Let's Camp: Belle Campground, Joshua Tree National Park
It took until May of 2015 - nearly five months after discovering the wonders of the Joshua Tree National Park - before we packed up a tent and some sleeping bags and decided to stay for the night. Our first camping trip to Joshua Tree was a wonderful adventure.
Truth be told, we chose a weekend that happened to coincide with a wind advisory, so it was kind of fun trying to find a spot to tuck our tent into. We finally found a big rock and some bushes, and set up our camp. Then we took a hike around the area to see what was nearby. Lots of desert sand, rocks, boulders, and of course, Joshua Trees! We left a cairn out in the middle of nowhere, hopefully someone found it later.
Our base was Belle Campground, which is one of the smaller of the Joshua Tree's camping options. On a quiet, windy weekend in May, we had a few neighbors, but it wasn't packed. We had a cozy fire, stayed up late talking and burning marshmallows. Don't let the heat of the desert fool you, it gets cold at night.
We really like this camping spot. We have since tried out another spot or two, but Belle remains a favorite. It's on Pinto Basin Road, which tends to be a little darker at night, so the star show is a beautiful sight at 3am. I recommend having a few moments outside of the tent in the middle of the night - on a clear night, you will see the Milky Way.
- 2 days, 1 night in early May 2015, Joshua Tree National Park
- Belle Campground - 18 sites, $15/night, first-come, first-served, pit toilets, no water.
- There is a $20 park admission fee, in addition to the campsite fee.
- Take a lot of water - there is not much available inside the park, and none at this campsite.
- There are fire rings, but you'll have to bring in your own wood. Try to buy it locally. Plenty is available along 29 Palms Highway on the way in.
- While you are camping in Joshua Tree, be sure you go hiking in Joshua Tree. The park has tons of trails and open desert ready to explore!
- As always, pack it in and pack it out. Leave it better than you found it.