A Travel Price Comparison for California Joshua Tree National Park vs. Palm Springs for Hiking, Backpackers, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is a fascinating, adventurous, and unique national park. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for hiking.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a chic, outdoorsy, and ritzy city. It's also popular because of the nightlife, food, and hiking.

Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for food
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less walkable
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular for food and cuisine
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Palm Springs than Joshua Tree National Park, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Palm Springs is better known for its museums, food, nightlife, resorts, and shopping, while Joshua Tree National Park is more popular for its hiking and impressive beauty. Palm Springs is more touristy than Joshua Tree National Park and is popular for its golfing, shopping, and mid-century modern architecture. Also, Palm Springs is famous for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Joshua Tree National Park is well known for its unique vegetation and large boulders.

How is Joshua Tree National Park different from Palm Springs?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a city with good options for its museums and history. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its museums and landmarks.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Palm Springs. The Palm Springs Air Museum has an impressive collection of military planes. It's also worth visiting the Palm Springs Art Museum, which has a mix of fine art, natural history, and performing arts. You'll also find botanical gardens and even a zoo around town.

Joshua Tree National Park offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. There are a couple of museums in the area that display local art or cultural and historical items.


Is the Food Better in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a very popular place for its restaurants. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its restaurant scene.

Palm Springs has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Fresh ingredients and typical California cuisine is common around town. Brunch is a popular option for visitors and you'll find countless brunch cafes in the area. You'll also find Mexican food, pizza, and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.

While Joshua Tree National Park is not famous for its food, you'll find what you need there. There aren't any restaurants inside the park, so you'll want to pack your own food and eat at one of the picnic areas.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs Better for Nightlife?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is renowned for its evening party scene. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for nightlife.

Palm Springs is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. The area is filled with nightlife options that range from cocktail bars to nightclubs or breweries. You can party into the early morning at the dance clubs or enjoy a bottle of wine with friends at one of the lounges.

Things get quiet in the evenings in Joshua Tree National Park. Stargazing and gathering around campfires are the most popular activities during the evening.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs Better for Resorts?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is renowned for its luxury resorts. However, Joshua Tree National Park is not a resort destination.

Palm Springs is a world class resort vacation destination. Resorts range from luxurious to more laid back. Most have impressive pools and many have their own spas, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Joshua Tree National Park is not a resort destination.


Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs Better for Hiking?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing national park to visit for the nearby hiking options. Also, Palm Springs is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its hiking trails.

Many people visit Joshua Tree National Park specifically for its hiking. There are a wide range of hikes that include easy, moderate, and strenuous options. Some of the best hikes include Discovery Trail, Boy Scout Trail, and Black Rock Canyon Panorama Loop.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Palm Springs. There are more than 100 trails in the Greater Palm Springs area that take you through scenic desert landscapes and unique ecosystems. Some of the most popular trails include Andreas Canyon Trail and Araby Trail.

Is the Shopping Better in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a very popular place for its shopping areas. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for shopping.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Palm Springs. Shopping ranges from outlets to boutique vendors. For the most local options head to Palm Canyon Drive and for an upscale shopping experience, visit the El Paseo shopping district.

Joshua Tree National Park has some shopping areas for those that seek them out. There is a park store where you can pick up gifts or other items.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs Better for Families?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Both Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs are superb to visit with kids.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Joshua Tree National Park. With its giant boulders that kids can scramble on and its Dr. Seuss-like Joshua Trees, this really is nature's best playground. There are also kid-friendly hikes and Junior Ranger Programs that will both educate and entertain the kids.

Palm Springs is a very family-friendly place to visit. The year round sunny weather and diversity of outdoor activities make this a great family-friendly destination. There are desert hikes, zoos, and even a dinosaur museum. Kids can also pass their time playing at the pool or enjoying the waterslides.


Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs Better for Couples?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Both Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs are superb destinations for a couple's getaway.

Joshua Tree National Park makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples who enjoy the outdoors, adventure sports like rock climbing, and hiking through spectacular landscapes will find this to be the ultimate romantic destination.

Couples visit Palm Springs frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Whether you're on a honeymoon or simply looking to escape the city, there are many romantic options in the area. From cozy inns to resort spa hotels, there are a range of accommodation options. Outdoor dining, hiking, and shopping are also popular.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazing national park to visit for backpackers. However, Palm Springs is a mediocre city for backpackers and budget travelers.

Joshua Tree National Park is a mecca for backpackers and budget travelers. There are campgrounds and hiking trails that are popular with backpackers and nature enthusiasts.

Palm Springs is a challenging destination for budget travelers and backpackers due to the higher prices. While the city is more famous for its upscale clientele, there's actually a hostel in town for backpackers.

Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a decent place to visit for times when you don't have a car. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its public transit.

Public transit is mostly limited in Palm Springs. There are nine bus routes operated by SunLine Transit Agency, but most visitors prefer to have a car to get around.

Public transit is limited or non-existant in Joshua Tree National Park. There's no reliable public transportation in the park.


Is Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs a more walkable city?

Joshua Tree National Park
Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a city with good options for its ease of walking around. However, Joshua Tree National Park is lacking in good options for its walkability.

Palm Springs is a somewhat walkable city. Parts of the city are very walkable, particularly the touristy areas along Palm Canyon Drive.

Joshua Tree National Park is not a walkable national park. You need a car to truly explore the park.

For even more information, also check out Is Joshua Tree National Park Worth Visiting? and Is Palm Springs Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Palm Springs or Joshua Tree National Park?

How long in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

It's fun to spend time in either Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs. In our opinion, Palm Springs has more to see and do, so we recommend spending more time in Palm Springs than Joshua Tree National Park. However, 2-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Palm Springs than Joshua Tree National Park. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Palm Springs, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Palm Springs than Joshua Tree National Park. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Palm Springs that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Palm Springs than Joshua Tree National Park if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Palm Springs.


  • How many days in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs? Ideal Length of Stay
    Joshua Tree National Park 2-4 
    Palm Springs 2-4

One day in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

In Joshua Tree National Park, many people enjoy the that this adventurous national park offers. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the outdoorsy city of Palm Springs. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A weekend in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

Joshua Tree National Park is a fun place to experience. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Lots of people come for the hiking. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Palm Springs. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend. Most people visit for the nightlife. Because of this, a weekend is usually enough time for a trip here.


Five days in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

You'll find around the adventurous destination of Joshua Tree National Park. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Lots of people come for the hiking. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

Palm Springs is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything. It offers something for everyone.

A week in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

Joshua Tree National Park is a popular place to visit. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Palm Springs is a popular choice for travelers. Most people visit for the nightlife. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare. Your budget might influence how long you stay.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Cultural Tours in United States of America, The Best Photography Tours in United States of America, The Best Camping Tours in United States of America, and The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Palm Springs or Joshua Tree National Park?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Joshua Tree National Park is $152, while the average daily cost in Palm Springs is $206. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Joshua Tree National Park $87
    Palm Springs $120
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Joshua Tree National Park $174
    Palm Springs $240
Compare Hotels in Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs

Looking for a hotel in Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Joshua Tree National Park


Hotels in Palm Springs


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Palm Springs Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Joshua Tree National Park $47
    Palm Springs $52

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Palm Springs

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Palm Springs:

  • Private Transfer from Palm Springs Municipal Airport to Ontario: $265
  • Private Transfer from PSP to Vía La Quinta, Indio, CA : $160
  • Private Transfer from PSP to Palm Desert / Indian Wells: $137
  • Private Airport Transfer in Palm Springs: $198
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to SANTA ANA - Arrival Private Transfer: $129
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) to ONTARIO - Arrival Private Transfer: $106
  • Palm Springs Airport to Snow Summit - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $265
  • Palm Springs Airport to Desert Hot Springs Round-Trip Transfer: $177
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LOS ANGELES - Arrival Private Transfer: $173
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to LA QUINTA/INDIO - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $130
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to INDIAN WELLS - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $163
  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP) to Desert Hot Springs Private Transfer: $88

Is it cheaper to fly into Joshua Tree National Park or Palm Springs?

Prices for flights to both Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Joshua Tree National Park $35
    Palm Springs $53

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Joshua Tree National Park $27
    Palm Springs $29

Tours and Activities in Palm Springs

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Palm Springs are as follows:

  • 10+ Self-Guided Driving Tours from Las Vegas: $50
  • 100+ Self Guided Driving & Walking Tours by Action: $100
  • Covered Wagon Adventure & BBQ: $129
  • Death Valley National Park Audio Guided Driving Tour: $9.99
  • Death Valley National Park Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour: $17
  • Earthquake Canyon Express Downhill Bicycle Adventure: $139
  • Food Adventure Game: $99
  • Indian Canyons Walking Tour by Jeep from Palm Springs: $200
  • Joshua Tree National Park Air-Conditioned Tour: $149
  • Joshua Tree National Park Driving Tour : $235
  • Joshua Tree National Park Offroad Tour: $235
  • Joshua Tree National Park Self-Driving Audio Tour: $17

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Joshua Tree National Park $4.93
    Palm Springs $13


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs, we can see that Palm Springs is more expensive. And not only is Joshua Tree National Park much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Joshua Tree National Park would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Joshua Tree National Park and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Palm Springs would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Palm Springs than you might in Joshua Tree National Park.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Joshua Tree National Park Expensive? and Is Palm Springs Expensive?.