Difficulty PG Distance 2.1 to 5 miles General information: Hikes with free parking Rating: 7-8 San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Mountains & Joshua Tree Season: Fall/Early Winter

Fortynine Palms Oasis (Joshua Tree National Park)


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Fortynine Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree National Park
Fortynine Palms Oasis, Joshua Tree National Park
View of the desert from the trail to Fortynine Palms
View of the desert from the trail to Fortynine Palms

Fortynine Palms Oasis  (Joshua Tree National Park)

  • Location: Near Twentynine Palms.  From I-10, take Highway 62 northeast for 38.6 miles.  Shortly past the turnoff for Indian Cove, turn right on Canyon Road (signed for Joshua Tree).  Go 0.9 miles and bear left at the fork, following it 0.7 miles to the parking area.
  • Agency: Joshua Tree National Park
  • Distance: 3 miles
  • Elevation gain: 650 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 2 hours
  • Best season:  October – April (day use only; gate shuts at sunset)
  • USGS topo map: “Queen Mountain”
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles; sunblock; sun hat
  • Recommended guidebook: Best Easy Day Hikes Joshua Tree National Park
  • More information:  here; Yelp page here; Everytrail report here
  • Rating: 8
0:00 - Fortynine Palms trail head
0:00 – Fortynine Palms trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized version)

This interesting hike leaves out of a lightly visited day-use area on the northern border of Joshua Tree National Park.  In addition to the palms at the oasis, you may also see barrel cacti and creosote – but, ironically, no Joshua trees.   The Yucca brevifolia only grows in the higher-altitude areas of the park.

0:02 - Climbing the steps (times are approximte)
0:02 – Climbing the steps (times are approximte)

From the parking area, pass by the information boards and begin climbing up stairs carved into the rocks. A surprisingly vigorous ascent yields nice views of Twentynine Palms and the surrounding desert. The rock formations are visually striking as well.

0:21 - View of Twentynine Palms from the trail
0:21 – View of Twentynine Palms from the trail

The trail levels out and you start beginning your descent into the canyon, getting your first look at the palms. Negotiating more stairs, you follow the west rim of the canyon (if you’re hiking in the afternoon, the sun will likely be blocked out by the walls of rock, making this stretch pleasantly cool.)

0:25 - View of the oasis from the top of the ridge
0:25 – View of the oasis from the top of the ridge

Finally, at 1.5 miles from the start, you arrive at the oasis, passing by a small group of palms and continuing to the trail’s end, just before the larger cluster. Here you get nice views of the trees and the surrounding hills. Looking down through the canyon, you can see the town.

0:37 - Descending into the canyon
0:37 – Descending into the canyon

If you’re lucky, you may see a bighorn sheep drinking out of the oasis. Even if you don’t, this hike is a worthwhile trip. If you’re making a day out of Joshua Tree, you can combine it with a longer hike such as Warren Peak, and if you’re spending multiple days in the area, it should definitely be part of the plan.

1:00 - Looking back down the canyon from the oasis
1:00 – Looking back down the canyon from the oasis

Text and photography copyright 2013 by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

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