Travel California: Boondocking at Joshua Tree National Park

Travel California: Boondocking at Joshua Tree National Park

600 500 Kristi Corder

Some of the best places we’ve stayed on our RVing journey have been places we can boondock. On a recent visit to California, we decided to spend a week boondocking at Joshua Tree National Park. Read on for our review!

Love boondocking? Check out our review of the BLM land at the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. #JoshuaTreeCamping #CaliforniaCamping #BoondockingRVLiving #WayBeyondTheNorm

We seem to be getting the hang of this boondocking thing. Equipped with solar panels, a generator, a water bladder, and a bigger inverter, we’ve been able to live comfortably for a week or longer without connecting to public water or power sources.

We had no real plans of visiting Joshua Tree National Park on this particular leg of our journey, but a last minute deal on tickets to Disneyland had us looking towards California. What better time to check out our next National Park than on the way to see the Mouse!

Joshua Tree Boondocking: Location

While we were not officially boondocking inside the national park, we did set up right outside the entrance. There are boondocking spots on the BLM land at both the north and south entrances. For this trip, we chose the south entrance.

When traveling from Phoenix, AZ, you want to head straight west on I-10 into California. About an hour after you cross the border, take the exit for Cottonwood Springs Rd and turn right. As you drive north on this road, you’ll see RVs parked in the fields on either side of the road.

Just before you reach the main entrance to Joshua Tree there are dirt roads off to the right and left. Pull off and find a place down one of these roads to set up camp. When we were there, it seemed that most RVers would take the road to the left, but you can go either direction and find nice spots.

Joshua Tree Boondocking: Fees and Campsites

Boondocking in this location is FREE and camping spots are pretty much unlimited. The roads getting to the campsites are dirt roads so be prepared for a bumpy ride. There are no designated campsites, but follow along the road and you’ll see areas where others have pulled in to camp.

There are no electric, water, or sewer hookups. We did end up needing to get water, so Brent took our water bladder into the national park and filled up at one of the dump stations located inside the park.

Cell signal for both AT&T and Verizon were very good! So if you’re like us and need to work during the week, you’ll have a super easy time getting online.

Here’s a view of our boondocking spot and the amazing views we had while there. With the large wash next to us, the kids enjoyed spending time out there finding bottle caps and rocks. Even though the flowers were just starting to bloom, I enjoyed seeing all the colors that were beginning to surround us.

Joshua Tree Boondocking: Things to Do

While there is not much of anything to do at the campsite other than enjoy the amazing views and relax, there are a few things in the area to do while staying there.

Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Full size Joshua Tree in the national park

This is a no brainer. You’re camping right outside of the park, so obviously you’ll want to check it out. There are a ton of great things to do in Joshua Tree National Park, especially if you have kids. Prepare yourself for a lot of driving, a lot of hiking, and a lot of climbing. Plan for at least a few days, if not longer, to explore this national park!

Drive the BLM Land

BLM road scenery at Joshua Tree

Spend an afternoon or evening and drive along the dirt roads on the BLM land. We enjoyed the scenic drive, were able to scope out campsites for a future visit (yes, we’ll be back!), found a small campground tucked back away from the highway and stumbled upon a museum.

Visit the General Patton Memorial Museum

Tanks at the General Patton Memorial Museum

If you love history or are enamored with tanks, take an afternoon to check out this little museum right off I-10 near Joshua Tree National Park. Drive east along the BLM dirt road and you’ll come up the back side of the General Patton Memorial Museum. We were surprised to see tons of tanks as we came upon this museum from the back.

Check Out Nearby Cities

There are no grocery stores, laundromats, churches, or entertainment venues around Joshua Tree so you might want to take a day trip to some of the nearby cities.

If you’re boondocking at the south entrance, be sure to head to Indio, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, or Palm Springs. You’ll have your pick of restaurants, churches, laundromats, entertainment, and shopping. We were surprised to find inexpensive bridesmaid and flower girl dresses for my sister’s wedding at a mall in Palm Desert.

Dresses found at a mall near Joshua Tree

If you choose to stay near the north entrance, be sure to visit the towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. Here you can get your fill of art, golf, and other fun family adventures.

I think Brent’s favorite boondocking experience would still be at the Badlands in South Dakota. But boondocking at Joshua Tree is probably a very close second. We highly recommend it!

Have you boondocked at one of the BLM areas at Joshua Tree National Park? Let us know about your experience by leaving a reply below!
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