Now that the JTreeTweetup is just around the corner I’ve been getting a few questions about Joshua Tree and what camping there will be like.
I thought I’d do a series of posts on this.
While you can find a lot of information online about Joshua Tree National Park, my posts will highlight a few key things as well as be tailored specifically for climbers.
Top Most Important Things to Know About Joshua Tree in General:
- You must bring your own water.
- You must bring your own food.
- You must bring your own firewood/fuel.
Joshua Tree is a National Park, fuel gathering or collecting items to remove from the park is prohibited.
And though Joshua Tree is a National Park, it’s a bit of a newer one so there are no souvenir / food stores in the park itself and at the major campgrounds there aren’t even restrooms with running water. There are, however, pit toilets with toilet paper. These are much nicer than the PortaPotties that used to be there (trust me).
Now say you’re flying in to Joshua Tree (like a bunch are for the JTreeTweetup!) and you don’t want to pack a bunch of stuff. Don’t worry, just one or two towns over from West Gate (the recommended entrance into the park from most destinations) you can find restaurants, grocery and drugstores, and even camping and climbing equipment stores.
Top Things Climbers Should Know About Joshua Tree:
- Joshua Tree generally has Old School ratings.
- Joshua Tree has many more trad climbs than sport or top rope climbs (but there are thousands of climbs total so there are still a lot of all three types of climbs).
- Bouldering can be found all over the park.
- Quartzite Monzonite (the rock of JTree) is SHARP stuff. You will stick to it like crazy but it can chew up your skin and shoes.
The majority of campground space within the park itself is First Come, First Serve.
For most all-climber groups the number one preferred campground is Hidden Valley Campground. This is in large part due to its proximity to classic climbs and boulder problems (many are within walking distance, a few end or start in campsites themselves, and many others are a short drive and approach hike away). Hidden Valley is also preferred for social reasons as well, you can find pick up partners or just chat with other climbers and there’s even the Climber’s Coffee sponsored by the Rangers and Friends of Joshua Tree which is held on weekend mornings during peak climbing season.
“Now hang on!” you say, “You’re throwing too much at me! Where is all this stuff?”
Well funny you should ask. I just spent a few hours making a highly detailed Google Map with my notes about road turn offs, campgrounds, stores, and even a rough cell phone signal marker.
Here it is for your enjoyment!
View Climber’s Guide to Joshua Tree Camping in a larger map
Click the link to the bigger version to get a better overview of the area, especially since I’ve included several spots outside of the Park itself. It’s best for most of the notes if you zoom as close as possible and use satellite view (for the main park this gets you closer than Terrain view does).
I’ll be adding more information to the map as I see fit so be sure to bookmark this post!
In Part 2 of my Guide I’ll include information about the weather, what to pack and critters to watch out for.