Joshua Tree National Park might be one of the most photogenic places I’ve ever been. The awesome rock formations, unique look of the Joshua Trees, and the super dark night sky makes it a great place to photograph both during the day and night.
These are some of my favorite places to take photos in Joshua Tree
Just a short hike from the Twin Tanks parking lot and the White Tank Campground the Arch Rock and surrounding rock formations are pretty rad looking. It’s on the eastern side of the park so it could be pretty rad for sunrise if you can rouse yourself that early.
Cholla Cactus Garden
The Cholla Cacti are super unique looking and the garden is perched just above the Pinto Basin so you get sweeping views of the mountains and valley. The cactus garden is about a quarter mile loop around with thousands of Cholla and other varieties of cacti.
Hidden Valley Picnic Area & Campground
Hidden Valley’s amazing boulders and rocks are great for getting those climbing action shots. You can also climb up those rocks for a more panoramic view of the park.
Hall of Horrors
The name might sound scary but this area of rock formations is amazing looking. Giant boulders surrounded by Joshua Trees is pretty picturesque.
Any pull out on the side of the road
You can pretty much pull over on the side of the road just about anywhere and get a beautiful view. There are turnouts all along the road so you can get a good shot without blocking traffic.
Because of Joshua Tree’s location it does not get a lot of light pollution as there are no big cities around it, giving it some of the darkest skies in Southern California. This is perfect for night photography, whether you are photographing the stars and the Milky Way or just playing with long exposures.
Best Times of day to Photograph
Early morning light can be gorgeous and seeing those sunbeams coming over the mountains is glorious. For good sunrise spots head to the eastern side of the park or anywhere eastern facing. You’ll get the soft color changes in the sky before the sun comes all the way up, and then the golden color as the sun gets up over the mountains.
Golden hour is the hour or two before sunset. It’s going to be pretty golden light just about anywhere in the park.
Desert sunsets are bright and colorful and glorious with the backdrop of the rocks and Joshua Trees. Hidden Valley is beautiful at sunset because you can climb up the rocks to get a better view.
Night photography is going to be best around 2 hours or more after the sun has set. The Pinto Basin on the eastern side of the park is the darkest part of the park but you can get awesome star shots just about anywhere. Framing up the photos with some rocks or trees always makes for a cool photo.
A few things to remember for night photography – a tripod and remote are crucial. I’ve definitely set my camera on rocks and held my breath while I held down the shutter and those photos come out ok, but for really good clear and crisp pictures you’ll want the stability of a tripod and hands free shutter remote.
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