Joshua Tree National Park#2 in Best Things To Do in Palm Springs
Joshua Tree National Park is an oasis in the center of the desert. From Hidden Valley (which features a nice, easy hike) to the Cholla Cactus Garden (home to many a photo op at sunset), Joshua Tree caters to a variety of active travelers. Meanwhile, with its perch in the Little San Bernardino Mountains, the Keys View lookout is another great place for a spectacular view of the Coachella Valley.
Whether you're planning on hiking or just driving through, the park rangers recommend bringing plenty of water – this is the desert, after all. What's more, recent travelers suggested bringing food to enjoy at one of Hidden Valley's picnic tables.
Joshua Tree National Park is open 24 hours a day, but the different nature and visitors centers have different hours of operation. You'll find the park less than 40 miles east of Palm Springs, accessible through the Twentynine Palms entrance. A vehicle permit costs $30 and grants you entrance into the park for seven consecutive days. If you're entering as an individual on foot or bike, the cost for seven-day admittance is $15. On-site facilities include campgrounds, bookstores, restrooms, a cafe and several picnic areas. For more information, check out our Joshua Tree National Park travel guide.
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#1 Coachella Valley Preserve
The Coachella Valley Preserve may seem like a barren desert, but keep your eyes peeled and you'll see that its 20,000-plus acres are more than just sand and brush. The preserve encompasses the smaller Thousand Palms Oasis preserve, which boasts more than 25 miles of hiking paths. Along the trails you'll spot rare wildlife, lush palm woodland oases and desert wetlands, which at different times of the year blossom with wildflowers.
Before heading out, past visitors recommend stopping by the visitor center – located in a log cabin at the entrance of the park – to pick up a map of the trails. You can also download it here. Additionally, some suggested arriving early before temperatures become unbearable and the small parking lot fills up. And if you visit between October and March, consider joining one of the preserve's free guided hikes.
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