Palm Springs and Joshua Tree Outdoor Itinerary (2024)

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Want to know the best outdoor Palm Springs and Joshua Tree itinerary? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

For our first anniversary, we went on a weekend getaway to Palm Springs.

It was my first time visiting and we’ve gone at least half a dozen times since.

We wanted to see and do as much as possible, especially all the outdoorsy stuff, so we included a day trip out to Joshua Tree National Park in our itinerary.

You can see our full experience on this getaway in this video on our YouTube Channel.

on the top of Mt San Jacinto in Palm Springs

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Palm Springs and Joshua Tree Outdoor Itinerary

Some of the highlights of this trip include a trip up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a day trip out to Joshua Tree, and our most recommended dining spots and resorts.

➡ Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

To start off our trip, we took the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up Mt. San Jacinto.

It was February, so it was pretty warm in the desert and I was wearing a tank top and shorts.

The thought didn’t occur to me how much colder it would be at the top, since I had only ever lived in Ohio and Florida where there isn’t any elevation change.

Luckily I had my jacket and brought it up with me because there was still snow up at the top of the mountain.

Once we got to the top of the mountain we stopped at the restaurant for lunch.

It was a nice view overlooking the mountain.

From there we decided to follow one of the shorter trails around.

We don’t usually hike more than a few miles at a time, so this place was perfect.

It started with a bunch of switchbacks heading down from the building to the start of the trails.

We were dreading having to go back up them at the end, however, it did help us stay warm.

➡ Joshua Tree National Park Itinerary

The next day we ventured out to Joshua Tree National Park.

I had a complete itinerary planned based off of how much we felt like getting out and about that day.

We used a couple different blog itineraries as a base, but just picked through what we wanted and what we had time for.

It was early February so the weather was great and hardly anyone was there.

? Cottonwood Springs Visitor Center – Palm Oasis Trail

We started at the Cottonwood Springs Visitor Center since that is the end of the park we were closest to.

We took the short trail to the palm oasis and headed back out to other areas.

The trail went on much further though.

The Palm Oasis Trail at the Cottonwood Springs Visitor Center in Joshua Tree National Park

? Cholla Cactus Garden

Next we drove to the Cholla Cactus Garden.

This trail was a short boardwalk loop.

? Skull Rock

Our next stop was Skull Rock.

It’s a very short walk to get to the rock itself, but you can take the trail around further if you’d like.

The next part is where we skipped over a bunch of the online itinerary we planned our day off of.

? Lost Horse Mine Trail

We knew we wouldn’t have time to do everything, so we skipped ahead to the Lost Horse Mine trail.

We had really wanted to do the Barker Dam as well, but had to choose between the two.

Knowing what I know now, I would skip the Lost Horse Mine.

It was a 4 mile hike there and back, longer if you take the loop back instead, and it was pretty underwhelming.

If this hike was maybe only a mile I’d recommend it, but it was not worth the 4 miles in our opinion.

? Keys View – Sunset Views

We ended our night at Keys View for sunset.

From there we were able to see the entire valley, Salton Sea, and even some points in Mexico.

After the sun set we continued on to the park exit, but stayed there for about an hour or so to see the stars.

We didn’t wait until the middle of the night so we didn’t see them at their brightest, but we definitely saw more stars than we do in Anaheim.

Joshua Tree National Park Popular Tours

If you think you’d like a little more guidance when visiting Joshua Tree National Park, I highly recommend this self-driving audio tour.

We’ve done these around Maui and for other tours in Palm Springs and it’s a cheap, easy way to see what you want on your own.

? Click Here To Download Your Joshua Tree National Park Self-Driving Audio Tour Today!

Now if you prefer taking a tour with a group and having a tour guide so you don’t have to do any of the driving or the planning, then this Joshua Tree Offroad Tour is the perfect fit.

Sometimes it’s nice to hand over all the work to someone else so you can enjoy your trip!

? Click Here To Download Your Joshua Tree National Park Offroad Driving Tour Today!

Where To Stay Near Palm Springs and Joshua Tree

On our many trips out to Palm Springs over the years, we’ve tried to stay at different resorts each time to always experience something new.

These are our top 3 resorts in Palm Springs that we recommend most.

✔️ Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa

We were offered a glass of wine as we checked in, we were escorted to our room, and it was so peaceful and quiet.

A perfect anniversary getaway.

This resort is now under new ownership since we stayed here, but it still has all the same qualities that made it a great place for an anniversary weekend.

? Click Here To Book Your Miramonte Resort & Spa Indian Wells Stay Today

✔️ Palm Canyon Resort

Palm Canyon Resort is the premiere timeshare resort in Palm Springs.

We love staying here for fun stay-cations every so often because it’s always discounted within 30-60 days or less of travel.

They have a great pool with a hot tub and water slides built into the rocks.

view from Palm Canyon Resort

Click Here To Book Your Palm Canyon Resort Stay Today!

✔️ Worldmark Indio

WorldMark Indio is in a suburb on the outskirts of the Greater Palm Springs area.

We love this resort for it’s pool with a lazy river and how spacious the rooms are.

It’s also way more affordable than the simple hotel rooms in Palm Springs, while also having more amenities like a full kitchen.

WorldMark Indio view from patio

Click Here To Book Your Worldmark Indio Stay Today!

More Fun Things To Do In Palm Springs

If you’re looking for a weekend getaway itinerary where you’re staying local to the Palm Springs area and not driving out to Joshua Tree, we’ve got you covered.

✔ The Perfect Weekend In Palm Springs

If you love the mid-century modern design in Palm Springs, love to treat yourself at hot springs day spas, and love shopping and dining, then this is the itinerary for you!

We share all of our top dining recommendations in this post too!

Tips For Planning Your Trip To Palm Springs And Joshua Tree

For tips on visiting Joshua Tree National Park, check out our guide on How To Plan A National Park Road Trip + What Parks To Visit.

If you need more help planning your trip to Palm Springs, check out our Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide).

Keep in mind that Winter travel is a little different from other times of the year.

Read our Best Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather and Best Tips For Staying Well While You Travel.

Also be sure to plan ahead for any potential of Snow.

Lastly, if you’re traveling on a budget, read up on our Best Tips For Traveling On A Budget: Your Guide To Planning An Affordable Trip.

Conclusion: Palm Springs and Joshua Tree Outdoor Itinerary

A Palm Springs and Joshua Tree itinerary go hand in hand for a great weekend getaway experience.

Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll get the best of both worlds with snow up on Mount San Jacinto and the heat of the desert out in Joshua Tree.