Joshua Tree was declared a national monument by President Roosevelt in 1936 and was declared a national park in 1994. But this region has a rich history that goes back more than 5,000 years. The first indigenous peoples living in the Southern California desert came from the Pinto culture, followed by the Serrano, Chemehuevi and Cahuilla Indian tribes. In the 1800s, the Joshua Tree area became a favorite place for ranchers and gold and silver mining.
The 825,000 hectares of the current Joshua Tree National Park have originally protected largely thanks to Minerva Hoyt. Hoyt was a resident of nearby Pasadena, who had a deep love for desert plants and struggled for years to preserve the area’s native flora and fauna.
HIKING IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
HIDDEN VALLEY NATURE TRAIL (EASY 1 MILE)
Hidden Valley is one of the shortest hikes in Joshua Tree Park. But it offers a good Introduction to the Natural Beauty of the Area. The entire route takes about 30 minutes. Along the way, you will experience large rocks, rocky landscapes and rock walls ideal for climbing.
BARKER DAM TRAIL (1.1 MILES – LIGHT)
If you’re looking for a short 30-minute walk in the desert, the Barker Dam Trail is another easy natural loop that’s also one of Joshua Tree’s best wildlife-watching hikes. Don’t be surprised if you experience mouflons, hares, kangaroo rats and several different bird species along the way.
FORTYNINE PALMS OASIS (3 KM – EASY/MEDIUM)
If you are looking for a slightly more difficult hike, the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail is a good place to start. This hike will take you further into the Joshua Tree countryside and will end with an oasis of palm trees. During the hike, you will come across barrel cacti, rocky canyons, large boulders and, of course, refreshing pools of water in The oasis.
RYAN MOUNTAIN TREK (3 MILES – ADVANCED)
For those who don’t mind a 1,050-foot climb, Ryan Mountain is a popular hike that will take you to the second-highest point in the park at 5,457 feet. This is a great place to hike in Joshua Tree National Park if you are looking for a panoramic view and the possibility of a very good workout.
From the top of Ryan Mountain you can see miles of rock formations, Joshua trees and one of the best views in the National Park. The top is also one of the best places to watch the sunset in Joshua Tree. Just bring a headlamp to light the path on the way down.
LOST HORSE TRAIL OF THE MINES (4 MILES – ADVANCED)
Lost Horse Mine Trail is one of the best moderate hikes in Joshua Tree National Park for those interested in learning more about the area’s pioneering history. This area was a popular place for gold mining before, during and after the California Gold Rush of 1849. At one time there were about 300 different mines in the current national park!
The lost horse mine, located at the end of this hike, is one of the best preserved mines in the park. Throughout the operation, the Mine produced more than 10,000 ounces of gold and 16,000 ounces of silver. The path itself is the path used by miners to transport ore and supplies to the Mine. Hiking here you can travel back in time and walk in the footsteps of the pioneers of the California gold rush.