Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park is a well-known viewpoint for watching phenomenal sunsets. In fact, it is possible that this is one of the best places that we’ve ever been for viewing the sunset in the desert.
If you end up on the western side of Joshua Tree National Park toward the evening, Keys View is a place that you’ll definitely want to check out if you can!
Keys View is one of many sights highlighted in our itinerary for Joshua Tree National Park. We also cover the best hikes in Joshua Tree (in ranked order), what to pack and what to see nearby Joshua Tree National Park.
KEYS VIEW GEOGRAPHY
Sitting in the little San Bernardino Mountains, Keys View offers panoramic views of the Coachella Valley and Palm Desert to the west. From the viewpoint, it’s possible to see the towns of Palm Springs, Coachella, Indio and La Quinta, as well as the Salton Sea. If it is clear out, you can also see Signal Mountain in Mexico (though that is rare with the normal amount of haze that is in the air due to pollution).
While not the highest point in Joshua Tree National Park (that title belongs to Quail Mountain at 5,816 feet), Keys View is the tallest point that is reachable by car and sits and an elevation of 5,185 feet.
DIRECTIONS TO KEYS VIEW IN JOSHUA TREE
Keys View Location (map courtesy of the National Park Service)
Keys View is located at the end of Keys View Road, which is a 5.5-mile (or 9 minute) drive from the intersection of Keys View Road and Park Blvd (the main road that runs through Joshua Tree). We put together some directions from nearby popular attractions in the park:
- It will take about 16 minutes to travel the distance from nearby Barker Dam Trail (directions from the Barker Dam Trail to Keys View). It is slightly shorter if you are coming from the Hidden Valley Trail, but most of the route follows the same path.
- From Skull Rock to Keys View, expect it to take 21 minutes (directions from Skull Rock to Keys View).
- From the Cholla Cactus Garden, it is going to take at least 39 minutes without traffic (directions for Cholla Cactus Garden to Keys View).
- From the west entrance station of Joshua Tree, it will take close to 30 minutes (directions from the western entrance to Keys View).
- It takes about 30 minutes from the Main Entrance station (directions from the northern entrance to Keys View).
ARRIVING AT KEYS VIEW IN TIME FOR SUNSET
In any case, make sure if you plan on getting to Keys View well ahead of sunset. To really watch the colors of the sky change and to get a great spot, you should plan on arriving at least an hour before the official sunset time.
To check the time of sunset, check in with a park ranger, the visitor center or visit Willy Weather, which shows sunrise and sunset times for Joshua Tree over a five day window.
PARKING AT KEYS VIEW
Depending on the time of year, Keys View can be crowded around sunset, though it is less crowded during the rest of the day. There are approximately 45 parking spots in the lot. If you come during the day, expect to get an open spot immediately (or within minutes of arriving). During sunset, however, you should make sure that you grab any spot you see available, as they are not likely to vacate until after the sun goes down.
KEYS VIEW TRAIL AND VIEWPOINT
The Keys View Trail is actually a short, 0.2-mile loop. The path is paved, making it one of the few wheelchair accessible trails in the park. From the trail is where you can see fantastic views to the west in particular.
There are guard rails and a few benches. If you are lucky enough to get here when it isn’t crowded, it’s a good place to relax and take in the view for a few minutes.
When you come, be prepared for the weather, as it’s likely to be quite windy. If visiting in the winter, be prepared for cold evenings with a wind blowing that will make it really cold. Even though we came from the New Hampshire winter, it was downright freezing for us, and we needed to wear gloves and jackets!
KEYS VIEW TO INSPIRATION PEAK
If you want to get away from the crowds at Keys View, head from Keys View to the west along the ridgeline to Inspiration Peak. This 1.9-mile trail gains a total of 672 feet in elevation (though there are ups and downs, so the peak is only around 5,572 feet).
LEAVING KEYS VIEW AND JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
When you are ready to depart, the quickest way out of the park is through the western entrance, approximately 30 minutes away. The drive in the evening was particularly neat-the stars started to come out as the sky grew dark when we departed.
Make sure you drive slowly, as we saw plenty of wildlife crossing the road!
We managed to make the drive from Keys View all the way to Channel Islands National Park, where we followed one epic day with another!
FURTHER INFORMATION ON JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK FROM JUST GO TRAVEL STUDIOS
- Keys View was one of the many places we visited on our incredible visit to Joshua Tree National Park. We highly recommend you see this park to its fullest. You can read about our day-trip to Joshua Tree National Park in our blog. We also have a blog on Camping in Joshua Tree National Park.
- We went on many great hikes in Joshua Tree National Park. A few that stood out include the Fortynine Palms Oasis Trail and the top-ranked Ryan Mountain Trail as well as the Cholla Cactus Garden Trail, which is short and great for families in particular.
- When you return your trip, make sure you check out how we can work with you to create a vintage-style travel poster from a photo you send us. We love to make it easy for you to remember your trips, and this is a great way to do it.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION ON JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
- Nearby Keys View is another fantastic place to visit. Nicole (from “FoodieLovesFitness”) wrote a great article on the Lost Horse Mine Trail in Joshua Tree. Make sure to check it out!
Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park is definitely a “must-do” experience. We ended up barely leaving enough time to see it after our extremely busy day in the park (which began really early in the morning), but we’re glad we squeezed it in at the end. We’re sure you will be too!