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 our detailed guide covering all you need to know for hiking the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail at Joshua Tree!
Psst! If you’re looking for other great hikes to do at Joshua Tree, we also recommend checking out the nearby:
All of these trails are relatively short and only take a couple of hours to complete.
Quick Trail Facts
Before we dive into the details, here are a few Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail facts 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
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!
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 of 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 an app like AllTrails or Maps.Me to stay on track with the hiking route. In just 2018 a Canadian man sadly lost his life on this trail after reaching the oasis but returning the wrong way. 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 it’s recommended to hike it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Avoid hiking in the middle of the day especially during the hot summer months.
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 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 brought your dog to Joshua Tree. You can read more about Joshua Tree National Park 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.
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 very convenient. We stayed at the Indian Cove Campground for one night and really enjoyed it.
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.
What To Bring
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.
During our trip in April, it was raining and super windy one day, then extremely hot the next. For our trip, we brought a variety of clothing items from leggings and jackets to t-shirts and shorts.
Here are some other items that we packed for our hikes at Joshua Tree:
- Merrell Mix Master Trail Running Shoes that are perfect for day hikes like this one
- Nike One Luxe leggings that are made from sustainable materials and can be worn for a few days straight when hiking and camping
- Comfortable t-shirts & flannels – great for hiking outdoors
- Polarized Sunglasses to help with harsh sunlight
- A travel hat – my personal favorite is the Festival Hat by tentree
- Sunscreen & lip balm which is essential for hiking at Joshua Tree
- Reusable water bottle with a filter, plus extra water for hotter day hikes like this one
- Headlamp and a first aid kit for emergencies
- Portable phone charger in case your phone runs out of battery or you get lost
- A small day pack. I use the REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack which fits everything I need for day hikes and comes with a breathable back & mesh straps for extra comfort.
Our Experience Hiking The Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail
Here is the detailed breakdown of the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail for those wondering what the hike is like & a few of the “must-see” stops along the trail.
After parking at the designated lot, we 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.
There is almost no shade along this trail so I recommend starting as early as possible. We started our hike at around 10 am and I wish we had left a couple of hours earlier. By the time we reached the summit, we were burning up in the sun.
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 if you have them.
The best part about this trail are the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape that you can enjoy during the hike. Soon after you start the descend you will spot green palm trees behind rocks in the distance.
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 from illegal campfires. There are many signs around the oasis asking visitors to stay on the designated trails and off this sensitive habitat.
Some other things that you can expect to see along this trail are red barrel cactus that look so colorful in the tan desert landscape and small shrubs.
We also passed a few Chuckwallas that are essentially these giant desert lizards. Despite looking very intimidating, they are not dangerous.
After exploring the Fortynine Palms Oasis, we started venturing back the same way we came. Overall the hike took us a couple of hours to complete going at a slow but steady pace with frequent breaks.
Joshua Tree is one of the most beautiful National Park in Southern California that is easy to access and hike. We hope you’re ready to take on the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail but if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us in the comment section below and we’ll do our best to answer them!
Looking for a vacation rental around Joshua Tree National Park? 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!
Planning more trips in California? Here are a few other California travel posts that you may like:
- Hiking Wall Street Mill Trail At Joshua Tree National Park
- Guide To Hiking Barker Dam Nature Trail In Joshua Tree
- Hiking Ryan Mountain Trail At Joshua Tree National Park
- Hiking Skull Rock Trail At Joshua Tree National Park
- 6 Easy Death Valley Hikes That You Shouldn’t Miss
Interested in stepping up your photography skills? Here is the camera gear that I use and recommend to create amazing travel photos:
- Main camera: Sony a7II Camera With 28-70 mm Standard Lens
- Polarizer Filter for the standard lens (helps eliminate reflection and enhance color especially on super bright days): Amazon Basics 55 mm
- Wide Lens (great for nature shots): Sony 16-35 mm F4
- Polarizer Filter for the wide lens: Amazon Basics 72 mm
- Small Tripod (to stabilize photos and eliminate blur): JOBY Gorrilapod
- Memory Cards: SanDisk 32 GB
- Batteries: Sony Camera Charger Set
- Camera Bag: Lowepro weather-resistant bag
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