Joshua Tree Basecamp Tour
- Fantastic winter hiking destination
- Camping at secluded Sheep Pass
- Surreal monzogranite formations
- Amazing desert oasis
- Sweeping vistas atop a mountain summit
- Desert wildlife, possible big horn sheep
- The paranormal Wonderland of Rocks
- Fascinating natural and cultural history
For those who have spent significant time in Joshua Tree National Park, adjectives like "magical", "enchanting", "otherworldly", and "spectacular" are commonly used to describe the area. Without a doubt Joshua Tree is home to some of the most serene and surreal landscapes in the American West. Billion-year-old monzogranite intrusions bloom above the surrounding desert, and expansive Joshua Tree "forests" blanket broad valleys. In the mornings and evenings, it feels more like a savannah than a desert, with the bizarre looking Joshua Trees (a member of the Yucca family) framing the horizon at the very edge of the Mojave desert.
By visiting Joshua Tree in the wonderful winter months, we’ll enjoy relative seclusion and calm in what is quickly becoming one of America’s top national parks. We’ll maximize our time with fulfilling hikes by day to a variety of Joshua Tree must-see features like desert oases and soaring desert summits. In the evenings we'll feast on outdoor dinners and relax around well-stoked campfires at our basecamp in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park.
Trip Dates & Booking
You can also click here to request new dates or book through customer service.
We love to customize dates for private groups!
- Shuttle from Las Vegas: 4-hour drive
- Hiking Mileage: 5 miles
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,200 feet
Our four-day Joshua Tree Winter Basecamp Tour begins with your morning hotel pickup in Las Vegas. Leaving the bustle of the city behind, we’ll soon find ourselves on a scenic drive through sparsely populated desert expanses, including Mojave National Preserve where we’ll get our first enigmatic taste of Joshua tree groves. We’ll stop at the historic Kelso Depot Visitors Center to stretch our legs and then continue south past the Kelso Sand Dunes, skirting a teaser of iconic granite monoliths, Amboy Crater, and bisecting gypsum-laden, dry Bristol Lake before arriving in the military town of Twentynine Palms.
After a rendezvous with additional members of our group at the park’s Oasis Visitor Center, we’ll drive into the heart of the park to reach Sheep Pass Campground. Nestled into the surrounding rock formations, this will be our basecamp home for the coming days. We’ll enjoy a delectable lunch together before hiking right from our campground to summit Ryan Mountain. At first wrapping our way around its base, we’ll then ascend as piles of boulders shrink below us, becoming like distant drip sand castles. The stunning 360-degree summit vista is reminiscent of something Salvador Dali might have painted - granite rock piles seem to melt into the surrounding plateau while otherworldly Joshua trees spread out in the broad valley bottoms, forking and sprouting at odd angles. Having let our first hike, we’ll descend victoriously back to camp and enjoy a celebratory dinner and campfire before tucking ourselves in beneath the Milky Way.
With the setting sun comes the stirring of much desert nightlife. Keep your eyes peeled for the scampering of a kangaroo rat gathering food or a jackrabbit bounding into the brush as you slumber off to the soulful hoots of a great-horned owl.
- Drive Time: 60 minutes
- Hiking Mileage: 7-10 miles
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,000 feet
Today we’ll rise with the sun to share in a wonderful outdoor breakfast and hot coffee or tea. Our first stop will be at the charmingly unique Teddy Bear Cholla Garden, where we’ll stroll among a family of deceptively inviting cacti. Dropping down through an ecological transition zone where the lower Colorado Sonoran Desert meets the Mojave, we’ll make our way to our main hike for the day: The Lost Palms Oasis.
Sustained by water seeping up through fault lines, five oases can be found within Joshua Tree National Park. Today we’ll visit two! Beginning at Cottonwood Spring Oasis, former home to the Cahuilla Indians, we’ll meander our way over arroyos dotted with ocotillo and through sandy smoketree washes to reach at last the largest group of California Fan Palms in the park. After a delicious lunch in this remote desert oasis, we’ll wind our way back to the trailhead, soaking in views to the south of California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea.
While options for stops on our return to camp are numerous, we’ll likely embark on a pleasant walk and/or scramble to Arch Rock, a monzonite granite natural arch set amidst a playground of jumbo boulders. Back in camp, we’ll enjoy a toasty campfire and a delectable dinner before turning in for the night.
- Drive Time: 30 minutes
- Hiking Mileage: 5-10 miles
- Elevation Change: 600+ feet
Perhaps already awakened by a dawn song of coyotes, you may decide to indulge yourself in rising just before breakfast today. Soaking in the sight of Joshua trees silhouetted against the break of day, or climbing to the top of one of the monoliths surrounding camp to greet the morning is an experience you’ll not soon forget.
Our first hike today will loop us through Barker Dam. This valley is rich with petroglyphs, bouldering problems and tall tales from the days of gold mining and cattlemen, as well as lush with plant life thanks to the precious reservoir of water.
We’ll then embark on a journey into another portion of the famed Wonderland of Rocks: The Maze. This trail will weave us through a jungle of spires, granite monoliths and delusionary rock formations, opening up to tantalize us with breathtaking views of the National Park. Returning back to camp, we’ll enjoy one last evening of fine dining, good company, and a campfire beneath the desert sky.
- Hiking Mileage: 4+ miles
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 600 feet
- Shuttle to Las Vegas: 4 hours
Upon filling our bellies with another tasty spread of breakfast and hot drinks, we’ll break down camp and head off for one last day of exploration.
We'll begin our excursion in Hidden Valley, a favorite destination for climbers and hikers alike. Long valued for its diverse flora and protection from the elements, this microcosm is a historically significant ecological haven. We’ll then make our way into a new portion of the park where, conditions permitting, we’ll scramble through one or more of Indian Cove’s finest remote hollows.
After soaking in the astounding landscape and enjoying one last scrumptious lunch together, we’ll bid farewell to any of our group members departing directly from the Park. We’ll then embark on the scenic drive back to Las Vegas and return you to your hotel for an evening of relaxation and much-deserved showers.
Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary access restrictions, weather, lodging/campground availability, guest ability/injury, natural events like fires and flooding, and other potential causes.
- Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and daypack
- Use of trekking poles
- All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
- A professional, knowledgeable, certified Joshua Tree hiking guide
- Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in Las Vegas, NV to Joshua Tree and back (can also meet in Joshua Tree at the Oasis Visitor Center)
- Entrance fees and national park permits (entrance fees are not covered if you choose to meet the group at the Oasis Visitor Center)
- Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
- You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!
- Clothes, raingear, and footwear (Oboz hiking shoes and boots recommended)
- Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
- Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
- Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the outdoors – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.
We provide all group gear which includes the following:
- Deuter or Osprey backpacks
- Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
- Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
- Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
- Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
- Cooking stoves and cookware
- Company-issued first-aid kit
- Satellite phone
We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are three 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots, rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.
Ready to hike? In the Dates section of this trip page, the green dates are bookable online by simply clicking on the date, and blue dates must be booked through our customer service team for a variety of possible reasons. To email our customer service team, you can click here to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 72 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).
Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!
You'll meet your hiking guide and group in Las Vegas, Nevada the morning the trip begins. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip to coordinate pick-up. You can also meet us in Joshua Tree on the morning of Day 1 at the Oasis Visitor Center.
Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.
Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 6 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day no later than 7 PM.
Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.
Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
Guides are required to take 8 hours off each 24-hour period to sleep, recuperate, take personal/down time...etc. In addition, as part of the 8 hours off they must sleep/rest or be in their tents/rooms uninterrupted for a minimum of 5 hours each night. We ask guests to respect these requirements and to not interrupt guides' off time and sleep time unless there is a true emergency.
The standard group size on this hiking tour is a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.
Age restrictions are as follows:
- 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
- 5 and older to join private tours, with final approval and specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis
Joshua Tree National Park is a desert environment, and an exceptional winter destination. See below for average summer temperatures in Joshua Tree:
|Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)|
On our signature camping tours we hand pick wonderful campgrounds that put us right in the action for exceptional hiking and camping vacations. They may be national park, state park, or private campgrounds. They may vary by trip date depending on availability and seasonality.
Basecamp trips include meals for the duration of the tours beginning with breakfast the first day through lunch the final day. Meals are prepared by your guide(s) using fresh ingredients, exclusive Wildland recipes, and we adhere to all department of health outdoor cooking codes.
What amenities do basecamp tours include? Cold and hot drinks, campfires (where/when allowed), camp chairs, access to showers, fresh food, roomy tents, comfortable sleeping pads, comfy sleeping bags, camp pillows and more! Camp comfortably, eat like royalty, and hike til your heart's content!