Joshua Tree National Park


February through May is the busy season at Joshua Tree—for good reason. The park has an arid upland desert climate. The summer can fry you, with temperatures up to 115° F at the lower elevations.

The summer months typically have high temperatures, low humidity, and clear sunny days. Summer storms from July to September can be very dramatic. Thunderstorms from the southwest or southeast bring high wind, lightning, and sometimes heavy rain. Typical summer humidity runs below 20 percent. When storms approach, humidity can climb above 40 percent. Unless a large amount of rain falls, the humidity usually drops to normal within 12 hours. Summer storms tend to be localized. They can cause flash floods, but the majority of the annual precipitation, one to seven inches, comes from winter rain.

Come winter, Joshua Tree can get cold. Western higher elevations have snow in winter and extended periods of nighttime lows well below freezing. Elsewhere in the park, the wind can howl one day, and the next day the air temperature will be a perfect 70° F.

Perhaps Joshua is at its most glorious in the spring. The temperature is moderate, rains are light, and desert wildflowers are bucking for attention.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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