When Is the Best Time
You can visit Joshua Tree National Park year-round. It’s always open and accessible. However, some months are less pleasant due to the temperatures, and other periods can be quite busy. We visited the park during different seasons and talked to local experts about details for each month.
The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is from March to April when the wildflowers bloom, and from October to November. In spring and fall, the temperatures are perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or rock climbing.
Joshua Tree National Park is open night and day every day of the week throughout the year, even on public holidays.
Joshua Tree Visitor Centers is open from 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM daily. Other visitor centers open at 8:30 AM. Tip: Stay one night and you can start early to avoid the crowds. That’s the best way to visit the park: Hotel Deals – Joshua Tree National Park | via booking.com (bookmark the link to save money!)
How Much Time Do You Need
You need one day of driving in Joshua Tree National Park to see most of the main attractions via short walks or take longer hikes and experience only a part of it. Start your explorations early in the morning if you plan for one day only.
2-3 Days: Park experts recommend staying 2 or 3 days for the best experience. That way, you can see all of the park’s main roads and some secondary ones via short hikes and some longer ones.
Stargazing at Night | Milky Way Viewing
Joshua Tree National Park offers perfect stargazing (Milky Way) viewing conditions as it has some of the darkest nights in Southern California without light pollution. On a clear and moonless night, visitors can view the stars from anywhere in the park.
Winter: The best time for stargazing is winter as you have the most time due to shorter days and longer nights. In December it’s dark already after 5 PM.
Summer: In late spring, summer, and early fall the best times for stargazing and Milky Way viewing are moonless nights.
- Visitation/Crowds: Moderate – High
- Weather: Cooler but still pleasant
The winter months bring cooler but not freezing days. It’s a great time to visit Joshua Tree National Park. But keep in mind that it can be a lot busier than during the quiet and hot summer period.
In February, the wildflowers start to bloom in lower elevations of the Pinto Basin and along the park’s south boundary
Winter visitor quote: ‘Even though it was cold when we visited the park in January, it was a sunny day, dry, and more comfortable than we thought.’
With maxima reaching an average high of 15°C/59°F, and often plummeting to around 4°C/39°F, December in Joshua Tree National Park is characterised by rather pleasant days and chilly nights. You should bring warm clothing for outdoor activities during the morning and at sunset, and if camping overnight, a sleeping bag is essential.
Even during the day, it is recommended that you wear a jumper. With an average rainfall amount of 15 millimetres/0.58 inches during the month, bringing along a waterproof coat is also recommended. Snow can also fall and settle on the ground, although if this does occur, it is mainly at higher altitudes of the national park.
Despite being a desert, the winter months are rather cool in comparison with the summer heat. With average daily maximum temperatures of 16°C/61°F, and minimum night-time temperatures dropping to 3°C/37°F, remember to wear warm clothing during morning and late afternoon outdoor activities.
However, during the middle of the day, a warm jumper is still recommended. An average of 13 millimetres/0.52 inches of rain falls during January, so bringing a waterproof coat is advisable. Snow can also fall and settle during January, albeit particularly at higher altitudes.
February is the last month of winter and receives similar precipitation amounts and virtually identical temperatures to January. Average maximum and minimum temperatures are 18°C/64°F and 5°C/41°F respectively, meaning that it will likely feel quite pleasant during the day, but rather cold at night.
Therefore, warm clothing is recommended for early morning and sunset outdoor activities. With average precipitation amounts of 15 millimetres/0.61 inches for the entire month, waterproof clothing should be brought along just in case.
- Visitation/Crowds: Very high, especially in March and April
- Weather: Pleasant with comfortable temperatures
- Highlight: Blooming Wildflowers
March and April are months with very pleasant temps. While not heavily crowded it’s also the time with the highest visitation. Try to avoid weekends and visit mid-week if possible. It’s also a good idea to be there early in the morning. Book a nearby hotel or lodge.
Wildflowers: While the exact time varies from year to year, march and spring are the peak wildflower blooming months. Check the official NPS Wildflower Viewing site.
Spring visitor quote: ‘Our timing was perfect when we came to visit Joshua Tree National Park in early April. The weather was very nice: It was sunny but not really hot. The wildflowers near Cottonwood Canyon were stunning. Highly recommend visiting during springtime’
March ushers in the spring season in Joshua Tree National Park. There is a notable increase in the average temperatures, with daily maxima reaching 22°C/72°F, and night-time minima dropping to 9°C/48°F.
Although a warm jumper is recommended for early morning and evening outdoor activities, it will feel rather pleasant during the rest of the day.
With an average rainfall of 11 millimetres/0.45 inches, precipitation is noticeably lower than in February. Also, the chance of rain falling on each day reduces as the month progresses, meaning that you are less likely to encounter rain at the end of March than at the start of the month.
April offers perfect temperatures. The middle of the spring sees temperatures continue to increase – an expected maximum for an April day is 27°C/81°F, but be aware that the end of the month will very likely be warmer than the start.
Night time conditions are still fairly cool, with an average low of 12°C/54°F. Therefore, if you are camping overnight, a sleeping bag is recommended, as well as a warm layer for early morning and late evening outdoor activities. Due to the warmth of the day, it is advised that water is brought along on afternoon hikes. Precipitation is very low during April, with an average of 3.3 millimetres/0.13 inches, so the threat of being caught out in the rain is rather low.
Despite being within meteorological spring, May feels more like a summer month, with average temperatures peaking at 31°C/88°F in the day, and falling to 16°C/61°F during the night. Therefore, outdoor camping will feel rather pleasant.
While undertaking outdoor activities, make sure that you bring enough water with you and wear sunscreen. May is a very dry month, with an average of only 2.3 millimetres/0.09 inches, making rainfall very unlikely.
- Visitation/Crowds: Low
- Weather: Very hot
The hottest time in Joshua Tree National Park is from June to September. You should avoid strenuous hikes and other activities. It’s also important to wear proper clothing and bring plenty of water. The advantage: It’s a lot quieter compared to all other months of the year. Please note that some campgrounds are closed in the summer: NPS Joshua Tree Campgrounds
Despite the heat, you can still visit in summer and enjoy the park. Also, the temps do not climb up to 100°F every day.
Summer visitor quote: ‘We visited on one of the hotter days in August. It was 100°F that day. We took plenty of water and heeded all warnings. We did a nice driving tour and avoided hiking because of the heat. It was hot, but we had a great time!’
A rather hot and dry month, June marks the start of the meteorological summer. Although average daily maxima reach 36°C/97°F, temperatures often fall to a more comfortable 20°C/68°F during the night.
Ensure that you bring plenty of water, especially if you are planning outdoor activities. Wear sunscreen, and take breaks to cool off in any shade during hiking activities. If camping, you must bring anything that can give you shade, such as a tent or a large umbrella. Rainfall is almost non-existent in June, but can occur on very rare occasions.
July is the hottest month of the year in Joshua Tree National Park. If you visit during this time, expect intense heat throughout the day. With an average daily maximum of 39°C/102°F, you must bring plenty of water with you – not only to last the entire trip, but also in case of emergencies.
It is vital that you wear sunscreen for all outdoor activities during the day, and take regular breaks to cool off in any shaded areas if you are hiking. For camping activities, ensure that you bring along shade-providing equipment, such as a tent or an umbrella. The nights remain warm as well, with average low temperatures of 26°C/79°F. Unlike June, the chance of rainfall is a bit higher in July, with an average monthly rainfall of 12 millimetres/0.48 inches. Although rainfall is still very much unlikely, thunderstorm downpours occur during this month, so be aware of flash flooding and lightning strikes.
August is scorching hot. With daily maxima typically reaching 38°C/100°F, and minima dropping to around 24°C/75°F, this is another boiling summer month. The same heat-related precautions should be taken as in June and July.
Bring water, sunscreen and shade, but you should also be aware that the average August precipitation is higher, at around 20 millimetres/0.81 inches for the national park. Although each day has around a 7% chance of seeing rainfall, it can occur – and does, often in torrential thundery downpours. Therefore, not only is it advisable that you bring light-weight waterproof clothing, but also that you remain vigilant towards the threat of both flash-flooding and lightning strikes.
Despite being the start of meteorological autumn, the summer continues into the month of September, with daily temperatures reaching 35°C/95°F on average, and typically falling to only 20°C/98°F. As in the summer months, ensure that you bring enough water and sunscreen with you, and used these during outdoor activities. Although the average rainfall is lower than in August – at 10 millimetres/0.4 inches – it still occurs, in the form of downpours.
- Visitation/Crowds: Moderate
- Weather: Mostly pleasant with mild temperatures
Although fall officially starts in September, the real autumn in the park happens in October and November. Those are two great months as everything starts to cool off and the temps are getting pleasant again. While it’s getting busier, the fall months are not as busy as March and April.
Fall visitor quote: ‘November is such a great time to visit the park because it’s cool and pleasant, with moderate crowds.’
October in Joshua National Park begins the transition between the heat of summer and the coolness of winter. Although average temperature maxima are 28°C/82°F, and the minima are 14°C/57°F, bear in mind that the temperatures are typically warmer at the start of October than at the end.
While the daytime temperatures are rather warm, it will feel distinctly cooler during the night. Therefore, bring water with you, as well as a warm blanket if you are camping overnight. Like the spring, October is rather rain-free, with only 5 millimetres/0.2 inches typically falling in the national park.
A rather pleasant month, November has rather comfortable temperatures while receiving very little rainfall. Temperatures typically peak at 20°C/68°F, and fall to 8°C/46°F, making this an ideal month for any outdoor activity, including hiking and camping.
However, although daytime temperatures are ideal, ensure that you wear a warm jumper during early morning and late afternoon activities, and bring a sleeping bag for outdoor camping. Only 5 millimetres/0.2 inches of rain falls during November.
Nearby Hotel Deals
Two distinct deserts, the Mojave and Colorado, unite in Joshua Tree National Park. An intriguing diversity of plants and animals have their homes in this fascinating landscape: