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Joshua Tree

The town of Joshua Tree lies outside the west entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.  Being unincorporated suits Joshua Tree just fine as this eclectic little town is about as anti-mainstream corporate as you can get.  To many here, Joshua Tree is as much a state of mind, or spirit, as it is a town.

Welcome to Joshua Tree, a small, friendly community comprised of regular folk, spiritual seekers, artists and musicians (some internationally award-winning), flocking here from all over the world to soak up the JT vibe and mingle with like-minded, like-hearted creative souls.  You’ve got yogis, environmentalists, painters, found-object assemblage artists, fauxhemians, hipsters, child TV stars turned bards, guys who monitor the colors around the moon to predict earthquakes, rock climbers from every corner of the globe, gurus, activists, performance artists, a guy who occasionally pushes pianos down the highway for peace, people actually building homes just so they can rent them on Airbnb, folks passing through—for years, European and Asian tourists, LA folks out for the week—it’s a colorful and vibrant little desert village

The result of this lively mix is that there is always a lot going on in and around the town of Joshua Tree. 

Things to Do

Joshua Tree National Park
The Joshua Tree National Park Visitors Center on Park Boulevard just off Route 62, offers visitors up-to-date park information, sells passes, and can help with camping and hiking suggestions, where to look for wildflowers in season, and how best to plan your time if you’re on a tight schedule.

Before heading into the park, remember to gas up the car, and bring plenty of water and food as there are no services inside the park.  You can get everything you need in town.

Arts & Local Culture Abound
Browse art galleries and shops and grab a bite to eat before heading up Park Boulevard toward the national park entrance.  Don’t forget East JT—the little maze of shops, art galleries, and The World Famous Crochet Museum at Art Queen, on the east side of the Joshua Tree Saloon.   The museum (it’s in the back of the courtyard) is located in an old film processing kiosk, and is curated by Bunny, a crocheted alligator.  Galleries in Joshua Tree host opening receptions that often include live music performances, usually during the monthly Second Saturday gallery crawl.

When you’re downtown in Joshua Tree, a stop at the Beauty Bubble Salon & Museum is in order.  Hairstorian Jeff Hafler’s creation, the Beauty Bubble exhibits vintage hair salon equipment, advertising, hair products, and fun kitschy novelty items.   Wondering what an 1883 kerosene-fueled curling iron oven looks like?  Wonder no more.

The Harrison House hosts excellent performances of international music and dance in an intimate setting (often along with a resident art show), while the Hi-Desert Cultural Center offers concerts, comedy, and touring shows.

Downtown, the Joshua Tree Saloon offers live music, both indoors and out, and an open mic night.  Other informal arts and music events take place at a variety of properties in and around Joshua Tree.

The Joshua Tree Retreat Center (also known as the Ding Le Mei Institute of Mentalphysics), hosts a broad range of events and festivals on their extensive grounds  The oldest and largest retreat center in the western U.S., the center was designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd.

Fans of outdoor art installations won’t want to miss the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Art Museum in north Joshua Tree, a fantastical collection of assemblage art structures and installations on a 10 acre site (donated by artists Debby Brewer and Ed Ruscha), and a photographer’s delight.

Purifoy, who died in 2004, was an artist whose earliest works of sculpture were constructed from the charred rubble of the 1965 Watts riots (he was a founding member of the Watts Towers Art Center).  His work is found in the collections of the LA County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and others, and has been exhibited at the UCLA Hammer Museum, MOMA, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Martin-Gropius-Bau (Berlin), and additional venues.

One of the desert’s best natural resources is our night skies, and the Joshua Tree Astronomy Arts Theater, based at Joshua Tree Lake RV Campground, has found a way to make the beauty of the heavens accessible for everyone.  Their night sky presentations include projection of stellar imagery for easy viewing, accompanied by live musical performances.

Life in Joshua Tree is filled with festivals and celebrations, performances and presentations.  The spirit of country rock music pioneer, Gram Parsons, lives on in the spring and fall Joshua Tree Music Festival, and the frequent and informal concerts and performances that take place around town.

A weekly farmer’s market on Saturdays provides a delectable variety of locally grown certified produce, ranging from organic cheeses and veggies, to Greek foods, dates, breads, fresh flowers, and a variety of arts and crafts vendors.

And when you’re filled with all the music, art, dance, yoga, shopping, and dining you desire, the desert awaits.  Nearby Coyote Hole and Section 6/Desert View Conservation Area, offer Native American petroglyphs, rock formations, hiking, bike and horse trails, and more (day use only), while in north Joshua Tree, free dispersed camping is allowed on BLM lands.  See our website for location and information.

Visitor tip: Visitors often drive straight to the town of Joshua Tree and then look for a restaurant.  As a result, restaurants in Joshua Tree often have lines.  Try Yucca Valley dining.

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