This campground is the perfect place to truly experience the magic that is Joshua Tree. From climbers coffee on the weekends hosted by the park rangers, to boulder problems right in your campsite, to world class classic climbs feet from your car, the Hidden Valley Campground offers everything you could imagine for a Joshua Tree experience.
If you are not a climber, don't worry! This site offers beautiful hikes, scrambles to explore, and hikes nearby. The desert is beautiful and Hidden Valley offers a little bit of everything.
Notes: This is a very popular campsite - it is not free, and sometimes you will have to drive around for a while to find a spot.
Cons: No water, busy
Pros: Beautiful, LOADS of climbs, lots of people to meet and climb with if you come alone or with friends
The Pinnacles Campground offers a variety of sections to fit the need of most every type of camper. There are two sections to the park - an east and a west side which are not connected very easily unless you hike through the Pinnacles themselves. However, the main Campground offers a ranger station and store that provides books, snacks, and information on the park. There is wifi and a pool and showers available. Sections include group sites (which were the ones I stayed at), good for families, school trips, or camps, and more family style camps, and places where you can glamp in your RV fully equipped with hook ups.
The pinnacles is unique because they are one of two spots in California where you can see the California Condors, a huge giant scavenging bird that almost became extinct. From the campsite you can watch them soar back to their roosts in the higher Pinnacles through binoculars. Truly a wonderful experience.
Cons: Watch out for the raccoons. They will eat everything you don't lock away!
This campsite is located outside the park proper and is great for families, school groups, or camps to stay together in a larger area isolated from some of the other craziness that occurs within the park. Access to the rest of the park is available via hiking trails or by driving out and around through to the entrance in Joshua Tree the town.
Pros: Boulders to scramble on, great roped climbing within minutes of the campsites, Water just at the end of the road at the ranger station (no water is in the national park), close to 29 Palms and Joshua Tree the town. These sites are easily accessible and close to everything.
Cons: there are no actual Joshua Trees growing here, but there are a great variety of other desert plants to learn about and see (silver cholla, pencil cholla, yucca plants, etc. )