Stargazing picture1 of 3
Stargazing2 of 3
Joshua Bury Photography/Getty Images

Key Info

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Natural Wonders, Free Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.7

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

With some of the darkest nights in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park offers visitors the chance to see the stars, planets, meteors and even the Milky Way without much in the way of light pollution. On clear nights, you should have no problem viewing the stars from anywhere in the park. That said, surrounding communities do impact Joshua Tree's night skies, so the farther you are from them, the better you'll be able to see.

Visitors can park at any of the roadside pullouts and set up chairs to stargaze. The Pinto Basin Road between the Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood has the least traffic and darkest skies, according to the National Park Service. Rangers regularly offer programs about the night sky. Check online or at any visitor center for details.

To be comfortable watching the stars, bring a chair, blanket and plenty of water. While any time of the year is good for stargazing, winter experiences the longest nights, giving visitors more time to enjoy the night sky. That said, events like the Perseid Meteor Shower, which usually occurs in mid-August, provide some of the most memorable and reliable extravaganzas of the year. In the fall, the park hosts a Night Sky Festival, where rangers set up telescopes, offer tours, lectures, music and more.

More Best Things To Do in Joshua Tree National Park

Rock Climbing1 of 12
Joshua Tree Visitor Center2 of 12
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Rock Climbing

Climbers flock to Joshua Tree from around the world to tackle the literally thousands of routes open to them. There are challenges for all ability levels, with more than 8,000 climbing routes, 2,000 boulder problems and hundreds of natural gaps to choose from. Because Joshua Tree has its own particular set of safety issues, from high temperatures to remote climbing spots, it pays to do your homework first. If you're unfamiliar with the park, you'll want to purchase a climbing guide and hiking map, which are available at park visitor centers and online.

Certified guides can also lead you on climbs and provide a great way to explore in safety. If you do hire a climbing guide, make sure that they are permitted to work in Joshua Tree National Park. Each guide is required to have rock guiding certifications through the Professional Climbing Guides Institute, the American Mountain Guides Association or similar organizations. They are also required to be certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR and must carry insurance.

Read more
Moelyn Photos/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Joshua Tree National Park »

Explore More of Joshua Tree National Park

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

CDC Coronavirus Travel Updates: What to Know About Current Travel Restrictions

Cruises suspend sailings; hotels, airlines tweak cancellation policies; see the latest CDC travel advisories.

What Will Happen to My Elite Status and Points Because of the Coronavirus?

Limited travel due to the coronavirus prompts airline and hotel rewards programs to make policy changes.

14 Top Jigsaw Puzzles, Games and Books to Keep Travelers Entertained

Even though you're stuck at home, you can still indulge your wanderlust with these activities.

15 Top Cookbooks to Buy

Travel to far-flung destinations and enjoy international food without leaving home.

The 12 Best Language-Learning Apps, Programs and Online Courses

Now is the perfect time to learn a new skill.

The 13 Best Sedona Tours

Get lost in the magic of Sedona's red rocks on these top adventures.

What is an Ecolodge? 21 Top Eco Resorts and Eco Hotels Around the World

Luxury meets environmental welfare at these top-notch ecolodges.

The 12 Best Puerto Rico Tours

Experience island living at its best on one of these guided trips.

I Went On a Cruise During the Coronavirus Pandemic. This Is What Happened.

Coronavirus concerns, itinerary changes and uncertainty lead to an unusual vacation.

5 Travel-Themed Activities to Do at Home During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Use these suggestions to fill the travel void amid the pandemic.