Photo: Tom Tash/Chimani
Photo: Tom Tash/Chimani

Joshua Tree National Park in southern California has consistently clung to the 12th-14th spot on the list of most-visited national parks in the United States; and for good reason. Topping out at just over 2-million visitors last year, an all-time high for the park, Joshua Tree is a year-round destination that should rank high on every national park explorer’s bucket list.

Located at the intersection of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, Joshua Tree National Park protects a unique landscape that, at times, feels like a scene from a science fiction movie. From the namesake Joshua Trees, which only grow in two places in the entire world — the Mojave Desert and in Jerusalem, to the many varieties of cacti and Yucca plants, the park is a vibrant ecosystem sprouting from the desert.

For most visitors, arriving along the north border of the park allows you to enter the park at one of two points, the Joshua Tree entrance in the town of Joshua Tree, or the Twentynine Palms entrance a few miles further east. Both entrances, as well as a third on the southeastern border, come together in a sort of “Y” shape to create the park’s main auto route.

Take a drive along the Joshua Tree National Park auto road:

The auto road can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete depending on your interests and physical ability. It is important to remember to pack enough water for you and everyone in your party before heading into the park. Many of Joshua Tree National Park’s most iconic sights, including Split Rock, Skull Rock, Hall of Horrors, and of course the scenic groves of Joshua Trees can be seen from the auto road.

Before setting out into the park, be sure to download the free Joshua Tree National Park app by Chimani to discover trails, points of interest, and park information from your mobile device, without the need for a cell connection: www.chimani.com/#joshua