If you haven’t been to Joshua Tree before, you might wonder what it’s like to visit in the winter. In recent years, the cooler winter months have become a more popular time to visit the area, and some might say it’s the BEST time of year to visit! It’s the perfect opportunity to escape the harsher weather in northern areas for a more temperate desert climate, and you’ll find fewer tourists in the winter, which some people prefer. The snow-capped mountains and crystal clear skies create a picturesque backdrop for your hiking or sightseeing adventures. December, January, and February typically see daytime temperatures in the 60’s (F) and evening temps in the 30’s \make outdoor activities comfortable.
Visiting Joshua Tree in winter versus the more popular spring and summer months has its own unique benefits. As temperatures are cooler, it’s easier to spot wildlife and attend outdoor activities than if you were visiting in the summertime when things tend to be much busier and very warm. With the cooler weather also comes spectacular sunsets and starry night skies that will take your breath away. Winter also offers a variety of indoor activities to suit any tastes.
Check out the tips below to start planning your visit for a fun-filled winter experience in Joshua Tree!
Enjoy the beautiful outdoors
Go for a hike. Visiting Joshua Tree during the winter months means you can enjoy the many hiking trails without crowds of people or hot temperatures. Take a self-guided tour of the beautiful trails starting at Cottonwood Spring, where you can spot local wildlife such as roadrunners, rabbits and coyotes. For less strenuous hiking trails, try the Hidden Valley Nature Trail or Skull Rock loop. Families with active kids and anyone who loves to climb will enjoy the Jumbo Rocks section of Joshua Tree National Park, where hiking trails wind through large climbable rock structures.
Take a tour through history. Explore the historic sites within Joshua Tree National Park for a glimpse into its fascinating past. Take a ranger-led tour of Keys Ranch, a mining family homestead from the early 1900s, or venture down the Lost Horse Mine Trail to view the ruins of a gold mine from the 1800s. To look further back in time, hike the 1-mile Barker Dam Trail, where you can see rock art from thousands of years ago.
Look up at the sky. The cooler weather and clear skies in winter bring stunning sunsets. Joshua Tree is also a Dark Sky Park, so staying out after the sun goes down is worth it to see a brilliant display of stars. For the best views, check out Keys View, which offers an expansive view of the valley and city beyond, or head to Cholla Cactus Garden in the darkest part of the park. However, there is no bad spot in Joshua Tree to admire the sunset or stargaze, so bundle up and head out with a camping chair for an unforgettable evening.
Appreciate local art and culture. On a chilly day in Joshua Tree, indoor activities might call to you. There are a variety of fantastic art galleries and museums in the area where you can spend an interesting afternoon. Visit the Hi-Desert Nature Museum to explore the history, culture and local ecosystem of the area with interactive exhibits. Wander through the Joshua Tree Art Gallery to see works from local and regional artists. Take a tour of Cabot’s Pueblo Museum to view a large collection of Southwestern artwork and artifacts housed in a unique building.
Listen to live music. Head to Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace for a memorable live music experience. This legendary venue, housed in a former film set, brings in big-name artists regularly and should not be missed. Another unique spot is Awe Bar, where local bands rule the stage.
Explore the Town of Joshua Tree. The town of Joshua Tree is a tiny community located just outside of the park, and is known for its quirky shopping and restaurants. Stop by the Shops at Zanny’s for unique finds, or Coyote Corner for souvenirs. Grab a delicious lunch at the Natural Sisters Cafe, or Crossroads Cafe, then swing by the tiny World Famous Crochet Museum for a whimsical detour and pick up some interesting local pieces at the attached Art Queen shop.
Visiting Joshua Tree in winter offers a serene atmosphere that’s ideal for escaping busy city life and reconnecting with nature. It’s a perfect season to beat the crowds and explore the unique activities the season offers. So grab some warmer clothes, and book your Joshua Tree vacation rental for an unforgettable adventure this winter season!