This 113-mile Cycling Trip Through Joshua Tree Is the Best Way to Stargaze and Explore Cool California Towns

The trip includes transfers from Palm Springs, as well as meals and use of camping gear.

Exterior of the film museum in Joshua Tree
Photo: Arlen Hall/Courtesy of REI Co-op Adventures

Joshua Tree National Park has long been a popular destination for its magical scenery and otherworldly trademark trees. While day trips through the California park can provide a taste of its wondrous sites, REI Co-op Adventures' Joshua Tree Weekend Cycling Trip offers a far more immersive experience, including two nights in the International Dark Sky Park and three days of cycling through the distinctive landscape.

The three-day weekend adventure starts on a Friday morning with transfers from Palm Springs to the Old West movie set enclave of Pioneertown for a bike fitting before cycling into the national park — with a few stops to hike among the trees before setting up camp within the boulders at Sheep Pass.

A cyclist in Joshua Tree
Courtesy of REI Co-op Adventures

After the first night under the skies — where the Milky Way is often visible — the second day reaches new heights with a cycling climb up to Keys View, with views of the San Jacinto and San Gorgonio Peaks, as well as the Salton Sea. The descent back down goes through Twentynine Palms with a stop at Oasis of Mara before bikers are shuttled back to the camp site. On the last day, it's a roller coaster of a route to the Coachella Valley, as the vegetation changes from Joshua trees to the equally impressive ocotillo plants and cholla cacti.

With 36 miles of cycling the first day, 33 miles the second, and 44 miles on the last day (mostly on paved roads) and elevation gains of up to 2,204 feet and drops of 4,489 feet, the adventure weekend is rated moderate for those with cycling experience who are used to riding for about four to five hours a day. With a group of four to 10 travelers, current departures are scheduled through December 2023, starting at $1,199 per person for REI members and $1,394 for non-members.

Camping in Joshua Tree
Arlen Hall/Courtesy of REI Co-op Adventures

Meals are provided from lunch the first day through lunch on the third day, and use of a bike, sleeping pads, and tents are all provided by REI during the trip.

This is just one of REI Co-op Adventures' cycling trips, which also include the San Juan Islands Women's Cycling Weekend offered through September 2023 starting at $1,499 for members and $1,649 for non-members; Southern Utah Gooseberry Mesa Weekend Mountain Biking from through November 2022 starting at $1639 for members and $1,789 for non-members; and Arizona Sonoran Desert Weekend Mountain Biking from through December 2023 starting at $1,339 for members and $1,489 for non-members. All trip participants must be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative test taken with 72 hours of the start of the tour.

Biking — particularly mountain biking — is gaining in popularity, as a study by Market Research Future projects a 10 percent growth by 2027. So now's the time to hop on the bandwagon and check out these tours.

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