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
4.7scorecard
  • 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

The Best Travel Backpacks for 2020

U.S. News rated the best travel backpacks using recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerNovember 25, 2019

30 Top Wellness Retreats

Rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit at one of these relaxation-focused properties.

Kyle McCarthyNovember 21, 2019

30 Fun All-Inclusive Family Vacations

Book one of these all-inclusive trips that cover food, accommodations and activities galore.

Holly JohnsonNovember 14, 2019

5 Ways Cruise Lines Are Becoming More Environmentally Friendly

Industry considers impact as it looks to the future.

Gwen PratesiNovember 12, 2019

11 Unique and Quirky Cruise Destinations

Venture off the beaten path for an authentic cruising experience.

Christine SmithNovember 12, 2019

The 2020 Best Cruise Lines for Families

Gather up the gang and head out to sea with one of these six kid-friendly cruise lines.

Nicola WoodNovember 12, 2019

The Top Pyramids in Mexico to Visit

Add these ancient marvels to your Mexico vacation itinerary.

Lyn MettlerOctober 28, 2019

30 Top Babymoon Destinations, Trips and Ideas

From romantic beach getaways to big city adventures to glamping in the forest, these locales will inspire your babymoon planning.

Gwen PratesiOctober 15, 2019

15 Tips for Traveling While Pregnant

These tips will help pregnant women travel the world in comfort and style.

Holly JohnsonOctober 10, 2019

The Best Chicago Segway Tours

See all the top sights in the Windy City without breaking a sweat.

Marisa MéndezOctober 3, 2019