When to Visit Joshua Tree National Park: The Best & Worst Times of Year

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If you’re trying to figure out the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park, you need to consider both the weather and your own tolerance for crowds.

I’ve visited the Joshua Tree in a various seasons and regardless of when you go, it’s so worth it. Negative reviews of the park call it “just a bunch of rocks and trees”. Ummm, yes those crazy rocks are part of what makes the park so beautiful. And those trees (which aren’t actually trees), are unique to this particular desert landscape. So, yea, it’s so worth it to visit Joshua Tree.

But when should you go? Certain seasons in the region do have their advantages. So this guide for when to visit Joshua Tree National Park will give you weather information, tips on how to avoid crowds, the best and worst times to go, and a whole slew of travel tips.

Joshua Tree National Park average weather, chart with temperatures and precipitation.

Weather in Joshua Tree National Park

We have a number of articles like this one on the site (advising when to visit Redwood National ParkBig SurPismo Beach, and California generally). And most have a temperature and precip tables like the one above. But, whereas for most of CA, precip is measured in multiple inches, for Joshua Tree, average monthly precip rarely tops out over an inch. And it’s even less in Death Valley.

These averages are useful…usually. But there is an unpredictable element to Joshua Tree’s weather. For instance August usually sees very little rain but in 2023, a tropical storm dumped over an inch of rain into the park…in one day. And when I visited a few years ago in March, I got snowed on while hiking the Lost Mine trail.

So…bring layers and come prepared for anything.

When visit joshua tree, hidden valley rocks, palm trees.
Left: 49 Palms oasis trail. Right: Split Rock trail.

When is the Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park?

For the most moderate temperatures, visit in October/November or March/April.

When is the Worst Time to Visit Joshua Tree?

Summer is the worst time to visit Joshua Tree. With temperatures capping out at 100′ Fahrenheit, prolonged hiking excursions can get dangerous. In fact, they have safety signs all over the park warning about hiking in the heat. They really don’t want to have to rescue you from heat stroke.

Joshua Tree face rock.
Face Rock.

When is the Busiest Time to Visit Joshua Tree?

The busiest month by far in Joshua Tree NP is March, followed by December, April, November and February. And of course, weekends and holidays will also be busy.

Joshua Tree has a lot of acreage, but most of the popular sights in located in the central heart of the park. This means there can be parking challenges at places like Lost Mine Loop trail head, Barton Dam and Wall Street Mill.

The park is always open. So, if you visit during a busy time, get in very early and knock out those places first and then do the rest of the park.

Lost Mine trail in Joshua Tree with old mining equipment
March snow on the Lost Mine trail.

The Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree: Season by Season

January, February, March, April

Of the cooler weather months, January gets the least visitation so it’s a good time to visit Joshua Tree if you want some elbow room. My most recent visit was in January and I was the only person staying at my hotel! I also had no trouble finding parking for any of my hikes.

March is popular for not only the warmer weather, but if they’ve had some good rains, the Octatillo cactus, Cholla cactus and the Joshua Trees start blooming!

Joshua Tree blooming ocatillo.
Here’s the blooming octatillo.

May, June, July, August

Despite the heat, the park gets rather a lot of visitation in the summer months. But the Joshua Trees don’t throw shade like the elm in your front yard, so expect a lot of exposure. Since the park is always open, if you do want to do a hike, go in just before dawn and get it done before the sun gets too high.

During the hot midday, you could do the drive out to Key’s View, and the short Hidden Valley and Cholla cactus nature trails.

Joshua Tree Hidden Valley Trail, cactus, rocks.
Hidden Valley nature trail.

September, October, November, December

Mid-October through December has very pleasant weather in Joshua Tree. Visitation starts ticking up, but it’s a little less busy than the March/April high season.

The park offers a Dark Sky festival in mid-October.

If you have a flexible schedule, considering visiting between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many folks are super busy at that time and you’ll find yourself with more solitude in the park.

Plan Your Trip to Joshua Tree

Take some time to troll the site, because we have a TON of resources to help you make the most of a visit to Joshua Tree.

Start with our JT Visitor’s guide, it offers practical planning tips and top things to do in the park. If you love hiking, we have a list of the best hikes in Joshua Tree, with a range of distance and difficulty. And if you’re short on time, here’s how to spend a day in Joshua Tree.

If you’re flying, here’ the closest airport to JT.

If you have time, we recommend checking out some artsy things to do in Joshua Tree town. If you’re camping, we have a list of all of the campgrounds with tips on how to score a spot. And if you’d rather rent, here’s a list of glamping spots and cabins in the area.

Other CA Desert Itineraries

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When to Visit Joshua Tree National Park, season guide.

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