Horseback riding is a popular way to experience Joshua Tree National Park for those who bring their own horses. However, because of the special requirements for horses in this environment, care should be taken in planning your trip. The lack of available drinking water is both a challenge and a limitation.
The Backcountry and Wilderness Management Plan provides for 253 miles of equestrian trails and trail corridors that traverse open lands, canyon bottoms, and dry washes. Many riding trails are already open, clearly marked, and ready to be enjoyed. Other trails are in various states of development. Trail maps for the west entrance area and for the Black Rock Canyon area are available at the park.
Ryan and Black Rock campgrounds have designated areas for horses and stock animals. A $10 per night fee is charged at Black Rock. Reservations for Black Rock Horsecamp may be made by calling 1-800-365-2267. A $5.00 per night fee is charged at Ryan, water is not available. Call 760-367-5541, Mon-Fri, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., to make reservations for camping at Ryan. Reservations are not required for day use. A permit is required to camp with stock in the backcountry. You can arrange for a permit by calling 760-367-5541. Grazing is not permitted in the park. While in the backcountry, stock animals are restricted to pellet feed. Manure must be removed from campgrounds and trailheads.
Stock use is limited to horses and mules and is restricted to designated equestrian trails and corridors, open dirt roads, and shoulders of paved roads. Riders should travel single file to reduce damage to soil and vegetation. Stock animals are not permitted within ¼ mile of any natural or manmade water source. Horses and other stock are not permitted on nature trails, in the Wonderland of Rocks, in campgrounds, in picnic areas, or at visitor centers.