Joshua Tree National Park day trip itinerary

We’re lucky to live in a country with beautiful National Parks, and a few months ago, we got to check Joshua Tree National Park off our bucket list. The views were stunning beyond expectations! If you find yourself in Southern California, you should definitely try to visit!

We only spent one day at Joshua Tree National Park, though you could easily spend more days there depending on what you want to do. However, within that one day, we covered a lot of ground yet still had a chill time since we were with a group of friends and didn’t want to rush around. If you only have one day, here is our itinerary:

9am — Breakfast

We started off the morning at Crossroads Cafe then coffee at Joshua Tree Coffee Company. We wanted to eat a big breakfast that would fuel our whole day adventure. We brought some snacks with us to Joshua Tree National Park so we wouldn’t have to stop for lunch.

10am — Hidden Valley Trail

From breakfast, we drove into Joshua Tree National Park from the West Entrance (entrance fee was $30 per car). All of us are moderate hikers, so we wanted to start at the Hidden Valley Trail because it’s about a mile-long loop around a stunning rock-enclosed valley.

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You can see that I wore casual workout clothes like my Nike FlyKnit sneakers and Outdoor Voices leggings, and that was totally comfortable and fine for the mild hikes that we did. The Hidden Valley Trail is our favorite type of trail because it’s easy and mostly flat with incredible views throughout the entire hike haha.

12pm — Skull Rock & Cholla Cactus Garden

From Hidden Valley, we drove to Skull Rock, which was about a mile away. Skull Rock is aptly named after a rock formation that looks like a, well, skull. You could hike around, but we just walked up to the famous rock and snapped a few photos before continuing on.

Joshua Tree National Park mapJoshua Tree National Park Hidden Valley TrailJoshua Tree Skull RockJoshua Tree Cholla Cactus GardenJoshua Tree National Park Cholla Cactus Garden

After, we drove to the Cholla Cactus Garden. If you’re a blogger/Instagram influencer, you could change into a maxi dress and get those epic “desert” photos here haha. Since I was with a group of friends, I didn’t want to delay everyone by taking outfit photos — plus, I was on vacation and off-duty 😉 so we got to just enjoy nature instead.

3pm — Geology Tour Road & Keys View

For the rest of the afternoon, we pulled off and explored whatever views intrigued us. We drove through the Geology Tour Road and admired amazing rock formations.

Joshua Tree National Park Cholla Cactus GardenJoshua Tree Geology Road TourJoshua Tree National Park sunset photographyJoshua Tree National Park sunset

When the sun was about to set, we drove to Keys View, which offers panoramic views of the Coachella Valley. Make sure you allot about 20+ minutes for the drive there, but it’s well worth it! We watched the sunset over all of the mountain ranges, and it was the perfect conclusion to a fun Joshua Tree National Park day trip.

What to Pack

I wore casual workout clothes like my Nike FlyKnit sneakers and Outdoor Voices leggings, and I was totally comfortable for all our moderate hikes. We visited in February so I wore a sweatshirt and my Margaret O’Leary cashmere cardigan. While hiking in the afternoon, it got warm so I shed my layers, but in the evening, it was freezing cold. Be aware of severe temperature changes when you visit!

For a chill day trip like ours, here’s a shortlist of what to pack:

  1. Snacks and water (limited water available at the park)
  2. Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray
  3. Layers — light jacket, sweatshirt, t-shirt, workout leggings
  4. Sneakers or hiking boots
  5. Backpack or waist belt bag so you’re handsfree

Shop what we wore in this post:

This trip has inspired us to visit more National Parks around the United States. Where should we go next? Please let me know in the comments!

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