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Think of Joshua Tree as the scrappy little brother of Palm Springs.

This desert community marches to the beat of its own mystical drum circle, trading in midcentury-modern glitz for a funky homesteader feel.  You’re just as likely to strike up a conversation about aliens or the healing properties of sound baths here as you are to trade tips on the best hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park.  At 1,235 square miles, the park is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island, encompassing the nexus of the Mojave and the Colorado Desert ecosystems, with its colorfully named rock formations, petroglyphs, and forests of spindly Joshua trees.

During a visit, you can reserve a National Park Service campsite or choose from among one of the area’s many lodging options, including a new Airstream glamping site.  But to truly capture the spirit of the place, live like a temporary local in a Joshua Tree Airbnb, where you’ll often find eclectic desert-inspired decor, “cowboy pools” (aka galvanized steel livestock troughs) for cooling off, and fire pits for late-night conversations under the stars.

Best neighborhoods near Joshua Tree to stay in

  • Joshua Tree features a walkable business district centered around California State Route 62, with an assortment of weekender-friendly spots such as a coffee shop, a brewery, a weekly farmers’ market, and art galleries, including the decidedly quirky World Famous Crochet Museum.
  • Yucca Valley sits east of Joshua Tree along Highway 62 and is home to attractions like the Hi-Desert Nature Museum, plus conveniences including grocery and sporting goods stores if you need to stock up before hiking, camping, or cooking at your Airbnb.
  • Other nearby communities include Twentynine Palms, which sits near the national park’s North Entrance Station and offers nearly two dozen restaurants, and Pioneertown, a kitschy Old West community built in the 1940s, where dozens of westerns were filmed and which is still home to Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, a landmark honky-tonk and barbecue restaurant.

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