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Camping in Joshua Tree

Camping in Joshua Tree

Pitch a tent amid big boulders or in pinyon-pine shade

At Joshua Tree, there’s camping to fit any style. Looking for family-friendly car-camping? Find a site near mounded boulders perfect for kid-clambering. Feeling adventurous? Thanks to the park’s permissive dispersed camping policy, you can pack in, on horseback or on foot, to set up camp almost anywhere in the park’s 800,000 acres/323,749 hectares, as long as you hike one mile in and then go 500 feet off-trail. Because water filtering in the park is unreliable, backcountry campers must bring all drinking water with them. Campfires require a permit,

The park has eight established campgrounds, four with first-come, first-serve sites. Those first-come, first serve campsites typically cost $15 per night and fill up quickly every weekend from September through May; if you can arrive during the week, or during the June through September off-season, there’s a greater chance you’ll secure a site. (Note: some campgrounds close during summer, and springtime weekends can be crowded, especially when wildflowers bloom.)

Of the four campsites that require a reservation, Jumbo Rocks Campground is justly popular; its 124 sites are scattered throughout a maze of granite boulders, and there are ranger-led talks on weekend evenings. The camp is especially popular with astronomy groups and 4WD fans. Black Rock Campground on the park’s west side is popular with families and groups thanks to running water, flush toilets, and slightly cooler temperatures. Cottonwood Campground, near the park’s southern entrance, also has drinking water and flush toilets. (Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance, and can be booked on recreation.gov.) 

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