Hiking the High Desert: Joshua Tree National Park

Fulfill a dream and come to the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park, where you’ll hike amongst spectacular canyons, palm oases, towering boulders and a Joshua Tree forest.
Rating (4.85)
Program No. 20819RJ
6 days
Starts at
22 Reviews
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4.85 Average
Britt Marie

A fascinating area. The desert provides a lot of surprises and secrets. Well worth a visit.


Enjoyed this trip very much. Joshua Tree is a beautiful location and I learned a lot about the geology, plants, and nature of this park.


This excellent program included four days of hiking in varied and beautiful scenery. We hiked in high deserts, among towering rocks, through slot canyon and a palm oasis, and even through several inches of snow high above Palm Springs. Our two guides, Shane and Stewart, eagerly shared their knowledge of the history, geology, and plant life of these amazing landscapes. Please remember that it is very important to carefully read the descriptions of the hikes, including elevation gain, distance, and terrain. – and then train accordingly. These hikes are not walks in the local park! A couple of them were definitely on the high end of the “Spirited” category. If you are prepared for sand, rocks, ladders, cacti, and even ladders, you will have a great time. The hotel was comfortable, and the food was good. The ice cold drinks at the end of each hike were a very welcomed extra treat. Although the program is only for 5 nights, there many other excellent hikes and sightseeing opportunities available in the Palm Springs area if you can stay for a few extra days. I have posted some pictures of our week at www.ellieknesper.smugmug.com.


Be sure to train well before hiking this program.


just a fantastic experience in a great area, major scenic views. perfectly organized and monitored by a very knowledgeable leader , Steward !


This is my second time participating in this program. I do recommend it. Unlike my first experience some years ago, this present one had optional hikes that were physically less challenging. Since my physical abilities changed after I sighed on, I very much appreciated these options. However, even these less demanding options greatly challenged a very few participants. Everyone needs to read the program description and call in if they have questions.


Beautiful Joshua trees!! Amazing rocks!! Lots of different cacti. The tram to the mountaintop was beautiful and exciting, as was the 6 inches of new snow at the top. The palm oasis was amazing. Great, but strenuous trip.


I enjoyed the diversity of the hiking in this program - palm trees, slot canyon, icy terrain, rocks. With the rock scrambling, icy conditions, etc. this is not just a walk in the park so come prepared to hike. Also, read the material that is sent ahead of time so that packs and water capacity are sufficient.


wonderful hikes in glorious desert scenery with two terrific guides.. loved it!


This trip in Joshua Tree National Park offered some great hikes with varied terrain and views. It was beautiful. Come prepared to do some vigorous hiking and enjoy the scenery. Palm Springs is a wonderful, upgraded location for this trip.


Loved the variety of the hikes and soaking in the heated pools at the end of the day. My perception of the Palm Springs area and southern California has changed.

This reviewer did not give a star rating.

Great trip! I'll be happy to submit my evaluation if I can get an active link to it. Nina Fair

Road Scholar
We are thrilled that you enjoyed your trip, and please know that an evaluation is on its way to you. We look forward to your comments.

Stewart was a great leader, full of information. It was obvious that he was passionate about the mix of geography, topography, flora, and fauna. We were there during the super bloom at the south end of the park. The beauty was only surpassed by the fragrance. My favorite area was the Wonderland of Rock. Great park, great program, and a great bunch of new Road Scholar friends.


Joshua Tree hiking trip was a wonderful adventure. Each hike was of a different nature, and I had no idea of the variety within. Our National Parks are a jewel, and this one is no exception. Hiking it gave me an added appreciation.


Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing area with very diverse hikes. Our instructor, Stewart, had a wealth of information on the area and made sure we understood what we were seeing. The hikes were set up so we could walk a varying paces without feeling we needed to push ourselves beyond our capabilities. There were a few moments in the rock climbing and going through the canyons that were "what have I got myself into" moments but Stewart and Cutler made sure we were safe in all of our experiences.

Mary Lou

This program was great! The leaders had to make adjustment to plans due to recent flooding. They did a great job of planning varied, interesting and challenging hikes! Ended spending the evening at the Street Fair in Palm Springs - fun to get a chance to see the town, enjoy the food, and some of the food/arts it had to offer. Loved learning about Joshua Tree and surrounding areas. Both leaders were very knowledgeable and more than willing to share their expertise.

This reviewer did not give a star rating.

This is a good shorter Road Scholar trip. We thought the leader (Stewart Lasseter) was extremely knowledgeable. He was training in a new second leader and that kind of showed in communications. The first three day hikes were excellent, the "leader's choice" on day four less so. Particularly enjoyable to me were the hike through the Wonderland of Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park and the ride up and down the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The hotel, however, gets only a minimal rating from me. Multiple course participants had basic cleaning issues with it, and one couple had two leaks with dripping water from their ceiling on the last night of the trip (they were moved to another room but still...). Also the hotel hires loud live rock musicians in the afternoon when I just wanted to soak in the hot pools in peace and quiet. Finally the food was pretty basic, more choices at dinner would be a good addition.


If you have never been to the desert this is the one for you.


So worth doing this trip! I'm a novice hiker and felt accepted, challenged, and successful. The terrain, scenic views, instructor demos was excellent.


When you open itinerary for a hiking trip I would recommend that an immediate reference in red should appear indicating a detailed description of the hike difficulty especially on challenging hikes which I love! Some folks start complaining when we ascend 500 feet!


The geography of Desert Hot Springs is more diverse than I imagined. The 4 day hikes were challenging and enjoyable.


Sometimes a little hard to maneuver through website. The forum did not allow me to have contact info of a person I needed to contact for sharing a ride from the airport, costing us both much more in cab fares. Maybe that information could be available somehow. I also think a larger gift shop area of the website would be nice. I wanted a long sleeved lightweight shirt with Road Scholar logo but there was none.

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