A Local Guide to Joshua Tree That Has Something for Everyone
Whether you’re planning long days exploring the park that start at sunrise or are traveling with young kids who need to take things a little slower, Joshua Tree offers a full spectrum of experiences for everyone, and AutoCamp puts you in the center of everything.
The allure of the high desert has been drawing idiosyncratic artists, hardcore hikers, and casual visitors just looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. for decades. Whether you’re planning long days exploring the park that starts at sunrise or are traveling with young kids who need to take things a little slower, Joshua Tree offers a full spectrum of experiences for everyone, and AutoCamp puts you in the center of everything. Here’s a tailored guide to some of our favorite local experiences and businesses to support while you’re here.
For the Outdoorsy
Whether you’re looking to work up a sweat during a casual day hike or planning to do some serious bouldering, Joshua Tree has nearly endless options for getting up close and personal with Mother Nature. The beauty of staying at any AutoCamp is that you can open your door (or luxury tent flap!) and be immediately immersed in the beauty of the great outdoors, and Joshua Tree is no exception.
If you’re looking for a day hike that will still challenge you and offer insanely beautiful views of the park, check out the 6.7 mile Black Rock Canyon Panorama Loop, located fairly close to the park entrance. The loop will take you through impressive thickets of Joshua Trees and an incline that pays off with picture-perfect worthy sights of the surrounding mountains.
Once you’ve finished and worked up a serious appetite, stop by The Dez on your way back to AutoCamp for an easy lunch of hearty salads and delicious sandwiches designed to easily grab and go. And to stock up on climbing gear and outdoorsy necessities, swing by Nomad Ventures—it’s also a great place to snag a gift for an adventurous loved one.
Introducing kids to the thrilling sights and adventures of the Mojave is a great way to increase their confidence and make unforgettable memories as a family. The AutoCamp experience combines the creature comforts of a hotel (like super soft beds and spa-like showers) with the novelty of gathering around a campfire under the stars before bedtime. Little ones will love splashing around in our on-site pool outside of the Quonset Club House, which transforms into a heated hot tub in the cooler months. Other on-site activities include family-friendly movie nights and even campfire tales by local storytellers. A great crowd-pleasing way to start your day is with a tasty stop by Boo’s Organic Oven for gooey homemade cinnamon buns, berry buckle, or an extra indulgent treat like a turtle brownie. Afterward, burn off that sugar rush on one of our favorite all-ages hikes—the very fun, 1.8-mile trek to famed Skull Rock. The mostly flat trail ends in a visit to this skull-shaped natural formation and passes through examples of Joshua Tree’s beautiful cacti and wildflowers. Before heading out of town, stop by The Station to pick up souvenirs like pins, patches, sunglasses, and local artwork—kids will also be drawn to the former service station’s massive cowboy mascot sculpture.
An Artist’s Escape
Free from the customs and confines of the traditional art scene, Joshua Tree has been a magnet for brilliant and idiosyncratic types looking to explore creative and unexpected new ideas. The area is scattered with small art galleries, remote studios, immersive experiences and charming craft shops selling pottery and other local goods, many within easy driving distance of AutoCamp Joshua Tree. In addition to checking out the locally-sourced art you’ll find throughout AutoCamp, there’s tons of creative immersions and art experiences to be had nearby.
Founded in 2009, BoxoPROJECTS is home to year-round artist residencies in addition to hosting exhibitions, installations and performances around the area. Sign up for one of their Joshua Tree expeditions, an insider-curated tour of some of the most interesting local sites, from Andrea Zittel’s desert installations to the dramatic Kellogg House. Simi Dabah Sculptures is also worth a stop to check out how the artist turns recycled materials into dramatic stand-alone pieces. AutoCamp is also near the start of the monthly Joshua Tree Art Walk, which happens the second Saturday of every month and brings you to the high desert’s best small galleries and exhibition spaces—a fantastic opportunity to buy a piece from local artists to take home with you. Another must-stop is Noah Purifoy Foundation Outdoor Museum, an eclectic collection of weird and wonderful installations, some of which are interactive. Pick up a natural wine from Joshua Tree Bottle Shop to sip in your private AutoCamp outdoor space and reflect on everything you’ve seen.
For the Conscious Traveler
Joshua Tree residents have a deep respect for the land, an ethos that’s also core to AutoCamp. If you’re interested in taking an active role in preserving the park itself, your AutoCamp visit ahead to take part in a Joshua Tree Volunteer Group. Park officials will direct you in helping out with necessary activities like maintaining trails and managing invasive plant species. Once you’ve put in the work, unwind with a yoga class on-site at AutoCamp or mindfulness session at Healing Arts, which offers treatments like reiki amid the desert landscape. Joshua Tree is also a goldmine for vintage shopping, which makes it easy to shop sustainably while you’re here. One of our favorites is The End, which offers a colorful curation of clothing and accessories.