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The Best Free Camping Near Joshua Tree National Park

The Best Free Camping Near Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a bucket list item for many people. And, why not? With storybook trees and rock formations seemingly from out of this world, the park draws visitors from around the globe.

While there are many full-service campgrounds near Joshua Tree National Park, they’re often quite expensive.

However, you have some great options if you want to save a buck or two.

Today, we’ll look at a few of these alternatives by checking out the best free camping near Joshua Tree National Park. 

Let’s dig in!

What to Know About Free Camping

While looking for free camping near Joshua Tree National Park, be sure to verify the camping location is open to the public. You don’t want to set up camp to find out camping isn’t allowed in that location.

If you choose to stay, ensure you’re obeying all posted rules and following no trace principles. Free camping could disappear if we abuse the privilege. 

Things to See in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is often described as magical or something out of a children’s book. You’ll find various wildlife and funky plants at this park, along with inspiring landscapes.

If you’re up for a hike, be sure you find Barker Dam Trail, where you’ll come across large Joshua trees, boulders, and possibly even a few birds. One thing certainly not to be missed is Cholla Cactus Garden.

You’ll stroll among more than a thousand densely packed chollas.

If a more daring adventure is what you are looking for, enjoy a bit of rock climbing. Joshua Tree National Park has almost 8,000 climbing routes to enjoy.   

Drivin’ & Vibin’ created this illustration. You can find it in their shop HWY Vintage.

The Best Free Campsites Near Joshua Tree National Park

Thankfully there are many options for free campsites near Joshua Tree National Park. We’ve gathered a few camping options that might be a perfect fit for you. So take a look and discover your next location!

#1 – Joshua Tree North Dispersed Camping

GPS: 34.1716, -116.2291

About the Campsite: The Bureau of Land Management manages this area. Rigs of all sizes will be able to access this free camping near Joshua Tree National Park. There are no facilities or amenities provided. However, there’s plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the views, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a spot.

The area reportedly has decent cell service, and you should be able to work remotely here if needed. Campers report that it is typically pretty quiet during the week, while the weekend can often bring a louder crowd. Even so, most reviewers stated they felt safe while there.

This location will allow you to spend your days exploring all Joshua Tree National Park has to offer and come back in the evening to rest up for another day of adventure.

Reported Cell Service: Campers report great service with AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. Each provider shows an average of 4 bars of service. 

Joshua Tree National Park Free Camping Vibes: 7/10. This area is a great place to use as a basecamp while visiting Joshua Tree National Park. It’s a rather basic but useful area to boondock, though some campers might find themselves annoyed with off-highway vehicle (OHV) noise. 

#2 – Giant Rock Dispersed Camping

GPS: 34.3302, -116.3882

About the Campsite: As the name suggests, Giant Rock Dispersed Camping is a unique place nestled among giant rocks. Some have reported ruts in a few roads, but most RVs will be fine getting to the main camping area. Those who have low landing gear will want to be careful on their way in.

“Giant Rock” is a 7-story rock that marks the area well. Many enjoy camping close to this landmark, not the least because of the dark skies for stargazing. Some campers have reported off-highway vehicles and fireworks, particularly on the weekend. Though generally, people feel safe in the area. This location might feel like a destination of its own as you get away from it all. 

Reported Cell Service: There are only a few reports on cell service for this area. There may be AT&T in some areas, but most providers will only have spotty service here. You may benefit greatly from an RV or van cell booster at this spot.

Joshua Tree National Park Free Camping Vibes: 8/10. This is a unique place to call home for a few days. Something is intriguing about camping among the big rocks.

Reviewers mention that while it can get busy, they generally felt they had privacy. 

#3 – Whitewater Preserve

GPS: 33.9893, -116.6559

About the Campsite: The Whitewater Preserve is 2,851 acres and includes the Whitewater River. This is a nice place to stay as a basecamp for free camping near Joshua Tree National Park, especially if you plan to be away from your site for most of the day. The Preserve is best for small trailers under 20 feet, and the maximum stay is nine days.

There are no amenities or facilities for campers. Although, there’s an area where campers can wade to cool off during the hot summer months. Trout are protected here, so there’s no fishing allowed. That said, campers will enjoy hiking and viewing wildlife. Wildlife you might see includes birds, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, snakes, deer, and bears.

Reported Cell Service: Campers report that there is no cell service with any provider at this location.

Joshua Tree National Park Free Camping Vibes: 5/10. With no workable cell service and only small rigs allowed, this will not be an option for many campers. There are also a lot of restrictions, such as no fires or fishing. Campers who need an easy and free basecamp in a small rig will appreciate this option.

Know Before You Go: Whitewater Preserve is was closed due to COVID-19. Check to ensure it has reopened before you make your plans.

Tips for Free Camping at Joshua Tree

A great way to find additional camping areas is to visit a ranger station and ask for a Bureau of Land Management map indicating allowed camping.

As with all free camping locations, it’s important to leave the area better than you found it. When you find a great free place to set up camp, you want to ensure that it is available for use for years to come. 

Get Away From It All at Joshua Tree National Park

With so many great experiences waiting for you at Joshua Tree, you want to put it on your travel itinerary. Having a few options for free camping only makes the trip that much better.

So take a break from your phone and immerse yourself in the Joshua Tree experience!

Tell us. Have you found great free camping near Joshua Tree National Park?

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

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