The drive on a Los Angeles to Joshua Tree road trip will allow you to see the most distinctive areas of southern California. Many of the areas are formed of distinct types of desert landscapes, but there are also several mountain ranges, valleys, and lakes to see and appreciate. This Los Angeles to Joshua Tree RV road trip will only take a few hours if driven without any stops, but taking the time to visit the local attractions and natural scenery is well worthwhile.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is named after the Yucca brevifolia, or "Joshua Tree," which is a yucca plant of the agave species; however, this large national park possesses many unique features besides the Joshua Tree. The park contains portions of both the Sonoran desert, which is a "low" desert of low humidity and sparse vegetation of ocotillo, cholla cactus, and creosote bushes. Whereas the Mojave desert is a "high" desert with higher humidity and more vegetation, like the giant yucca. The Sonoran desert also has large granite formations. While in the park, visitors can view coyotes, bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, kangaroo rats, and birds on the Pacific migratory bird flyway. There are multiple nature trails, rocky areas that are popular for rock-climbing, wildflowers in the spring, and clear night skies in all seasons.
Channel Islands National Park
The Channel Islands National Park is home to five of the eight Channel Islands, which lie west of Los Angeles and south of Santa Barbara and Ventura off the coast of California. The park contains the islands of Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. Within the park, there are approximately 2,500 miles of coastline and more than 2,000 species of animals and plants. Many of these species are found nowhere else because of the relative isolation of these islands that has encouraged this unique biodiversity. You will have the opportunity to see the Blue Whale, which is the largest animal on earth, and exploring on kayaks allows for up-close views of kelp forests and sea caves. The islands have distinct features, like Santa Rosa Island's Lobo Canyon and the lighthouse on Anacapa Island. There are also 15 miles of trails on Santa Cruz Island.
Chino Hills State Park
Chino Hills State Park is a true natural oasis located just a short distance from Los Angeles. This 14,102-acre park has more than 90 miles of trails that wind around and through scenic hills, forests, and gorges in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Chino Hills is a vital link of the Chino-Puente Hills wildlife corridor and serves as a preserve of both native plants and resident and migrating wildlife. Visitors can hike, ride horses, and mountain bike along the many multi-use trails, and there are equestrian corrals and stages, picnic areas, and camping sites.
Wildwood Canyon State Park
You will appreciate the wild and rugged beauty of Wildwood Canyon State Park, which is centered in the eastern foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. There are landscapes of sagebrush, grasslands, and chaparral, and you will be able to see live oaks that are more than 100 years old. Many of the plant and animal species in this park are rare and endangered. Besides the natural inhabitants, you can also visit several historic farms and homesteads.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Mount San Jacinto State Park is the home of Mount San Jacinto, which is a 10,834-high peak in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California. The park is near Los Angeles and San Diego and is accessible via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It is also part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through three western states. Mount San Jacinto is the highest point in the San Jacinto Range and is the second-highest elevation in Southern California. Visitors to this ecologically unique park will enjoy exploring the granite peaks, subalpine forests, and fern-covered meadows that are throughout. The park is a popular destination for hiking and camping, and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a special experience that affords spectacular views of the peaks and valleys and gives access to the fun amenities of Long Valley at the station at the top of the tramway. The station is also the starting point of the trail system of the park.
Disneyland Park is the quintessential vacation destination of California and is located in Anaheim, about 20 miles southeast of Los Angeles, CA. The park is the inspiration of Walt Disney, the famous founder, and owner of The Walt Disney Company. From the first "Mickey Mouse" animated film in the 1920s to today, the Disney name has become synonymous with family entertainment, both on the screen and at the elaborate theme parks of Disneyland Park in California and Disney World in Florida. Today, Disneyland Park welcomes more than 18 million visits each year on average to its separate "lands," which are spaced around a central hub. These lands are Main Street, Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Critter Country, Mickey's Toontown, New Orleans Square, and Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge is the newest addition to the park and was opened in 2019. Disneyland Park is best experienced over several days if you have the time to add more than one day to your Los Angeles to Joshua Tree road trip itinerary.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Palm Springs Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. The tram features a ride of 12 and a half minutes from the Valley Station at the bottom to the Mountain Station at the top, which is a rise in elevation of 8,516 feet. Along the way, you will see unique vistas that pass through five ecological biomes. At the summit, passengers disembark into the alpine habitats of Long Valley and Mount San Jacinto State Park. Here, the air can be up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the desert below. You can walk on the various nature trails that include back-country hiking; however, permits are needed for back-country trails.
Griffith Observatory is the face of what a public venue for science, education, and entertainment should be. The Griffith Observatory is one of Southern California's most visited and popular attractions and features free admission for its planetarium, observatory, and exhibitions. Opened in 1935, the observatory is endowed with the provision that it be available to the public for no admission fees. The original 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope affords incredible views of the skies, and there are also three solar telescopes that bring the sun up close and personal. The observatory was extensively renovated in 2006 and currently includes numerous exciting exhibits, including the Ahmanson Hall of the Sky, Wilder Hall of the Eye, W.M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda, Gunther Depths of Space, Cosmic Connection, Edge of Space Mezzanine, and Exterior Exhibits.
The city of Pomona is named after the Roman goddess of fruit and is aptly named. Visitors will enjoy the wide array of delicious fruits and other types of produce that you can find throughout the city. Besides the farmers' markets, you can visit many antique shops, cultural venues, and natural preserves and parks. Pomona is located with easy access to Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Bernardino, and Canyon RV Park is conveniently located next to Highway 91 near Chino Hills State Park. It also has a fun rope-climbing attraction. If you need to use a dump station before going further along your road trip from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, then you can easily find many in the area.
San Bernardino is located east of Los Angeles. This large city has a varied amount of attractions and recreational opportunities, such as the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art with an extensive Egyptian exhibit, Seccombe Lake and Silverwood Lake, which is nestled below a scenic mountain range. Big Bear Lake is a resort town that is in the San Bernardino National Forest and is north of the city. Rancho Jurupa Park is an RV park with many amenities, like playgrounds and two fishing lakes. This area is a good place to find a dump station at a midpoint along your trip.
Palm Springs is located in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California and is renowned for its resort hotels, hot springs, spas, and golf courses. The city is also home to great examples of mid-century and modern architecture. Palm County Canyon Drive is the shopping district to visit if you enjoy vintage boutiques, interior design shops, and eclectic eateries. Coachella Valley, which surrounds the city, has several multi-use nature trails. Happy Traveler RV Park is beneath the San Jacinto Mountains and is a small and intimate RV park near downtown Palm Springs. There is a large pool in the center of the park. When you pass through Palm Springs, you may want to utilize a dump station before you arrive at Joshua Tree.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Los Angeles or Joshua Tree.