Ah, the Yucca brevifolia, how you have risen to fame in recent decades.
More than simply North America’s most famous arborescent monocot, not quite an actual tree but ever so much more at the same time, the lanky muppet of a yucca plant we more commonly know as the Joshua tree plays the star in one of the most unique shows in our national park system.
With winter coming, in both a real way and the fact that these plants are slowly disappearing from the American Southwest deserts, there’s never been a better time to head south and bask in peculiar glory that is Joshua Tree National Park.
RV Camping in Joshua Tree National Park
Of the eight normal (that is, not “group camping”) campgrounds in the park proper, all of them can accommodate RVs, though several will restrict you to 25 feet or less and are more suitable for vans or truck campers.
Jumbo Rocks is the largest, but even with 124 sites, it fill up quickly and getting a spot in Joshua Tree during the winter can be the closest thing to impossible since they invented self-driving cars.
Campendium reviewers elevate Belle Campground to the top of the list, while for our money (about $15 / night worth of it) you can’t beat the sites tucked into the rocks, just about smack dab in the middle of the park, at Hidden Valley…as long as you can fit into the rather small sites at that particular campground.
Black Rock Canyon, largely separated from the rest of the park, is the only campground you’ll find reliable, usable cell service, though you may be able to squeak a bar or two out at Indian Cove as well.
While most campgrounds are in the northern half of the park, Cottonwood is closest to Interstate 10, and farthest away from the increasingly quaint highway town that goes by the same name as the park and the yuccas that live within it.
Free Camping Just Outside of Joshua Tree National Park
Just because you weren’t the first one with the idea to camp in Joshua Tree, doesn’t mean you have to high tail it home because the campgrounds are all booked up. There is ample, free camping just outside of the park, at places like Joshua Tree North, if you’re not afraid of a little high-speed wind and more dust than you can shake a swiffer at.
There are at least four free BLM spots positioned around the park, so if you don’t like one dustbowl in particular, you’re sure to find another stack of rocks in the desert that is more to your persuasion.
Full Hookup RV Camping Near Joshua Tree National Park
Prefer to come home to a well air-conditioned trailer after a long day in the desert? Today’s your luckier than a yucca moth in the Mojave day, as there is ample private RV park camping in the various towns that surround the park’s northern and western borders.
If you choose to stay in Palm Springs and soak up the accompanying hot springs and accouterments that resort city life is just dripping with, you’ll find yourself about an hour from the park’s northern entrance. For a closer more small-town feel, check out the RV parks in Joshua Tree (the town) and nearby Twentynine Palms. Aside from amenities like a place to put your sewer hose and the usual host of suspects in the amperage department, you’ll also be treated to the elusive cell phone service, so Grandma can work on her selfies and the kids can do whatever it is kids do on the Internet.
Whether you’re out to explore Joshua Tree for the winter with the eagle eye of a snowbirding birdwatcher, or the park is just a launchpad for travels farther north in gorgeously barren Eastern California, Joshua Tree National Park is a true gem in the crown that we call the United States National Park System.