Looking for an adventure like no other? Go on a Las Vegas to Joshua Tree road trip, trust me. This stunning drive is full of unique attractions, amazing locations, and incomparable scenery – and here are the best stops for your itinerary.
A Las Vegas to Joshua Tree road trip should be at the top of your bucket list. You’ll go from Sin City’s bright lights to the desert beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. With plenty of awesome things to see and do along the way, this road trip is one to remember.
The drive from Vegas to Joshua Tree is actually only 3.5 hours, but why go quick when you can make it into an adventure with these great stops along the way?
The Las Vegas to Joshua Tree drive provides no shortage of unique adventures to pack into a single day, giving you loads of opportunity to take both gorgeous photos and explore Mother Nature’s finest. It’s important to remember though, that this is a desert with roads to match. If you’re prepared to bounce along for at least some of it, then let’s hit the open road and explore all that Las Vegas and Joshua Tree have to offer!
Best Stops on the Las Vegas to Joshua Tree Road Trip
1. Las Vegas to Primm (44 miles, 41 minutes)
On your journey from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree National Park, you can hop on I-15 S and be in the beautiful Mojave National Preserve in 44 miles and 41 minutes. Its sweeping landscapes and unique tourist stops will keep you captivated during the road trip as you make your picturesque way down South. Whether you want to stop for a quick bite or snap a few photographs to remember your travels, this scenic route offers endless opportunities to customise the experience according to your interests. Enjoy the open road, but drive safely!
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Where To Eat in Primm, NV
Primm & Proper ($$)
Primm, NV, is bursting with a variety of restaurants to try. A little spot called Primm & Proper in the Primm Valley Resort & Casino is definitely worth checking out. Tempting dishes like their indulgent avocado toast will leave you wanting more. The dish comes with a freshly poached egg and ripe tomatoes placed atop wild greens, all perfectly arranged on warm country-grilled bread. Don’t miss out while you’re here!
Things To Do In Primm
1. Seven Magic Mountains
You’ll soon understand why this incredible art installation was named Seven Magic Mountains. Located just outside Las Vegas, the seven towering rock towers will take your breath away. Feel free to explore and admire the vibrant colors that make up each tower while making a wish or two. Take a break from the journey at this unique stop!
2. Whiskey Pete’s
If you’re a fan of historical sites and quirky attractions, Whiskey Pete’s Hotel & Casino is the place for you! Located just next to the main cashier stage, you’ll find the infamous “Death Car” of legendary Depression-era criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. The V8 Ford served as their getaway car during their crime spree, and it even has bullet holes in the metal that can be seen through the glass casing it now lives in. Take your camera; this is a one-of-a-kind display that honors the iconic criminal couple who left their mark on America’s history.
3. The Lotto Store at Primm
On the way to Joshua Tree National Park from Vegas, take a pit stop at The Lotto Store at Primm. It’s one of Nevada’s most visited tourist attractions, and you’ll easily see why. From slot machines to interactive gaming systems, this place is packed with options for fun! Don’t miss out on a chance to test your luck here.
2. Primm to Amboy, CA (91 miles, 1 hour 32 minutes)
Leaving Primm and heading down Kelbaker Road towards I-15 South can make you feel like a real-life road tripper, but you won’t forget the destination either. Amboy, California, awaits you, a famous Mojave Desert’ ghost town’ along one of the most iconic of American highways: Route 66. It’s here that major Hollywood films were shot – such as The Hitcher in 1986 – and many epic music videos were filmed, like Enrique Iglesias’ Hero back in 2001.
You don’t want to miss your chance to see (and take photos!) of some of these cultural milestones in person. So hop on board and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!
What to Eat in Amboy
1. Roy’s Motel & Cafe
Roy’s Motel & Cafe, located right in the Mojave Desert, is the perfect spot to take a quick break during your Route 66 adventure. You won’t find any fresh cooking here; it’s been empty since the 1940s. But the gas station is still running, and they’ve got plenty of goodies to munch on! Grab an icy cold root beer from Roy’s and fuel up with some snack-sized treats. Remember that Roy’s has some of the highest gas prices on Route 66, so stock up at a better bargain if you’re planning a long trip!
Things to Do in Amboy
1. Mojave National Preserve
The Mojave National Preserve is a must-see destination while you’re in Amboy. The park is home to rugged mountains, endless desert vistas, sand dunes, and even Joshua trees. You’ll be amazed by the vast amount of wildlife that calls this preserve their home – everything from leopard lizards to kit foxes. Bring some snacks, a camera, and an adventurous spirit; you won’t want to miss out on this incredible opportunity!
2. Amboy Crater
Amboy Crater is another must-see location in Amboy. This cinder cone volcano is considered to be extinct, yet you can still witness its beauty during your trip. Take a hike to the crater’s rim, and you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding desert. It’s best to come during sunrise or sunset for a truly magical experience.
3. Amboy Roadside Attractions
Amboy is full of attractions that are unique only to this area. Stop by the landmark Roy’s Motel & Cafe and the iconic Amboy Roadside Attraction – a collection of seven towers that stretch up to 20 feet in height. Admire the intricate designs that make up each tower while making a wish or two. Take a break from the journey at this unique stop!
4. Amboy to Joshua Tree, CA (64 miles, 1 hour 6 minutes)
Leave Amboy and travel just 64 miles in 1 hour and 6 minutes to experience the stunning Joshua Tree National Park’s giant boulder formations, thrilling hiking trails, deserted ranches, and old mines. Get ready for a camping adventure of a lifetime.
Bring your RV or tent and experience desert camping to the fullest with its wide open night sky littered with stars and constellations! This stunning park is home to incredible geological features like skylines, boulders, and rock formations that date back millions of years. Explore some of the trails here and take in the night sky’s beauty. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
Where to eat in Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree Saloon ($$)
The Joshua Tree Saloon is a great place to enjoy a meal while visiting the unforgettable wonder of Joshua Tree National Park. From its signature plates to delicious craft beers on tap, the saloon provides a range of options for all taste buds. Their welcoming atmosphere also features nightly music and events for visitors to participate in occasional celebrity sightings. With home-cooked meals from burgers and fries to entrees like steak and ribs with all the fixings, it’s clear why the Joshua Tree Saloon has become one go-to spot for where to eat in Joshua Tree!
What to do in Joshua Tree
1. Rock climbing
If you’re looking for an exhilarating experience, go rock climbing at Joshua Tree! With over 8,000 routes, there’s something for every level of climber. As one of the best spots in the world to climb and mountain bike, try your hand – or feet – at outdoor rock climbing for an unforgettable adventure. With endless routes, friendly locals, and unbeatable desert scenery, you won’t regret it!
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places in the world to stargaze – with its clear night skies free from light pollution. Witness a canopy of stars unlike any other as you take in the wonders of space. It’s a great way to end your day after exploring some park trails or camping under its wide open sky. Relax and marvel at the Milky Way and planets like Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars that can be found above.
Hike through Joshua Tree’s vast terrain for an unforgettable experience! With over 750,000 acres to explore, you’ll find plenty of trails suited for all skill levels. From short and easy hikes to long and challenging ones that can easily take up a whole day – take your pick and get ready to enjoy the spectacular views! Enjoy a picnic with the family or catch some wildlife like desert bighorn sheep, leopard lizards, and kit foxes. With so much beauty waiting to be discovered, you won’t want to miss out on this incredible opportunity!
5. Joshua Tree to Barstow, CA (199 miles, 3 hours 17 minutes)
Continue on your journey 199 miles and 3 hours 17 minutes to the historic town of Barstow. This charming desert town has been a popular stop along the famous Route 66 since 1938. Check out sites like the Western America Railroad Museum, which features vintage trains from all over the country.
Explore Calico Ghost Town and its unique mix of Victorian-era buildings, shops, and restaurants that will take you back in time. Don’t forget to check out one of Barstow’s many rock formations for a great photo opportunity!
Where to eat in Barstow
1. Frosty’s Donuts
Frosty’s Donuts is a must-stop for any sweet tooth. Enjoy some of their freshly made donuts, from classic glazed to maple bacon-covered treats. Or, if you’re in the mood for something savory, try one of Frosty’s signature breakfast sandwiches or wraps. Their cozy atmosphere makes this the perfect spot for a mid-morning snack or an afternoon treat!
What to do in Barstow
1. Western America Railroad Museum
Visit the Western America Railroad Museum and step back in time to the days of steam locomotives. This museum is home to some of the oldest, rarest, and most iconic trains from all over the country. From passenger cars to cabooses and even fire engines, you’ll get a chance to see some incredible pieces of history up close. Be sure to also check out their train rides for a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
2. Calico Ghost Town
Explore Calico Ghost Town and its mix of Victorian-era buildings, shops, restaurants, and old mines. Try your hand at gold panning or take a ride on one of their two vintage trolleys for a unique experience. There are also plenty of great spots for photo opportunities, so don’t forget your camera! After a day of exploring the town and its history, be sure to enjoy some delicious food at one of their many restaurants.
3. Rock Formations
Head out to Barstow’s rock formations for some fun outdoor activities! Go on a hike or mountain bike around the area – you’ll get to take in stunning views while challenging yourself with different terrain levels. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, try rock climbing.
There are endless routes are perfect for climbers of all skill levels.
Top tips for the Las Vegas to Joshua Tree road trip
The Las Vegas to Joshua Tree road trip is an incredible journey for anyone looking for a thrilling adventure. From the glittering lights of Sin City to stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park and exploring historic Barstow, this is a true bucket list trip.
So if you’re ready to hit the open road, make sure you include these stops on your Vegas to Joshua Tree road trip itinerary to experience all this beautiful region has to offer. With spectacular natural views, unique cultural attractions, and plenty of fun activities waiting around every corner – it won’t be long before your next road trip from Las Vegas is calling again!
Sunday 26th of March 2023
Hi Vicky, fantastic blog on the trip from Las Vegas to Joshua Tree. Is there any Tour you’d recommend in Joshua tree? I’m on a business trip to Vegas (20.-25. May 2023) and will arrive on May 18 to spend my birthday (May 19) at Joshua Tree. Any other recommendation for a birthday in the desert is welcome as well😊 Many thanks, Andreas