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Joshua Tree / Southern California / USA / USA National Parks

Instagrammable Photo Spots in Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree is a city full of free souls and delightfully bizarre desert experiences. In this town, I found so many amazing Instagrammable photo spots that really allowed me to capture the beauty and essence of Joshua Tree. Here is a list of top, iconic images that will no doubt bring joy to your Instagram followers and family. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes it’s between the iconic sights where the true photo gems lie. 

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Cholla Cactus Garden (My favorite Instagrammable Photo Spot in Joshua Tree)

This garden of miniature Cholla Cacti, also known as teddy bear cacti, is where magic happens every morning at sunrise. At a certain time of day after the sun peaks over the mountain horizon, the cacti glow a brilliant orange. This color spreads across the garden, illuminating cacti as far as you can see, which creates the most magical backdrop for Instagram photos and desert photography in general. For more tips on when to visit, what to bring, and what to avoid at this spot, be sure to check out my article on catching the Sunrise at Cholla Cactus Garden.

Sunrise at Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park
Sunrise at Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park

Getting to the Cholla Cactus Garden 

The Cholla Cactus Garden is located in the center of Joshua Tree National Park. It’s right off the main Pinto Basin Road, and marked with a trailhead sign, which leads to the parking lot. Since it is in the center of the park, prepare for a bit of driving time to get there. Depending on which park entrance you are using, it may be up to a 40 minute drive to reach this Instagram photo spot. There is an entrance fee to get into Joshua Tree National Park that you can pay upon arrival.

Instagrammable photo spots in joshua tree: cholla cactus garden sunrise
Be sure to take some photos on the boardwalk!

Pioneertown 

Pioneertown is a step back in time. Embrace a trip to the Wild West in this unique and Instagram-worthy town, originally designed in the 1940’s as a live-in 1800’s movie set for western films. There are plenty of Instagrammable things to do in Pioneertown during which you will find the best photo spots. While some storefronts are still movie set facades, some are actual shops, including a general store, pottery shop, and restaurants. 

Bank and hotel facade in pioneertown joshua tree, one of the best Instagrammable spots
So many insta-worthy spots in Pioneertown

Getting to Pioneertown

You can find this Instagram photo haven at 53626 Mane St, Pioneertown, CA 92268. Located perfectly close to Joshua Tree, it’s a really easy spot to add in to your road trip itinerary. There are plenty of dirt parking lots located nearby all the shops. I recommend finding the nearest spot you can, and just wandering the area to find the best photography inspiration.

MazAmar Art Pottery building in Pioneertown, Joshua Tree, California
MazAmar Art Pottery building

Joshua Tree Saloon (one of the most entertaining Instagrammable photo spots in Joshua Tree)

Located in downtown Joshua Tree, a close drive from the West entrance of Joshua Tree National Park is the Joshua Tree Saloon. This place is exactly the saloon you want it to be. The old wooden saloon decor on the outside is just a hint at the fun that awaits inside. Throughout the saloon and outdoor seating area, you’ll find many Instagrammable photo spots one would only find in a saloon, like old kitchen and farm equipment, old signs on the walls, and brightly colored trucks and buses with which to give your best pose.

Joshua Tree Saloon
Golden Hour at the Joshua Tree Saloon

Getting to Joshua Tree Saloon

Located at 61835 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, this instagram photo spot is a perfect location to add to your trip, because the food and drinks here are amazing. The staff were very welcoming and friendly, and were happy to make recommendations about the menu. The saloon is in a great central location, and is nearby some great gift shops as well.

Exterior of Joshua Tree Saloon

Keys View (the most panoramic Instagrammable photo spot in Joshua Tree)

Keys View is a wonderful vantage point that overlooks a beautiful, panoramic landscape below. From this spot you can see a mountain in Mexico, Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea, Palm Springs, and the San Andreas Fault line. Keys View view is notoriously one of the best spots to see the sunset in the national park. Come here for some morning hiking and photography, and then come back for sunset and see the park in golden light.

Instagram photo spot at keys view
Panoramic and windy views at Keys View

Getting to Keys View

Keys View is the highest point in the park, and is labeled on all GPS maps simply as Keys View without an address. It has clear signage on the park roads as you get close, and it is clearly labeled on the paper park maps. If you want a paper map, you can get a free one from the ranger at the entrance booth on your way in. Keys View is easily accessible by car, making it a nice quick opportunity to grab some Instagram photos. There is plenty of parking at the trailhead, and it is a quick walk up a paved hill to get to the viewing area.

Walking at Keys View in Joshua Tree
Walking at Keys View in Joshua Tree

With a Joshua Tree (one of the most obvious Instagrammable photo spots in Joshua Tree)

The heart, soul, and namesake of this city is the Joshua Tree. These infamous trees with their multiple, wacky branches extending and bending in all directions, make perfect backdrops for Instagram photos. They are quirky and have a ton of personality. And did you know the Joshua Tree isn’t actually a tree? It’s technically a giant succulent.

Instagrammable photo spots in Joshua Tree
Finding Instagrammable photo spots in Joshua Tree

Finding the perfect Insta-worthy Joshua Trees

Joshua Trees are located all throughout the park, so there are plenty of photo opportunities to catch them in different light and against different backdrops. Good luck picking just one to photograph, as there are so many different shapes and sizes to these trees!

Joshua trees in the desert landscape

Rock Scrambling

There are some amazingly massive boulders in Joshua Tree. Capturing these rocks in the right light will get you some beautiful orange tones in your photos. Catching some Joshua Trees in front of near these boulders would give you a classic desert backdrop for your Instagram shots. Climbing on top of them may get you some great views as well! Morning or afternoon is most ideal, and golden hour is the absolute best. Careful with your steps on these boulders, and be sure to bring a flashlight if you’re staying out past sunset.

Climbing boulders in the desert

Finding the perfect boulders 

There are plenty of great Instagrammable boulder areas in Joshua Tree National Park, but one classic set of boulders is called Jumbo Rocks. This photo spot is easy to access with parking nearby: Jumbo Rocks Campground, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277. On your drive through the park, you will no doubt see tons of boulder areas of which you can stop and take photos.

Boulders in morning light
Boulders in morning light

A Boulder naturally shaped like a skull, skull rock in Joshua Tree National Park is a visitor favorite. Erosion over time has caused two eye sockets to appear on the rock, making it look like a giant skull emerging from the earth. For the best light and to avoid midday crowds and heat, be sure to visit this Instagrammable photo spot during the morning or afternoon. 

Getting to Skull Rock

Located along the 1.7 mile hiking trail loop called Skull Rock Trail, the rock is easy to find on foot. There is clear signage from the main road and parking on site. The trailhead is right across from the Jumbo Rocks Campground: Jumbo Rocks Campground, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277.

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Photography Equipment Used in These Photos

Camera

Cell phone cameras are amazing these days, but if you’re looking for a good camera recommendation, I use a Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Camera and I love it. It’s lightweight, it has an awesome mix of settings, and includes an instant download to your cellphone for easy Instagram posting on the go. 

Tripod

I recently purchased this lightweight camera tripod and I take it everywhere! It’s perfect for getting group shots or shots of yourself if you’re exploring solo. It collapses pretty easily and comes with a carrying case. There are also tripods that are compatible with cameras and phones, like this phone tripod stand. Getting a tripod is definitely an photography game changer! 

Other Photography Gear

Check out the rest of my Travel Blogging Photography Gear for tips and recommendations on my favorite products.