• nps.gov/jotr; $15; $20/vehicle; no potable water; no reservations

Watch a desert sunset or a dazzling star show from the top of a massive boulder, then crawl into your sleeping bag when the night turns cool. The gargantuan rocks also provide a cozy sense of privacy for most of the 31 sites. During the day, take the strenuous hike to Ryan Mountain’s view-filled summit or visit the ruins of the 1890s Ryan Ranch.

Ben Herndon / Tandem

The best Joshua Tree camping sites, plus nearby hotels and restaurants for a more well-heeled experience

Matthew Jaffe


Joshua Tree’s nine developed campgrounds have approximately 500 campsites. Most are first-come, first-served, while reservations can be made up to six months ahead only at Black Rock and Indian Cove campgrounds for nights from October through May (recreation.gov or 877/444-6777). Potable water is only available at or near Black Rock, Cottonwood, and Indian Cove campgrounds. Backcountry camping is also allowed, while dispersed camping is permitted on Bureau of Land Management land just north and south of the park boundaries. $15 at campgrounds without water, $20 at campgrounds with potable water plus $20 vehicle and entrance fees; nps.gov/jotr or 760/367-5500.


$ inexpensive under $100
$$ moderate $100-$175
$$$ expensive $175-$250
$$$$ splurge--$250 and up

Sacred Sands Bed & Breakfast. Just outside the park’s West Entrance Station, find desert Zen in a soulful, contemporary strawbale building with two rooms featuring outdoor showers and spa tubs on decks overlooking the Mojave. $$$$; 63155 Quail Springs Rd.; sacredsands.com or 760/424-6407.

29 Palms Inn. Opened in 1928, this classic desert inn offers vintage adobe bungalows and wood-frame cabins with decks or backyards on 70 acres along the Oasis of Mara. There’s also a restaurant and a pool. 23 cabins and bungalows, $-$$$$; 73950 Inn Ave., Twentynine Palms; 29palmsinn.com or 760/367-3505.

Roughley Manor. On 25 acres, the inn’s traditional rooms and suites are in a three-story main house constructed of native stone and also separate buildings on the shaded property. There’s a pool, and a gourmet breakfast is included. 12 rooms, $$-$$$; 74744 Joe Davis Dr., Twentynine Palms; roughleymanor.com or 760/367-3238.

Spin and Margie’s Desert Hide-A-Way. A playful and colorful retreat offering suites and a cabin with kitchens or kitchenettes and desert-inspired décor. The art-filled property has a picnic and barbecue area, plus gardens with sitting areas. 4 suites and one cabin, $$-$$$; 64491 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree; deserthideaway.com or 760/366-9124.

Desert Lily Bed & Breakfast. B&B rooms in a pueblo-style main house and separate cabins overlooking the desert. 3 rooms and 4 cabins, $$-$$$, 8523 Star Lane, Joshua Tree; thedesertlily.com or 760/366-4676.


29 Palms Inn. An eclectic restaurant serving everything from kale and quinoa salad to Wagyu flatiron steak with lobster tail. You can dine indoors or poolside, and brunch is offered Sundays. Picnic lunches are available. 73950 Inn Ave., Twentynine Palms; $-$$$; 29palmsinn.com or 760/367-3505.

Crossroads Café. Popular, rustic spot for hotcakes and huevos rancheros at breakfast and chili cheeseburgers and tacos for lunch and dinner. 61715 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree; $-$$; crossroadscafejtree.com or 760/366-5414.

The Natural Sisters Café. Casual choice for smoothies, salads, and omelettes made with organic eggs, as well as vegan dishes. It’s a good place to pick up healthy items for picnics in the park. 61695 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree; $-$$; thenaturalsisterscafe.com or 760/366-3600.

Pie for the People. Cooked in stone ovens, New York-style pizza comes to the California desert at this casual spot along the main highway. 61740 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree; $-$$; pieforthepeople.com or 760/366-0400.

Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Mesquite-grilled specialties and Tex-Mex favorits at a restaurant and saloon with live music, including nationally known artists. 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown; $-$$$; pappyandharriets.com or 760/365-5956.

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