There is a huge list of Romantic things to do in Joshua tree. The desert has never been my favorite place. The heat, the dry air, and the lack of trees made it seem like a place I should avoid at all costs. That is until I visited Joshua Tree National Park in California and realized that deserts could be pretty cool!
My husband and I had such a great time exploring this park together as a couple that I wanted to put together a list of romantic things to do in Joshua tree. So whether you’re planning on going on your honeymoon or just looking for some date ideas, check out these 12 romantic things to do in Joshua tree:
1. Covering over 300 square miles, there are lots of romantic things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park covers over 300 square miles, so there are many romantic things to do in this desert oasis. The park is open year-round and offers incredible hiking, camping, rock climbing, and even star gazing.
The best time of year to visit Joshua Tree National Park is from May through October, when temperatures are moderate and overnight lows remain above freezing.
2. Rent a Jeep and Explore the Off-road Trails
You can rent a 4×4 vehicle from the visitor center and enjoy driving on one of the park’s more than 800 miles of dirt roads. The best part? There are guided drives throughout the day, both by foot and by vehicle, so you don’t have to worry about navigating through these rough parts of town (or desert). There are also hikes available with guides that will take you into some pretty rugged terrain—a great way to get an insider’s look at this area.
3. Climb The Rocks At Hidden Valley
Hidden Valley is a great place to climb, as there are many different routes. There are also multiple trails, so you can hike up the rocks and explore more of Joshua Tree National Park. The stones are great for climbing and offer a good view of the desert below.
4. Get Lost in The Maze
If you’re looking for a bit of adventure and don’t mind getting lost, The Maze (a.k.a. the giant stone maze) is an Instagram-worthy sight that shouldn’t be missed while you’re in Joshua Tree National Park.
Getting there is simple—follow the signs! Once you arrive, it’s as simple as walking around aimlessly until you’re hopelessly lost in this maze of rock formations with no clear path (which will only make your photos more interesting).
Once you’ve made it out of The Maze, head back towards the car park on Sunset Road and take some pictures along the way. The views here are nothing short of incredible.
5. Watch a Sunset Over Keys View
Keys View is a great place to watch the sunset. It’s a short drive from the main park entrance, and you can easily combine it with other activities in Joshua Tree National Park. Keys View is at an elevation of 6,788 feet above sea level and offers unobstructed views of Pinto Basin and Hidden Valley, as well as views of the northern side of Mt. San Gorgonio (10,499 feet), one of several peaks in Southern California over 10,000 feet high.
Keys View offers spectacular views of both east-west mountain ranges: the San Jacinto Mountains on one side; the Santa Rosa Mountains on the other.
6. Hike Through The Wonderland of Rocks.
The Wonderland of Rocks is a 12-mile hike (one way) through a maze of sandstone boulders formed by volcanic activity over millions of years. The otherworldly landscape inspired the name, which was given to it by a local artist in 1951, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” This hike is not for beginners. However, you’ll need some hiking experience before heading out on this adventure.
The Wonderland of Rocks is located just east of Joshua Tree National Park and can be reached by driving into Hidden Valley along highway 62 or heading north on Jumbo Rocks Road from the town of Joshua Tree. Multiple trailheads lead into The Wonderland: Covington Trailhead (the easiest), Cholla Trailhead/Sandstone Peak Trailhead (the most popular), and Keys View/Skeleton Canyon Trailhead (for those who want an early start). Once you’ve chosen your entrance point, follow signs for The Wonderland, and you’ll be able to explore at your leisure!
7. Horseback Ride Around Quail Springs
On this three-hour guided horseback ride, you’ll explore the desert on a 7-mile trail that starts at Spring Ranch and winds its way through Joshua Tree’s Quail Springs area. The course is rated as moderate and is open from March to November. It’s free, but you’ll need to reserve in advance.
The trail can also be hiked by foot if you’d rather travel alone or with friends instead of with a guide (remember there are no restrooms along the way!).
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8. Hit up the Shops and Restaurants on 29 Palms Highway
You don’t have to head out of town to get your shopping fix in Joshua Tree; plenty of places within walking distance will make you want to spend a few hours browsing. We recommend hitting up the shops and restaurants on 29 Palms Highway, just a short drive from Joshua Tree National Park.
Please take advantage of their patio seating for lunch or dinner at any time of year, especially during the summer when it’s nice outside. They have great salads, burgers, and sandwiches if you’re looking for simple or more complex dishes like salmon with beurre blanc sauce (hint: try it).
If you’re lucky enough to be in town on a Saturday morning between March 1st and December 31st (or any day after 11 am), stop by Café Poca Cosa for breakfast tacos—the best! They also serve brunch dishes such as huevos rancheros and an assortment of baked goods that are sure to please anyone who spends more than two minutes picking out their favorite pastry item here—we recommend trying one in each flavor category available (chocolate chip cookies? Yes please!).
9. Spend the Day at Oasis Visitor Center
If you’re planning to spend a day in Joshua Tree, the Oasis Visitor Center is a great place to start. It’s located at the park’s northern entrance and offers free maps and brochures about Joshua Tree (and its surroundings). You can also get Junior Ranger booklets here, which are fun for kids of all ages. The center also sells ice cream cones and other snacks, so you can make it your main stop on any trip through Joshua Tree National Park.
There’s a good chance that this is where everyone else will be too! If there’s one thing I learned while visiting Oasis Visitor Center during peak hours: It gets crowded here during peak hours! But don’t let that deter you from going—the atmosphere inside Oasis Visitor Center is lively and festive. If there isn’t much room inside because it’s so busy (or if they’re closing), no worries—grab what information/maps/etcetera you need from outside near the entrance instead!
10. Stargaze from Keys View or Ryan Mountain
Keys View is a popular spot for stargazing because of its unique location and lack of light pollution. You’ll have to drive up to Keys Ranch Road until you reach the Keys View Point sign. Please park in the lot and walk down the paved path until you reach a bench where several telescopes are set up for people to use while looking at the sky.
Ryan Mountain is another great place to go stargazing if you’re willing to hike up a bit farther than Keys View. For this one to be worth your time, it’s best done after 11 pm when all of Joshua Tree has gone quiet enough for you to hear yourself think (and maybe even see some shooting stars). When we were there last year at around midnight on New Year’s Eve, we counted over 20 shooting stars within an hour!
As long as it’s dark out—and this will only last until about 5:30 or six a night—take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself and gets outside! If there are no convenient spots near your hotel or Airbnb, head out towards more rural areas and try looking from different angles around town until something catches your eye (this may take a while, depending on how much light pollution exists). If possible, bring along binoculars, or even better yet, someone who knows how to use them! This way will be able to see distant objects better and those closer ones like planets & comets which move faster against background stars than most meteors do.”
11. Buy Some Unique Souvenirs at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center’s Gift Shop
After you’ve completed the hike of your life, you may want to stop at Joshua Tree National Park’s visitor center to purchase some souvenirs. The gift shop is located inside the visitor center, which can be accessed from either entrance. It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, but closes early on Christmas Eve (5 pm), New Year’s Day (2 pm), and Independence Day (7 am). The gift shop sells postcards, books, snacks, and drinks.
12. Visit Barker Dam in late spring or early summer for fantastic wildflower viewing.
In the spring and summer, Barker Dam is one of the best places to see Joshua trees bloom. The Cholla Cactus Garden nearby is also a good spot for wildflower viewing if you’re not into fishing or bird watching (there’s no shame in that). And if you’re looking to spend some time outdoors, Barker Dam also features campsites and picnic areas.
When visiting this fantastic park, there are many great things to do with your loved ones.
Joshua Tree National Park is an excellent place for romantic getaways. It has much to offer couples, from hiking trails and campgrounds to coffee shops and wineries.
You can do many things together to make your stay in Joshua Tree memorable. Here are some of our favorite activities that the whole family can enjoy:
Hopefully, we’ve inspired you to visit Joshua Tree National Park with your partner. Whether you’re looking for a new place to explore on your next vacation, or if it’s just a fun weekend getaway, there are lots of romantic things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.
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James is a co-author with one his friends at Travelistia. He loves to write adventure stories and explore adventure filled destinations.