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  • Writer's pictureNicole Mitchell

How to Plan a day trip from LA to Joshua Tree National Park

Updated: Feb 2, 2023

We all get caught up in our daily routines at times, especially when we work and live in the city of Los Angeles. Sometimes we forget how massively diverse California is, and within a few miles South or North of the state, you can enter a natural bliss of beauty and peace. When you're ready to take a quick mindful escape, or even if you're visiting Los Angeles for a few days and want to switch up the scene, @theurbanetraveler planned an easy 2-hr road trip to Joshua Tree National Park you can follow!

How to prepare for Joshua Tree National Park

There are no restaurants, gas stations, or cellphone service in the park (except at Key Views), so you want to pack your car as a mobile bodega to support your needs throughout the day.

How to prepare for no cell service in Joshua Tree National Park

  • Download Google Maps offline of Joshua Tree National Park

  • Download offline content on the National Park App

  • Grab a physical map from the Joshua Tree Visitor Center

  • Pack a portable charger to keep your phone alive when on the trails.

Pre-plan your meals for the day

  • Buy a cooler and ice to keep your food and drinks fresh

  • Plan 3 car-friendly meals and healthy snacks

  • Bring 1-2 gallons of water per person

  • Bring 1-2 caffeinated drinks

Research which Hiking trails you want to explore

There are various hiking trails you can explore depending on your preference and skills level. So you want to map out what will best fit your journey for the day. Here is our chosen list of short and easy trails that you will love!

  • Hidden Valley Nature Trail

  • Barker Dam

  • Cap Rock

  • Hall of Horrors

  • Skull Rock

  • Cholla Catus Garden

How to style hiking outfits for Joshua Tree National Park

Always research the weather ahead of time before your trip so you can plan 1 or 2 convertible outfits for the morning, afternoon, and night. You can expect the mornings to be a bit chilly, hot afternoon (depending on the time of year), and cold nights in the desert. October gave us the PERFECT weather for cute transitional outfits. Check it out!

Unisex Hiking Outfits Ideas

  • Urbane Hemp Tee

  • Layering lightweight jacket or long sleeve shirt

  • Cargo pants/shorts

  • Biker Shorts

  • Hiking boots/shoes

  • Urbane Hemp Tote (Best for light nature trails )

  • Hat

Pack your car for driving convenience

Keep everything you may need in arms reach so that you are not swerving on the road or having to pull over to grab something.

  • Create a road trip playlist

  • Hand sanitizer

  • Chapstick/lip gloss

  • Shades

  • Water

  • Snacks (easy to eat when driving)

  • Mask

  • Small trash bag

Visit the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center First

  • Grab a map of the park

  • Talk to the lovely welcome staff and learn about the best trails to explore, and ask any additional questions

  • Grab the free literature to learn more about the wildlife in the desert

  • Look for Park Rangers throughout the trails for additional guidance (I found one at the Hall of Horrors who helped us actually find it)

How to pack your day bag

Resouces or scare once you enter Joshua Tree National Park, so you want to pack 1 duffel bag with all the items you need in a day and then bring 1 lightweight day bag like the Urbane Hemp Tote to carry to pack only what you need with you on the trails.

Pack all these items in your duffel bag and pull out what you need for your tote/day bag.

  • Water Bottle

  • Small lunch bag

  • Travel Size Sunscreen

  • Travel Size Bug Spray

  • Wet Wipes (avoid touching face until hands are clean)

  • First Aid Kit

  • Portable Charger

  • Tripod/ Selfie Stick

  • Book/ Journal

  • Change of clothes/ socks

  • Slides/ Sandals

Golden Hour and Sunset Views

First, figure out the sunset's time and then plan which trail you want to catch it at. Really, any place in the park will give you beautiful views, but we recommend either Key Views or Cholla Cactus Garden. Because I was traveling solo dolo, I wanted to camp out in an area with cell phone service, so I exited the park and went to the North Entrance Station's Sky's Limit observatory. It was a peaceful place to journal as I waited to stargaze the beautiful dark sky. Check out our time-lapse sunset views!

Thank you for reading! We hope you can now plan a fun and easy getaway trip. Follow us on Instagram and Pinterest @theurbanetraveler to bookmark these video tips to refer back to once you're ready to hit the road.

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