Joshua Tree is such a unique and diverse national park. From its incredible rock formations, to the “glowing” cholla cacti, there is something for everyone to enjoy. We were lucky to spend a few days here while on a trip to Los Angeles to visit my brother and his family. The five kids ranged in age from 2.5 to almost 8 and everyone had a great time. We found trails that all of the kids could do and we went back later in the night to watch the sunset and see the stars. Hiking with kids at Joshua Tree proved to be a special and fun experience!
There are SO many trails that are appropriate for a wide range of people. We tackled five of these, but listed here are seven that are appropriate for kids. Some of these are more like walks, rather than hikes, but the beauty can’t be beat!
Arch Rock Trail: This was the first hike we did when visiting the park. It is a 1.4 mile out and back trail that is doesn’t have much of an elevation change, but has a ton of large rocks for the kids to climb on and over. They love trails like this and had so much fun!
Cap Rock Trail: We went here on the recommendation from a ranger at the visitor center. It is a 0.4 mile walking path loop where you can see various rock formations, plants, and information placards talking about the different types of vegetation along the way. Overall, we found it to be very informative and great for young kids. It was an easy walk to do after the Arch Rock Trail.
Keys View Lookout: This isn’t a hike or trail at all, but rather a 0.25 mile loop up to a beautiful vista overlooking the mountains and valley. You can see Palm Springs and the Salton Sea on a clear day. Without a doubt, this is a sight to be seen!
Skull Rock Trail: This 1.7 mile loop has a TON of rock formations to climb on. Skull Rock is right at the beginning of the trail and can even be seen from the road. But I highly recommend continuing on the trail, even if you don’t do the whole thing.
Cholla Cactus Garden: Lastly, we finished with a 0.33 mile walk through the most unique garden we’ve ever seen! The cacti looked like they were glowing in the sunlight. The kids loved looking at these different plants.
Barker Dam Nature Trail: A 1.3 mile “lollipop” loop. We didn’t do this one, but it was on our list! There is a lot to explore here and many side paths that you can do from the main trail. Additionally, there are many rock formations for everyone to climb on!
Split Rock Trail: This is a 2 mile loop that is not as trafficked as some of the others, but provides similar beauty!
Sunset and Stargazing
After some rest time in the afternoon we went back into Joshua Tree to watch the sunset in the Californian desert. The kids played in the sand and climbed on the rocks while we tried to get some great pictures, but also just to enjoy the scenery and calmness of it all. The beauty of a sunset in the desert, with the unique Joshua trees as a backdrop, is hard to beat. We set up camp at the Hidden Valley Campground near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail and waited. As the sun set, we were met with the most amazing colors, clear skies, and gorgeous rays emanating from behind the rock formations and trees. It was undoubtedly, a spectacular site.
We stayed a little while longer to get some views of the amazing stars above. But by this point the kids were getting a little restless, so we packed up and left. Later on, Jon and Dan went back out after the kids’ bedtime with a telescope and great camera and saw the most amazing scenery.
All in all, we had such a great time here! Between its unique desert landscape, beautiful oases, and striking rock formations there is scenery for everyone to enjoy. Plus, hiking with kids at Joshua Tree was extremely fun due to all of the fun boulders to enjoy. We’d love to return and tackle some of the areas we didn’t get to.