Camping within Joshua Tree’s unique desert ecosystem is an experience like no other. With unusually shaped trees, massive boulders, and endless hiking and rock-climbing opportunities, it’s a must-visit on your camper van road trip.
Within the national park itself, there are several National Parks Service (NPS) campgrounds which are run by the government – perfect if you want to sleep under the stars right within nature. There are also many privately run campgrounds and RV parks in the surrounding areas if you would prefer to be closer to towns and have access to more amenities where you stay. Here are some of the best campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park and its surrounding areas.
Jumbo Rocks Campground
Jumbo Rocks Campground is centrally located in Joshua Tree National Park and boasts its surrounding views of the park’s quintessential rocky landscapes. The scenic campground is nearby many great hiking trails and rock formations such as Skull Rock, Juniper Flats, and Pleasant Valley Trail, all only minutes away from where you will wake up.
The campground has minimal amenities; you will find vault toilets, picnic tables, and trash/recycling station here, but there are no showers or staff on site. Potable water isn’t available here, so make sure you pack plenty of your own. If you want to get out into nature and relax by a campfire, you will love this campground.
This NPS run campground has 124 individual/family sites for tents, camper vans, and RVs. The park gets quite busy in high season (September – May), so it’s best to book your spot in advance at $15.00 per night.
Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground
Set within a desert landscape and conveniently located near the entry of Joshua Tree National Park as well as the town of Joshua Tree, this is a great place to stay when visiting the national park or the surrounding area. Base yourself here and head 15 minutes into the national park, or camp here for the best location access to the biannual Joshua Tree Music Festival!
Joshua Tree Lake Campground is a full-amenity RV park, so if you are looking for somewhere with water and electric hookups, toilets, showers, fire pits, and dump stations – you will enjoy staying here.
This privately owned rustic family campground is a relaxing escape for tent camping and RV campers. Price range depending on seasonality but typically range from $20 – 40 per night.
Indian Cove Campground
Indian Cove Campground is located just off Highway 62 within Joshua Tree National Park. It’s found on a dead-end road in a secluded section of Joshua Tree, amid the vast, steep rock formations. Because of its proximity to several rock climbing routes, this campground is a popular camping destination for climbers. Several hiking trails leave right from the campground, and plenty of rocks for the non-climbers to explore.
Indian Cove is an NPS run campground within Joshua Tree National Park, meaning you can expect to find some basic amenities, including vault toilets, picnic tables, trash/recycling stations, and fire rings.
Indian Cove has 101 campsites, including 13 group campsites for tents, camper vans, and RVs. Most of the sites are available on a first-come-first-served basis. However, there are a limited number of places to stay, so you must make a reservation if you are interested in visiting during its busy months: August through June. Sites cost $15.00 per night.
Black Rock Canyon Campground
Black Rock Canyon Campground, located in the northwest corner of the park, is among one of the thickest Joshua tree forests in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s one of the most popular campgrounds in the park, appealing to hikers, horseback riders, and tent/RV campers. Shopping facilities are only five miles away in the town of Yucca Valley.
Here you’ll find a greater number of amenities than other NPS run campgrounds in Joshua Tree. With flush toilets, potable water, trash/recycling collection, dump stations, and staff on-site seasonally, this is a great campground if you want to experience the outdoors while having easy access to extra comforts.
Black Rock campground has space for 99 tent and RV sites, which range in size. They cost $20.00 per night and are available to reserve during the busy winter season; it is open on a first-come, first-served basis from May through September.
Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA
Located just 10-miles from Palm Spring and 45-minutes to the entrance of Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll find a KOA campground and RV Park. Joshua Tree KOA is a prime location for camping within southern California’s Coachella Valley, giving you close access to the Stagecoach and Coachella music festivals. If you aren’t visiting for a festival, you will still love this perfect location for rock climbing and bouldering in the surrounding area, or shopping and dining in El Paseo Drive, Palm Springs.
This KOA campground is a private oasis within a desert region, offering guests a variety of amenities in a beautifully landscaped setting. You will find a large swimming pool, hot tub spas and sauna, mini-golf facilities, power hookups, bike rentals, and a dog park within the grounds.
Take your pick from a wide variety of powered and unpowered tent, camper van, or RV sites, and you can even stay in a self-contained cabin. Prices range widely depending on your site choice and seasonality. It is best to make your booking in advance, which you can do on their website.
Bonus – Travelers Autobarn customers receive 10% off all KOA Campground bookings through our partnership. There are 500+ KOA Campgrounds across North America, making your road trip convenient and stress-free.
Located in the center of the Joshua Tree desert lies Ryan Campground, a quaint yet stunning campground with unparalleled views. With the California Riding and Hiking Trail nearby, guests can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities during their stay. The campground has easy access to Mt. Ryan and Cap Rock, and some of your most memorable experiences can be hiking to the top and admiring the gorgeous view of the vast open sky and forest below. Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, off-roading, horseback riding as well as many more incredible activities as you spend time in Joshua Tree.
There aren’t as many amenities offered on the campground: there are no hookups available, nor are there any potable water accesses, so make sure you pack plenty of water for your stay. They do, however, have trash and recycling collections as well as fire rings, pit toilets, and picnic tables. Keep in mind this campground is available for tent camping only.
With 31 campsites to house its guests, Ryan Campground remains on a first-come, first-serve basis, so make sure you book in advance. There are also three reservable bicycle sites that cost $5 per night for its guests, but no more than three tents or three guests can stay each night. It is made for horse lovers as it is one of two equestrian-friendly campgrounds in the forest.
Hidden Valley Campground
Located in the beautiful Twentynine Palms, California lies Hidden Valley Campground, a gem in southern California. The center of the park campground boasts a plethora of incredible outdoor beauties as well as a clear view of the night sky, popular among guests. With the vast open desert at its disposal, guests enjoy trails and activities leading right out of the campsite itself into the Joshua Tree forest for year-round enjoyment. With boulders moving in every which way, adrenaline junkies are sure to find the most breathtaking adventures navigating through the jagged rock.
There is no potable water, or RV dumps at this campground. However, there are toilet pits, fire rings, and picnic tables located on nine of the sites. RVs, camper vans, and other trailers are allowed, but there are no electrical hookups.
All sites are first-come-first-serve, and it is encouraged to plan your trip, keeping in mind the popularity of the season you choose to camp in. With 44 campsites, visitors are sure to find a site that best suits their needs and adventures.
Located in the southernmost section of Joshua Tree is Cottonwood Campground, a wildflower lover’s dream. Prime wildflower season is February through June, so we recommend you visit when the areas are in full bloom. With the Black Rock Canyon within driving distance, campers can enjoy the stark beauty of the Joshua Tree forest. Keys View offers incredible views of the Coachella Valley, the San Andreas Fault Line, and the staggering heights of the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains. Not only does this campground boast these incredible views, but the outdoor activities give its guests a busy schedule and a beautiful, peaceful campsite to enjoy.
Cottonwood Campground offers a variety of amenities for its guests. Picnic tables, fire pits, vault toilets, potable water, and access to an amphitheater are a few of the extras offered. There are no showers or laundry. Keep in mind that due to the slim parking areas, the majority of the campsites cannot accommodate RV slide outs.
The campground operates on a first-come, first-serve basis, yet during its busiest months, the campground requires a reservation. Each campsite comes with a different price, but plan for around the $30-$40 per night benchmark. Cottonwood has both accessible sites as well as group campsites housing between 7 to 25 people.
Joshua Tree National Park is an awesome place to visit, especially in a campervan or RV. If you can’t land one of these camping spots, check into White Tank Campground or Belle Campground. If you’re meeting up with other campers then Sheep Pass Campground is an excellent location to find group sites!
Here are a few other articles you might enjoy.
The Van Life Guide to Hiking Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree Festival – Music Festivals by Campervan
Las Vegas to Los Angeles Campervan Road Trip
Ultimate National Parks Campervan Road Trip
Guide to the Best Campgrounds for Campervans in the USA
About the Author
Bastian is the Sales & Marketing Manager here at Travellers Autobarn. He holds a Master of Commerce in Marketing and International Business Management, and 20+ years experience in campervan hire, road trips and travel.