Destination: Joshua Tree National Park
If Yosemite National Park is the park to go to in Northern California, then Joshua Tree National Park is the must see park in Southern California. True, it has some competition from Death Valley National Park, but Joshua Tree has a landscape and beauty that’s all its own. Plus you don’t want to miss the very unique Joshua Tree for which the park is named.
Since Joshua Tree National park is an almost 8-hour drive from our shop in San Jose, we suggest splitting the drive across 2 days with a pit stop on the first day at Bakersfield. Bakersfield is about a 4 hour drive from San Jose, and that is probably the max amount of hours you want to tow, especially if it’s your first time towing an Airstream. We stayed at Bakersfield River Run RV park, which is your standard suburban RV park with full hook-ups. Nothing particularly exciting about this RV park, but at least you can take long hot showers, send some last minute emails, unhitch to get gas in the truck, and organize your Airstream in preparation for some dry-camping at Joshua Tree.
From Bakersfield to Joshua Tree it’s another 4 hours or so. We recommend not taking I-5 that goes through LA since driving a trailer through LA traffic is not fun and either routes through Victorville or Barstow would probably be better.
Glamping at Joshua Tree
There are multiple campgrounds at Joshua Tree, with 4 of them available for reservations. We highly recommend making reservations ahead of time since the number of RV spots are limited per campground and that’s especially true if you are renting one of our larger Airstreams (25′ or longer). Joshua Tree is also a very popular national park and thus reservations and camping spots will fill up fast. Only two of the campgrounds, Black Rock and Cottonwood, have dumping stations and water refill stations, which is convenient if you plan to stay for awhile or end up not rationing your water well. However, if you’re feeling confident in your water conservation skills then Jumbo Rocks (pictured below) is also a great campground and quite unique too due to the massive boulders that provide shade around the campsite. But you can’t go wrong with any of the campgrounds at Joshua tree!
There are also multiple private RV parks outside of the national park if you can’t get a reservation or rather have some hook-ups. And lastly, boondocking or dispersed camping is a possibility on BLM land outside of the national park, however we highly advise against doing it since you risk damaging the Airstream by driving over the unpaved and rugged land. If you are an experienced tower and would like to try it, just please let us know ahead of time so that we may advise you on the best way to boondock.
What to do there
Like every national park, there are a multitude of things to do at Joshua Tree. Our favorite activity is hiking, and there are a plethora of hikes available in this large national park. One of our favorites was Cottonwood Springs (pictured below), where the palms in this desert oasis reach gargantuan heights.
We also visited Skull Rock and Jumbo Rocks campground. And we also drove up to Keys View to take in the sights (pictured below).
There are so many things to do and places to visit within Joshua Tree, unique because it is the meeting point of 2 distinct desert biomes. And it really is the perfect place to take the Airstream road trip you’ve been dreaming of!