There’s a tremendous amount of exploration to be had in JTNP, but remember, this is nature’s playground - and nature is wild and often unpredictable. Please follow these tips so you can have a safe and fun visit:
- Always hike with a partner. If you absolutely must go alone, leave a detailed itinerary (include what trails you plan to take and what time you expect to be back from your hike) with someone responsible who can alert Search and Rescue if you do not return at your expected time.
- Come equipped with a map, compass, and headlamp (even if you expect to be out of the park by dusk). If you bring a set of binoculars, you might be able to see some amazing sights at the lookouts.
- If you’re hiking in to catch a sunrise or out after a sunset, use extra caution in the park and on the surrounding roadways. Wildlife is typically active during this time of day.
- Have a first aid kit with you that includes bandages and ointment, moleskin, analgesics, and an antihistamine (these are helpful for scorpion stings), comb, tape, and tweezers (in case you have an encounter with a jumping cholla or cactus spines), and any medication you might need in the event of delayed hiking time.
- Dress appropriately. Temperatures can vary greatly in the desert, so dress in layers. Wear appropriate, close-toed shoes. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing light-colored, loose clothing with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. There’s not much shade in the park.
- Remember, the summer months are very hot and dry. It is best to hike very early in the morning. There’s no water available in the park, so bring in more than you think you might need. A good rule of thumb is two gallons of water per person, per day. When the water is half gone, turn back. Don’t take chances.
- Keep in mind that during the cooler months, it can drop below freezing. It’s very common for hikers to miscalculate hike times. Plan to return to the trailhead by 4 PM around the winter solstice.
- Always bring enough snacks to last an entire day. Include salty snacks, they help replenish electrolytes that are lost through sweating.
- Respect wildlife – hiking or driving through the park provides a unique opportunity to see some amazing creatures. Drive the speed limits. Roads can be narrow, and any animal can run out in front of moving vehicles. Always admire wildlife at a safe distance, and never approach with food or for a photo opportunity. Some of these animals can carry deadly diseases such as rabies, hantavirus, and the plague.
- The park is home to a few creatures that some might find scary, such as tarantulas, scorpions, black widow spiders, and rattlesnakes. They won’t typically bother you. If for any reason you remove your footwear, gently shake it out before putting it back on. Always look before you step or put your hands, especially when climbing boulders. Most snake bites occur when the snake accidentally gets stepped on, grabbed, or provoked.
- Stay away from any bees that you hear buzzing. They can be attracted to human perspiration in a dry climate. If approached, try to walk away carefully. Do not swat at them.
- Always check the weather before you venture out. Never move into standing water on roadways. Know that flash floods can occur suddenly.
- Never enter mine tunnels or shafts.
- Keep in mind that the park is a fragile ecosystem and respect it accordingly, bearing in mind the “Leave no trace” principle. Leave only footprints, take only pictures.
- Remember, there is no cell service in the park.
- Check into a visitor center upon your arrival and inquire about navigating the park safely. Hot weather can provide a life-threatening situation and is often the common cause of rescues and recoveries.
Finally, know your limits. This is not the place to push your boundaries. If you do run into issues, keep in mind that the shuttle bus system stops at Twentynine Palms at the Transit Center and the Oasis Visitor Center on a regular schedule before making a loop through the northern area of the park (familiarize yourself with this map before you go)
Now go out and begin your adventure!