The Great Outdoors: Joshua Tree

The Great Outdoors are right here in the Inland Empire. It’s your choice between a mountain range or the open desert, where stars are close enough to touch. Most people think of California as star lined streets and congested freeways. Never do they think of the great outdoors. Joshua Tree National Park is a unique spot where the outdoors becomes your backdrop, the sunset meets the desert rock, and the stars shine like diamonds. Don’t start out slow; get out there and enjoy:

Joshua Tree Ranch
Joshua Tree Ranch offers fun activities perfect for a weekend getaway. If you decide to venture out to Joshua Tree, you have the opportunity to go horseback riding and camping in one of the Inland Empire’s beautiful desert. Guided horseback riding, or trail riding, is offered to members of the general public weekdays, holidays, and most weekends with appointments. The Ranch offers rides to both novice and experienced riders. The price ranges from $65 to $125, depending on the length of the journey. To contact for more information or to make an appointment with the Ranch, send an email to: or call (760) 910-0378.

Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School
Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School is your chance to “take a walk on the wild side” while in Joshua Tree. See the gorgeous landscapes in a different light by climbing to the top as experienced rock-climbing professionals guide you. The school offers lessons 2 hours a day and 4 days a week. Climb alone or with your family and friends! To make a reservation call (800) 890-4745 or email:

Black Rock Canyon
Black Rock Canyon of Joshua Tree National Park offers hillside campsites that are surrounded by wild junipers, cholla cacti, a variety of desert shrubs, and of course Joshua Trees. Also, it is not uncommon to experience frequent wildlife sightings of cottontails, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and various birds while in the campground. The campsites include picnic areas, fire ring, restrooms, and nearby water. While campsites vary in size, RV and tent sites are both available. Horse owners are welcome to bring their horses along, because areas are perfectly reserved for such purposes. The campground offers plenty of options for hiking trails, including a 1.3-mile walk known as the Hi-View Nature Trail.

Skull Rock
Skull Rock is a large boulder formed by erosion that resembles a skull. This interesting piece of nature can be seen by either parking across the street from the spectacle to embarking on a 1.7-mile nature trail beginning from across the amphitheater, or inside the campground, or from the entrance to Jumbo Rocks Campground.

Ryan Mountain
Ryan Mountain is the trail you must try in Joshua Tree. Taking the 3-mile round trip hike up to the summit gives you a top down view of the heart of the park. Though it is one of the more strenuous hikes in this trail, it is a must because it has some of the most impressive panoramic views of the park.

Keys Ranch
Keys Ranch is located in a secluded canyon in Joshua Tree. It was once owned and operated by William F. Keys, his wife, and 5 children for more than 50 years. The ranch is an interesting part of history, telling the story of how a family was able to make a life in such an inaccessible area. Remains still present on the land are the cars, mining equipment, store, workshop, school house, and spare parts. Guided walking tours are 90-minute-long walks and are offered on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays. Cost to attend the tour is no more than $5. Book a tour by calling (760) 367-5522 between the hours of 9 am to 4:30 pm.

Bring plenty of water and a hat for a hike up Ryan Mountain. This hike is said to be a must-do in Joshua tree. The duration of the hike can last anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on your pace. The hike takes you up to the top pf Ryan Mountain where you will have earned a stunning view of Joshua Tree National Park.

For the off-roading enthusiasts
There are many trails you can choose from here in Joshua Tree. Trails include but not limited to Berdoo Canyon Road, Black Eagle Mine Road, Covington Flat, Geology Tour Road, Old Dale Road, Pinkham Canyon-Thermal Canyon Roads, and Queen Valley Road. These trails are meant to be used by mountain bikes and 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Off-road vehicles and all-terrain vehicles may not be used in the park. To preserve Joshua’s Tree beauty please make sure you stay on the established roads because you don’t want to destroy the wildlife.

The Barker Dam trail also leads to some Indian petroglyphs, cool places to boulder, and during certain parts of the year you will be able to see a beautiful desert oasis. The trail would be 1.3 miles round trip and is easy and simple enough for the whole family.

From open mics on Tuesdays, karaoke on Wednesdays and Fridays, and live bands on Saturday, you don’t want to miss out on Joshua tree’s very own Joshua Tree Saloon Grill & Bar. A perfect place to end your long day with delicious food and play a couple quick games of pool.

The fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down in Joshua Tree. On the National Park Services website, they stated that only 10 percent of the population of the United States can see the night sky in its natural, unpolluted state, and you guessed it, Joshua Tree is part of that 10 percent. See the night sky in a whole new light. Things you will need for this magical experience are binoculars and a star chart to help identify the many objects you will find by gazing up above.

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