Joshua Tree National Park: 25 Stunning Photos You Have to See
Joshua Tree National Park is the most well-known national park in Southern California. It is known for its crazy-looking trees and mountains of rocks. When conservationists first tried to protect the land in the 1930s, they came up with the name Desert Plants National Park, which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Around the park, you can see strange and beautiful Joshua trees growing in the desert.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most amazing places to be, as it holds some of the best scenery, wildlife, and geological features. It has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993 and is host to numerous national parks and preserves. Here are the main photography spots in the park that should not be missed by anyone.
THE BEST GEAR TO TAKE PICTURES IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
A good camera and holy trinity are the pieces of gear that we can recommend. A lens with a very comprehensive view. 14-24mm or a similar range. A lens with a focal length of between 24 and 70 millimeters, and another of between 70 and 200 millimeters.
If you don’t have these lenses, don’t worry; any substitutes will do the job. You should also need a tripod if you want to get great photos of nighttime sunsets.
Joshua Tree National Park Photography Guide
1. Cholla Cactus Garden
Looking for a place to get lost in the solitude of Joshua Tree National Park? Cholla Cactus Garden is one of the best photography spots you could ask for with its sharp, cacti-filled landscape. Follow a short, flat trail through a field of cholla cacti, surrounded by desert scenery, and be sure to stop at the end to experience the surreal colors of its landscape at sunset. The cactus garden is accessible by car, so bring warm clothing and water if you’re planning a trip here during the summer months.
2. Keys View
Keys View is a hidden gem of Joshua Tree National Park. It’s one of the best photography spots in the park and you’ll have it almost all to yourself. The views are simply stunning, especially at sunrise or sunset. The view will be your reward after a short, but rough hike up the Keys Ranch-Keys View trail. There are a few different routes, with various lengths and levels of difficulty. Some people approach Keys View from the Jumbo Rocks area as well, but it’s not recommended in the summer because many of these trails are just too hot to hike safely during that time period.
3. Skull Rock
Skull Rock is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. Not only can you take photos from the top, but hiking down and up makes for a great adventure as well. The rust-colored rock formation sits just off the beaten path, which makes it perfect for hiking photographers who want to put some distance between themselves and the crowds. Many people are surprised at both how accessible it is and how beautiful. Skull Rock is a popular stop for park visitors because it is on the main road that goes east to west through the park. Just across the road from the rock is a place to park.
4. Cap Rock
This trailhead is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. The Cap Rock hiking trail starts out easy, gaining elevation as it winds around the mountains. It’s smooth sailing along this well-marked trail until you reach the summit of Cap Rock and enjoy spectacular views of both Jumbo Rocks and Mule Ears. This is a must-do hike if you’re interested in photography and want to capture some breathtaking desert landscapes.
5. Arch Rock
In Joshua Tree National Park, you can see a natural arch. Take a short walk through the granite formations around White Tank Campground to reach Arch Rock one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. Anyone staying at White Tank Campground should take a walk around the campground in a 0.3-mile loop that is easy and fun. Other park visitors can now enjoy a 1.3-mile lollipop loop hike that starts from a trailhead along Pinto Basin Road.
Arch Rock was formed over thousands of years as water flowed over its surface and cracks were formed. Over time, the cracks grew larger and larger, until eventually, the arch collapsed to form the recognizable formation today.
6. Inspiration Peak Trail
Prepare yourself for amazing views, as you’ll see the Joshua tree forest and wildlife you’ve never seen before. The Inspiration Peak trail is one of the best spots in Joshua Tree National Park to see one of the most beautiful landscapes in California. From here, you can see incredible views of the park and beyond. This trail is best hiked with a friend or during daylight hours as it is in a remote area that’s not well-lit at night.
The Inspiration Peak Trail is a 2.5-mile trek through the wilderness, showcasing dramatic views of the surrounding Mojave Desert. Hikers enjoy a range of different habitats including rock formations, granite boulders, and an abundance of wildlife.
7. Barker Dam
Barker Dam is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. Staying for 2-3 hours at Barker Dam allows visitors to capture the magic of a desert sunset. Use your daytime visit to capture some iconic shots and then head back to camp or on to another destination after sunset for another round of photo opportunities. The dam itself and its pool are absolutely beautiful, especially when it’s sunset. But there are also a lot of great things to see just off the side roads along your drive here, so it can make for a nice scenic stop if you don’t have too much time to hike around.
8. Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail
Why is Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail so great? You’ll be amazed at the beauty of Lost Horse Mine Loop Trail, from its giant boulders to the rocky desert hills. This trail is often one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. The Lost Horse Trailhead is just 7 miles from the Jumbo Rocks Park entrance on Park Boulevard. There are several good spots along this trail for concentrating on wide-angle compositions, or you can take advantage of its relatively open nature for more detail.
9. Hidden Valley Campground
Hidden Valley Campground offers one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. Located minutes from the park entrance, this campground features sweeping views and an intimate setting on a small lake surrounded by rugged peaks and rock formations. Hike through lush meadows, along the shores of a small lake, and up to stunning panoramic viewpoints.
10. Jumbo Rocks
Jumbo Rocks is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. This place is worth a day trip from your campground so you can explore a bit and spend some time taking photos. Staring out over giant boulders and a mountain range, it’s hard not to feel small in the desert surroundings here. The sun sets to the west, so you’ll want to head there early to catch the nice light from above and below.
The unique shapes and rock features, along with dramatic shadows, provide endless opportunities for great photos. As soon as the rising sun hits the rocks, the light changes so quickly that it will have you racing around to capture everything!
Joshua Tree National Park Photography Guide
11. Cottonwood Springs
Cottonwood Springs is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park, and the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon alone or with friends. Nestled in a pine grove at the base of the northernmost arm of Indian Cove, Cottonwood Springs is a gorgeous setting for photographers. The warm afternoon light makes for great portraits on this rare patch of grass perched above an oasis.
12. Big View with Joshua Tree
Big View reveals itself to those with a keen eye and an adventurous spirit. A good way to start your morning at Joshua Tree is to drive through Hidden Valley, where the road winds through a huge boulder that has fallen from one of the sides of the valley. This can be tricky to drive because cars must be small enough to enter Hidden Valley and exit it when coming back out again. The view from here is something you will remember forever.
13. Keys Ranch
The Keys Ranch is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. The ranch is a great location to create travel photos by capturing the landscape, but it also offers multiple opportunities for portraits and family shots. The sunset here can’t be beaten either. If you’re looking for an awesome place to sit and snap away, this spot is it. No matter what time of day you visit, you’ll find warm lighting and great photo opportunities at Keys Ranch.
14. Wall Street Mill Trail
The Wall Street Mill Trail is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. It features a unique trail that winds through an oasis of palm trees, which create a shady hideaway during the summer months. Take a photo of yourself sitting on the ground along this trail or snap a few selfies while on an adventure with friends and family.
Pioneertown is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. We’ve been taking photos there for years, and we think you can pretty much count on it being an incredible evening. The sunsets are so colorful and gorgeous that they might even make you cry happy tears or something. It’s truly an experience.
Pioneertown is a must-see spot in Joshua Tree. The place has a great and fascinating history, but the main reason why it’s so special is the way it looks. One of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park, Pioneertown, or P-Town as we like to call it is a roadside town themed after the California Gold Rush, that was founded in 1946. It looks pretty much like it did back then too.
16. Route 66
If you want to shoot the iconic California desert, Route 66 is a must-see. This 4-mile strip of asphalt is one of Joshua Tree’s most popular photography spots and is home to some of the most recognizable scenes in our National Park. You’ll find exposed boulder fields, twisted Joshua trees, and interesting rock formations. It’s the perfect mix of open space and defined lines that allow photographers to capture the entire desert at once.
17. Jumbo Rocks in Yucca
One of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park, Jumbo Rocks is found at its namesake peak, which towers over the desert floor. The granite formation attracts hikers, rock climbers, and mountain bikers that are attracted to its many challenging routes.
18. Fortynine Palms Oasis
The Fortynine Palms Oasis is one of the most unique and stunning natural features in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s located at the end of a 2.5-mile hike through an ancient trade route that Native Americans used thousands of years ago, and then later by the Mormon pioneers. You may not think to take photos on a hike like this, but there are amazing scenes along the trail, especially at the end when you reach the oasis nestled among massive boulders and otherworldly rock formations.
19. White Tank Campground
For those who love to hike, the White Tank Campground is one of the best places to start. This campground is located at the west end of Joshua Tree National Park and offers great views of both the west side and east side of the park. The campground itself always seems packed with people because it’s so close to Highway 62, but you’ll want to leave your car parked for a day or two and take advantage of this beautiful spot! It’s easy enough for anyone to get around without much prior hiking experience, making it an ideal spot for families or first-time backpackers.
20. Wonderland Ranch Ruins
Wonderland Ranch is one of the best photo spots in Joshua Tree National Park. The Wonderland area was originally home to several ranches and homesteads, including Walter Lowe’s 484-acre ranch, built in 1899. The ruins here are absolutely stunning and this spot can only be accessed via a two-mile walk from Jumbo Rocks campground. It’s definitely worth the effort though!
21. Ryan Mountain
If you love photography, Ryan Mountain is one of the best spots in Joshua Tree National Park to capture that perfect shot. This large rock formation looms over the surrounding valleys, making it a great subject for anyone with a camera. Its distinctive shape and position make it easy to find and it’s just as easy to explore once you get there.
22. Mastodon Peak Loop Trail
The Mastodon Peak Loop Trail is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. This loop explores the Mastodon Peak backcountry and includes breathtaking vistas from a rocky peak. You’ll get up close with a number of colorful wildflowers, get a glimpse at prehistoric relics, and enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.
Joshua Tree National Park Photography Guide
23. Bajada Nature Trail
The Bajada Nature Trail is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. With abundant desert flora and fauna and endless possibilities for photo subjects, there’s no doubt you’ll want to spend a whole day at this trail. The trail offers sweeping views of Joshua trees and other quirky desert life, so be sure to bring your camera!
24. Indian Cove Campground
Indian Cove Campground is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park. From sunrise to sunset, this campsite offers breathtaking views of the iconic rock formations. Little surprise there’s a restaurant nearby. Be one of the first to camp at Indian Cove Campground, now open to the public. Located in Joshua Tree National Park and surrounded by some of the most iconic landmarks in the park, make plans today to visit Indian Cove Campground for your next staycation adventure!
25. Pinto Basin
The Pinto Basin is one of the best photography spots in Joshua Tree National Park, offering sweeping views of different rock formations. Mountain bike riders will love these multi-use trails that run through a desert landscape and along sandstone mountains. One of the more popular attractions in the Pinto Basin is the abandoned mines, which have become a favorite subject for photographers.
THESE ARE THE JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK MOST STUNNING PHOTOS YOU HAVE TO SEE
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