There are definitely two ways you can do Joshua Tree. You can camp or you can stay in the surrounding areas right outside of Joshua Tree National Park. On my recent weekend trip, we were able to do a night of both, which if you know me, camping isn’t necessarily my thing. Why sleep on the floor when you can sleep on a bed, right? Well, regardless, I’m always up for adventures wherever I’ll be sleeping!
Did you know the desert can get crazy cold? Ya, I didn’t either. Wait, you did? Smartypants. When we arrived in the afternoon, it was in the 40’s and driving into the park there were signs saying winds were expected to reach up to 80 mph through the night. I know, you’re probably thinking what I was, it’s going to be a long night.
There are 8 campgrounds you can choose from if you want to camp within Joshua Tree National Park. All of them around first come, first served and are either $15-$20, but two sites you can reserve ahead. Be warned though, there is no running water through the grand majority of the park. Make sure you bring plenty of drinking water with you, especially if it is hot outside. No one wants to be dehydrated in the middle of the desert.
We stayed at the Jumbo Rocks campground, and boy was it a pretty setting to set up camp in. Or for my best friend, Hannah, to pitch our tent in. However, I still think you can build a tent. (Something Hannah adamantly tells me is wrong) Granted, it’s pretty hard to find a bad view in Joshua Tree which is funny to me since I used to not like the way cacti looked. It’s possible that the jumbo rocks blocked some of the wind, but then again it was crazy windy. I thought our tent was going to fly away. Not to mention the 30 degree, freezing temperatures.
I’d do it again though. I’d actually want to try the White Tank campground. it had giant boulders surrounding it, as well, but just had a nice feel to it with only 15 sites versus the 124 at Jumbo Rocks. It also was where the Arch Rock trail is which I included in my Joshua Tree Top 6 post (check it out!).
The next night we arranged to stay at the infamous Hicksville Tailer Palace. I know, sounds funny to want to stay at a trailer park, but this is the most hip trailer park you’ll ever see. There are 9 themed trailers that are anything but boring. The property has miniature golf, an archery and bb gun range, a library, a life-size tee-pee with a fire pit, a rooftop hot tub, ping pong, and bean bag toss.
There is a ton of secrecy that surrounds Hicksville, which is definitely what gives it its’ intrigue. You don’t even receive directions to the property until a few days prior. You really do feel completely off the grid at Hicksville and it is amazing. No checking in on social media and you’re literally alone in the middle of the desert.
Glamping in our cute Airstream called “The Sweet” (pictured above) was a welcomed change during the cold temperatures. We had 2 heaters and it was so comfortable. There is only one bathroom for most all of the campers - fair warning. It really does feel like you’re staying in a wacky, uber hip, off-the-grid campsite. Best part is that you don’t have to sleep on the ground!
I’d definitely recommend trying out both options. Camping is a great experience especially in such beautiful setting and you're already inside the park, but falling of the grid in the unknown hideaway that is Hicksville is an experience in its own.
Yours Truly // Shannon