When is the best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park?
While Joshua Tree National Park is open all year round, the best time to visit the park is in the shoulder months of autumn (March to May) and spring (September to November) when the weather is favorable and skies are relatively clear. During these months, the average temperature is 84°F, and while that's still on the warmer side, it's not as bad as the 99°F temperatures in summer.
Due to summer's high temperatures, visiting Joshua Tree National Park is not recommended unless you have sufficient experience in similar conditions, as it can become quite dangerous if you're not well equipped to deal with the heat.
Summer in Joshua Tree National Park
Best for: fewer crowds, bird watching and short hikes
Summer in Joshua Tree National Park is hot. And we mean real hot. Like, 99°F hot. For this reason, caution is advised when trekking through the park after lunchtime, and you should always set out with appropriate sun protective gear (sunglasses, hats and sunscreen) and plenty of water. Despite soaring temperatures during the day, June, July and August see nighttime temperatures dip to around 70°F. While this isn't cold, it might be worth packing layered clothing to rug up once the sun sets (especially if you're camping).
Autumn in Joshua Tree National Park
Best for: long hikes, camping and the Night Sky Festival
Autumn is one of the best seasons to visit Joshua Tree National Park, with perfect conditions for most of September, October and November. Due to optimal temperatures of around 82°F, the park can get quite busy, so chances are you'll have to share popular hiking tracks, such as the Barker Dam Trail and the Maze Loop with plenty of fellow outdoor lovers. The Night Sky Festival also happens every October and is well worth attending if stargazing is your thing, with photography classes, art workshops and astronomy presentations on offer.
Winter in Joshua Tree National Park
Best for: off-road touring, visiting historical sites and rock climbing
Winter usually means increased rainfall, but not in Joshua Tree National Park. While December, January and February see average precipitation of 0.58 inches, 0.52 inches and 0.61 inches, respectively, August actually experiences the most rainfall with an average of 0.81 inches. So it's safe to say you can leave your umbrella at home if you're heading to the park in winter. The same can't be said for your warm, insulated clothing.
Temperatures usually reach a maximum of 64°F and drop to a low of 40°F, and while this means perfect conditions for strenuous activities such as rock climbing (there are over 8000 routes in the park), it also means things can get a little chilly. Snowfall is also expected in higher-elevation areas.
Spring in Joshua Tree National Park
Best for: photography, blooming wildflowers and stargazing
Spring brings clear skies and warm temperatures, so it's little wonder it's one of the most popular (and busiest) times to visit the park. Average temperatures of around 78°F make spending long periods outside comfortable and enjoyable, while the lush landscapes lend themselves to photography and animal-watching pursuits. Campsites will fill up quickly, though, so it's best to book as far in advance as possible.
Spring is also one of the best times to see the milky way in all its sparkling glory, and with nighttime temperatures of a cool but manageable 54°F, it's easy to spend hours getting lost in the night sky's beauty.