Detailed Joshua Tree National Park Packing List

Joshua Tree Packing List – What to Pack, Outfits, & Travel Tips

Joshua Tree National Park has become one of the most popular parks to visit in the USA! This California National Park is certainly unique with its giant boulders and Joshua Trees. Therefore, you may be wondering what to pack, cute outfits, and other necessities to bring for your road trip. In this Joshua Tree packing list guide, I will be covering the basic essentials you should bring, some travel tips, and cute outfit ideas (at the end). 

Sunset at the Cholla Cactus Garden is a must with one day in Joshua tree National Park

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Joshua Tree National Park Weather

Before getting straight into the packing list, let’s quickly cover the weather. Since Joshua Tree is located on the westernmost edge of the Colorado Desert in North America, you can already expect that the weather will be relatively hot throughout the entire year.

During the summer, the average temperature can go above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of this, visiting Joshua Tree in the winter months is much better and safer in terms of heat exhaustion. 

During the winter, it can snow in Joshua Tree, although it is pretty rare. However, temperatures during the winter at night can go down to the 30s. During the winter days in Joshua Tree, temperatures are generally around 60 degrees. It can go up to 70 degrees or even down to the high 50s.

As you can imagine packing light, breathable clothing (summer) along with some layers (winter) is always important for the time that you spend in the park. The weather gets cooler in the evenings, so I recommend wearing a pair of pants and a light jacket just in case.

In my opinion, checking the weather forecast around a week before your visit will help guide you a little extra in what you need to pack in terms of being cool or warm, but here are my essentials for your Joshua Tree Packing List. 


Quick Joshua Tree Packing List

I want to give you a quick bulleted packing list before getting into all the details. This includes light cotton shirts, shorts, tank tops, or workout clothes. This will be most comfortable for you. If you don’t plan on doing intense hiking, or want to take photos, you could also pack a maxi dress, which is what I did.

The amount you pack will be dependent on the number of days you plan on spending in Joshua Tree. Here is a quick list of all of the essentials that you will need:

Joshua Tree at Night packing list

Shoes to Wear in Joshua Tree

The conversation around footwear is commonly discussed when visiting Joshua Tree or any National Park.

For the most part, any type of athletic sneaker or walking boot will be most comfortable. Something like these Nike sneakers would be fine for short hikes.

If you plan on hiking over 2 miles, I suggest packing hiking boots. I use Salomon Hiking boots, which I love. I have narrow feet, so these are the best fit for me!

If you have wider feet, Keen hiking boots are known to be one of the best hiking shoes and are very popular.

You may even want to consider bringing travel hiking poles for more intense hiking.

For my trip to Joshua Tree, I packed Chelsea boots with my hiking socks. The boots I wear are discontinued, but Blunderstone boots (linked above) are very popular.

road in Joshua Tree national park. woman standing in street

Satellite GPS

There is basically no cell phone reception throughout Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree is also a very isolated place, so adding a Satellite GPS to your packing list (although old school) is not a bad idea.

Additionally, before you go on your trip, purchasing a topographic map of the park (planning on exploring the backcountry), having a compass, and downloading the offline map from Google are other great ways to prepare. Find Satellite Car GPS here.

For hikes, I always make sure to download the map before I leave to ensure I don’t get lost with no service. The app I suggest using for this is All Trails.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, and Joshua Tree is not the kind of place that you’d want to get lost in!

Joshua Tree Car Packing List Items

As Joshua Tree is all about road tripping, making sure your car is stocked correctly is vital. It’s important to note that service stations are few and far between around the area, so make sure you’re vehicle is safe to drive before setting off.

Leading on from that, having a small first aid kit is important when visiting most National Parks. Additionally, since Joshua Tree is a road trip destination, you will want to make sure your car has a spare tire, something (like a board) if your car gets stuck in the sand, jumper cables, a jack, and flares.

It is also recommended by the National Park Service to have 2-3 days worth of water and food just in case you do have any issues with your car.

If you do have car trouble, stay safe in your car (if possible!) until help arrives.

Joshua Tree Travel Tip: If you see a road that says 4-wheel drive only, make sure you have 4-wheel drive. You will likely get stuck without it.

Sunscreen 

Sunscreen is a must when visiting the deserts of Joshua Tree and should be top of your packing list. Joshua Tree is a part of two deserts, so aim to apply sunscreen often throughout the day. My go-to’s for sunscreen are Juice Beauty or Blue Lizzard. They are mineral-based and great for sensitive skin.

Water and Snacks

Bring as much water as possible. The rangers recommend having a least a gallon per person with additional water in the car. Dehydration and heat exhaustion are not uncommon due to the hot, dry climate.

I always like to recommend packing a reusable water bottle that you carry around with you. I always pack a Lifestraw water bottle or my Thermos. 

If a lot of long hiking trails are in your plans, you should consider packing a Camelback backpack which may be a better water option for you.

It is advised that when your water is half empty, you should return to your car to re-fill the bottles.

Also, having a cooler to store food, drinks, and snacks is important when visiting Joshua Tree! This is because you won’t find it in the park. There are general stores along the way to the park where you can stock your car up with snacks. Walking around the park burns energy so you will be hungry throughout the day.

One day in Joshua Tree - Joshua Trees National Park Road Trip itinerary
Road Trip to Joshua Tree National Park

Battery Pack and USB Outlet Car charger

I always bring a battery pack. In fact, it’s one of my top traveling essentials on my trips. You really can’t go wrong, especially if you are using offline maps.

Here is a Small battery and a larger battery. 

If you are traveling with multiple people, you might want to also consider a cigarette outlet charger so you can charge more than one phone at once.

Day Bag/Backpack

A day bag or backpack is another must on our Joshua Tree packing list. This will help you carry water, snacks, and personal items. Some of the most comfortable and popular travel backpacks are Osprey backpacks.

My go-to is the Lowepro backpack which is designed to hold camera gear. It also has space for additional personal items as well. I find the backpack extremely comfortable and have been using it since 2018.

So if you’re a photographer like me, definitely check this one out. If not, I’d look at the Osprey. 

Outside of Jumbo Rocks Campground Area in Joshua Tree
Near Jumbo Rocks Campground

Bug Repellant

The park may not appear to have bugs, but you will encounter them. Therefore, you will not regret adding bug spray to your Joshua Tree packing list. Even if you see no bugs, it’s better to have it, than experience not having it. If you forget to pack this, you should be able to find a store before entering the park to buy it.

Additionally, there is a decent bee population here, so if you’re allergic, make sure to have your EpiPen and don’t wear fragrant scents.

Binoculars and Camera Gear

Joshua Tree is the perfect place for landscape photography and astrophotography. While wildlife will be more on the scarce side, binoculars might be nice if a mountain goat appears. 

I use a mirrorless Canon R6 (which shot the photos in this post), however, a point-and-shoot camera will also work fine or even your cellphone, depending on what you want to get out of your photography. You can see my photography gear here.

Drones are NOT allowed in National Parks.

If you’re into stargazing, I would also bring binoculars. Joshua Tree National Park is known for stargazing because it is one of the International Dark Skies in the USA.

Arch Rock Trail in Joshua Tree. Woman in white dress standing between granite boulders.

Flashlight or Headlamp

Packing a flashlight or headlamp is also a good idea, especially if you are camping, or in the worst-case scenario of car trouble. Either item will also be handy for any night hikes or sunrise hikes. You won’t want to trip over a boulder or even worse, a rattlesnake! 

Whistle and Waterproof Matches / Lighter

While I don’t often pack a whistle and waterproof matches when traveling, these items are recommended by the Rangers when visiting National Parks. These items definitely make sense if you are planning on camping in the backcountry, traveling alone, or doing long hikes.

You can also carry a lighter. I have a “lucky” lighter that I have been traveling with since 2015. I’ve never needed it, but I do have it lol. 

It’s one of those items where you don’t want to regret not packing it, so you pack it anyway since this is a very desolate National Park with no services or hotels inside the park. 

Hidden valley in Joshua tree national park

Other Toiletries and Items for Your Joshua Tree Packing List

Now that we got some of the main packing list items out of the way, here are some of the other basic toiletries you shouldn’t forget for your Joshua Tree National Park vacation.


Joshua Tree Cute Outfit Ideas

If you are planning on taking photos in Joshua Tree, I wanted to include some cute outfit ideas. You can find additional outfits I like to pack for photos when traveling here.

Please note, these outfits are for taking cute photos in Joshua Tree, but are not as practical for hiking around the park (especially the dress).

I technically walked all around the park in a maxi dress and a fleece jacket comfortably, but I would have been way more comfortable in pants.

Also, make sure to have a light jacket and consider a cute hat.


Joshua Tree Packing List Wrap-up ( you can leave this below area alone)

This concludes our Joshua Tree packing list! I hope you have an epic time in this unique National Park. 

Where to Stay in Joshua Tree: Courtyard by Marriott Palm Desert | Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs | Fairfield Inn & Suites Twentynine Palms-Joshua Tree National Park | Joshua Tree vacation homes

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If you have any questions about this Joshua Tree Packing List or feel like I missed something, please let me know in the comments below!

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Joshua Tree Packing List
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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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