48 Hour Joshua Tree Itinerary
Joshua Tree is one of the most popular escapes in Southern California, and I love it more every time I drive through this unique desert land. The National Park is the meeting point for two drastically different desert systems, the Mojave and the Colorado.
The Mojave is the high desert, covering the north west portion of the park. This is where most people enter the park and where you’ll find the characteristic Joshua Trees, a variety of yucca plant. Joshua trees are indigenous and exclusive to the Mojave desert, and can be found in parts of California, Nevada, Utah & Arizona, growing at altitudes between 1,3000 and 5,900 feet. As you follow the only road in the park south, the scenery is all boulders and mountains until the vast Cholla cactus fields arrive seemingly out of nowhere.
The area has become a wellness destination, and it’s easy to understand why once you see the yoga studios and all of the organic cafes in the towns surrounding the north entrances of the park.
Check out my 48-hour itinerary to get the most out of your time in Joshua Tree!
Assuming you’re going for the weekend, I suggest getting in midday Friday, checking into your accommodation, and heading to the Integatron for an unforgettable sound bath and perhaps other worldly experience.
About The Integatron
The Integatron is a 38-foot tall all-wood building with a dome designed to be a generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel. It sits on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the desert, and the dome shape causes a spike in the magnetic field inside the building. It is literally full of pure un-manifest energy. A 7.3 earthquake went through the town in 1992, and though you can see the fault lines surrounding the Integatron, the building stayed completely intact. They’ll tell you all about the amazing history before your sound bath, and then you will be treated to 60 minutes under the trance of seven crystal sound bowls tuned to each of the chakras.
I could feel the vibration of the sound immediately, and the set only let up slightly a few times during the hour. I enjoyed the intensity, and found myself more able than other experiences to surrender to the sound. They have cozy inclined cots, blankets, and beautiful lighting- you’ll be comfortable. At the end, you’re encouraged to test out the sound in the direct center of the building. I chanted 3 of the most powerful and resonating OMs of my life.
Be sure to sign up in advance. Weekdays (including Fridays) are $5 cheaper than weekends. Pro tip: Time it with sunset! The shadows and clouds get insane in this part of the desert!
After a sound bath, it’s recommended to take it easy, avoid alcohol or too much outside energy. Cook a nutritious meal, drink lots of water, and keep your body warm. You’re in the desert where the air pollution is nil, so take advantage of it and set up a blanket outside and take in the stars. There’s plenty of AirBNBs with telescopes, but you don’t need it, especially if you’re traveling during Milky Way season or during a New Moon when the sky is extra dark.
Wake up for a desert sunrise, enjoy your coffee outside, and hit the park early for a climbing sesh, hike, or nature walk - J. Tree has it all.
Your park pass will be $30 per car, and is good for 7 days. There can be quite the line of cars to get in, so leave plenty of time. You can rent basic climbing gear at Nomad Ventures and other last minute outdoorsy things at Joshua Tree Outfitters.
Hidden Valley is my favorite stop in the park, but Jumbo Rock and Quail Springs also provide entertainment for the whole group. REI has this guide for the best climbs in the park, and there’s hiking trails and picnic spots at all 3 of these stops.
Goal for the day: get sweaty and dirty!
If you’re keen for a western night out, head Pappy + Harriet’s in Pioneertown. You’ll want to reserve a table for dinner or a show, and know that it gets super busy. But this is the place to be after dark in the desert.
Start your day at Instant Karma Yoga with the 10am Mellow Flow, and afterward grab a healthy bite at either Natural Sisters or Crossroads Cafe. Both have vegan options, fresh juices and awesome coffee!
If thrift shopping is you’re thing, prepare for your heart to sing in Joshua Tree. Hit Ricochet, Black Luck Vintage, and then head to Moon Wind Trading Co and Hoof & Horn for eclectic bohemian clothes and gifts.
Head into the park midday and drive through slow, stopping anywhere you’re drawn to to meditate for a moment or take fun artsy desert photos in your new digs.
Leave out the south exit so you can see the change in geography, and swoop around back home for a mid-evening arrival. It’s hit or miss with traffic going back to LA or San Diego during high season (spring & fall), but it’s worth it to have a whole day on Sunday before going home.
Where To Stay In Joshua Tree
There’s plenty of camping options inside the park, and it’s important to note that they book out fast, especially on the weekends in high season (October - May). There’s always independent camping options through Hipcamp as well (use code ALICEZARKA for $10 off if you’re new).
But the best way to experience Joshua Tree in my opinion is hat edge between B&B and desert glamping. Here’s some of my favorite spots.
Whether you’re a fellow Southern California resident looking for a quick escape or you’ve got a California Road Trip on your bucket list, I hope you get a chance to getaway to Joshua Tree soon! Don’t forget to pin and share this post if you found it helpful!