and motorhomes over 35 feet won’t fit in most of the campgrounds.

There is one more important fact about taking your RV to Joshua Tree. This is a big one, and turns some people off from going there:

None of the RV campsites in Joshua Tree National Park have hookups.

RV camping Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree RV camping is the best in the desert. (Image: RV LIFE Campgrounds member @Dido)

All camping is boondocking, no matter where you camp within the park.

If you can handle the downsides of RV camping inside Joshua Tree, you will probably think it is an awesome choice to go there. But if your RV is too big to fit, or if you absolutely must have hookups, there are nearby national park camping alternatives.

RV Camping Alternatives Near Joshua Tree National Park

Want to to experience RV camping at Joshua Tree outside of the park? Not to worry, there are lots of great choices! Plus, you’ll find plenty of full-hookup RV parks in nearby towns. Here are a couple of our favorites RV camping alternatives near the park:

Go Boondocking on Joshua Tree South Dispersed Camping BLM Land

There’s a surprising amount of dispersed BLM camping land outside of Joshua Tree. Camping here is 100% free, and any size rig can fit in the wide open spaces. Campers are welcome to stay up to 14 days. This gives plenty of time to explore the park and the area. However, you will need to come prepared, as no amenities are provided. 

Get Full Hookups at Palm Springs RV Resort

Palm Springs RV Resort (Image: @Channon Rose, RV LIFE Campgrounds)
Palm Springs RV Resort (Image: @Channon Rose, RV LIFE Campgrounds)

Prefer to go somewhere with hookups? We love Palm Springs RV Resort in Palm Desert. This park is located about an hour outside of Joshua Tree and offers full-hookup sites, a pool with a hot tub, a recreation center, and plenty of planned activities. It’s the perfect place to take your family for some glamping while visiting the national park. 

When to Go RV Camping at Joshua Tree National Park

You know where to stay when RV camping at Joshua Tree. Now you need to decide when to visit. While you’re bound to have a good time no matter when you visit, there are certain times of year that are better than others. 

Spring and Fall are our favorite times to be in this park. During these months, the daytime temperatures rarely rise above 85 degrees (°F). The evening hours are still warm enough for stargazing and exploring. 

We also enjoy RVing at Joshua Tree During Winter

Daytime temperatures in the winter can get quite warm or quite chilly, but tend to hover right around 60 degrees (°F). The thing is, the nighttime temperatures can get really low during the winter. Sometimes they even drop below freezing. These cold temperatures can lead to a frozen RV water tank or plumbing. 

Considering a summer RV trip to Joshua Tree National Park? We recommend against it. Summertime temps in Joshua Tree can soar above 100 degrees (°F) during the day. Nights tend to hover around 75 degrees (°F). This is really hot and can make it hard to hike, climb, and enjoy yourself. 

A Joshua Tree
The Joshua tree namesake of the park.

What to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

Speaking of hiking and climbing, you may be wondering what to do at Joshua Tree. This desert destination has tons of activities. Below is a list of options we think are best for the average visitor. 

Check Out a Joshua Tree Visitor Center

No visit to a national park is complete without seeing at least one visitor center. Joshua Tree is no exception. Be sure to start your visit right by checking out a visitor center. Get ranger recommendations, and grab Junior Ranger books for the kiddos.

Hike Arch Rock Trail

Arch Rock Trail is one of the most popular hikes in the park, and for good reason. While hiking this trail, you will see many of the park’s most iconic sights, including Heart Rock and of course, Arch Rock.

Explore Hidden Valley

Hidden Valley is an absolutely beautiful part of Joshua Tree National Park. Here you will find a short, easy nature trail as well as a picnic area with grills. 

Tour Keys Ranch

Interested in history? Be sure to take a tour of the historic Keys Ranch. Tours are usually offered October through May. There is an additional fee for the tour, but we feel it is worthwhile. 

See Skull Rock

Skull Rock is one of the most iconic locations in the park. It is viewable from the road, but we recommend stopping to snap a photo in front of it. After all, who wouldn’t want a photo of a skull-shaped rock? 

Go Bouldering (or Rock Climbing)

The best thing about Joshua Tree? The rocks, of course! Kids and adults alike love scrambling up the many rock piles and hopping from one boulder to the next. Meanwhile, those with true rock climbing experience and equipment can enjoy more difficult climbs. 

Find the Hidden Slot Canyon

Hall of Horrors rock formation at Joshua Tree National Park
Hall of Horrors rock formation at Joshua Tree National Park

Did you know this park has slot canyons? There are two slot canyons hidden away in a stack of boulders off the Hall of Horrors trail. These are tons of fun to hike! 

Click here for more information on how to find Joshua Tree slot canyons. 

Wander the Cholla Cactus Garden

The Cholla Cactus Garden is a beautiful collection of cacti that is super cool to wander through, photograph, and admire. 

Check Out Cottonwood Spring Oasis

Have you ever seen a real desert oasis? There are actually a few that you can check out in Joshua Tree. The one that is easiest to reach is the Cottonwood Spring Oasis. A short walk down a path will put you in the middle of a beautiful desert oasis. 

Stargazing is a benefit of visiting Joshua Tree
Stargazing is a benefit of visiting Joshua Tree

Do Some Stargazing

Lastly, we highly recommend staying in the park until after dark at least once. Why? So you can do some stargazing. This is because the night sky in Joshua Tree is one of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen. 

There you have it, everything you need to know to go RV camping at Joshua Tree and have a fantastic trip! Ready to hit the road? Check out RV Trip Wizard for the ultimate Joshua Tree road trip itinerary.

This post may contain affiliate links or mention our own products, please check out our disclosure policy here.

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