Hiking and Camping in Joshua Tree | Intrepid Travel (2023)

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Hiking and Camping in Joshua Tree | Intrepid Travel (1)

Hike Joshua Tree in the off season and avoid the crowds

Discover one of the most serene and surreal landscapes in the American West on a winter hiking and backcountry camping trip in Joshua Tree National Park where billion-year-old rocks loom above the surrounding desert, and expansive Joshua Tree “forests” blanket broad valleys. In the mornings and evenings, it feels more like a savannah than a desert, with Joshua Trees framing the horizon at the edge of the Mojave desert. Admire Joshua Tree’s must-see features like desert oases and soaring summits and gather around the well-stoked campfires at a basecamp in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park.

Start
Las Vegas, United States
Finish
Las Vegas, United States
Destination
United States
Style
Basix
Theme
Walking & Trekking
Code
SKXJ
Physical rating
Ages
Min 12
Group size
Min 2, Max 10

Why you'll love this trip

  • Have a wonderful outdoor experience while you enjoy comforts like showers and cosy sleeping amenities, even while camping.

  • Explore Joshua Tree National Park on foot – hike some most iconic and classic treks under the watchful eye of your expert leader who knows all the best spots.

  • Soak in the sight of Joshua trees silhouetted against the break of day or climb to the top of one of the monoliths surrounding camp to greet the morning.

  • Hike to the summit of Ryan Mountain and take in stunning 360-degree summit views of granite rock piles that seem to melt into the surrounding plateau.

  • Sustained by water seeping up through fault lines, five oases can be found within Joshua Tree National Park. On this trip, you will visit two of them.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a walking trip so a good fitness level will help you enjoying all included walks and activities.

  • On our final day there is no accommodation included so please plan your departure accordingly, or pre-book a post-tour night.

Gallery

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(Video) Joshua Tree National Park Hiking - Best Trails, Tour Guide, Road Trip Tips, Camping

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Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2023 to 31 December 2023.
This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 Jan 2023 to 31 Dec 2023.
View the itinerary for departures between 01 April 2022 - 31 December 2022
View the 2022 itinerary

Day 1: Joshua Tree National Park

After a morning hotel pickup in Las Vegas, take a scenic drive through sparsely populated desert expanses, picking up additional group members at the Oasis Visitor Center along the way, then drive into the heart of the park to reach Sheep Pass Campground. After lunch, hike to the summit of Ryan Mountain and take in stunning 360-degree summit views of granite rock piles that seem to melt into the surrounding plateau. Returning to camp, enjoy a delicious campfire dinner and admire the sparkling stars of the Milky Way overhead.

Accommodation
  • Camping (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ryan Mountain climb
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information

Today’s driving time is approximately 4 hours. Today’s walking distance is 5 kms (3 miles) with an elevation gain of 305m (1000 feet).

Day 2: Joshua Tree National Park

After breakfast, visit the Teddy Bear Cholla Garden then make your way to today’s main hike: The Lost Palms Oasis. Sustained by water seeping up through fault lines, five oases can be found within Joshua Tree National Park, and today you will visit two of them. Meander over arroyos and through sandy smoke tree washes to reach the park’s largest group of California Fan Palms where you will enjoy lunch. From here, hike back to the trailhead, soaking in views to the south of California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, and perhaps take an additional hike to Arch Rock.

Accommodation
  • Camping (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Teddy Bear Cholla Garden visit
  • The Lost Palms Oasis hike
  • Arch Rock hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information

Today’s walking distance is 13kms (8 miles) with an elevation gain of 305m (1000 feet).

(Video) Joshua Tree National Park - Camping & Hiking

Day 3: Joshua Tree National Park

Soak in the sight of Joshua trees silhouetted against the break of day, or climb to the top of one of the monoliths surrounding camp to greet the morning before our first group hike of the day to Barker Dam. Admire the petroglyphs, learn about the Native American history of the area, and listen to tall tales from the days of gold mining and cattlemen before you head to another part of the Wonderland of Rocks: The Maze. This trail will take you through spires, granite monoliths, and rock formations to a grand finale of breathtaking views of the national park. Returning back to camp, enjoy one last evening of hearty food, good company, and a campfire beneath the desert sky.

Accommodation
  • Camping (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Barker Dam hike
  • The Maze hike
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information

Today’s driving time is approximately 30 minutes. Today’s walking distance is up to 13kms (8 miles) with an elevation gain of up to 150m (500 feet).

Day 4: Joshua Tree National Park

After breakfast, break down camp and head to Hidden Valley, an ecological haven with incredibly diverse flora. Conditions permitting, you will then scramble through one or more of Indian Cove’s finest remote hollows. After soaking in the astounding landscape and enjoying one last lunch together, bid farewell to any group members departing directly from the park then embark on a scenic drive back to Las Vegas where your trip will come to an end.

Included Activities
  • Hidden Valley hike
  • Shuttle to Las Vegas
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Special Information

Today’s total driving time is approximately 4 hours. Today’s walking distance is up to 8kms (5 miles) with an elevation gain of approximately 180m (600 feet).

Inclusions

Meals

4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (3 nights)

(Video) One Day in Joshua Tree National Park (Ryan Mountain, Keys View, Cholla Cactus Garden, & MORE!)

Included activities

  • Ryan Mountain climb
  • Teddy Bear Cholla Garden visit
  • The Lost Palms Oasis hike
  • Arch Rock hike
  • Barker Dam hike
  • The Maze hike
  • Hidden Valley hike
  • Shuttle to Las Vegas

Meals

4 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Ryan Mountain climb
  • Teddy Bear Cholla Garden visit
  • The Lost Palms Oasis hike
  • Arch Rock hike
  • Barker Dam hike
  • The Maze hike
  • Hidden Valley hike
  • Shuttle to Las Vegas

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Hiking and Camping in Joshua Tree trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

  • United States

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(Video) Joshua Tree National Park Tips: 9 Things to Know

Important notes

Travellers on Intrepid trips that start on or before 31 December 2022 are required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19. Learn more about Intrepid’s COVID-19 policy.

Operations for this trip originate in Utah so Utah sales tax is applicable. This tax is already included in the advertised trip price.

1. A completed registration form is required to join these trips. You will not be confirmed for the trip until your form has been received and reviewed. We may ask for a medical release signed by your physician for medical conditions or circumstances which could possibly compromise your safety or the safety of others on this trip – please speak to your agent for further details.
2. Travellers on this particular trip are not required to produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
3. A signed disclaimer (Acknowledgement of Risks Form) is required at the time of booking for this trip – please speak to your agent for further details.
4. To help ensure this trip is right for you, this trip is subject to additional ‘Essential Eligibility Requirements’ – see the ‘Itinerary Disclaimer’ section of the Essential Trip Information for further details.
5.This trip is operated and run by Wildland Trekking, an Intrepid company. You will be travelling with a mixture of both Wildland Trekking customers and Intrepid customers.
6. On the morning of Day 1, you will be picked up from Tuscany Suites and Casino Hotel in Las Vegas. We recommend you book a pre tour night in that hotel.
7. A single tent is provided to all solo travellers at no extra cost.
9. Please note, showers are not available on this trip.
10.Please note this trip requires a minimum number of booked customers to guarantee the departure. Your Booking Agent will advise at time of booking if the departure has met minimum numbers. If minimum numbers are not met, you will be advised no later than 56 days out from departure (prior to full payment due). We recommend arranging flights and related travel services once your departure is guaranteed. In the event that your departure is cancelled due to minimum numbers not being met, a full refund will be provided of monies paid.

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Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

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(Video) Joshua Tree - Top Things To Do Joshua Tree NP - Best of Joshua Tree National Park - Stargazing
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FAQs

Is 2 days in Joshua Tree enough? ›

You only need 1-2 days to explore most Joshua Tree National Park. The trails are pretty straightforward in this park, and the views are effortless to get to. Joshua Tree National Park is a very easy weekend trip from Los Angeles.

Is hiking in Joshua Tree hard? ›

These hikes are listed by difficulty.

In fact, nine of them are easy hikes that are less than 2.5 miles. And all but 1 of these hikes is 6 miles or less. That makes Joshua Tree National Park a great hiking destination for families, those who are new to hiking, and people of all ages and ability levels.

What do I need to know about camping in Joshua Tree? ›

16 Essential Tips for Camping in Joshua Tree
  • Bring lots of water.
  • Bring your own amenities.
  • Try to avoid going during June and July.
  • Buy the annual parks pass upon entry.
  • Get familiar with all the campgrounds.
  • Be prepared to not get a campground.
  • Visit the beautiful attractions.
  • Explore many hikes and trails.

Is hiking in Joshua Tree good? ›

The Southern California desert park is home to a wide variety of hiking trails, and hiking is a great way to explore its unique landscapes up close. Whether you are looking for a short and scenic family-friendly Joshua Tree trail, or you want a strenuous challenge, you will find a trail to suit!

When should you not go to Joshua Tree? ›

Summer is the least popular season in Joshua Tree due to the scorching hot daytime temperatures. This is the desert, after all, and daytime temps in June, July and August often top 100˚F (38˚C). This makes outdoor activities like hiking and rock climbing uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

What is the best month to go to Joshua Tree? ›

The best and most popular months to visit Joshua Tree National Park are March-May and October/November. This is because the park can get hot (and I mean hot). In the summer months, temperatures can reach over 100° F with an extremely dry, desert heat and very little shade to escape to.

What is the easiest hike at Joshua Tree? ›

Located on the eastern side of the park, Cholla Cactus Garden is one of the easiest and most well-known hikes in Joshua Tree National Park. The main attraction of the hike is the deceptive Cholla Cactus (also known as the Teddy Bear cactus and Jumping Cactus).

Should I wear pants to Joshua Tree? ›

Clothing and Footwear

In Joshua Tree's desert environment, sun protection is essential. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat. Apply sunscreen to all exposed skin. Some trails can be overgrown, so long or convertible pants are best to avoid scratches and protect against cactus spines.

Is Joshua Tree good for camping? ›

Camping is one of the best ways to experience Joshua Tree National Park. There are nine campgrounds in Joshua Tree, plus a handful of campgrounds near Joshua Tree. There are nearly 500 campsites in Joshua Tree National Park, most of which are first-come, first-served.

Can I sleep in my car in Joshua Tree National Park? ›

No, when visiting Joshua Tree, it's best that you do not plan on sleeping in your car. Sleeping in your vehicle overnight within the National Park is not allowed. If found, you could be subject to a citation, so it's best to avoid the situation altogether.

What is the number 1 rule of wild camping? ›

The general rule is – leave the area in exactly the same condition as it was discovered. Be considerate and camp high: Whenever wild camping it's important to stay away from settlements and respect the privacy of others.

What is the number one rule of camping? ›

Put your fire out: Because you can endanger those around you, this is one of the most important camping rules, regardless of where you go. Be sure to put out your fire before bed, before heading out for the day, or when you leave the site at the end of your stay.

How many days should you spend in Joshua Tree? ›

How much time do you need in Joshua Tree? To see the highlights of Joshua Tree National Park, you only need one day. If you want to explore the park's backcountry or off-road drives, plan to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Joshua Tree.

How long does it take to drive all the way through Joshua Tree National Park? ›

Check out this 79.0-mile point-to-point trail near Joshua Tree, California. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 28 h 22 min to complete.

Is Joshua Tree a dark zone? ›

Boasting some of the darkest nights in Southern California, Joshua Tree National Park, an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), offers many visitors the chance to admire the Milky Way for the first time in their lives.

Are there bears in Joshua Tree National Park? ›

Joshua Tree: a rocky, alien, carefree, bear-free national park.

Is Joshua Tree worth the trip? ›

There are so many stunning and best things to do in Joshua Tree National Park that you really can't miss. Around a 3-hour drive from the city of San Diego, it's technically possible to visit Joshua Tree for a day but I'd definitely recommend longer.

Can you visit Joshua Tree without a car? ›

There are unpaved roads, which are open to visitors, but you will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access them. Joshua Tree National Park is testing out a shuttle service geared toward hikers and campers.

Is Joshua Tree Free at night? ›

If you're visiting Joshua Tree National Park to feast on the stars, we have good news for you — the park gates are open 24/7, and anyone can drive in or out of the park regardless of where they're staying.

Are there mosquitoes in Joshua Tree? ›

Mosquitos are most active at dawn and dusk, the prime times for exploring Joshua Tree National Park in the summer. Long sleeves, a bandana, and pants are great anti-bug gear.

Where is it best to Camp Joshua Tree? ›

Best Joshua Tree Camping
  • Black Rock Canyon Campground is popular because it's close to a particularly dense area of Joshua trees. ...
  • White Tank Campground and Cottonwood Campground are ideal for those who haven't made reservations well in advance. ...
  • Indian Cove Campground has 101 sites and takes reservations in winter.
19 May 2022

Where can I camp when Joshua Tree is full? ›

There are three areas that have group campsites: Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Sheep Pass. Group sites can accommodate 10-60 people. Reservations may be made up to 6 months in advance for Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Sheep Pass. Cottonwood and Sheep Pass Group Campgrounds are for tents only.

What shoes should I wear for Joshua Tree? ›

You'll want a solid pair of supportive hiking shoes. If you plan on doing any climbing, bring a separate pair of climbing shoes, too. Traveling to Joshua Tree in the summer? Show off your pedicure in a pair of hiking sandals.

What is the best way to enjoy Joshua Tree? ›

Plan Like a Park Ranger: Top 10 Tips for Visiting Joshua Tree...
  1. Leave No Trace. ...
  2. Always Leave a Note. ...
  3. Pack Your Patience. ...
  4. When Two Roads Diverge, Take the Road Less Traveled. ...
  5. BYOW—Bring Your Own Water. ...
  6. The Early Visitor Gets the Parking Spot. ...
  7. Plan for Your Pet. ...
  8. There's no Bad Sunset Spot in the Desert.
9 Feb 2022

Can you tent anywhere in Joshua Tree? ›

Joshua Tree doesn't have any backcountry campgrounds, per se, but they have almost unlimited backpacking opportunities. Generally, you can camp anywhere in the backcountry so long as you're more than one mile from a road, 500 feet from water and trails, and not in a day-use-only area.

Is camping at Joshua Tree Free? ›

While camping in Joshua Tree and inside Joshua Tree National Park itself is not entirely free, there are still a few ways to do it on the cheap. There's no avoiding the entrance fee: every group entering Joshua will need to purchase admission at $30 per vehicle for a 7-day period.

Can you drink alcohol in Joshua Tree National Park? ›

Beyond that, Kings Canyon & Sequoia are spectacular, as is Lassen. A drive from them to Death Valley and Joshua Tree isn't too bad – both of which are also amazing. The possession and/or consumption of alcoholic beverages (this includes alcohol poured into a different container) is prohibited in all day use areas.

How long does it take to drive through Joshua Tree National Forest? ›

How much time do you need to spend in Joshua Tree National Park? If you only want to see it from your car window, you can cover the park's major roads in three or four hours.

What is the best drive through Joshua Tree National Park? ›

Driving Park Boulevard can be a great way to see a lot of Joshua Tree National Park in a couple of hours. This drive can be combined with shorts side stops and hikes along the way for longer trips. Park Boulevard will take you by many highlights, rock formations, and Joshua tree groves.

What is the 2 2 2 rule for camping? ›

The RVing 2/2/2 rule is a safe and effective way to plan your travel. It means drive no more than 200 miles a day, stop every 2 hours, and stay 2 nights in each place. Some RVers also put an appendix on the rule encouraging drivers to arrive at an overnight destination by 2:00 p.m.

What are the 5 W's of camping? ›

There are five important factors of wilderness survival to take into account to stay safe and stay comfortable. The five factors include: wind, water, widowmakers, wood, and wildlife. These factors are referred to as the “5 W's.”

What is the 333 rule for camping? ›

By adhering to this simple rule of thumb, you can make traveling easier for your whole family. What is this? First, limit your travel to no more than 300 miles in one day. Second, arrive no later than 3 p.m. Finally, stay at your destination for at least three days.

What should you not do while camping? ›

18 Things NOT TO DO While Camping
  1. Forget to Bring Bug Spray: ...
  2. Not Bring Enough TP: ...
  3. Leave Food Sitting Outside: ...
  4. Fail to Give Someone your Camping Itinerary: ...
  5. Assume There Will be Clean Drinking Water: ...
  6. Trusting your GPS: ...
  7. Start a Fire with Gas: ...
  8. Set Up Camp in the Dark:
16 May 2017

What should you not bring on a camping trip? ›

7 Things You Honestly Should NOT Bring Camping
  1. Excessive Electronics. Most people go camping to escape and unplug. ...
  2. Perfumes or Potent Smells. Anything with a strong smell can be dangerous to bring camping. ...
  3. Glass or Other Breakable Items. ...
  4. Valuables. ...
  5. Too Many Clothes. ...
  6. Fashion Accessories. ...
  7. Wrong Types of Food.
18 Apr 2022

Do and don'ts during camping? ›

Do's
  • Do reserve your campsite a head of time.
  • Do check the weather ahead of time.
  • Do bring extra clothes and warm clothes for night.
  • Do bring extra matches.
  • Do keep garbage and debris away from the campfire diameter at least 10'
  • Do make sure ashes are cool before leaving a campfire unattended.
19 Jul 2011

Should I wear shorts to Joshua Tree? ›

For when you go hiking in Joshua Tree, it's best if you dress more practical than stylish. In the summer it gets really hot in the national park, therefore wear some shorts and a light t-shirt. A tank top or athleisure wear works well too.

What is the best time of day to visit Joshua Tree? ›

Choose to enjoy the more popular activities (such as designated nature trails and easy hiking routes) before 9 or 10am. Most people see the park between 10am and 4pm, so the evening hours can also offer some respite from crowds. Remember that the sun sets after 7pm from May to September.

How much does it cost to drive through Joshua Tree? ›

Per vehiclePer person
Current$25$12
(June 1) 2018$30$15
13 Apr 2018

Does it cost money to hike in Joshua Tree? ›

Joshua Tree National Park Annual Pass - $55.00

It covers the entrance fee to Joshua Tree National Park for the pass signee and accompanying passengers entering in a single, non-commercial vehicle. Joshua Tree Annual Passes are available at park entrance stations and visitor centers.

What is the easiest through hike? ›

Four Beginner-Friendly Thru-Hikes
  1. 1) Foothills Trail, South Carolina. 76 miles. Average Elevation ~1,000 feet. ...
  2. 2) Florida Trail, Florida. 1,500 miles. Average Elevation ~500 feet. ...
  3. 3) Greenstone Ridge Trail, Michigan. 41 miles. Average Elevation ~1,000 feet. ...
  4. 4) Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway Trail, New Hampshire. 48 miles.
21 Jun 2021

Is hiking in Joshua Tree free? ›

This short trail is an easy 0.4-mile loop which takes visitors through Joshua tree woodlands and between unique rock formations. The trail is located at the junction of Park Boulevard and Keys View Road.

Is it better to enter Joshua Tree from the North or south? ›

From the south end, the park is full of desert wildflowers and cacti. As you drive north, the iconic Joshua Trees and boulder rock formations begin to populate and take your breath away.

Is Joshua Tree a hard hike? ›

This moderately strenuous hike will take two to three hours to complete. 49 Palms Oasis is your top Joshua Tree hike if you are looking for challenging terrain and some rock scrambling. The trail immediately heads uphill to a ridge punctuated by barrel cacti.

How many days do you need at Joshua Tree? ›

How much time do you need in Joshua Tree? To see the highlights of Joshua Tree National Park, you only need one day. If you want to explore the park's backcountry or off-road drives, plan to spend at least 2 to 3 days in Joshua Tree.

How long do people spend at Joshua Tree? ›

Overview of Joshua Tree
LocationSouthern California, 1 hour from Palm Springs
Entrance fee$30 USD per vehicle, $15 per person on foot or bicycle
Opening HoursAll year, 24 hours a day
Best time to visitOctober through May
Ideal length of visit1-2 days
1 more row

How do I spend 3 days in Joshua Tree? ›

The Ultimate 2 to 3 Days in Joshua Tree Itinerary
  1. Day 1 – Barker Dam, Desert Queen Mine, Cholla Cactus Garden & More. Barker Dam Trail & the Hidden Petroglyphs. ...
  2. Day 2 – Hall of Horrors, Hidden Valley Trail, Ryan Ranch & More. Hall of Horrors. ...
  3. Day 3 – Lost Horse Mine, Joshua Tree Saloon & Crochet Museum. Lost Horse Mine.
7 Jul 2022

Is there a lot to do in Joshua Tree? ›

Visiting strange, gigantic rocks is one of the most popular things to do in Joshua Tree, and the Hidden Valley Nature Trail provides just that opportunity. One of the shorter hiking trails in the park, this one mile loop is surrounded by boulders, and wildflowers in spring.

Can you just camp anywhere in Joshua Tree? ›

Joshua Tree doesn't have any backcountry campgrounds, per se, but they have almost unlimited backpacking opportunities. Generally, you can camp anywhere in the backcountry so long as you're more than one mile from a road, 500 feet from water and trails, and not in a day-use-only area.

Do you need a 4x4 in Joshua Tree? ›

Joshua Tree National Park has a limited number of backcountry trails. Most of them are merely dirt roads that are accessible to everyone, but there are a few which require high clearance and four-wheel drive. Geology Tour Road is an 18-mile loop trail on the western side of the park.

Is it better to enter Joshua Tree from the North or South? ›

From the south end, the park is full of desert wildflowers and cacti. As you drive north, the iconic Joshua Trees and boulder rock formations begin to populate and take your breath away.

What is the darkest part of Joshua Tree? ›

The Ocotillo Patch: Located on Pinto Basin Road within the park, this is one of the darker areas for stargazing.

Does Joshua Tree get crowded? ›

He offers the following tips for maximizing your enjoyment even during the most crowded months: Joshua Tree's greatest visitation occurs in spring, when temperatures are moderate and wildflowers are blooming. From March to May, the number of monthly visitors is 150,000 and up.

Does Joshua Tree have a downtown? ›

New Joshua Tree National Park Visitor & Cultural Center opens in downtown 29 Palms. On May 7, 2022, Joshua Tree National Park proudly opened their new Visitor & Cultural Center in downtown 29 Palms, in the newly completed Freedom Plaza.

Videos

1. Backpacking Joshua Tree National Park (4K) - Part 1
(StepMassive)
2. Joshua Tree National Park - Overnight Backpacking Trip
(Huck Outdoors)
3. JOSHUA TREE - Best Things To Do In Joshua Tree
(Ian and Ana)
4. Joshua Tree National Park Overnight Backpacking | Lost Palms Oasis Hike | Cottonwood Springs | 4K
(Huck Outdoors)
5. Joshua Tree Campsite Tour
(Traveling Rebels)
6. Solo Backpacking in the WILDERNESS | Joshua Tree National Park | Hike, Cook & Camp
(Sheety33)
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