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Uncover the best spots to watch sunset in Joshua Tree National Park. From the iconic silhouettes of Joshua trees to the backdrop of majestic rock formations, these meticulously curated locations promise an unforgettable experience.

Come along as we explore these stunning viewpoints, each providing its own special vantage point to experience the ever-changing colors of Joshua Tree’s sunset sky.

Joshua Tree National Park at Sunset 

Joshua Tree National Park At-A-Glance

Before diving in, here are a few Joshua Tree National Park highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park

The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is during the fall and spring months, from October to April. During this period, the weather is more temperate, making it comfortable for outdoor activities and exploration. The extreme summer heat and occasional winter cold fronts can make other times less ideal. Fall and spring also offer clearer skies for stargazing. Additionally, wildflower blooms in the spring add vibrant colors to the desert landscape.

  • How to Get to Joshua Tree National Park

Reaching Joshua Tree National Park is most convenient by car, as the park is accessible via several major routes. If arriving from Los Angeles or Palm Springs, take Interstate 10 to reach the park’s entrances. From there, follow park signs to key areas. The nearest airports are Palm Springs International Airport and Ontario International Airport, both offering rental car services.

  • How to Get Around Joshua Tree National

Getting around Joshua Tree National Park is primarily done by personal vehicle. The park features a network of well-marked roads connecting key attractions and trailheads, making it easy to navigate. There are no shuttle services within the park, so you need to ensure you have adequate fuel and supplies before entering.

  • Where to Stay When Visiting Joshua National Park

The park offers several campgrounds for tent and RV camping. Additionally, there are numerous hotels, motels, and vacation rentals in nearby towns such as Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Palm Springs.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Vist Joshua Tree National Park

In order to visit Joshua Tree National Park, you need to purchase a recreational day-use pass, which costs $30 per vehicle and is good for 7 consecutive days. You can purchase the pass right at the entrance to the park. If you are visiting several national parks then make sure to get America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites!

  • Check Joshua Tree National Park Website for Trail Closures 

It is important that you check Joshua Tree National Park’s Website for any trail or road closures prior to going to the park. You can check for updates HERE.

Joshua Tree Sunset Photography Tips

  • Timing is Key:

Plan to arrive well before sunset to scout your location and set up your gear. The “golden hour,” the period just before sunset, offers soft, warm light that enhances the colors and textures of the desert.

  • Bring the Right Equipment:

Use a tripod to keep your camera steady and minimize blur in low-light conditions. Use a wide-angle lens to capture the vast desert landscape and the colorful sky. Consider bringing a telephoto lens for capturing distant details or compressing elements in the scene.

  • Use the Right Settings:

Set your camera to manual mode for full control over settings. Use a low ISO setting (e.g., ISO 100-400) to minimize noise. Start with an aperture around f/8 to f/16 for sharpness and depth of field. Adjust your shutter speed to capture the right amount of light; longer shutter speeds can create soft, dreamy effects.

  • Compose Thoughtfully:

Include iconic elements like Joshua trees, rock formations, or cacti to anchor your composition. Experiment with framing using natural elements like rocks or vegetation to add depth and interest.

  • Capture Silhouettes:

Position subjects between your camera and the setting sun to create dramatic silhouettes against the colorful sky.

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree 

  • Focus Carefully:

Use manual focus or back-button focus to ensure your subject is sharp. Consider using hyperfocal distance to maximize sharpness throughout the scene.

  • Experiment with White Balance:

Adjust your white balance settings to capture the warm tones of the desert accurately.

  • Use Graduated ND Filters:

If the sky is much brighter than the foreground, use graduated neutral density (ND) filters to balance the exposure.

  • Bracket for Dynamic Range:

If your camera supports it, take multiple shots with different exposures (bracketing) to capture a more comprehensive dynamic range. You can later blend these in post-processing.

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree 

  • Capture Reflections:

If you’re near water features, like Barker Dam, look for reflections of the colorful sky on the surface.

  • Be Patient:

Sunset photography often requires waiting for the right moment when the colors are most intense.

  • Stay Beyond Sunset:

The “blue hour” follows sunset, offering another opportunity for beautiful, softer light.

5 Best Joshua Tree Sunset Spots


Cholla Cactus Garden

Cholla Cactus Garden is a unique desert garden that showcases the iconic cholla cacti in their natural environment.

At sunset, the silhouetted cholla cacti against the backdrop of a colorful sky create an otherworldly atmosphere.

GOOD TO KNOW: Take Cholla Cactus Garden Nature Trail to explore the area. This flat loop will lead you through nearly 10 acres of landscape dominated by the teddybear cholla.

PRO TIP: Bring a headlamp or flashlight for the walk back after sunset.

HOW TO GET THERE: Drive about 17 miles from the North Entrance, then follow signs to Cholla Cactus Garden.

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Cholla Cactus Garden

Cholla Cactus Garden

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Cholla Cactus Garden


Keys View

Perched high on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains, Keys View boasts unparalleled vistas of the Coachella Valley, San Andreas Fault, and the Salton Sea.

On clear days, you can catch glimpses of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, as well as Mexico’s distant Sierra de Juarez.

HOW TO GET THERE: Follow Keys View Road for about 20-30 minutes from the West Entrance.

Keys View in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Keys View

Kyes View in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Keys View


Arch Rock

The arch, formed by millennia of erosion, is a great spot for creating a picture-perfect moment at sunset.

PRO TIP:  Limited parking; arrive early. Make sure to stay for the blue hour to capture some more interesting lighting options.

HOW TO GET THERE: Drive about 18 miles from the West Entrance, then follow signs to Arch Rock.

Arch Rock in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Arch Rock 

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Arch Rock 


Hidden Valley

Encircled by massive rock formations, Hidden Valley offers an intimate vantage point to witness the sunset. The towering boulders create a natural amphitheater, enhancing the sense of seclusion and connection to the desert landscape.

GOOD TO KNOW: The valley’s rock formations served as a hideout for cattle rustlers in the past, adding an aura of mystery to this serene location.

PRO TIP: Combine your visit with a daytime hike in the Hidden Valley area.

HOW TO GET THERE: From the West Entrance, drive approximately 9 miles, then follow signs to Hidden Valley.

Hidden Valley in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Hidden Valley 

Hidden Valley in Joshua Tre

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Hidden Valley

Sunset in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Hidden Valley


Barker Dam

The serene Barker Dam reflects the fiery sunset hues, creating a surreal and peaceful atmosphere.

GOOD TO KNOW: Ancient petroglyphs etched into the rocks add cultural significance to this picturesque location.

HOW TO GET THERE: Drive about 8 miles from the West Entrance, then follow signs to Barker Dam.

Barker Dam in Joshua Tree

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Barker Dam

Barker Dam

Best Spots to Watch Sunset in Joshua Tree / Barker Dam 

Read All the Posts About California in: 

California Travel Guide


Read All the Posts About United States in: 

United States Travel Guide

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