Keys View is a popular viewpoint in Joshua Tree National Park and is the perfect vantage point from which to admire the vast California desert. On a clear day the panoramic views are breath taking: the Coachella Valley, the San Andreas Fault, the Salton Sea, and the highest peak in Southern California, the 11,500 foot San Gorgonio Mountain are all visible. Keys View is one of our favorite spots in Joshua Tree. For those of you planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park, we’ve included everything you need to know about Keys View.
At an elevation of 5,185 feet, Keys View is located on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. Keys View is one of the most easily accessible viewpoints in Joshua Tree. Visitors to the park are able to drive to a parking lot just below the viewpoint. From there it is a quick walk, about 0.1 miles in total there and back, up a relatively easy slope. On a clear day, the views stretch for miles and miles deep into the California Desert. Some of the most famous landmarks include:
Coachella Valley: Coachella Valley, of the Coachella festival fame, is straight ahead
San Andreas Fault: running 700 miles from the Gulf of California to the Mendocino Coast north of San Francisco, the San Andreas Fault cuts through Coachella Valley. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake resulted from a slip along the San Andreas Fault.
Salton Sea: located 230 miles below sea level, the Salton Sea is one of the world’s largest inland sea and among the lowest points on the planet. It sits directly on the San Andreas Fault and be seen to the left.
San Gorgonio Mountain: the highest peak in Southern California is visible on the right. The peak is often shrouded in snow.
Palm Springs: the glamorous city of Palm Spring is visible in the distance
San Jacinto Mountain: another of Southern California’s tallest mountains, the 10,834 foot tall Mount San Jacinto is often visible
Mexico: occasionally Mexico’s Signal Mountain is visible from Keys View. It’s 90 miles away so you might want to bring binoculars! However, poor air quality makes this a rare sighting.
Wheelchair accessibility: Although the main viewpoint is accessed via a relatively step slope, Keys View has a separate viewpoint which is wheelchair accessible. There is an accessible parking spot from which is a short distance from a second viewpoint with equally spectacular views.
Where to Stay in Joshua Tree
The North Entrance (Twentynine Palms) and the West Entrance (Joshua Tree town) are the most convenient for visiting many of the Joshua Tree National Park highlights. These are our top 3 places to stay in Joshua Tree and are perfect for couples, small groups and families:
M&L Desert Cottage: this beautiful 2 bedroom cottage is just 6 minutes drive from the north entrance to Joshua Tree. The cottage has been completely remodeled and is the definition of desert chic. The interior is gorgeous and there is a fire pit, BBQ and hammocks on the patio for stargazing and al fresco dining. – check prices now!
Location: North Entrance/Twentynine Palms. We love this entrance as it’s both close to many highlights of Joshua Tree National Park and is also a much quieter gate to enter the park by. M&L Desert Cottage is a 20 minute drive from Joshua Tree Town.
Castle House Estate: with the accommodation options including guard towers, yurt tents, a tiny container house (the perfect chance to experience tiny home living!) and a vintage RV, Castle House Estate perfectly encompasses the unique Joshua Tree vibe. It’s the perfect mix of indoor and outdoor living and the accommodation is beautifully presented and incredibly unique. The hardest part is choosing which accommodation to reserve – check prices now!
Location: West Entrance/Joshua Tree. Castle House Estate is a 10 minute drive from Joshua Tree Town and is 20 minutes north of the park entrance.
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Twentynine Palms – clean and well equipped, the Fairfield Inn is one of our go to hotels when we’re exploring the park and want somewhere clean and quiet to rest up. The hotel has a small pool out back, free breakfast, laundry facilities and there’s a grocery store just across the road for supplies – check prices now!
Location: North Entrance/Twentynine Palms. We opt for the convenience of the Fairfield Inn when we have early starts and late evenings in the park.
Keys View is best saved for a clear day in Joshua Tree and is an incredibly popular sunrise and sunset spot in the park. The light is phenomenal at both sunrise and sunset and its incredible to witness the day start and end across the California Desert.
Sunrise: Joshua Tree National Park has 24 access so it’s possible to make it all the way to Keys View for sunrise. The drive will be dark so do take care and be alert for animals on the park roads.
Sunset: sunset is extremely popular at Keys View so allow some time to get there and secure a parking space.
Keys View tip: our favorite visit to Keys View was at sunrise on a Winter morning in Joshua Tree. It was just us and another photographer at the viewpoint and the sunrise was incredible.
How to get to Keys View
Keys View is located in the west of the Park and is about a 20 minute drive from Park Boulevard, one of the main roads which cuts through Joshua Tree National Park. One of the great things about Keys View is how easily accessible it is. You can driver right to the Keys View Parking Lot and, from there, it is only a short walk up the hill to the viewpoint.
West Entrance: Keys View is a 30 minute drive from the west entrance of Joshua Tree. After driving south on Park Boulevard for around 10 miles take a right onto Keys View Road and continue for another 5 miles until you reach the viewpoint.
North Entrance: Keys View is a 35 minute drive from the west entrance of Joshua Tree. After driving on Park Boulevard for around 15 miles take a right onto Keys View Road and continue for another 5 miles until you reach the viewpoint.
South Entrance: it takes around 1 hour 15 minutes to reach Keys View from the South Entrance of the Park. Drive north on Cottonwood Springs Road and continue for 35 miles north on Pinot Basin Road after reaching the junction of Pinto Basin Road and Cottonwood Springs Road close to the Cottonwood Springs Visitors Center. Take a left onto Park Boulevard for 10 miles and continue for another 5 miles until you reach the viewpoint.
Keys View tip: the drive to Keys View can be combined with a stop at the Lost Horse Mine for the 4 mile out and back hike. The trail head is located off the Keys View Road