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Ok I went here hoping to spend more than 24 hrs and explore and what not but I stuck out like a sore thumb with a military truck and decent travel trailer. Theirs TOOO much need in this community (comparable to skid row if your familiar but in the desert) This is more than just DISPERSED camping where you pull over and kick back. Its literally survival at all times because that’s what THEY are doing in the desert. I could not sleep with all the evening noises and people tweaking/high on something walking around. That all said Salvation Mountain is pretty amazing and safe due to its state protected and at entrance into the Slabs so it’s well traveled. So much LOVE went into it. Do drive around the outskirts of the slabs some too and you’ll find plenty of random desert art that Slabs City is known for.
This is one of the only options along the I10 southern entrance to Joshua Tree NP. Not sure why this app list it as $25. This is a place to park off the road near the south entrance. I would be cautious leaving valuables unattended if breaking away from camp to explore, can be lots of riff raff, our stay was nice and is a great free overnight option.
This FREE (not sure why it shows up as $25 on this app) dispersed camp area is perfect for convenience to JTNP, although at the south entrance. Easy to find spots, even in the dark. I stayed here the night of January 3rd. Flat and sandy areas with lots of rock fire rings (check fire status though! It was a no burn time when I was there).
See other reviews for good descriptions of directions from I-10. Very simple.
To get to the north part of JTNP it takes about 1 hour through the park (BEAUTIFUL drive), to Black Rock Canyon for trail heads about 1.5 hours. You can drive through the park before park hours if needed. The cottonwood springs visitors center opens at 8:30, but you can get a pass in another place.
One downside, you can hear (faintly) and see I-10 but no big deal!
Would stay here again!
We rolled in after dark and found a spot super easy that was secluded and perfect for tent camping. We had a nice hike in the morning before heading back to Julian for pie :)
Went before Thanksgiving weekend for a few nights. SUPER busy over the weekend and emptied out by Sunday night. Basically camping anarchy - people setting up all over the place - but you can only start fires in the provided fire ring. Some sites are exposed others super secluded. Sound definitely carries over the little valley, but people kept it low key by 10pmish.
Arrive early to get a nice site.
Great hikes that start right from the campground.
We are novice campers - didn't have sand tent pegs so with a little wind on the day we arrived it took some time to find the right site for us which really was only after the wind died down after 4pm. Picture a few frustrated moments here while wind picked up tent and wife….. :)
Lesson learned, take sand capable tent pegs and set up site later in the day and not on a nice hill.
Once the wind died down we found a site and settled in for a lovely night.
Awesome caves and walking around the area. Spectacular must do trip when around the area.
I researched this spot a ton and was hesitant to go - mostly because my 1987 VW Westfalia isn’t 4WD, and everything I read said you must have an off road vehicle, but the area looked beautiful and we didn’t have lots of campground options based on COVID park closures so we went.
I’m glad we did.
Box Canyon Road - the main road that goes right through Mecca Hills is paved and that drive alone was worth it. Beautiful.
The reviews were right that my car couldn’t make it to Painted Canyon or Mecca Wilderness Campground (a bit past Painted Canyon), but because it’s BLM land there’s dispersed camping anywhere off Box Canyon Road, which was amazing.
We saw old campfire pits all over and we pulled off on a dirt road that didn’t need 4WD, found a man made rock pit and setup shop. It was around a mountain so we felt totally isolated.
I had to be careful where to drive as there’s lots of sand but it was great. Glad we went. There were two other cars within site of us doing the same thing.
We had a great fire that night and enjoyed the stars and solitude.
This campground (and I use the term loosely) is everything that I love about BLM land - dispersed, quiet, and FREE! No amenities and not a ton of privacy for outdoor bathroom usage, but not crowded enough for it to matter. Tons of spaces along several different dirt roads. Rock fire pits at most every campsite, the majority of which are flat and not too sandy.
When coming from I10, head towards Joshua Tree NP and just before the NP sign (can’t be more than a couple hundred feet), you’ll see dirt roads going both left and right - we went right and had no issue on the road with our Subaru Crosstrek and small tow-behind popup camper, although it could’ve been more difficult for 2WD vehicles.
Be aware that although this camping is super close to the park, the majority of park attractions and hikes are in the north end, so be prepared to drive through. However, it is super close (about 10 mins) to the Cottonwood Visitor Center, which has 24/7 bathrooms (I think?), and the Lost Palms Oasis Trail. Nearest gas station is in Chiriaco Summit, about 13 minutes away, and nearest city is Indio, which is about 35 minutes.
Loved this dispersed campground and the beautiful hike, really glad to have found this place. Stars at night and a really bright moon. Got stuck in the sand and had to be towed out, thanks to some really sweet hikers 💗 awd highly recommend.
This was one of our first camping spots as a family back in September 2020. We borrowed a 1985 VW Westfalia (now we own one). My sister and her family of four came in their suburban & tent. We shared a $20 camping spot.
We drove in from Orange County CA and reserved our spot online. The campground was 85% full and was a little loud with larger groups next to us, but was beautiful.
We brought our large golden retriever, which was great but they don’t allow dogs on trails so that was a bummer while we nicked during the days.
It was hot and there were lots of bee’s and no campfires but still worth it. Skull Rock trail was worth it with our five year old. Totally kid friendly.
We’ll come back for sure. Was a good intro to camping for us.