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Visiting Joshua Tree with kids

Joshua Tree National Park

For families seeking an outdoor adventure, Joshua Tree offers a unique blend of rugged terrain, fascinating plant life, opportunities for exploration and fun shops and great restaurants.

Joshua Tree’s iconic landscape with towering rock formations and vast desert vistas, provides an amazing backdrop for family adventures.

Family-Friendly Hikes:

While Joshua Tree offers challenging trails for experienced hikers, there are plenty of family-friendly hikes suitable for all ages and skill levels.

Some favorites: Hidden Valley - 1 mile

Barker Dam - 1.1 miles - sometimes there is water in the dam and sometimes not :)

Skull Rock - 1.7 miles

Split Rock - 2.5 miles We recommend a stop at the park's Visitor Center before heading into the park for current conditions, maps and recommendations.

And remember to pack plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen and sun hats for your hike!

Pro Tip: Road Runner Grab and Go is a great place to grab a coffee, water and a picnic lunch to bring into the park and it's right next to the Visitor's Center.

Junior Ranger Program:

The Junior Ranger program is super fun and it's free! Geared towards ages 5-13 (but any age can participate - my daughter did it when she was 4), the program encourages young explorers to complete a series of activities designed to foster a deeper appreciation for the park’s natural and cultural resources. From guided walks to hands-on activities, kids will have the opportunity to learn about desert ecology, and wildlife conservation while earning their official Junior Ranger badge. Once you're done with the activities you can go back to the Visitor Center and your kids will get their Junior Ranger badge.

Cholla Cactus Garden:

The Cholla Cactus Garden is a must see! Although do watch the little ones near the cacti. This unique desert oasis, renowned for its dense concentration of cholla cacti, offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the splendor of the Mojave Desert. It feels like being on another planet. If you stay on the pathways, you should be totally fine! But there is a kit with tools for removing cactus spikes for any accidents.

Take in Some Outdoor Art:

Visit the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum

Location - 62975 Blair Ln, Joshua Tree Tucked away in the high desert you'll find the Noah Purifoy Museum. Visitors are invited to wander freely among the outdoor galleries, discovering hidden treasures around every corner. From towering totems and abstract structures to sculptures of animals and figures, there's something to captivate the imagination of all ages.

Transmission by Daniel Popper

Location - 2015 Sunfair Rd, Joshua Tree (the is a turn off on Sunfair to view the sculpture but the property itself is not accessible)

Transmission, a monumental sculpture created by South African artist Daniel Popper, beckons visitors to embark on a journey of exploration and contemplation amidst the rugged terrain of the desert.

Simi Dabah Sculptures

Location - 5255 Sunfair Rd, Joshua Tree (open just on Saturdays and for events)

Simi Dabah, a self-taught artist/welder, has been creating welded steel sculptures from industrial scrap for more than fifty years. He is a prolific artist who believes that using scrap materials to create works of art is both friendly to the environment and inspirational to the viewer. 

Visit Pioneertown:

Nestled amidst the rugged beauty of the Mojave Desert, Pioneertown, offers families a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the charm of the Old West. Founded in the 1940s as a living movie set, Pioneertown retains its rustic allure while offering modern amenities and family-friendly attractions.

Take a stroll down Mane Street, the heart of Pioneertown's historic district, and immerse yourself in the nostalgia of the Old West. Lined with authentic Western facades, wooden boardwalks, and vintage storefronts, Mane Street transports visitors back to the days of cowboys, saloons, and stagecoaches.

Where to Eat in Pioneertown - Red Dog Saloon - Pappy and Harriet's -

Hi-Desert Nature Museum: For more info -

A cute little museum in Yucca Valley that has some old school dioramas, gems, minerals, a culture history section and small area with animals that are either injured and being rehabilitated or are unable to be released back into the wild. They usually have some snakes, lizards, arachnids and insects. They also have special exhibits from time to time.

Where to Eat with Kids in Joshua Tree:

JT Country Kitchen for breakfast and lunch -

Road Runner Grab and Go is the perfect spot to grab a picnic lunch to head into the park -

Sky High Pie for awesome pizza and bonus, it's right next to JT Coffee for parents who need a pick me up! -

Outside of Joshua Tree there's: The Tiny Pony -

Day Trip to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens:

Nestled at the base of the breathtaking Santa Rosa Mountains in Palm Desert, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a sanctuary of biodiversity and conservation. With its mission to inspire the preservation of desert habitats through education, research, and appreciation, the Living Desert offers visitors a unique opportunity to connect with nature and wildlife from around the world.

Step into the natural habitats of the desert and meet the creatures that call the desert environment their home. From elusive desert bighorn sheep and nimble meerkats to playful African wild dogs, the Living Desert is home to a diverse array of wildlife species. Wander through the expansive grounds and observe animals in their carefully designed habitats, learning about their behaviors, adaptations, and the challenges they face in the wild.

Young explorers can also participate in interactive exhibits like the Gecko Gulch and discover the wonders of the desert through hands-on exploration and play.

Where to stay:

We have many family-friendly options for your stay. Head on over to our Guests page and you can search for properties with family-friendly amenities.

Travel Tunes:

We have two family-friend playlists for your trip.

A fun mix of favorites for all ages, the ultimate family-friendly playlist for your road trip.

Our Bedtime for Kids playlist starts out with a meditation and then goes into some chill music for kids to fall asleep to. This puts my kids to sleep in no time.


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