Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs

Are you going to Joshua Tree National Park with your dogs? Worried you won’t see much because animals aren’t allowed on the trails? We have good news: you can do a lot of things together in Joshua Tree!

Small black and gray dog ​​standing on a rock along a dog-friendly hiking trail in Joshua Tree National Park

There are a handful pet-friendly national parks in America who go out of their way to accommodate our furry travel companions. But, as a general rule, it’s rare to find pet-friendly hikes in a national park. In fact, most national parks have strict limits on pets on trails. This is what makes visiting Joshua Tree with dogs such a pleasant surprise!

Pet Rules in National Parks

With few exceptions, most national parks require pets to be within 100 feet of a paved road, parking area, or campground. And any time they are outside your vehicle, pets must be in a cage, carrier, or on a leash no longer than six feet.

When it comes to hiking, many national parks prohibit pets on all trails. So your park experience is limited to the hookups and views along the road. Not that these opinions are bad! It’s just that there’s so much more to see when you can get off the beaten path.

READ MORE ⇒ America’s Most Pet-Friendly National Parks

Hiking Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |  GoPetFriendly.com

Visiting Joshua Tree with Dogs

Before our visit, I checked the the park website for their pet policy. Like many national parks, Joshua Tree allows dogs in picnic areas and campgrounds. This includes the paved Oasis of Mara and Keys View trails. But as I expected, Joshua Tree doesn’t allow pets on hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in park buildings.

However, I noticed that pets are welcome on all unpaved roads. This gave me a glimmer of hope, as Joshua Tree has miles and miles of dirt roads providing access to a wide variety of terrain. And they have very little vehicle traffic, so exploring on foot is perfect!

Be aware that the sidewalks and sidewalks in Joshua Tree get hot enough to burn your pet’s paws. Walk during the cooler parts of the day and remember to bring dog boots to protect your puppy’s feet.

READ MORE ⇒ Your dog can become a BARK Ranger in Joshua Tree!

Hiking Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |  GoPetFriendly.com
Hiking Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |  GoPetFriendly.com

Hiking Joshua Tree with Dogs

Joshua Tree’s dirt roads allow you to access spectacular scenery and immerse yourself in the desert landscape with your pet. According to park rules, you can take your dog on a leash anywhere you can drive your vehicle. So pick up a map at the visitor center and ask the rangers which routes offer the best scenery and suit your skill level.

Most roads in Joshua Tree have pullouts or parking areas nearby where you can begin your walk. Of course, the standard etiquette of leashing your dog and picking him up still applies. And don’t forget to bring plenty of water for you and your pet. The combination of altitude and desert air can quickly lead to dehydration.

Some roads are rougher than others, so choose a route that suits you. And while the roads listed below aren’t heavily traveled, be sure to stay alert and stay away from any passing vehicles.

Joshua Tree National Park – Palm Springs, California

Accessible to all vehicles (one-way distances)

  • Queen Valley Road – 2.9 miles with one-way traffic
  • Stirrup Reservoirs Route – 1.5 miles
  • Odell Road – 1.5 miles
  • Geological Tour Route – 5.4 miles
  • Desert Queen Mining Road – 2 km
  • Bighorn Pass Road – 5.1 km

Accessible to 4-wheel drive vehicles (one-way distances)

  • Covington Area Roads – 9.9 miles
  • Pinkham Canyon Road – 19.2 miles
  • Old Dale Road – 12.6 miles
  • Geology Tour Road past Mile 5.4 – 18 miles
  • Black Eagle Mine Road – 9.6 miles
  • Berdoo Canyon Road – 18.5 km
Buster and Ty at Joshua Tree National Park - Palm Springs, California

Exploring Joshua Tree with Dogs

Joshua Tree is one of our national parks that’s fairly easy to explore without having to hike miles and miles of backcountry trails. I was able to take side roads, or even get off the main road and see the rock formations and Joshua trees that make this park famous.

We started at the south entrance, and by mid-afternoon we were well into the north end of the park. We stopped there to have a picnic and watch a group of climbers enjoy the sun on a beautiful day. It was a fun excursion to a place I’ve always wanted to see.

READ MORE ⇒ 7 Essentials for Hiking in the Desert with Dogs

Hiking Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |  GoPetFriendly.com
Hiking Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |  GoPetFriendly.com

Climbing areas accessible to dogs

Is climbing your thing? Or maybe you prefer to watch the climbers master the challenge with flying colors. Either way, you’ll be happy to know that four of the climbing areas are within 100 feet of a road, picnic area or campground and therefore accept pets !

  • Belle Campground: Castle Rock
  • Hidden Valley Campground: Many (but not all) climbs are within 100 feet of a road.
  • Indian Cove Area: Buttress Billboard, King Otto’s Castle, Pixie Rock, and Short Wall
  • Quail Springs Area: Trash

No matter what you choose to do, a trip to Joshua Tree with dogs is one you’ll never forget!

Looking for more to do in the area? Check Top 10 Dog-Friendly Activities in Palm Springs

About the Author: Mary Hone is a photographer, artist and author of Stories from the range, a blog about Mary’s passion for saving wild horses. She and her husband, Al, also a talented artist, travel full-time in an RV with their adorable dog, Torrey.

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