Joshua Tree National Park EV Travel Guide

If you love desert scenery, Joshua Tree National Park is the place to be. It’s where the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert meet! So, you get two deserts in one park. The huge multi-armed cacti that look like a mutant Godzilla version of a yucca cactus are just a bonus! But, keep in mind that the best place to find Joshua Trees is at the northwest end of the park, not near I-10 (I found this out the hard way the first time I visited the park). So, don’t plan on popping in from the interstate for 20 minutes to see them.

But, if you do come in on I-10, scenic drives wind through high chaparral scrublands, patches of several different species of cactus, interesting boulders and rock formations, and even the occasional wildlife sighting (except for rabbits, you’ll see them regularly). So, the journey in is its own reward. There are also hiking trails for people of all skill levels, but be sure to bring good shoes and plenty of water!

As with any desert park, some of the best views happen at sunrise and sunset, and when there’s some weather moving through the park. If you have an appreciation for the desert, there are endless opportunities to compose different photos. Climb around a bit, and you can see the work of artists from hundreds to thousands of years ago in the form of petroglyphs. Stay around long after sunset, and opportunities for stargazing emerge on clear nights. While the park isn’t far from cities like the Los Angeles metro area and Palm Springs, the east end of the park has Bortle class 2 skies and views of the Milky Way.

But, with all of these amazing things, amenities are pretty sparse in the park. So, you’ll need to go out of the park to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, or Twentynine Palms to find things like restaurants, hotels, and shopping. But, there are picnic tables and campsites! There are also no shuttle buses, no bike infrastructure (narrow two-lane roads only), and no other alternatives to driving. So, you’ll definitely want to come in a car or maybe a four-wheel-drive vehicle if you want to take some of the dirt roads.

Also, don’t get yourself into trouble. Cellular service for much of the park is weak to non-existent, so if you don’t have the necessities of survival (water is EXTREMELY important), you really could perish of thirst! So, bring along more water than you think you’ll need, especially if you visit in the summer. But, in reality, spring and fall are probably the best times to visit, as winter can still be pretty cold in the desert.

Getting There In An EV

Quick Tips and Facts:

  • Because California is so EV friendly, getting to the park is fairly easy. Fast charging is available all around the park, including Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley (next to Joshua Tree, CA), and all over Palm Springs and Indio.
  • The closest charging station to the entrance on the I-10 side is at Chiriaco Summit. If you’re coming in from I-10, you’ll probably want to tank up on some electrons there to make sure you have plenty of range to get through the park, make a loop back to I-10, and maybe have some power for your campsite if you’re staying inside the park in a tent or RV.
  • California plans to put more stations along I-10 in the near future at several rest areas. This should make accessing the park from either Arizona or Los Angeles a lot easier. The bottleneck Quartzsite, in particular, has become, should be greatly alleviated soon by a combination of Tesla stations opening up to other EVs, GM Energy stations, and other entrants joining this busy section of road.
  • Sadly, there is no EV charging in the park of any kind. There are no rapid chargers, no Level 2 chargers, and no campsites with electric hookups. So, be sure you have enough power to do what you want to do and get back out before you drive in!

All in all, this park is pretty easy to reach in an EV, but you need to be careful to have enough charge once you arrive. Don’t assume that just because the dash display says you have enough miles that you will, as some of the climbs on park roads can be pretty steep!

Links To More Park and Nearby Information

Here are a couple of videos that share information about what you can see and do in the park, and how to make the most of your trip:

Featured photo by Bill Bjornstad, National Park Service (Public Domain).