OverviewJoshua Tree National Park is an area of desert along with a number of mountain ranges scattered here and there. The park was created by Congress to protect the huge amount of Joshua Trees found in the area.
Biking can range greatly depending on which route you decide to take. These range from mountaineous and cool to flat and hot.
Summer temperatures may occasionally exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit in much of the lower deserts. Rain is also very rare with only 5 inches a year in the lower section. Usually, the only places where water is found are in the oasises.
The Two DesertsTwo deserts cross and meet each other here: the Colorado Desert (also known as the Sonoran) and the Mojave Desert. The two contain greatly different lifeforms.
The Colorado Desert sits near sea level with some of the hottest weather in the US. The desert surrounds the Salton Sea (CA's largest lake) and extends into Mexico. The desert is the border crossing of most of the illeagal Mexican immigrants we have in the US today.
In contrast, the Mojave Desert sits at over 4000 in most places and is rather cool when compared with the Colorado. It contains much more wildlife and plants also. The Mojave is crisscrossed with numerous ranges of mountains most of which bears snow in winter.
At the boundaries of the deserts is an array of life known as the Transitional Zone. Here, plants and animals from both deserts join to form a colorful landscape surrounded by emptiness on both sides.
Indio is a major desert town located at sea level southwest of the park. The closest of the entrances is the Cottonwood Entrance.
Start off on Interstate 10 eastbound. The road climbs slightly as it heads toward Chiriaco Summit. Somewhat before coming to the pass, a number of signs will appear for Joshua Tree National Park. Exit on CA-195 and turn left for the national park. Don't expect any entrance stations as there isn't any. Pay all fees at the Cottonwood Visitor Center a few miles down the road.
From Yucca Valley/ Joshua Tree
The twin towns of Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley are the gateway to several of the parks paved as well as unpaved entrances.
Black Rock Canyon is plainly just a campground and some hiking trails. It just that, nothing else.
For an entrance to anything worth biking, head over to the La Contenta Road, an unpaved road to several spots to bike to faroff views as well as closeup ones. These include Eureka Peak and Upper and Lower Convington Flats.
Also, worth mentioning, taking Park Blvd. south will bring you to West Entrance, the most frequented of all entrances to the park. The road goes through the entrance and fee station then heads into the park's center. Also, a visitor center in that area is worth visiting.
From Twentynine Palms
Twentynine Palms is a tourist supported town located at the North Entrance and Oasis of Mara. A visitor center is situated at the oasis and gives detailed info on what to do and see within the park itself.
The North Entrance is reached at the southern end of Utah Trail. The road become Park Blvd. after passing the entrance station. A number of options are then given at a Y-fork intersection.
Fees, Permits and RegulationsDue to the fragile environment in the park, bikers are limited to dirt roads. Even so, there are plenty enough miles of road to bike on in the park.
Also, a $10 fee is charged at entrance stations. These are good for 7 days. Note that rangers will be checking for them in the car so make them visible. Alternatively, you may purchase a year-round pass for $40. It will be good for 1 year. Otherwise, you may buy a park pass which allows access to all national parks and forests for 1 year at a cost of $80.
No permits are required anywhere in Joshua Tree National Park in terms of biking.
Eureka Peak- Eureka Peak is a stenuous uphill climb starting in the Black Rock Campground in the northwestern part of the park. Much of the route follows the California Hiking and Riding Trail to Eureka Peak Road which steeply attains Eureka's summit.
Geology Tour- This 4-wheel drive road climbs and descends up into mountains and down into valleys. When combined with the harsh climate, it turns into a challenging monster. Scenery is fantastic and everywhere. This route is located near the park's center and runs north-south.
Old Dale- The Old Dale Road begins just north of Cottonwood Oasis near the south entrance. The road is flat for much of the way as it crawls through Pinto Basin. It then hits the Pinto Mountains and gently climbs over a pass through the mountains and ends at CA-62.
Useful SitesThese are some sites you should visit before the bike.
NPS: Joshua Tree- The National Park Service's Joshua Tree NP site which includes updated info as well as more images.
Joshua tree - Wikipedia- Some facts on the Joshua Tree itself by Wikipedia.