Is Joshua Tree Pet Friendly? Yes, but National Parks are not very pet friendly.
The short answer is yes, pets are allowed in Joshua Tree National Park. However, National Parks in the United States are not very dog friendly as dogs are only allowed on a limited number of trails. National Parks generally exclude dogs from the “prettiest trails” but we make it work. At Joshua Tree National Park, dogs are only allowed on roads that cars can drive on. This includes roads that require four wheel vehicles. We have indicated the dog friendly trails on the Joshua Tree Map below but take a look at the official pet friendly trails online in case any rules change.
Winter is the best time to visit Joshua Tree with your Dog
Because of the brutal summer heat, November – March are the best months to visit Joshua Tree with your dog. We visited Joshua Tree National Park in January and found the weather perfect for being outside. Winter in Joshua tree is warm in the sun (mid 60s), cool in the shade, and cold at night. Dress in layers during the day and bundle up at night.
Temperatures start to hit the 80s in April. By May, temperatures are in the mid 80s and then reach the 100s through September. The summer temperatures in Joshua Tree are far beyond the safe threshold for dogs.
Where to stay in Joshua Tree with your Dog
The two closest towns to park entrances are Joshua Tree and Twenty-Nine Palms. We stayed in Joshua Tree in a renovated trailer (get a discount on your first AirBnB stay here) – the trailer had running water, a bathroom, and plenty of Joshua Trees on the property. Some of the most beautiful views we had all weekend were from sunrise and sunset over the dessert from our AirBnb. For a Joshua Tree National Park visit, we recommend staying as close to nature as possible to get the most out of your stay. There are plenty of pet friendly tents, trailers, bungalows, and houses that allow pets and offer an amazing view of the desert. Check out Booking.com for additional pet friendly accommodations.
We watched sunrise each morning and then went into town for coffee at Joshua Tree Coffee Company….
Each evening, we returned back to the trailer to watch the entire sunset from golden hour to dark. We enjoyed pizza from “Pie for the People” by the fire and were asleep by 8pm……
As the sun sets over Joshua Tree, it turns a cotton candy pink. The sky appears even larger than usual in the vastness of the dessert…..
What to Bring to Joshua Tree
- WATER – The only sources of water are at the edges of the park. The nearest source of water may be 45 minutes away. We made the mistake of letting our water run out and had to drive through the entire park to get a refill. Keep all the humans and dogs hydrated -at least two gallons (8 liters) of water per person, per day.
- Portable dog bowl
- Sunscreen (even in the winter)
- Hat (even in the winter)
- Wear Layers (during the winter)
- Hiking boots
Keep Dogs on Leash (Rattlesnakes & Scorpions)
Other than for a few photos, we kept Calvin attached to us. Dogs are to remain on leash by park rules to preserve the ecosystem but also for their own safety – Joshua Tree is home to 7 different types of venomous rattlesnakes. You likely won’t see any on the pet friendly trails as these are wider and more frequented by cars – still keep your dog on the trail at all times.
Map of Pet Friendly Activities in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree Pet Friendly Trails
Dogs are allowed on any “road” that cars are able to drive on and must remain on leash. Below are the roads listed on the National Park Service website as pet friendly. Although these are all considered “roads”, we didn’t see cars on any of them and felt like we were just on any other trail.
All Vehicles Trails
- Bighorn Pass Road: 3.2 miles (5.1 km) one way
- Desert Queen Mine Road: 1.2 miles (1.9 km) one way
- Geology Tour Road (to mile 5.4): 11.7 miles (18.8 km) one way
- Odell Road: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
- Stirrup Tank Road: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
- Queen Valley Road: 2.9 miles (4.7 km)
4 Wheel-Drive Trails
- Berdoo Canyon Road: 11.5 miles (18.5 km)
- Black Eagle Mine Road: 9.6 miles (15.4 km)
- Geology Tour Road (past mile 5.4): 11.7 miles (18.8 km)
- Old Dale Road: 12.6 miles (20.3 km)
- Pinkham Canyon Road: 19.2 miles (30.9 km)
- Covington-area roads: 9.9 miles (15.9 km)
Geology Tour Road:
Geology Tour Road is a flat, wide & sandy trail that offers a full experience of Joshua Trees. The rangers recommended this trail as the best one to check out with a dog. There are restrooms and plenty of parking at the trailhead. The trail continues for more than 10 miles so there is flexibility over how far to walk. We followed the trail for about 5 miles. We passed a few hikers but no cars.
Joshua Tree Picnic Areas are Pet Friendly:
Joshua Tree National Park with your dog can also be enjoyed by stopping at picnic areas to enjoy the atmosphere. Dogs ARE allowed at all campgrounds and picnic areas – The photo below was taken at Keys Ranch Road. Dogs are not allowed on the Keys Ranch trails but they are allowed at the picnic area which lies in the shade of a massive rock formation.
Spend a night in Palm Springs
Whitewater Preserve Trails
On our way home to San Francisco, we stopped at the Whitewater Preserve (30 minutes north of Palm Springs). Check the website beforehand to ensure that the trails are open. The trails will close periodically during wildfire season. We chose the 3.5 mile Canyon View Loop Trail but there are multiple other well marked trails to choose from. Access the trail heads at the end of Whitewater Canyon Road, northwest of Palm Springs, off Interstate 10 (9160 Whitewater Canyon Road). Parking and restrooms are available at the visitors center.