There are two main roads through the park, and by driving them both you'll be able to see virtually every feature that distinguishes Joshua Tree; there are even a couple of easy opportunities to stop and stretch your legs.
Park Boulevard loops through the high northern section between the North Entrance Station in Twentynine Palms and the West Entrance Station in Joshua Tree. Along the drive, which takes about 1 hour one-way, you'll get an eyeful of the rock formations and oddly shaped Joshua trees. Stop at one of the well-marked interpretive trails along the way, but don't miss the detour to Keys View, one of the most popular spots in the park. A paved road leads to this mile-high mountain crest, where a series of plaques describe the land below. You'll also have a panoramic view that encompasses both the highest (Mt. San Gorgonio) and the lowest (Salton Sea) points in Southern California.
Pinto Basin Road crosses the park from top to bottom, forking away from Park Boulevard near the North Entrance Station and winding down to the Cottonwood Entrance off I-10. Driving it, you'll pass from the higher Mojave Desert into the lower Colorado Desert, across the "transition zone" snaking through the middle of the park, a fascinating melting pot where the two climates are both represented. Stop to marvel at the Cholla Cactus Garden or the Ocotillo Patch, where the spidery, tenacious desert shrub sports flaming red blooms following spring rains. At the park's southern end, you can explore the lush Cottonwood Spring or see relics of World War II training maneuvers. Driving from end to end takes about an hour.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.