Living in NYC, I’m not usually the road trip type but when I had the chance to extend a recent work trip, I knew that it was the perfect opportunity to finally make the road trip from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree. Here’s my guide on how to road trip from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree, including everything that you should know before packing your bags and driving into the desert.
If you’re not familiar with the area, the driving time from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree is around 3.5 hours. While I did my research beforehand, I was nowhere near prepared for the journey. It turns out there were so many things that we didn’t know – the lack of convenience stores, the state of the roads, how many things there are to see along the way, etc.
What to Know
1. Gas Stations, and civilization in general, are scarce so be sure to stock up on food, gas and all necessities beforehand.
2. The roads are winding, hilly and littered with potholes so proceed with caution and don’t hesitate to let the locals pass you.
3. Given that the roads are tough to navigate during the day, they’re even harder at night so make your drive during the daylight hours as much as possible. Due to poor planning on our part, we had to make the last leg of our journey at night, which is partly why the trip ended up taking us 5 hours instead of 3.5.
4. Service is spotty so be sure to plan your trip out beforehand or download a map before you get on the road.
5. Be prepared to make a number of stops along the way to take in the beautiful desert views. There are so many places to pull over and snap some photos, and trust me, you’ll want to stop a number of times to take it all in.
What to See
Here are a few notable photo spots that I highly recommend you check out along the road trip from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree:
Located just 40 minutes outside of Las Vegas, Seven Magic Mountains is a two-year art exhibition featuring seven neon totems made out of boulders, set on the backdrop of the desert. Luckily, it’s right on the way to Joshua Tree so is definitely worth stopping by to see!
If you want to take the fastest way to Joshua Tree, which also just happens to be the most scenic way as well, you’ll be traveling right through the Mojave Desert and man, are these views amazing! We stopped a number of times to snap some shots along the way.
The Kelso Dunes are known as the largest field of eolian sand deposits in the Mojave Desert. While we didn’t make it here ourselves, we saw them from a distance and wish we had more time to stop by.
Roy’s Motel & Cafe
Located in the Mojave Desert town of Amboy, this is an old-school motel, cafe, gas station and auto repair shop which today acts as more of an art installation. It’s currently being restored, so the cafe was in service when we stopped by to pick up some Route 66 Root Beer for the rest of our ride back to Vegas. Giving off an eerie ghost-town vibe, this spot is quite a sight to see and a great place for photos!
Spending some time in Joshua Tree? Check out my 24 Hours in Joshua Tree Guide for details on what to do and see and where to eat while you’re there.13