Joshua Tree in Winter: The Ultimate Guide + Tips!

Exploring the Hidden Valley is one of the best things to do in Joshua tree in winter

Are you planning to travel to Joshua Tree in winter?

Joshua Tree National park, visited by around 2.8 million people every year because of its distinct landscape, fantastical stargazing, and desert hikes, is one of the best national parks in the US one can experience.

It is situated in California, and it was established on October 31, 1994. 

Placed beautifully in the Los Angeles desert land, this national park symbolizes Mojave Desert beauty.

Are you planning to travel to Joshua tree in winter? This guide will show everything you need to know from the weather, where to stay in Joshua tree National park in winter, practical tips, to the best things to do for a perfect trip to Joshua tree in the winter season.

It has numerous trails perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and biking. Not only that, it is one of the most attractive locations in all of America for rock climbers, thanks to its rocky terrain.

The perfect mix of reclusive desert beauty and plenty of adventures to experience makes it so attractive for visitors. 

But the question is, is Joshua Tree National Park as amazing to visit in winter? 

In this article, we will discuss that, along with some other guidelines, information, and tips regarding your visit to Joshua Tree National Park in the wintertime. 

Is Winter a Good Time To Visit Joshua Tree National Park?

Winter is the perfect time to experience this nature’s gift in mild to cold weather.

Moreover, winter is ideal for hiking in Joshua Tree through unshaded trails, as the weather is clear and sunny in the day

Joshua Tree National Park in the winter

One thing to note is the fact that this national park is, after all, a desert. A desert is all about extremes.

So even if you experience a clear and sunny day, the night might become extremely cold, more so in winter.

Night-time temperature can dip below the freezing point. Therefore, you should always keep proper gear and apparel if you want to spend the night there. 

Average Winter Weather in Joshua Tree National Park

The daytime temperatures vary around 60 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. While the nights, as we already discussed, can go below the freezing point. 

Lost Mine Loop in Joshua tree National Park

But here’s the average temperature highs and lows for winter months in Joshua Tree National Park:

  • Average Temperature for Joshua Tree National Park in December: 61°F high and 37°F low
  • Average Temperature for Joshua Tree National Park in January: 63°F high and 38°F low
  • Average Temperature for Joshua Tree National Park in February: 66°F high and 38°F low

These are average temperatures and not exact temperatures. Whenever you are visiting Joshua Tree, make sure to stay updated with the weather news to get accurate information. 

Related post: Best places to visit in winter in the USA

Does It Snow in Joshua Tree?

It does snow in Joshua Tree, but it is occasional and more of a surprise than a common occurrence, as is normally the case with snow in California.

Snow Landscape in Joshua Tree National Park  in winter

On other rare occasions, the Joshua Tree National Park can also experience other weather anomalies like hail.

To be on the safe side, always check weather conditions before heading to the park. 

Top Things To Do During Winter in Joshua Tree National Park 

Here are some of the best experiences and things to do in Joshua Tree in the winter

Explore Hidden Valley

Hidden valley is arguably the most popular part of the Joshua Tree National Park.

It has multiple activities and adventures to offer, such as rock climbing, hiking, desert scenery, and more.

Exploring the Hidden Valley is one of the best things to do in Joshua tree in winter
Exploring the Hidden Valley is one of the best things to do in Joshua tree in winter

It is especially loved by rock climbers because of its perfect climbing opportunities and landscape.

It is located 10 miles from the entrance station and is surrounded by trails of different difficulty levels for all kinds of hikers.

Hidden valley is also home to one of the most famous campgrounds in the park.

If you are staying till sunset, stay on the lookout to catch a glimpse of prowling coyotes and to listen to their howls. 

Stargazing at Skull Rock

Skull Rock got its name because of an interesting boulder situated off of Park Boulevard in Joshua Tree and having a great resemblance to a human skull.

Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park in California
Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park in California

It is the main reason for its attraction, and looking at it feels like looking at a giant man’s skull that once roamed this planet. But stargazing at this heavenly and secluded location makes it all the more mythical.

It is easily accessible, but no parking is available at least a half-mile distance to the skull rock.

Stargazing at Skull Rock is one of the best things to do in Joshua Tree in winter

If you want to get a close look at the rock, you have to park at either Live Oak Picnic Area or Jumbo Rocks Campground and cover the half-mile distance on your feet. 

Cholla Cactus Garden

Visiting Cholla Cactus Garden is one of the best things to do in Joshua tree in winter

Apart from the great desert landscape, amazing rock climbing, and fulfilling hikes, Joshua Tree is also famous for its unique cacti.

To experience them, head to the Cholla Cactus Garden. It is a flat quarter-mile walk through a vast patch of cholla cacti.

The name cholla means teddy bear. They are called that because from a distance; they do look like furry teddy bears(the fur is their thorns, so don’t hug them!).

Apart from this cotton candy cacti, there are other types of desert flora to see and experience in this vast stretch of land. They look amazing in the setting sun and make for great Instagram-worthy pictures too!

Where To Stay Near Joshua Tree National Park in Winter?

These are some of the best places to stay if you’re visiting Joshua Tree in the coldest season.

Joshua Tree in winter

Themed Hotel-Pioneertown Motel

Built originally in the 1940s, The Pioneertown Motel housed Western movie stars.

This hotel has maintained its original wild west vibe while modernizing for recent times. It is perfect for a themed hotel experience.

Book your stay at the Pioneertown Motel from here.

Family Friendly Hotel-Fairfield Inn & Suites

If you are a family spending time in Joshua Tree in winter, Fairfield Inn & Suites in Twentynine Palms can be a great choice for you.

Each suite can cater to 4-6 people on beds and sofa beds. As a family, you can also have a great time feasting on the included breakfast buffet.

Book your stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites from here.

Joshua Tree in the winter

Budget Hotel-El Rancho Dolores Motel

If experiencing Joshua Tree on a budget is on your itinerary, you can’t go wrong with El Rancho Dolores Motel in Twentynine Palms.

It is a retro-vibed Spanish-style motel close to the Joshua Tree’s Northern entrance.

Its rooms have everything from fridges, A/C, wifi, and microwaves while staying within the budget. 

Book your stay at El Rancho Dolores Motel from here.

Alternatively, you can check out my complete post on where to stay in Joshua tree National park.

There you have it, your ultimate guide to visiting the Joshua Tree National Park in winter.

You can have as much fun visiting in winter as in summer, if not more. And with this article, you’re now all set to pack your bags and head to the park, even if it is mid December!


Sara Rodríguez

A passionate traveler with a mission: Help you plan your next trip easily and enjoy it to the fullest.

In this travel blog you will find everything you need to get inspired and organize your next adventure. Read more about my story here.

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