Looking for a road trip combining natural attractions, art, and history? This Palm Springs to Joshua Tree itinerary combines it all!
Grab your friends, family, or that special someone and enjoy this spectacular desert landscape.
Plan to spend time hiking Joshua Tree National Park, checking out quirky attractions along the way, and then exploring the city of Palm Springs.
We have structured this Joshua Tree to Palm Springs (and back) itinerary with the assumption that youʻre staying in Palm Springs, taking a day trip to Joshua Tree, and then heading back to Palm Springs to sleep.
We recommend an early start to your day by heading straight to Joshua Tree and working your way back to Palm Springs, making stops along the way.
Did we miss anything on this Palm Springs to Joshua Tree day trip guide? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!
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Joshua Tree to Palm Springs Itinerary Overview
This Palm Springs to Joshua Tree road trip guide (and back) has a satisfying combo of sights both natural and man-made.
The following itinerary takes you from Joshua Tree National Park to Palm Springs with roadside stops. It also gives a few recommendations of places to stay in Palm Springs to make your trip a lot easier!
It’s a scenic road trip that’s fun for all ages and skill levels. Here’s the brief list of attractions:
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Joshua Tree Saloon
- Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum
- Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum
- World Famous Crochet Museum at Art Queen
- Glass Outhouse Art Gallery
- Downtown Palm Springs
- Palm Springs Art Museum
- Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is certainly a unique national park in the United States, and it offers much more than just the spiky trees for which it’s named.
It has a unique and diverse landscape. Stop by the Joshua Tree Visitor Center to learn more about its history and read through its display exhibits.
There are many things to do in Joshua Tree National Park but the top attractions are Skull Rock, Arch Rock, Cholla Cactus Garden, and Keys View.
Skull Rock is one of the most popular stops in the park. The formation of Skull Rock was caused by weathering in soft granite rock, causing the rock to erode over time and form eyes and nose holes which make it look like a skull at first glance.
Arch Rock is another popular stop in the park. The trail to get here leads you through Joshua Trees and massive boulders to a natural arch that’s incredible during sunrise or sunset. It is a must for any Joshua Tree itinerary.
Cholla Cactus Garden features thousands of Teddy Bear Cholla cacti that can grow up to 10 feet tall! They are also known as jumping chollas because they can drop their spines and stick onto your clothes or skin if you brush up against them!
Make sure you’re packing a first-aid kit and other essentials in case you touch one!
From Keys View, you can see both the Coachella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountain Range, as well as many other nearby mountain ranges on clear days.
The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is either in the fall or spring. Not only do the months of March and April have ideal temperatures, but they are also when the desert’s wildflowers bloom (and sometimes super bloom!).
Fall tends to have fewer crowds compared to spring. Summer and winter months hit extreme temperatures with summer temperatures exceeding 100 Fahrenheit and winter temperatures dropping below freezing.
Location: Joshua Tree National Park – West Entrance Station, Joshua Tree, CA 92252
2. Dine at the Joshua Tree Saloon
The Joshua Tree Saloon is a restaurant that takes pride in its local heritage and the splendid produce of the region.
Operating since 1984, this restaurant serves the greatest burgers and beers by Joshua Tree! It’s located just 8 minutes away from the park’s West Entrance.
Your meal will be accompanied by live music from an eclectic range of talented performers who have graced the stage over the years. While here, try the fish tacos!
- Sun – Thu: 10 am – 11 pm
- Fri – Sat: 10 am – 12:00 am
Location: 61835 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA 92252
3. Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum
The Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum features several large-scale art installations created entirely out of “found” objects including tires, toilets, and glass pieces.
It was created by artist Noah Purifoy and it is truly a unique experience that you won’t want to miss!
Witness over 100 pieces of artwork sprinkled over 10 acres of desert landscapes. At the entrance, make sure to pick up a brochure to learn more about each of the art pieces.
Noah Purifoy seemed to love creating sculptures with toilets; you’ll find a couple of pieces where toilets were integrated into the art sculptures in a creative manner (unlike anything else in the world).
This museum is free to enter from sunrise to sunset but donations are kindly accepted.
Location: 62975 Blair Ln, Joshua Tree, CA 92252
4. Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum
Located in Joshua Tree, the Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum is probably the rarest beauty salon that you will ever visit.
You’ll find over 3,000 pieces of beauty products on display in this small American museum.
If you like what you see, you can even purchase any of the products on display at the front desk. It’s a fun place to visit, especially if you’re curious to discover vintage beauty products.
- Mon – Tue: 10 am – 5 pm
- Wed – Sat: 10 am – 6 pm
- Sun: 11 am – 4 pm
Location: 61855 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA 92252
5. World Famous Crochet Museum at Art Queen
Even in Joshua Tree’s artsy community, the crochet museum will surprise you with the variety and vibrant colors of these crochet animals.
You’ll find a range of crochet animals ranging from crocheted cats to crocheted vegetables. The exhibit is a sight to behold, beautifully juxtaposed against the desert landscape that it resides in.
Plus, the museum makes for an interesting contrast with the next-door Joshua Tree Saloon’s wild west vibe. Once you’re done with this exhibit, head to Art Queen for more artwork and sculptures.
The museum is open every day from 10 am to 6 pm.
Location: 61855 CA-62, Joshua Tree, CA 92252
6. Glass Outhouse Art Gallery
If you want to see glass art, visit the Glass Outhouse Art Gallery created by Laurel Siedl! Another outdoor museum that’s free to visit, this place displays creative sculptures made out of recycled glass and metal.
Be sure to check out the adorable Chapel that’s currently used for weddings.
The Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm.
Location: 77575 Twentynine Palms Highway, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
Interested in the Wild West? You’re going to miss out by skipping Pioneertown. If you’re in the mood for a fun detour off the main route to Palm Springs, this is definitely a must-stop.
Pioneertown was built in 1946 as a movie set for Western films with all the buildings you’d expect from an Old West town. More than 50 TV shows and movies have been shot here throughout the 1900s.
It is situated on a stretch of land just outside of the Yucca Valley, and it’s been fairly well preserved since its heyday when movies were filmed there regularly.
Location: Pioneertown, Yucca Valley, CA 92284
8. Downtown Palm Springs
Palm Springs is an oasis in the middle of the desert and has become a popular destination for travelers worldwide.
The city’s renowned resorts, extravagant villas, luxury amenities, and glamorous nightlife attract people from around the world to this desert region.
In downtown Palm Springs, enjoy new and old cultural institutions like the Palm Springs Art Museum and Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, or splurge at the Palm Springs Galleria.
Similar to Hollywood, Palm Springs has a “Walk of Stars” that features more than 440 stars from various industries.
Location: Downtown Palm Springs, CA 92262
9. Palm Springs Art Museum
The Palm Springs Art Museum is a cultural institution with an incredible collection of more than 12,000 objects, and a concentrated focus on Native American, Western American, and Mesoamerican art.
This museum is definitely worth your time and a spot on your Palm Springs itinerary! You’ll also find modern artwork there, including glass art.
- Thursday: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- Fri- Sun: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: 101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
10. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
If you want to see the scenery from a different perspective, consider going for a ride on the world’s largest rotating tramcar, which takes passengers up to the top of Mount San Jacinto.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway rises 8,516 feet and offers stunning views of the Coachella Valley. At the top of Mount San Jacinto, there are hiking trails, restaurants, and more.
Location: 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Where to Stay in Palm Springs
Palm Springs is often thought of as a top choice for a vacation getaway. It’s warm, sunny, and has a lot of great dining and shopping options.
But where should you stay if you’re visiting Palm Springs? There are many accommodation options located throughout the city that vary in size, luxury, and price but here are our top picks:
1. Little Paradise Hotel
This hotel is relatively budget-friendly and is less than 2 miles away from downtown Palm Springs.
They also have great amenities including a heated swimming pool and jetted massage showers. You can also get free bicycles to use during the day- just ask the front desk!
Location: 435 E Avenida Olancha, Palm Springs, CA 92264
2. Desert Riviera Hotel
This mid-century hotel is mid-range priced and provides free continental breakfast, complimentary shuttle service, an outdoor pizza oven for guests to bake pizza, and more.
The area is also surrounded by lush greenery including palm trees and flowers. You can expect great service at the Desert Riveria Hotel and it is a great option for those on a mid-range budget.
Location: 610 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
3. The Weekend Palm Springs
If you want modern luxury, choose The Weekend Palm Springs, located in the popular Old Las Palmas neighborhood.
The hotel is also kid-friendly and pet-friendly. Their amicable staff and great service make new guests return for stay after stay when visiting Palm Springs.
Location: 111 S Vía Las Palmas, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Whether you’re visiting Palm Springs on a romantic getaway, family holiday, or solo retreat, you’ll find the ideal accommodation in the city to help make your visit memorable.
FAQ: Palm Springs to Joshua Tree Road Trip
1. Is Joshua Tree Worth Visiting?
Yes, Joshua Tree National Park is 100% worth visiting. This is a must-see national park for anyone who loves nature, enjoys hiking, wants to do some sightseeing, or simply needs an escape from the city.
There are three reasons why it’s worth visiting:
1. The views are incredible.
2. There are hundreds of miles of trails for all skill levels.
3. Joshua Tree is a great place to camp or just spend the day. Within the park, you can see giant rock formations, various wildlife species including bighorn sheep, and thousands of Joshua Trees.
2. How Long is the Drive from Palm Springs to Joshua Tree National Park?
From Palm Springs, you can drive into Joshua Tree National Park either from the West Entrance or the South Entrance.
The driving distance from Joshua Tree National Park’s West Entrance station to Palm Springs is 37.5 miles and takes less than an hour.
The driving distance from Joshua Tree National Park’s South Entrance station to Palm Springs is 50.2 miles and takes a little more than an hour.
3. How Many Days do You Need at Joshua Tree?
Joshua Tree National Park is a big park and you can spend days exploring each area of the California national park.
We recommend 2-3 days to cover the main attractions and a few extra ones. The best way to visit Joshua Tree National Park is to drive in and stay a couple of days exploring at your own will.
The roads into the Park are somewhat rough, so having an extra day or two is highly recommended to explore the different areas and also relax and enjoy your desert surroundings.
Palm Springs makes for an excellent place for a hotel because it’s well within driving distance, has an excellent variety of restaurants, and is a pretty fun city with a plethora of things to see.
4. What Can I Do on a Day Trip to Joshua Tree to Palm Springs?
Just spending one day at Joshua Tree National Park? We recommend spending time at Skull Rock, Arch Rock, and the Cholla Cactus Garden.
5. What is the Difference between Palm Springs and Palm Desert?
Palm Springs provides a downtown and urban feeling with its many restaurants, bars, and boutique stores. Palm Desert provides a suburban feeling with its high-end resorts, malls, and country clubs.
Conclusion: Joshua Tree National Park to Palm Springs
While Joshua Tree National Park attracts visitors with its rock formations and Joshua trees, Palm Springs attracts visitors for its relaxed lifestyle, beautiful views, and vibrant modern art scene.
Plus, this itinerary gives you a chance to explore some of the roadside attractions on the way.
If you are planning a road trip from Joshua Tree National Park to Palm Springs, use this itinerary to get off the beaten path and enjoy gorgeous scenery throughout the entire trip.
About the Author
Rasika is the owner of the travel blog Bae Area and Beyond. She is from the Bay Area and her blog covers California destinations. She hopes that her readers will fall in love with California, just like she did.
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Pin this Palm Springs to Joshua Tree NP Guide
Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.