joshua tree stargazing

The High Desert: A Cannabis Connoisseur’s Guide to Glamping and Stargazing in Joshua Tree

by Dan Ketchum

A vast intersection of deserts, crystal-clear nighttime skies, and a thriving, vivid counterculture all come together to make Joshua Tree, California, something of a Shangri-La for cannabis lovers. Whether you’re after a touch of Joshua Tree glamping or just want to take in some off-the-beaten-path art, here’s how to absorb just about everything the park (and the city) have to offer, all in a Mistifi state of mind.   

A Word on Legality

Joshua Tree National Park — nearly 800,000 acres of Mojave and Colorado desert hosting hiking, camping and iconic stargazing — is the gem of the Hi-Desert. But that “National Park” part is important for cannabis connoisseurs to note, because the park itself is federal land. And while cannabis is legal to use recreationally in the state of California, that’s not the case on federal property. Likewise, Hi-Desert locales like Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms and San Bernardino County all have differing policies on the sale of cannabis, as the Hi-Desert Star reminds us. 

So while your legal risk tolerance is yours, the safest bet is to provide your own high outside of the limits of the national park’s borders, where typical California cannabis law will apply. And while the park itself is a must-see, it’s not the end-all of Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree Glamping

Your Joshua Tree glamping options fall into two basic categories: the glamp-it-yourself method, or pre-made glamper packages. We’ll cover both of them.

Glamp It Yourself

Joshua Tree National Park hosts 500 campsites, most of which are open year-round and available by reservation at These sites feature flush or pit toilets, tables, fire grates and dump stations, with Black Rock and Cottonwood sites also offering water. They range from $15 to $25 per night, which leaves you with more budget to put toward the gear that will elevate your Joshua Tree camping trip into a Joshua Tree glamping trip. 

The essence of glamping lies in luxury and style, so REI recommends bringing these (in)essentials, which we can confirm look great surrounded by a canvas tent or teepee:

  • An elevated cot with a super plush mattress and lots of homey bedding, including plenty of pillows and a serious comforter
  • Colorful rugs, a mirror and fresh flowers in earthy vases
  • Solar-powered LED lanterns or mini-LED faux candles
  • A high-tech, controlled fire pit (for both safety and style points) — forgo the franks and beans for a gourmet recipe, or it’s not proper glamping

A Curated Experience

On the flip side, Joshua Tree glamping can be even more posh when you let someone else do all the prep and gear work for you, leaving you to soak up the stars (and the fire pit, and the desert breeze, and sometimes the pool — you get the idea). Also in the plus column, these affordable glamping sites aren’t on federal land, and some offer 420-friendly safe spaces — just be sure to check with the hosts. A few of our favorite examples include the following: 

  • Celeste in Yucca Valley, a safari tent complete with a queen bed, romantic solar lighting and even an open-air king canopy bed for maximally relaxed Joshua Tree stargazing. 
  • Convenient to the park’s east entrance, the Capricorn Tent at Purple Peaks in Twentynine Palms offers a heated and cooled canvas tent, gas-powered fire pit, outdoor shower and even a coffee station on five desert acres.
  • For a group experience, the combo glamp of Purty Yurty and Mini Me features two solar-powered yurts in the town of Joshua Tree, where you can retire to plush beds among canvas walls and wood floors, or stargaze while lounging in an open-air clawfoot tub under the desert sky.   

Joshua Tree Stargazing

Joshua Tree stargazing is definitely a romantic notion, but it’s not one that we just made up. JT National Park is an official International Dark Sky Park, as christened by the International Dark-Sky Association, due to its freedom from artificial lighting and atmospheric pollutants. Look up when the sun goes down and you’ll witness a blanket of glitter in an ink-black sea.

For the ideal experience, the National Park Service recommends bundling up, cranking up your camera’s ISO and aperture, and limiting your nighttime lights to red hues, which help your eyes stay well adjusted amid low-light conditions. You can stargaze from just about anywhere in the park, but the moon’s phase can affect visibility, so try to schedule your viewing on nights with the least amount of moonlight. 

In the winter season, keep an eye (or a telescope) out for prominent constellations like Orion, Gemini and Taurus, or peek at Arcturus and Leo in the spring. Summertime in Joshua Tree presents a life-changing opportunity to see the Milky Way’s bands splash the sky on moonless nights, while the Andromeda Galaxy reveals itself in the autumn.  

Beyond the Park

Stepping off that federal land also grants you access to a brave new world of beautiful and eclectic counterculture that is uniquely Joshua Tree. All 10 acres of the otherworldly sculpture on display at the Noah Purifoy Foundation’s outdoor museum are an absolute must-see. The town of Joshua Tree’s official Art Walk endorses gallery spaces such as the mod-art heavy La Matadora in East Village and the hybrid performance and visual arts spaces at the Beatnik Lounge and Taylor Junction. 

When you’ve worked up an appetite from filling your eyeballs with galaxies and artwork, Eater and the Infatuation recommend local institutions like the hipster-cowboy hybrid Red Dog Saloon (try the wagyu brisket taco and the mole Manhattan), the sweet vegan treats at Natural Sisters, or the historic, honky-tonk-powered BBQ at Pappy and Harriet’s.

And to really put a bow on your Joshua Tree cannabis journey, try Over the Rainbow for the art, Phantom for the landscapes and Houdini for the stars. 

Dan Ketchum is an LA-based freelance lifestyle, fashion, health and food writer with more than a decade of experience. He’s been fortunate enough to collaborate and publish with companies such as FOCL, Vitagenne, Livestrong, Reign Together, Out East Rosé, SFGate, The Seattle Times and more.


Hi-Desert Star – Can You Smoke Pot in the Hi-Desert or Not?

National Park Service – Joshua Tree

National Park Service – Joshua Tree – Basic Information

National Park Service – Joshua Tree – Campgrounds

National Park Service – Joshua Tree – Hiking

National Park Service – Joshua Tree – Stargazing

REI – Glamping 101: How to Go from Camping to Glamping

Airbnb – Romantic Glamping in Celeste Tent

Airbnb – The Capricorn Tent at Purple Peaks

Airbnb – Purty Yurty and Mini Me

Joshua Tree Visitor’s Guide – Joshua Tree is an Artists Community

Locale – 6 Art-Stopping Installations to Add to Your Joshua Tree Bucket List

Eater – 20 Places to Drink and Dine Around Joshua Tree National Park

The Infatuation – The Best Places to Eat and Drink in Joshua Tree

Noah Purifoy Foundation – Home

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