Is Joshua Tree free at night? 2024 Easy Guide

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

By Chris Klein

Updated:

Are you looking to escape the city? Are you dreaming of a night under the stars in one of America’s most beautiful national parks?

If so, then look no further than Joshua Tree National Park!

But is Joshua Tree free at night?

No, Joshua Tree is not free at night (in most cases). You will need to purchase an entrance pass. The cost starts as low as $5. There are some free days per year you can enter the Park.

In this article, you get

A list of the days of the year it’s free to enter Joshua Tree National Park!

Information on where to buy your entrance pass

Tips on which pass you should buy

Advice for photographers and stargazers

Safety precautions for visiting Joshua Tree at night

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the info you need to head to Joshua Tree at night.

Let’s dive right in.

OVERVIEW OF JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK’S 24/7 ACCESS

Joshua Tree National Park Entrance Sign

Joshua Tree National Park is open 24 hours a day and is accessible via one of three entrances.

You can drive in and out of the Park any time of day or night. The gates are left open when nobody is working the entrance stations.

There are three entrances to Joshua Tree National Park.

  • The West Entrance is the most popular. If you’re visiting during a busy season, try one of the other two. The West Entrance in Joshua Tree is off Highway 247.
  • The North Entrance in Twentynine Palms off of Highway 62
  • The South Entrance off Interstate 10 near Cottonwood Springs

It is important to note that the Park does not have any lodging.

You must bring your camping supplies, food, and water.

There is no electricity, water, or cell reception in the Park.

It is essential to bring at least one gallon of water per person.

HOW TO PURCHASE AN ENTRANCE PASS

If you plan on visiting Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll need to purchase an entrance pass. There are several different types of passes available, depending on your needs.

It is free to enter Joshua Tree National Park on the following days

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day
  • First day of National Park Week: the 3rd Saturday of April
  • Great American Outdoors Act Signing Day: August 4
  • National Public Lands Day: the 4th Saturday in September
  • Veterans Day: November 11

joshua tree entrance fee

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL ANNUAL PARKS PASS

The America the Beautiful Annual Parks Pass is the most common pass.

It covers you and all your guests at all US National Parks for 12 months. It costs $80. You can buy the pass online or at any of the three entrances at Joshua Tree.

If you plan to visit three or more parks in a year, it’s best to purchase the annual pass.

You want to save money, right?

SINGLE ENTRY PERMIT: joshua tree day pass

If you’re only visiting for a day, you can buy a single-entry permit for just $5.

7-DAY PASS

If you’re planning to stay for a few days, I recommend you buy the 7-day pass for $30.

DISCOUNTED PASSES

There are discounted passes for the military, seniors (age 62 and over), and fourth-grade students.

The Annual Military Pass is free and provides access to the Park for one year.

The Senior Pass and Access Pass are available for $80. They are valid for life.

The Every Kid Outdoors pass is available to fourth-grade students and is free for one year.

HOW TO PURCHASE AN ENTRANCE PASS ONLINE

Purchasing your park pass online is easy.

Visit the recreation.gov website, select the type of pass you’d want, and pay the fee.

I recommend buying your pass before you arrive. You want to maximize your time in the Park, right?

You can also purchase your pass at any visitor center or entrance station.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS TO CONSIDER

Before you embark on your nighttime adventure in Joshua Tree National Park, there are a few safety precautions to consider.

BRING PLENTY OF WATER BOTTLES

It can get surprisingly hot during the day and cold at night.

It’s essential to stay hydrated.

BEWARE OF THE WILDLIFE

Even though the Park is open 24/7, it is still a wilderness area.

Wildlife like rattlesnakes, scorpions, and spiders live there.

NIGHT VISION

Use a flashlight or headlamp with red light. The red color helps your eyes adjust to the dark.

Don’t look at your phone’s bright white screen at night. It will ruin your night vision.

WHAT YOU’LL SEE WHEN YOU VISIT JOSHUA TREE AT NIGHT

You won’t be disappointed if you’re like me and enjoy exploring Joshua Tree after dark.

If you’re wondering, “Is Joshua Tree good for stargazing?” the quick answer is yes.

You can enjoy the breathtaking views and take in the night sky any time of day or night. The stars, in particular, are something to behold.

This is why you’re here, right?

You’ll be able to see an incredible number of stars due to the Park’s remote location and lack of light pollution. And that’s just one of the many things you can experience when visiting Joshua Tree at night.

Whether you’re a photographer looking for great nighttime shots or just a nature enthusiast, there’s something for all of us in this majestic National Park.

To help plan your visit, and for some excellent Joshua Tree National Park photos, read my article on the Best time to go Stargazing at Joshua Tree.

Best time to go to Joshua Tree for stargazing
Best Time To Go To Joshua Tree For Stargazing photo courtesy of Justin Emord

FREE STARGAZING CHECKLIST

My 5-page Stargazing Checklist will enhance your astronomical observations.

Follow this free checklist to navigate the night sky with confidence, clarity, and a sense of preparedness for a rewarding stargazing experience.

Free Stargazing Checklist

ADVICE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS

If you’re a photographer like me, we must be extra careful at night.

  • Clothing: It’s important to wear bright clothing. Reflective clothing is even better.
  • Light: Bring a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries. You want to see where you’re going, right?
  • Wildlife: You’ll also want to know about potential wildlife and natural hazards, such as cacti and cliffs.
  • Friends: When exploring the Park in the dark, you should bring a friend or two. You can look out for each other.
  • Camera Gear: Plan what equipment you’ll need. You’ll want a fast, wide-angle lens to capture the Milky Way. Or do you want to make some star trails? Either way, make sure you bring your tripod and remote shutter release.

TIPS FOR FINDING GREAT NIGHTTIME PHOTOGRAPHY SPOTS IN JOSHUA TREE

If this is your first visit to Joshua Tree, you’re probably wondering, “Where are the best spots for photography?”

Luckily, I’ve provided you with some great resources.

Joshua Tree National Park is an excellent spot for nighttime photography.

Stargazing is a popular nighttime activity. The night sky at Joshua Tree is perfect for capturing the Milky Way.

To capture the Milky Way’s Galactic Center, visit Joshua Tree during Milky Way Season.

When Can I See The Milky Way In Joshua Tree

The Keys View lookout near the Park’s western entrance offers stunning views of the night sky and surrounding desert landscape.

The Cholla Cactus Garden in the southeastern region of the Park is another excellent spot to capture the stars.

Apps like Photopills can help you find the best compositions for nighttime photography in Joshua Tree.

ADVICE ON SETTING UP THE PERFECT NIGHTTIME SHOT IN JOSHUA TREE

Are you new to nighttime photography? If so, I have some tips for you.

  • Taking Joshua Tree photos at night is a much different experience than during the day.
  • The light sources are different. You’ll need to consider the moon’s phase and the type of lighting equipment you will use.
  • Cacti, nocturnal animals, and uneven surfaces may be difficult to see at night. Using a red light to check your viewing area for any potential hazards is essential.
  • Avoid taking photos during a full moon. It can wash out the stars in your photos. To learn more, read my article Can you still see stars with a full moon in Joshua Tree?

With these simple tips in mind, you’ll be ready to capture breathtaking shots of Joshua Tree in the dark!

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK FAQS

Can you Go to Joshua Tree at night?

Yes, you can go to Joshua Tree at night as the park is open 24/7. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution due to potentially dark conditions and wildlife activity. Ensure you have proper camping permits if staying overnight, and make the most of the park’s renowned stargazing opportunities, as Joshua Tree is a designated Dark Sky Park.

HOW MUCH IS THE ENTRANCE FEE TO JOSHUA TREE?

The Joshua Tree National Park entrance fee is $30 per carload, valid for seven days. For single entries, the fee is only $5. If you plan to visit the Park multiple times, or multiple parks in a year, you should buy an Annual Pass. There are some days of the year when it’s free to enter the Park.

WHERE ARE THE THREE ENTRANCES TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK?

The three entrances to Joshua Tree National Park are the West Entrance near Yucca Valley and the town of Joshua Tree, the North Entrance near Twentynine Palms off Highway 62, and the South Entrance off Interstate 10 near Cottonwood Springs. Joshua Tree National Park is open 24/7 and offers a unique nighttime experience. You can buy your entrance pass online before you arrive.

SUMMARY: can you enter joshua tree at night?

I hope you enjoyed reading my article “Is Joshua Tree free at night?”

You will need to purchase an entrance pass for at least $5. You may quality for a free pass.

The park gates are open 24/7.

It is free to enter Joshua Tree National Park on the following days: Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day, the 3rd Saturday of April (The first day of National Park Week), August 4 (Great American Outdoors Act Signing Day), the 4th Saturday in September (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

For even more tips to help you plan your trip, read my article about what you need for stargazing Joshua Tree.

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About the Author

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

Chris Klein is an amateur astronomy advisor, astrophotographer, and entrepreneur. Go here to read his incredible story "From $50,000 in Debt to Award-Winning Photographer Living in Switzerland". If you want to send Chris a quick message, then visit his contact page here.

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