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  • Basecamp Outdoor Gear Team

Where to camp in Joshua Tree National Park

Below is a summary of places to camp in Joshua Tree National Park. Usually in our blogs we also provide a list of places to camp outside of the park, but there are so many options inside the park that it doesn't make much sense to stay anywhere else.

joshua trees at sunset
Classic view in Joshua Tree National Park

Things to know about camping in Joshua Tree National Park

The best campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park do not have running water or phone reception. Fill up on water, groceries, and gas prior to entering the park! At Basecamp Outdoor Gear, we rent 7-gallon water jugs and coolers so you don't run out of water and you can keep your food fresh longer.

Twentynine Palms is the nearest town to the north entrance, and about 10-20 miles from most campgrounds. You'll find everything you need there. The west entrance is located in the small town of Joshua Tree, about 15-20 miles from most campgrounds. There are few amenities in the town of Joshua Tree, but for greater variety you'd have to continue east to Yucca Valley. In the south, Indio and its surroundings have everything you need. Keep in mind that it's a bit farther away from the main attractions.


Camping outside the park

There are many private campgrounds outside of Joshua Tree National Park. However, unless you need RV hook-ups - or a shower - try to avoid these campgrounds. They tend to be pricey, less scenic, and not very central to anything. Here's a list of places you can go provided by the park, including options for dispersed camping. Again, there are a few options but they are out of the way and much less scenic.

Note: We do NOT recommend backpacking through Joshua Tree National Park because you have to carry all of your food and water on your back! Plan ahead and prepare accordingly. Refer for the park website for more information about backpacking in Joshua Tree National Park.

tent under starry night in front of big boulder
Camping in Joshua Tree National Park

Best campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park

There are five campgrounds in the main part of the park, all of which have similar setup and regulations: Vault toilets, no running water, no electric hookups, no cell service. Maximum of six people, three tents, and two vehicles per site, space permitting. Hammocks, slacklines, clotheslines, and other horizontal ropes are not permitted in campgrounds. Buy firewood in the nearby communities prior to heading into the park as it is illegal to collect firewood inside the park. Generator use is permitted only from 7–9 am, noon–2 pm, and 5–7 pm.

All the campgrounds are in beautiful settings, sites tucked between big boulders, picnic table and fire ring at each site. It's nice simply to set up camp for a few nights and relax.

At Basecamp, we rent 7-gallon water jugs so you can don't run out of water in the park. Fill them up at the visitor center before entering the park.


Hidden Valley Campground

Quite possibly the most popular campground in the park, because it is the first campground you reach when entering the park from the town of Joshua Tree. It's also close to many trailheads in the park, and it's within walking distance of some of the best rock climbs in the park. Best of all, on winter weekends, you can get free coffee 8-10am provided by the climbing ranger!

Our thoughts about this campground: LOVE IT! But it's popular for a good reason. This campground fills up very quickly between October-May! Still, if you haven't made a reservation elsewhere, I think it's worth driving through to see if any sites are available. Who knows, you might get lucky!

Reservations: First-come, first-serve. Grab a site and wait for a ranger to drive by so you can pay for it. Check nightly rate here


Ryan Campground

Another beautiful campground at the base of Ryan Mountain, this is the second campground you reach from the west entrance to the park. A few hiking trails depart from here, but you'll most likely get into your vehicle and drive a few miles to explore the rest of the park.

Our thoughts about this campground: But you'll have to drive to most of the places you want to visit in the park.

Reservations: Required. Book here

light shining red on a big boulder under the milky way
Starry night in Joshua Tree National Park

Sheep Pass Group Campground

The third campground you pass from the west entrance is for groups only! We won't go into detail here, but if you have a group, learn about this campground here.


Jumbo Rocks Campground

The biggest campground inside the park, and centrally located. This is a great place from which to explore the countless hiking trails and rock formations in the area.

Our thoughts about this campground: Just walking around the campground is a great half-day activity!

Reservations: Required. Book here


Belle Campground and White Tank Campground

Small solitary campgrounds near the intersection of Park Blvd and Pinto Basin Rd. Make sure you have a full tank of gas before entering the park if you're going to stay here because you'll have to drive a bit to any trailheads. These campgrounds close June, July, August.

Our thoughts about these campgrounds: LOVE THEM! But they are kind of far from the rest of the attractions in the park. They are great if you're looking for solitude and night sky.

Reservations: First-come, first-serve. Grab a site and wait for a ranger to drive by so you can pay for it. Check nightly rates here for Belle and here for White Tank.


Other campgrounds within Joshua Tree National Park boundaries

The following three campgrounds serve outlying parts of the park in the west, north, and south.

joshua trees
Joshua Tree National Park

Black Rock Campground

Pretty much in the town of Yucca Valley, Black Rock Campground provides access to the northwest corner of the park. A long crosscountry hiking trail and an equestrian trail connect to the main part of the park from here. If you don't have a horse and you're not backpacking, there's not much to do near here. This campground has running water and flush toilets.

Our thoughts about this campground: But you have to drive quite a long distance to get to any other points in the park.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Indian Cove Campground

Similar in setup and regulations to the central campgrounds in Joshua Tree, Indian Cove Campground has only vault toilets and no running water. You'll find this campground off of Highway 62, thirteen miles east of the town of Joshua Tree and ten miles west of Twentynine Palms. Indian Cove Road dead-ends at this campground. Only a strenuous hiking trail, the Wonderland of Rocks, connects this campground with the main part of the park. A few other hiking trails depart from here or nearby, and there are many established rock climbing routes in this section of the park.

Our thoughts about this campground: LOVE IT! But you have to drive quite a long distance to get to any other points in the park.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Cottonwood Campground

The only campground in the southern part of the park, Cottonwood Campground lies in very different topography than the remainder of the park. For one thing, you won't find any Joshua trees here! But don't worry, you'll find other very interesting vegetation in this area. The only thing to do near this campground is hike to the Lost Palm Oasis. There's a gas station with some necessities near the southern entrance at Chiriaco Summit, but the nearest supermarket is 30 miles away at Indio, CA. This campground has running water and flush toilets.

Our thoughts about this campground: The only reason to stay here is if you arrive late to the park and you want to hike to the oasis. It's a great campground, but there's not much to do there, so I'm not sure why you would stay for more than one night.

Reservations: Required. Book here


Summary of all campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park

Here's a map of all the campgrounds mentioned above. Remember to rent 7-gallon water jugs so you don't run out of water in the park. Fill them up at the visitor center before entering the park.

If you need more information regarding any of the campgrounds mentioned above please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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