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The Belle Campground is one of the eight campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National Park. Most of the 500 campsites within the national park require reservations. But, Belle Campground is a small 18-site, first-come, first-served campground. Should you stay there? Read on to find out in our detailed review.
Location of Belle Campground, Joshua Tree NP
The Belle Campground is located six miles from the north entrance into Joshua Tree National Park and 28 miles from the Cottonwood Visitor Center. You’ll find it just off Pinto Basin Road. The elevation here is 3,800 feet, so temperatures are cooler than in nearby cities with much lower elevations. So bring warm clothes! Twentynine Palms is the closest city to this campground. And you will find the larger cities of Palm Springs and Palm Desert are each about an hour and a half drive away.
Warning! There is little to zero cell coverage once you are inside Joshua Tree National Park. So plan ahead and print out directions or take screenshots. Our decision to stay there was spontaneous, made during the drive there. Luckily we had the foresight to grab some iPhone screenshots of the directions so we were able to find it OK. Even though we arrived at night in the dark, which we don’t recommend!
Of course, the primary attraction for most visitors staying here is to explore the popular Joshua Tree National Park which you are staying inside of. It’s a great place to enjoy the outdoors and disconnect from the busy energies of cities and your everyday life.
Others, like us, who have been to this national park in the past, might stay here for just a night or two on the way to another primary destination for longer. We stayed in the Belle Campground most recently in December 2022. As it was on the way to our primary winter destination Thousand Trails Palm Springs where we spent several weeks.
We have visited Joshua Tree National Park a few times over the years. Don’t be fooled by the poster quote in the hilarious Subpar Parks book. There is actually more to do here than first meets the eye!
What is there to do inside Joshua Tree National Park?
Geologically, this desert landscape is strewn with an amazing variety of rock formations, trees, desert, and a variety of vegetation. Including, of course, the famous Joshua trees for which the park is named. There is plenty you can do for free, here are a few suggestions.
Attend one of the ranger talks. Do a self-driving audio tour around the park. There are several pullouts along the way for photo ops. And if your vehicle is off-road capable, do some off-the-beaten-track exploring. Stroll through the Cholla Cactus Garden. Visit Skull Rock, Arch Rock and Heart Rock nearby (can’t believe we missed that one!). Hike the short and easy Hidden Valley and Barker Dam trails. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Watch the amazing rock climbers! And wait to see the sunset at Keys View.
You can also do paid activities – from guided hikes or driving tours, to rock climbing classes, rappelling adventures, or even scavenger hunts.
All campers appreciate toilet art, right? At Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum
What is there to do nearby Joshua Tree park?
Outside the park, you can visit a few quirky art installations and galleries. We visited Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum which is outside and free (donations are welcome). But we missed Joshua Tree Art Gallery, and the World Famous Crochet Museum. The closest towns for dining options are Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms.
OK, now back to our campground review! And specifics of the campsites.
Not your average campsite! The boulders surrounding sites are striking
Amenities at Joshua Tree Campgrounds
Belle Campground has 18 campsites and is one of three first-come, first-served campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National Park. It’s a basic but nice campground offering pit toilets, trash bins, and recycling bins. From what we could see, each site appeared to have a picnic table and fire grate. This campground can accommodate all kinds of campers – RVers, Van lifers, and tent campers.
Keep in mind there are NO utility hookups, so you will be dry camping, also known as boondocking. That means there are no water hookups. In fact, there is no potable water available at all in this campground. So you will need to be prepared and bring your own. There is no sewer, and of course, NO electrical hookups either. But the lack of electricity or lights is also part of what makes Belle a great campground for viewing dark night skies and the stars!
PRO TIP >>> Get Our 29 Tips for Successful Boondocking
Simple map of Belle Campground sites
Other campgrounds inside Joshua Tree
Hidden Valley and White Tank are the other two campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National Park that offer first-come, first-served sites and similar amenities. We didn’t visit those but we suspect Belle Campground fills up first, as it’s the first one you come across when coming in from the north. Also Hidden Valley and White Tank campgrounds limit rig size to 25′, whereas Belle Campground can accommodate up to 35′ (combined).
There are five reservable campgrounds inside Joshua Tree National Park. Three of them – Indian Cove, Jumbo Rocks, and Ryan – have NO water or dump station, but they do have pit toilets. Only two campgrounds inside Joshua Tree – Black Rock and Cottonwood – DO have water, flush toilets, and a dump station.
Although slightly more developed, these campgrounds still have basic campsites, with tables and fire grates.
One of the available pit/vault toilets at Belle Campground
Nice to see separate trash and recycling collection
You’ll also pay a park entrance fee, unless you have one of the National Park Passes
Is there Cell Service in Joshua Tree National Park?
Wondering if you can get mobile phone coverage at Joshua Tree National Park? According to the official NPS website “There is no cellular access throughout the majority of the park. Visitors cannot rely on their cell phones and smart devices in the park, and should plan accordingly.”
This was definitely our experience. Right after driving through the park entrance, we lost all cell signal. So yeah, download, print off, or screenshot any info, maps, or pictures before you enter the park. Hopefully, you’ll arrive at a more sensible hour than we did (and in daylight). Then you will be able to pick up a park map from the entrance gate or visitor center.
Is there Internet at Joshua Tree National Park?
Public WiFi is apparently available at Oasis Visitor Center, in Twentynine Palms. And also at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center in the town of Joshua Tree. These are not inside the national park!
Reportedly, you MAY be able to get some reception at Black Rock campground. It’s worth trying, especially if you have a rocking internet setup in your RV. But we were not able (and didn’t try) to validate which carriers or signal strength. But those clear wide open skies will likely get you Starlink working, if you have it.
Our stay was short – just one night – and we were happy to be offline and unplug. You should plan to as well! Go enjoy being in nature in the park!
Can I get mail or deliveries at Joshua Tree National Park?
As with all national parks, this campground is not an appropriate place to try shipping any mail or packages. So, plan on having your USPS mail sent via General Delivery at a local post office. And arrange to have packages shipped to another destination, like an amazon locker in town, Fedex or UPS Store.
Driving on our way to Joshua Tree National Park
- Quiet campground to get away from the city
- Just $15 a night to camp
- Access to the National Park
- Scenic campsites by huge rocks
- Dark sky viewing / star gazing / astronomy
- Very basic campground
- No hookups or amenities
- Tents or small RVs only (up to 35′ max combined)
Pretty cool to be able to camp among huge boulders like this
Is Joshua Tree National Park Big-Rig Friendly?
As you would have gathered from the amenities section above, the campsites are very simple, natural setting sites. So the sites are only suitable for tents or small RVs. They recommend RVs no longer than 35 feet combined, including a towed vehicle.
We stayed in our 25-foot motorhome, and it was one of the largest RVs in the campground. We also had our Jeep with us and both of our vehicles comfortably fit on site #18. Here are the campsites that can accommodate up to 35′ RV setups – sites 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. We would recommend that RVs bigger than 35 feet (combined) book a campsite at another campground outside the park and drive in to explore in a vehicle.
Most of the sites in Belle Campground were reasonably level. But you should plan on bringing your leveling blocks if staying in an RV. White Tank and Hidden Valley campgrounds are limited to RVs 25′ in length.
What else do I need to know about camping in Joshua Tree National Park?
There are no sites in any of the Joshua Tree campgrounds that have dedicated electricity or water. But campgrounds requiring reservations do have water available in the restroom buildings, and flushable toilets. Generator hours are limited to six hours per day, from 7am– 9am, noon–2 pm, and 5–7 pm. This helps keep the noise down so you can enjoy your quiet time too.
Two of the three first-come, first-served campgrounds – Belle and White Tank – close for summer from May through September. Hidden Valley Campground is open year-round.
We arrived in the dark, but awoke to find ourselves in spacious campsite #18
Nightly Rates for Joshua Tree Campgrounds
The first-come, first-served campsites in Belle Campground are $15 per night. Park rangers visit these campgrounds multiple times a day to collect registration information and fees. So, you can now pay with credit cards. Cash is no longer an acceptable form of payment. And you cannot pay with envelopes in boxes like in the past. Stays are limited to 14 nights.
Beat the crowds to score a site
These campground sites are popular and almost always full on weekends from September through May, usually filling up by Friday afternoon. Most weeknights are also full in the peak spring season from February through May. So, if you want more certainty in an available site, try booking one of the reservable campsites in the other Joshua Tree campgrounds.
Joshua Tree National Park has 417 of 500 sites requiring reservations and nightly fees range from $20 to $25 a night. Reservable campgrounds include Black Rock, Cottonwood, Indian Cove, Jumbo Rocks, and Ryan. Reservation-required campgrounds are open year-round.
Camping reservations can be made here at the Recreation.gov website
The Belle Campground in Joshua Tree National Park is a simple and scenic campground. Having no reservations might make it easier to get a last-minute site in less busy times. Especially if you arrive on a weekday, and during the day. Five out of the eight Joshua Tree campgrounds do require reservations. It is a basic campground intended for tent campers and small RVs. It is not big-rig or ADA-friendly.
There are also some Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas outside the park, where you can boondock for free. Of course, you’ll want to check the terrain first, to ensure it’s suitable for your RV.
Overall, we enjoyed our short but sweet stay at Belle Campground, and would be happy to come back for a longer stay… unplugged!
Related: Check out a full recap of our nine-week California RV trip here.
To find out more or to make a reservation, contact:
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA, 92277
Nearby Box Canyon Road is a scenic alternate route to driving Interstate 10
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any RV park, campground, or RV resort, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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