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17 Top Joshua Tree National Park Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for Joshua Tree
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I have been to many national parks, and Joshua Tree is always at the top of my list. The park is massive, so incredibly beautiful, and everyone who visits always feels the same way, that there is something really special about this place. Whether it be the beautiful Joshua trees or the wondrous rock formations in the middle of the desert, this is a place everyone should visit at least once.

If you were wondering what to pack on your next trip to Joshua Tree, we have you covered. Below, there is an entire list of essentials, and other items to bring, what type of clothing to wear, what not to bring, and more!

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What to Pack for Joshua Tree National Park- 17 Essentials

  • 1. Cooling Towel

    Unless you are hiking in the winter, you will love having this cooling towel handy while hiking around Joshua Tree. Even in the fall and spring, you will certainly work up a sweat hiking through the desert. To provide some much-needed chill, simply dip this cooling towel into some water, then place it around your neck and it provides relief for up to an hour!

    cooling towel

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  • 2. Hiking Pack with Water Bladder

    For weekend hiking treks, to simple day trips, you should definitely have some sort of hiking pack with you. Hiking in the desert is no joke, and it is best to be prepared with some essentials. Pack everything into your hiking pack for the easiest, hands-free hike. Hiking packs with a water bladder are highly recommended for even more water storage.

    Hiking Pack with Water Bladder

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  • 3. Quick Dry Travel Towel

    Whatever hiking trip I take, I always bring along this travel towel. There isn’t much for swimming in the desert, however, you never know when you may need to wipe off sweat, or even if you just splashed yourself with water! I recommend bringing this travel towel on hiking trips because it rolls up so tightly, and fries 10x faster than any regular towel, making it easy to just toss in your bag after use.

    travel towel

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  • 4. Portable Charger

    It can be challenging to charge your phone in the desert. Though, it’s important to have it for emergencies or for pictures. Never have a dead phone when you bring along this portable charger! It’s super small and lightweight, fitting perfectly into any bag or even a fanny pack. It will also charge your phone for two full charges.

    Portable Charger

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  • 5. Packing Cubes

    If you are someone like me who seriously stresses packing, then these packing cubes are for you! Packing for trips was a whole new game for me with these packing cubes. They make life so much easier. There are 5 different-sized cubes that easily fit all your clothing. They are so easy to organize and fit in any suitcase or backpack.

    Packing Cubes

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  • 6. LifeStraw Water Bottle

    There are water fill-ups at the park entrances, however trusting the public water can be a little hard sometimes. With this LifeStraw water bottle, you just fill up your water bottle and the life straw will filter out 99.9% of all bad bacteria. This way you never have to worry about your drinking water again.

    LifeStraw Water Bottle

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  • 7. Neck Wallet

    IDs and bank cards are far too important to risk losing, especially when you are out on a hike or traveling. The neck wallet will hold all of that important stuff, and you can wear it for easy access! Never lose your cards, or cash again.

    Neck Wallet

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  • 8. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    Tired of having your toiletries rolling around the car or tent? After discovering this hanging toiletry bag, I always keep everything in it. It holds everything so perfectly and now nothing ever goes missing or gets broken! Plus, it hangs up for easy-to-use access.

    Hanging Toiletry Bag

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  • 9. Travel Insurance

    Whether you reserved an Airbnb, or just to make sure your travel expenses are safe, then you must get travel insurance. If you get sick or can’t make the reservation, travel insurance will help you get all your money back with no problems. We use to compare policies from top companies and find the best option for your family and travel plans.

    Travel Insurance

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  • 10. Sunscreen

    Hiking under the open sun can be not only hot but damaging to your skin. Always lather up on sunscreen before heading out on a desert hike!


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  • 11. Poloroid Camera

    You are going to want a camera to capture all the beautiful things you are going to see in Joshua Tree! I recommend this camera because it’s lightweight and is super fun to use. The ability to print pictures right in the moment is priceless and makes the best keepsakes.

    poloroid travel camera

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  • 12. First Aid Kit

    The desert is full of sharp rocks, cacti, and other things that may cause injury. Especially on hiking or climbing trips, it is so good to have a first aid kit with you.

    First Aid Kit

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  • 13. Headlamp

    Whether or not you plan on being in Joshua Tree at night, it is so important to bring a headlamp with you on any trip. I never hike without one! You never know when you may get a little lost and night is falling. They are also super important to have around the campsite to help you see at night.


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  • 14. Weatherproof Phone Case

    You don’t really have to worry about dropping your phone in any water in the desert, however, it is nice to have your phone protected if there is rain or snow. It also just adds extra protection from sand or dirt. This case is really easy to use, fits any phone, and you can even use the screen without taking the case off.

    Universa Waterproof

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  • 15. Cooler

    It can get hot in the desert. Don’t let any drinks get hot, or food go to waste! This softshell, lightweight cooler is perfect for day trips to Joshua Tree. It fits a good amount of items and fits nicely in the car.


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  • 16. Multi-Tool

    It’s better to be safe rather than sorry. Even if you are going on a small hike, it is always a good idea to have a multi-tool with you. You never know when you may need it!


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  • 17. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    You may not have to worry so much about rain in the desert, however, there are always those flash storms! This umbrella also makes for great sun, and wind protection. This umbrella is perfect for bringing on trips since it’s so lightweight and folds up to one foot long.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

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What To Wear to Joshua Tree

When choosing clothing to bring to Joshua Tree, it is important to remember to bring clothing that is lightweight and comfortable for outdoor activities. It is also important to bring layers, especially if you are going during the fall, winter, or spring. Keep in mind that while this is the desert, the desert winds can be extremely harsh, and the nights are known to get very cold.

Footwear can be kept simple. All you really need is a decent pair of hiking shoes and a pair of close-toed sandals for your visit to Joshua Tree. Accessories you may want to bring along include a beanie, a good pair of wool socks, some simple gloves, and maybe a scarf or a balaclava.

What Should WOMEN Wear to Joshua Tree? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Women visiting Joshua Tree should greatly consider the seasons that they are going in. Each season brings a different wave of weather. In the winter months, women can wear the warmest hiking style and athletic clothing. Cotton and wool are some excellent fabric options. However, during the summer, women will be most comfortable in the loosest, most breathable clothing. Cotton again is a great fabric for warm weather, and nylon and polyester are also good options. When packing for Joshua Tree, you don’t have to bring your nicest clothes, but as long as they are quality you will be great.

No matter what season you are going, make sure you have quality footwear. That can make a world of difference when you are hiking around. Never wear open-toed sandals in the desert!

What Should MEN Wear to Joshua Tree? – (Click to expand)
Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

When visiting Joshua Tree, men should consider wearing clothing that is mostly comfortable, athletic-style clothing. While the weather fluctuates frequently, it’s best to simply bring layers for all seasons. Warmer fabrics like cotton, wool, or cashmere are best for the cold seasons in Joshua Tree. Unless you plan on visiting during the summer, in which case you will want the loosest, most breathable clothing out there. Overall, moisture-wicking hiking clothing is the best option.

Packing for the Seasons in Joshua Tree

Winter – December, January, February

Joshua Tree is a very quiet place during the winter months. After the December rush, things settle down during January and February. It can be a beautiful time to visit the park as the crowds are gone, and the weather is cooler. During these months, the average temperature is about 60 during the day, however, the nights can get very chilly, with an average of high 30’s.

The only time Joshua Tree really sees any kind of weather is during these winter months. It can get a little rainy, mainly in January. Sometimes, it’s so cold during these months that it even snows! You will definitely want warm clothes. Bring lots of layers, base layers, long johns, sweatshirts, and insulated pants and coats. Waterproof hiking shoes are best to wear during this time. You will also want some sort of face covering as those cold winds can get a little intense. Hats, gloves, and Merino wool socks are all advised to have during winters in Joshua Tree.

Spring – March, April, May

Spring is the most popular season for Joshua Tree. It is also one of the most beautiful times to visit the park, as the cacti bloom during April and May. If you are trying to avoid crowds, now is not the time to visit! Spring is when most of the climbers come through the park, and the day trippers come from all over the world. The days are the perfect temps to go hiking, and the nights aren’t too chilly. On average, day temperatures range from low 70’s to high 80’s. During the nights, it is usually around the 40’s and 50’s.

Spring can be tricky to dress for, as the temperatures fluctuate during the day so often. In this case, wear layers that can be taken off. Start your day with a light spring jacket, with a t-shirt underneath. Moisture-wicking hiking pants are a great start and have athletic shorts with you or under your pants. Sunscreen is highly advised, and you’ll probably want sunglasses and a sun hat!

Summer – June, July, August

Mainly during summer, there are a lot of people driving through the desert, but not many hikers. It is highly warned to not go hiking when the temps are hotter than 95, which is practically every day during these months. However, this can be the perfect time to go camping since the nights are warm. The average summer temps for Joshua Tree can be anywhere from 85-105 during the day and then some. During the night, you can expect it to be usually 60’s-70’s.

If you do dare to go hiking, make sure you bring lots of water. You will definitely want a sunscreen with high SPF, a sun hat, and sunglasses. Light, loose, moisture-wicking clothing is best for hiking in the desert heat. Close-toed sandals are better for walking in the rocky sand that makes up Joshua Tree.

Fall – September, October, November

September is still pretty warm, but once the end of October comes around, the temps start to drop and the crowds return. Fall, especially in October and November, is particularly nice because not only are the days a good temperature, but the nights are still fairly warm, so it makes for great camping. Normally, Joshua Tree in the day, during fall, is around 70 and 80 degrees. The nights can be anywhere from 60 to low 40’s.

Joshua Tree fall weather tends to be all over the place, so it’s best to have clothes for all temperatures. Bring loose clothing in case it gets warm during the day. T-shirts, moisture-wicking shorts, and close-toed sandals would all be appropriate for daytime fall hiking. As night approaches, or in the early mornings, you may want a light jacket, pants, and hiking shoes. The rains may come early, sometimes raining at the end of October or November, though the chance is slim. However, bring your rain jacket just in case.

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity – (Click to expand)
Hiking: Across the board, hiking is the most popular activity in Joshua Tree. Hundreds of people from all over the world come to Joshua Tree just to hike the thousands of miles of beautiful desert. Hiking in the desert takes a little preparation. The most important part is to check the weather. If it is going to be above 95, it’s best to skip the hike for the day, and no matter what, bring lots and lots of water.

Most people hike Joshua Tree in the fall, spring, or winter. During these months, it’s best to wear comfortable hiking pants, a base layer shirt, a tank top underneath, and some quality hiking shoes. You can also wear close-toed sandals for shorter hikes. Sunglasses, a sun hat, and sunscreen are all very important for hiking under the sun.

Climbing: After hiking, the second most popular activity in Joshua Tree is rock climbing. As you travel through the park you will notice hundreds of climbers on different rocks all throughout the park. Since the 70’s, people have been coming to Joshua Tree simply just to climb and enjoy doing what they love most. Being a rock climber myself, my family and I go to Joshua Tree at least once a year for a fun rock climbing trip.

The best time to go rock climbing at Joshua Tree is in the winter or early spring, while the temperatures are cool and the rock isn’t hot. However, this does mean that it’ll get chilly. I like to climb Joshua Tree with tight-fitting, stretchy athletic clothing, and lots of layers. Insulated jackets, a hat, and leg warmers are what I always climb in at Joshua Tree. Make sure you have quality climbing gear and sturdy climbing shoes. Since a lot of climbing at Joshua Tree is crack climbing, I always tell people to either buy or bring a pair of crack climbing gloves with them (that sharp Joshua Tree granite always tears everyone’s hands up).

Camping: There are some spectacular campsites in Joshua Tree. Nestled amongst the giant boulders, or under the Joshua Trees, there are plenty of beautiful campsites for the whole family. You can camp all year long, and enjoy nights under the open desert sky.

Unless you are camping in the summer, the nights do get pretty chilly at Joshua Tree. Pack warm layers like sweatpants, sweatshirts, hats, and socks. It is nice to have slip-on shoes, like moccasins, for quick trips to the bathroom or for lounging around the campsite.

Biking/Four Wheeling: There are two main roads in Joshua Tree that are wonderful for biking around. They link up with many other roads and even some dirt roads that are only accessible to four-wheelers. Geology Tour Road is one of these roads. Covering 18 miles of desert, weaving in and out of the boulders and cacti, I’ve heard it’s a blast to take the 4×4 out.

Anytime you are biking or four-wheeling, make sure to bring plenty of water. Wear a sturdy helmet, and goggles or sunglasses are highly advised. You will probably want to wear a t-shirt or a rash guard, and some comfortable athletic pants. Close-toed shoes are a must for these activities.

What NOT to Bring to Joshua Tree

  • 1.DON’T Bring Dogs

    While dogs are technically allowed in the park, there are many rules and regulations about having dogs and where they can go.

  • 2.DON’T Bring Glass

    Glass is difficult to pick up if it breaks, leaving glass on for someone or some animal to step on. Plus, it’s extremely heavy to carry in and carry out.

  • 3.DON’T Bring Lots of Perishable Food

    Although you can fit some things in a cooler, it is best to eat your perishable food right away so it doesn’t spoil, or try not to bring any at all!

  • 4.DON’T Bring Drones

    Drones are prohibited in all national parks, including Joshua Tree. This is to protect wildlife and to maintain everyone’s privacy. If you are looking to get a great view, there are plenty of hikes you can take to get up high and see the desert below.

  • 5.DON’T Bring Expensive Clothing or Jewelry

    The desert isn’t really a place for nice clothing. There are far too many moments where nice things can get ruined by sand, dirt, mud, etc. As for jewelry, you definitely don’t want to spend your day looking for that ring, or those earrings you lost in the sand. It’s best to leave expensive, nice things at home.

What NOT to Wear – (Click to expand)
In the desert, the goal is to wear clothing that is comfortable, moisture-wicking, lightweight, and not super fancy. Joshua Tree is certainly no place for dress clothing, extraordinary dresses, or tuxedos, and definitely not high heels! You can leave your expensive clothing and jewelry at home for safekeeping.

FAQs about Visiting Joshua Tree National Park

  • 1. Where can I camp in Joshua Tree?

    Where can I camp in Joshua Tree?

    There are 8 specific campsites set up within Joshua Tree national park. There are beautiful little campsites nestled in between beautiful large boulders, under Joshua trees, and under the open sky. Campsites are first come, first serve and it is $15 a night to camp inside the park. The campsites have spots for tents, car camping, and hookups for RVs. Bathrooms, water, and trash cans are provided.

  • 2. Where else can I sleep in Joshua Tree?

    If you can’t find camping within the park, or you don’t want to spend the money, or maybe you just don’t want to camp inside the park, you can always stay at BLM land for free. BLM land is about 2 miles from the park, and a 10-minute drive, so you are still close by. Keep in mind, that BLM land is raw land camping. There are no bathrooms, no trash cans, and nobody supervises the land.

    There are also a huge number of Airbnbs around Joshua Tree, the town, that you can stay at!

  • 3. Why aren’t dogs allowed?

    Why aren’t dogs allowed?

    Dogs are technically allowed in the park, however, it can be a hassle to bring them. Dogs are NOT allowed on ANY hiking trails or anywhere off gravel roads. If you choose to go hiking, you must leave your dog in your vehicle. Dogs are allowed at the campsites but must be kept on a leash. The rule is in place to protect the wildlife that calls Joshua Tree their home, and to protect your dogs from getting injured or going missing in the vast desert.

  • 4. What is the best climbing in Joshua Tree?

    There are over 8,000 different routes in Joshua Tree for climbing. All have different levels of expertise and different styles of climbing. There are climbs for the newest beginners, and for the most experienced climbers, making it fun for everyone. Here are some of the most popular climbing areas in Joshua Tree.

    • Hidden Valley Campground
    • Intersection Rock
    • Quail Springs
    • Real Hidden Valley
    • Indian Cove
  • 5. What are Joshua trees?

    What are Joshua trees?

    Joshua trees are actually real trees. They are similar to a palm tree and in the agave family. Joshua trees are a huge part of the Mojave desert ecosystem. They help give food and shelter to birds, lizards, and mammals that run through the desert. Joshua trees have a much deeper meaning to them, as they are named after the Biblical figure, Joshua, by the Mormon settlers traveling through the land. They passed down the stories that they felt the Joshua Trees helped guide them through the intense desert and showed them resilience and survival.

  • 6. How big is Joshua Tree?

    Joshua tree is the second largest national park in California, after Death Valley. It includes around 794,000 acres of land. It takes about 3-4 hours to drive through the park on the major roads.

  • 7. Where can I get food?

    Where can I get food?

    Joshua Tree is actually the name of the town in which Joshua Tree National Park borders. The town of Joshua Tree is fully equipped with shops, gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants. Joshua Tree Saloon is the most popular restaurant in the town, it is the first restaurant you will see after getting out of the main entrance of the park. Crossroads Cafe is a great place to stop and get breakfast before heading into the park.

  • 8. How much does it cost to get into Joshua Tree?

    It costs $30 per vehicle or $15 per person. Camping is bought separately. You can also purchase national park passes to save money.