Contact Joshua Tree National Park, 74485 National Park Dr., Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 (tel. 760/367-5500; www.nps.gov/jotr).
In addition to the free newspaper offered by the park, the Joshua Tree Guide, the following publications might prove helpful: Robert Cates's Joshua Tree National Park: A Visitors Guide (Chatsworth, Calif.: Live Oak Press, 1984), and Bill Cunningham's Best Easy Day Hikes Joshua Tree (Falcon Guides, 2000). Order them from the Joshua Tree National Park Association, 74485 National Park Dr., Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 (tel. 760/367-5525; www.joshuatree.org).
Your best sources of information in the park are the Park Service's three visitor centers. The park headquarters and Oasis Visitor Center, 74485 National Park Dr. in Twentynine Palms, is on the road to the North Entrance Station. The Cottonwood Visitor Center, at the south end of the park, houses a gift shop and bookstore, as well as an interpretive exhibit on the area's wildlife.
The Joshua Tree Visitor Center, 6554 Park Blvd. in Joshua Tree, is on the road to the West Entrance Station. In addition to providing visitor materials and information, this center has a bookstore and gift shop, a cafe, and an exhibit gallery. Oasis and Joshua Tree are open daily from 8am to 5pm, and Cottonwood 9am to 3pm.
Admission to the park is $15 per car (valid for 7 days). The nine developed campgrounds charge fees of $10 to $15 for individual sites, more for group sites. Backcountry camping is free, but self-registration is required.
Special Regulations & Warnings
In addition to the standard national park regulations designed to protect fragile ecosystems, keep these in mind while enjoying Joshua Tree:
- Dehydration is a constant threat in the desert; even in winter, carry plenty of drinking water and drink regularly even if you don't feel thirsty. Recommended minimum supplies are 1 gallon per person per day, or twice that if planning strenuous activity. Water is available at five park locations: Cottonwood Springs, the Black Rock Canyon Campground, the Indian Cove Ranger Station, West Entrance, and the Oasis Visitor Center. The water for RVs at the Oasis Visitor Center comes from a coin-operated fountain -- bring plenty of quarters.
- Sections of the park (identified on the official map) contain abandoned mines and associated structures. Use extreme caution in the vicinity, watching for open shafts and prospect holes. Supervise children closely, and never enter abandoned mines.
- Flash flooding is a potential hazard following even brief rain showers, so avoid drainage areas and be especially observant of road conditions at those times.