Hiking Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail At Joshua Tree

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail is on top of the list for almost anyone heading to Joshua Tree National Park.

This scenic 3-mile-long trail features sweeping panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and ends at an unexpected palm tree oasis in the midst of an otherwise dry desert.

To help you plan and make the most of this hike, here is my detailed guide covering all you need to know for hiking the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail at Joshua Tree National Park!

Psst! If you’re looking for other great hikes to do at Joshua Tree, I also recommend checking out the nearby:

All of these trails are relatively short and only take a couple of hours to complete.

Lush palm trees at Fortynine Palms Oasis.

Table Of Contents:

Quick Trail Overview

Before I dive into the details, here are a few Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail highlights to give you an overall idea of the hike:

  • Length: 3 miles out and back
  • Time needed: 2-3 hours
  • Trail difficulty: Moderate to hard
  • Elevation gain: Around 650 feet
  • Dogs allowed?: No

Trailhead Location & Parking

Most of the Joshua Tree National Park trails are located at the center of the park, but the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail is located in the northern section of Joshua Tree. While it is a bit out of the way, the landscape here is so beautiful and totally worth the detour!

49 Palms Oasis Trailhead

There is a decent-sized parking lot designated just for Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail hikers. There is also a restroom at the trailhead if you need to use it before or after the hike.

Once you park the trailhead is easy to spot at the end of the parking lot. At the trailhead, you can check out a map of the Fortynine Palms Oasis Hike, some trail warnings, and what you can expect from it.

Trail Location: Fortynine Palms Canyon Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail Description

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail is one of the best hikes at Joshua Tree National Park but it is also one of the most difficult ones here. With 650 feet of elevation change in just 1.5 miles, this trail is both challenging and strenuous.

49 Palms Oasis Trail Map:

Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail is straightforward and follows the same path first up and then down a mountain.

The 49 Palms Oasis is located at the end of the trail offering a bit of shade and a place to rest before tackling the way back.

This trail is well marked and is easy to follow but I always recommend using a hiking app like AllTrails to stay on track. Much of the landscape at Joshua Tree looks the same so it’s easy to get lost.

The Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail travels through an extremely dry desert landscape with almost no shade so I highly recommend hiking it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Avoid hiking in the middle of the day, especially during the hot summer months.

Beautiful landscape along the trail.

Know Before You Go

If you plan to hike the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail, here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you head out on the trail:

  • It is free to hike the 49 Palms Oasis Trail. This trail is located outside of the Joshua Tree National Park entrance gates so there is no fee to enter and hike it. But if you plan to do any other trails at Joshua Tree, it costs $30 for a Joshua Tree National Park visitor car pass that is good for 7 days. Or you can purchase an annual America The Beautiful National Park pass for $80 which grants you unlimited entry into US National Parks for a year. This is what I have and it usually pays itself off within a couple of trips.
  • There is limited reception in Joshua Tree so I recommend downloading an offline hiking app ahead of time. There was some reception along this trail near the top.
  • Joshua Tree weather gets extremely hot past April which can be very dangerous, even for short day hikes. Before heading out on any trails be sure to bring enough water, wear a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and bring a lip balm.
  • Joshua Tree does not have any drinking water. You will need to purchase enough water for hiking and camping ahead of time. The water at the oasis is not safe to consume for humans.
  • There are no gas stations inside Joshua Tree National Park. Be sure to fill up on gas before entering the park so you don’t get stranded in the desert with no gas.
  • Dogs are not allowed on this trail so this is something to keep in mind if you plan to bring your dog to Joshua Tree. You can read more about Joshua Tree National Park’s pet policy here.
  • It’s always a great idea to tell someone where you’re heading because accidents and heat exhaustion can happen at Joshua Tree. Sadly, people have lost lives at Joshua Tree, even on short trails like this one.

My Experience Hiking The Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail

Here is the detailed breakdown of the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail & a few of the must-see stops along the trail.

After parking at the designated lot, I walked over to the trailhead to check out the map and trail warnings which mostly centered around heat exhaustion.

The Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail starts on a well-marked sandy path and soon after starts to climb up in elevation. The first 0.8 miles gains around 350 feet in elevation before climbing back down so this section will make you work for it! 

Steep section at the beginning of the trail.
Views of the surrounding landscapes from the trail.

There is almost no shade along this trail so I recommend starting as early as possible. I started the hike at around 10 am and I wish I had left a couple of hours earlier. By the time I reached the summit, I was burning up in the sun.

The bare landscape along the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail.

Thankfully the next section travels down so you do get a bit of a break from the strenuous climb. But this part can be tough on knees and toes so I recommend bringing hiking poles for assistance.

The best part about this trail is the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape that you can enjoy during the hike. Soon after you start the descent you will spot green palm trees behind rocks in the distance.

View of the palm tree oasis from the distance.
Lush palm trees at Fortynine Palms Oasis.

Most of the Joshua Tree landscape consists of extremely dry land so it’s surprising and unexpected to see a lush palm tree oasis in the midst of it. Once you reach the 49 Palms Oasis you can take a much-needed break and escape from the sun before heading back.

Sadly, some of the palm trees at this oasis have been burned by illegal campfires. There are many signs around the oasis asking visitors to stay on the designated trails and off this sensitive habitat.

Signs along 49 Palms Oasis Trail.

Some other things that you can expect to see along this trail are red barrel cacti that look so colorful in the tan desert landscape and small shrubs.

I also spotted a few Chuckwallas that are essentially these giant desert lizards. Despite looking very intimidating, they are not dangerous.  

Chuckwalla lizard

After exploring the Fortynine Palms Oasis, I started venturing back the same way I came. Overall the hike took a couple of hours to complete going at a slow but steady pace with frequent breaks.

Desert landscape at Joshua Tree National Park.

What To Bring For The Hike

While the weather at Joshua Tree is pretty hot most of the year, it does cool down significantly in the winter. Typically, the best months to visit Joshua Tree are February, March, April, October, and November.

I hiked this trail in spring when the weather was warm, but not too hot.

During my trip in April, it was raining and super windy one day, then extremely hot the next. For this trip, I brought a variety of clothing items from leggings and jackets to t-shirts and shorts.

Here are some of the items that I packed for my hike at Joshua Tree:

Joshua Tree Campsites

If you are interested in camping at Joshua Tree overnight, the closest campsite to 49 Palms Oasis Trail is the Indian Cove Campground.

This campground is located just a 10-minute drive from the trailhead so it’s a very convenient place to stay before or after the hike. I stayed at the Indian Cove Campground for one night before my hike and really enjoyed it!

To make Indian Cove Campground reservations click here!

Indian Cove Campground at Joshua Tree

The Indian Cove Campground is very quiet and secluded but it’s also far from any other Joshua Tree Park attractions and trails. If you’re looking for a campsite inside the park boundaries, the Jumbo Rocks Campground is the largest and most popular campground that offers 124 campsites.

To make Jumbo Rocks Campground reservations click here!

Joshua Tree is one of the most beautiful National Parks in Southern California that is so easy to access and hike.

I hope you’re ready to take on the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comment section below!

Looking for a vacation rental around Joshua Tree National Park for your next trip? Check out this post next that covers 10 Stunning VRBO Rentals In Joshua Tree, California!


“On The Rocks!” Vacation Rental in Joshua Tree – click here to book it!

Looking for more Joshua Tree inspiration? Here are a few of our other popular Joshua Tree travel posts that you may like:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m the founder of the Fun Life Crisis travel blog and I’ve been traveling full-time for the past 7 years. Here I share my experiences and tips to help 100,000 people a month plan their adventures around the world! Read more about me here.

Some of the links used in this blog may be affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission when you book through these links for which I am very thankful! 

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