Joshua Tree / Southern California / USA / USA National Parks

5 Reasons to Visit Keys View in Joshua Tree

Keys View is a panoramic viewpoint in Joshua Tree national park that is easily accessible for park visitors, and provides stunning views of the desert landscape below. It’s often called the best view in Joshua Tree, and is a must see on any Joshua Tree trip. Keys View puts you at such a high vantage point, that on clear days you can even see down to Mexico. There are so many reasons to visit Keys View when in Joshua tree, but I’ve listed 5 major ones below to help with your travel planning.

Keys View is the best viewpoint in Joshua Tree (the top reason to visit)

The desert landscape seen from Keys View stretches far into the distance (you can even see a mountain top in Mexico on clear days). This magnificent viewpoint is one of the best in Joshua Tree National Park. There is a designated viewing platform up top for visitors to stop and admire the views. Signs are posted up on the platform as well to help identify the landmarks, and get a bit more information on the desert views in front of you. Binoculars are recommended to be able to see them all. With the light and shadows ever changing the surrounding landscape, the experience at Keys View will be different each hour of the day. From Keys View you can see:

  • Palm Springs
  • Coachella Valley
  • The Salton Sea
  • Mount San Jacinto
  • Mount Gorgonio
  • Mount Signal (in Mexico!)
Desert landscape views from the overlook in Joshua Tree
Overlook at Keys View

Keys View is Easy to Access

For those on a road trip to Joshua tree or who are just driving through the national park, Keys View is a perfect stop because it easy so easily accessed. It is located on park maps and is easy to find. Be sure to grab a paper map on your way in or download an offline park map for areas with little to no cell service. There is a large parking lot and a paved hill heading up to the viewing platform. Keys View is one of the amazing locations in Joshua Tree National Park that can be reached without a hike.

Parking Lot and walking path at Keys View
Parking Lot and Paved Walking Path at Keys View

Keys View is beautiful any of time of day, but this spot is at its most spectacular during sunset or sunrise. Sunrise is the most popular visiting hour, when the light can be seen sinking into the desert horizon as the orange tones fade from the sky. Since sunset is the most popular time to visit, be sure to get there early to get yourself a parking spot and prime viewing spot. This is especially important for those looking to set up tripods for some sunset photography. If you’re looking for an alternative view, try arriving in the early hours of the morning to watch moon set as the sun slowly rises and warms up the desert. Sunrise is sure to much less crowded, any time of year.

5 Reasons to visit Keys View in Joshua Tree
Exploring the walking paths at Keys View

Keys View is the Trailhead for the Inspiration Peak Hike

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to see more beautiful Joshua Tree views, you can easily access the Inspiration Peak Hike from Keys View. Keep your eyes peeled for the trailhead. This 2 mile moderately-paced hike takes you out and back to Inspiration Peak, another stunning viewpoint of the desert below. The first part of the trail is a bit tricky to follow, so be sure to download an offline map. I like using apps like AllTrails for my hikes. As with any desert hike, be sure to bring sturdy athletic shoes, long pants, stick to the marked trail, and watch out for snakes. If traveling with lots of supplies, like food, first aid, or camera equipment, I recommend one of these day backpacks for hiking.

Parking lot and visitors on the viewing platform
Visitors on the viewing platform

Keys View has Major Photography Opportunities

If you’re looking for photography opportunities at Keys View, be sure to avoid the harsh light of midday. The sunlight at noon really washes out the shadows and colors of the desert landscape. The view is still awe-inspiring, but your photos will be much better in the morning or early evening when there are some shadows and definition in the desert below. There is plenty of room at Keys View as well, so feel free to bring your photography equipment and let your creativity run wild. New to photography? I recommend one of these photography starter kits. Or to see what I use for my website and travel blogging, check out my related article on Travel Blogging Photography Gear.

Information landmark signs at the overlook

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