RV Camping at Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park is a special experience
About Indian Cove Campground
Indian Cove Campground is located on the north side of Joshua Tree National Park off of Highway 62. The campground is situated at the end of a dead end road. This makes it a quiet place to rest, relax and escape the crowds within the main area of the park.
The campground is set among the huge rock formations that bring visitors to Joshua Tree. The boulders provide many of the campsites with great views as well as privacy. Camping under the stars amidst these huge boulders is an unforgettable experience.
Hikers will find several trails beginning at the campground. Rock climbers (and those who enjoy watching them) will enjoy the many climbing routes around the campground. Novice climbers can try their hand at scrambling up the rock formations that abound within the area.
Indian Cove has 91 individual campsites. Most campsites at Indian Cove can accommodate an RV or travel trailer of up to 25 feet. Eight sites can accommodate a maximum combined length of 35 feet. Be sure to check the restrictions for each site prior to booking.
Does Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park Accommodate RVs?
RV campers planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park have eight unique campgrounds to choose from. RVs and travel trailers are welcome at Indian Cove Campground, Ryan, Black Rock, Cottonwood, Hidden Valley, Jumbo Rocks, Belle and White Tank campgrounds in Joshua Tree.
Not all campsites in these campgrounds will accommodate campers and RVs so be sure to check the site requirements before booking. The largest campsites in the park can accommodate RVs of up to 35 feet. If your rig is larger than this, consider camping on the Bureau of Land Management land just outside of the park.
Are Reservations Needed at Indian Cove?
Joshua Tree has quickly become one of the most visited national parks in the country. As a result, campground reservations are recommended throughout much of the year.
Campgrounds usually fill from October through May, even during the week. To make sure you have a campsite, you can make a reservation in advance, visit in the off-season or get to the park early the day you plan to begin your stay to try to find an open site.
Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance on recreation.gov
During the summer months, all campsites are first-come, first-served and there is usually plenty of space available. Some campgrounds occasionally close during the summer so stop at a ranger station or visitor center when you arrive to make sure the campground you plan to visit is open.
Are There RV Hookups at Indian Cove Campground?
There are no electric, water or sewer hookups at any of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree. At Indian Cove Campground, there are vault toilets. No potable water is available at the campground so be sure to bring enough for your stay.
Generators can be used in the campground during designated hours. Generators are allowed from 7 a.m.- 9 a.m., noon-2 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
What is the Weather Like in Joshua Tree National Park?
Joshua Tree is located in the high desert region of California. Temperatures in the summer can reach very high temperatures, well over 100 degrees, on a daily basis. This makes the summer months very hot and even dangerous for hiking within the park.
During the fall, winter and spring the weather is mild and dry with average temperatures between 70 and 90 degrees during the day and 40 to 60 degrees at night. Rain is rare at Joshua Tree with the park getting less than 8 inches per year. Many people come to the area during the winter months to take advantage of the warm, dry climate.
Best Times to Visit Joshua Tree National Park
The main consideration when visiting Joshua Tree National Park is trying to avoid the heat. During the summer months, the park regularly has temperatures over 100 degrees, making it unpleasant and even dangerous. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very real risks to visitors so please exercise caution if you choose to visit during the summer.
To enjoy the many hiking trails and outdoor activities that Joshua Tree has to offer, it is best to visit in the spring, fall or winter. The spring, in particular, is a great time to visit for pleasant weather and the wildflowers are also in full bloom.
Because of the great weather and abundance of wildflowers, spring is also the busiest time of year in the park. You can still avoid crowds during this time of year by planning ahead. If possible try to visit the park during the week as the weekends bring a surge of visitors to the park. Try to avoid visiting around major holidays if you can.
How Much Does RV Camping at Indian Cove Campground Cost?
There is a $20 per night fee for camping at Indian Cove.
Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree is a large park full of beautiful landscapes and fascinating rock formations. It is best explored on one of the many hiking trails or by taking a scenic drive through the park.
To stay safe and fully enjoy the park, you must remember that you are in the desert. This is a harsh environment that while beautiful, can also be deadly if you are unprepared. The majority of the park does not have cell service so make sure you know the location of the nearest emergency phone before you set out on a hike.
Even on a short hike you will need to bring water, food and sunscreen. Sturdy, closed-toed shoes are a must along with a first aid kit. Dressing in layers can help you adapt to the quickly changing temperatures in the desert environment. If you plan to venture off of the trail to check out any of the rock formations in the park, you could easily lose your way. A map and compass are highly recommended if you plan to go off of the trail to explore.
Once you have taken the proper safety precautions, it is time to have some fun in this amazing place! Here are our recommendations for the top things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.
Indian Cove Nature Trail
This 0.6 mile long nature trail begins at the west end of the Indian Cove Campground. It is an easy loop with lots of information on native plants and their traditional uses by Native Americans.
During the spring, this trail offers a wonderful look at the wildflowers that thrive in this environment. Be sure to stay on the trail so that you do not damage the fragile root systems of the flowers.
Boy Scout Trail
For those looking for an adventure, the Boy Scout Trail is a great hike. The challenging 8 mile trail begins in the Indian Cove area and provides a look at the rocks of Joshua Tree that few get to see. If you are interested in doing the entire trail, consider having a shuttle pick you up at the end of the trail.
Indian Cove Campground Amphitheater Ranger Talks
One of the great things about staying at Indian Cove is having easy access to the evening ranger talks that take place most nights in the amphitheater. From rock climbing to park history to native plants and animals, the ranger talks offer something for all ages and interests. Be sure to check the program schedule for information on ranger talks.
Oasis Visitor Center
Named for the Oasis of Mara that is located just behind it, the Oasis Visitor Center is the closest visitor center to Indian Cove. An easy half-mile walk from the center will bring you to the oasis, a unique experience for visitors. While at the Visitor Center you can attend a ranger talk, browse the gift shop and get advice on what to do while you are in the park.
Geology Tour Road
If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle the Geology Tour Road is a must do during your time at Joshua Tree. This 18-mile road leads you through a quiet, remote area of the park. There are 16 stops along the way and the views along opportunity to view plants and wildlife cannot be beat.
While the first part of the trail is passable for most passenger vehicles, you will see signs indicating when the road becomes four-wheel drive only. The adventure begins as you wind through the open space and get a different look at the wonder of Joshua Tree. Keep in mind that this road is not suitable for RVs or travel trailers.
Hidden Valley Trail
One of the most popular trails in Joshua Tree is the Hidden Valley Loop Trail. This one-mile trial leads you to a “hidden valley” that was rumored to have been a hide out for cattle rustlers in the late 1800s. There are many large boulders in the valley that are great for exploring. There is also a picnic area close by.
Skull Rock Loop
This 1.7 mile loop trail is a favorite of kids and kids at heart. Park at the Skull Rock parking area or along the road to explore this area filled with huge boulder piles and desert washes. Climbing over the rocks is fun for all ages and everyone will enjoy the view of namesake skull rock.
Barker Dam Loop Trail
A unique trail in Joshua Tree is the Barker Dam loop trail. This 1.1 mile mostly flat trail takes you past an area of standing water with a small dam, a rarity in the park. This is a great place for checking out a variety of vegetation in the park along with the beautiful Joshua Trees.
Star Gazing at Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places in the US for stargazing. This is because it is not located near any large cities and it sits on a high flat dessert at 5,000 feet above sea level. This is a perfect combination for very dark skies. The east side of the park is the best place for stargazing. The dark skies there allow for campers and visitors to see the Milky Way in all of its glory.
Best Time for Star Gazing in Joshua Tree
The best time of the year to stargaze in Joshua Tree is from April through October. But the mid summer months of July and August are a terrific time to see the Milky Way. And in mid August you might even see the Perseid Meteor Shower which usually on display each year.
In addition to visiting the park during these months, you might also want to schedule your visit during a new moon phase. The new moon only lasts about three days each month but there is no moonlight during a new moon which produces the darkest skies each month.
Is Indian Cove Campground Best for Star Gazing?
You can’t go wrong with any of the campgrounds in Joshua Tree but the very best campground for stargazing is Cottonwood Campground which is the furthest campground to the south and east in the park.
But every campground has a small amount of light created by the other campers. To get the best view of the night sky you should consider getting away from your campsite, roads, and people and heading off into the wilderness at night!
To go wilderness backpacking just park at a designated backcountry registration board and hike away from your car into the desert to view the night sky.
If you are camping overnight, you need to be sure you camp at least one mile from the trailhead and any road, and 500 feet off the of the trail. Here are the park rules and regulations for wilderness backpacking and or camping.
Tips for Stargazing at Joshua Tree
1. Use Red Lights Only
Be careful not to use flashlights, headlamps or your cell phone flashlight. It will be harder for your eyes to adjust to the dark and you will create additional light that will affect others’ ability to see the night sky.
2. Dress in Layers
The temperatures can drop quite a bit in the desert at night so layer up and be prepared.
3. Bring Your Zero Gravity Chairs!
Bring a chair so you can be comfy while stargazing. We recommend bringing your zero gravity chairs so you can fully recline and enjoy the night sky!
4. Bring Some Food and Water
There are no concessions stands in the desert so bring some water and snacks. Just be sure not to leave any trash behind.
5. Tread Lightly
Be careful when walking in the dark to avoid cactus, nocturnal animals and uneven ground. You can use your red light to see where you are walking.
6. Attend a Ranger Led Stargazing Event
We think it’s best to try to attend one of the ranger stargazing programs early in your trip. Then you will know what to look for on your own for the rest of your time there. It’s like when I hire a fishing guide the first day of a trip to learn all the ins and outs. Then I am good to go on my own. Info for the ranger stargazing tours ( and other park events) can be found on the Joshua Tree Calander.
Stargazing at Joshua Tree Photography Tips
Susan and I aren’t the best at night time photography. But we have learned a few things along the way.
- You Must Have a Tripod – In order to take good night time photos your camera must be completely still. The camera shot will take 30 or 60 seconds or more! You will need a tripod for sure.
- Experiment with Your Camera – Try different settings and use some low light in the foreground to create some really cool night time pics. You can even use a red light or flashlight very briefly to create some amazing photos.
- Moose’s Camera Cheat Sheets – If you are new to using a camera be sure to buy a Moose’s Camera Cheat Card for your specific camera. The cheat cards show you every manual setting you will need to take pictures in a variety of situations like stargazing, sunsets, landscapes, portraits, etc. My daughter bought me a Moose’s Camera Cheat Sheet as a gift and it was fantastic. You can find his Cheat Cards here. For $10 you can’t go wrong and I guarantee you will thanks me later for recommending them! Here’s an example of a cheat card below for my camera.
Day Trips Near Joshua Tree National Park
For visitors looking to go back in time, a visit to Pioneertown is a must. Founded by Hollywood notables including Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, the “town” was used as a set for many movies and TV shows in the 1940s and 1950s.
Today Pioneertown is a tourist attraction, complete with gunfights, stores, and excellent food at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Pappy and Harriet’s is world famous for their live music as well as their food. It is a great place to have a meal after a day exploring Joshua Tree.
Pioneertown is only a 30 minute drive from Indian Cove, making it convenient for an afternoon of exploring and dinner. The town is sometimes closed on Wednesdays so be sure to check their schedule in advance.
RV Camping Tips for Indian Cove Campground
1. Protect the Joshua Trees – One of the most important rules you must follow at Joshua Tree is taking care to protect the trees themselves. Joshua Trees are not hardy like other trees and can be easily damaged by humans. For that reason, climbing or hanging on the trees or attaching items such as hammocks or lines to the trees is not allowed. Park rangers strictly enforce this rule and you could receive a fine for damaging the trees.
2. Be Prepared for Minimal Cell Service – Cell service in Joshua Tree is minimal with all carriers. Be prepared to go without service. In Indian Cove, you may be able to make a call or text but it is not guaranteed. You can get service just down the road on Highway 62, which is a quick drive from the campground.
3. Know Convenience Store Locations – Grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and more can be found in either direction along Highway 62.
4. Campsite Size – Campsites can accommodate up to six people. If your group is larger, you will need to book two sites.
5. Know Check-In and Check-Out Times – Check in and check out at Indian Cove is noon.
6. Be Prepared for the Wildlife – There is wildlife in the area around the campground. You will need to store your food securely in your camper and keep your pets leashed and attended at all times.
7. Fire Danger – Fire danger in Joshua Tree is always fairly high so campfires can only be built in designated fire rings or grills at each site.
8. Maximum Camping Times – Joshua Tree has a 30-day camping limit each year and a 14-night limit during the high season from October to May.
We hope you learned enough about RV Camping at Indian Cove Campground in Joshua Tree National Park to add it to your bucket list! This is one amazing National Park you just shouldn’t miss!