guided hiking tour

This article is sponsored by San Bernardino County — California’s Outdoor Playground. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Los Angeles’ editorial staff. To learn more about San Bernardino County, visit californiaoutdoorplayground.com.

What are you doing this Labor Day weekend? Come and unplug in the Joshua Tree National Park.

Located only 140 miles east of LA in lovely San Bernardino County. Home to desert ecosystems, unique rock formations and the park’s namesake yucca tree, Joshua Tree’s near 800,000 pristine acres provide the perfect escape for families looking for one last adventure before summer comes to an end.

From Native American tribes to gold prospectors, Joshua Tree’s unique landscape — formed by the confluence of the Colorado and Mojave deserts — has been drawing people for thousands of years. But there’s never been a better time to visit than now. Once stepping onto the park grounds, you’ll find abundant wildlife like golden eagles and bighorn sheep, 501 archaeological sites and countless nature walks, while nine campgrounds and 10 picnic areas mean RV-outfitted families can stay right in the middle of all the beauty.

Adventure abounds as well, from horseback riding to rock climbing, but our favorite way to experience the epic beauty of Joshua Tree is through its two most popular activities:

Hiking
One of the best ways to explore the park is via its extensive network of hiking trails. Totaling 191 miles, these routes vary in difficulty, from a gentle walk to a desert oasis to the strenuous trek up Ryan Mountain, where you’ll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of Horse, Queen and Pleasant Valleys from its nearly 5,500 foot summit. And don’t miss Hidden Valley, whose rock-enclosed picnic area is the perfect place for lunch.

Stargazing
Did you know that only 10 percent of Americans are able to see the night sky in its natural state? Not so in Joshua Tree. Skip the urban light pollution and stargaze under Joshua Tree’s open blanket of stars, where you’ll be able to view the Milky Way spread across the sky in all its splendor.

To start planning your unforgettable trip to Joshua Tree, visit californiaoutdoorplayground.com.

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