Last year was another record-breaking year at Joshua Tree National Park with a 7% increase in overall visitation and a 12.8% increase in visitation during off-season (June to October). This year, park rangers are also expecting numbers to climb, so if you're hoping to explore the park's many trails and campgrounds during the peak Spring season, make sure you plan ahead! These tips to ensure a successful stay in one of California's most popular parks are recommended by National Park Service (NPS) rangers who say spring visitation is about to be in full swing, so you'll want to guarantee smooth sailing.

Here are four top tips recommended by Joshua Tree National Park rangers to avoid crowds and long wait times:


Plan mid-week trips: Joshua Tree National Park is busiest on weekends and holidays, which can mean significant traffic congestion.

Buy a digital pass: Reserve your park pass prior to your visit by visiting This will guarantee smoother, quicker entry into the park.  

Visit during off-hours: Avoid entering the park between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and avoid exiting the park around sunset.   

For the fastest entry/exit: Use the North Entrance in Twentynine Palms or the South Entrance off Interstate 10. The West Entrance in the town of Joshua Tree is the busiest.

Additional ranger tips to prepare for your visit:   

  • Download the official National Park Service app before your visit. Search for National Park Service and select Joshua Tree once downloaded. Choose the tab that allows you to “Download for offline use." This will give you access to information about Joshua Tree beforehand and allows use in the park where there is no internet or cell reception. 
  • Visit responsibly and leave no trace.
  • Consider a night visit and enjoy cooler temperatures and beautiful dark skies.
  • Remember to respect the park’s wildflowers by taking only photos. Please walk on designated trails and never crush vegetation to protect future blooms for years to come.    
  • Be considerate of any park wildlife you encounter and provide them with adequate space. Please do not feed any park wildlife.  
  • The park may become drive-through only as the parking lots reach maximum capacity during times of extreme visitation. Visitors may be turned away from popular parking areas.     
  • Be flexible with plans. The best hike for you may be one where parking is available.  Hike smart!
  • Vault toilets are available inside the park, but food and water are not. Bring all the food and water you need for your visit.  
  • Visitors can park along many, but not all, roadsides. Never drive over a curb or onto vegetation to make a new parking space. Be mindful of curbs painted red.  
  • Find a new favorite spot to explore in the park. There is no one best campsite, trail, or sunset spot!