FAQ's

Decaying Big Horn Sheep Skull found near Stubbe Springs, Joshua Tree National Park.

Do I really need a guide to hike in Joshua Tree National Park?

Absolutely not!  Anyone that has the drive to explore can set off on a trail inside Joshua Tree National  Park.  There are numerous books, websites, and facebook groups that can answer questions and make suggestions on what to do and when.  There are, of course, a few very good reasons to hire a guide:

  • Learning: A guide can share information and context that deepens your awareness and relationship with the desert landscape and ecology.  Hearing the  stories and knowledge that a guide has to offer is perhaps the greatest reason to hire the service.  What we have to offer is 20 years of experience on the trails and in the backcountry of Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Avoiding the Crowd: A guide can help you navigate to the places where you'll encounter fewer people and cars so that you can capture the silence and sense of isolation that deserts are known for.  Spend more time on the trail and less time competing for space.
  • Safety:  When you've got a guide you've got someone that has your back.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services will monitor the weather and trail conditions so that you can go farther, higher, and see more and know that getting lost will not be on your list of To Do's for the day.
  • Respecting the Desert:  It may look barren and sterile to the untrained eye but Joshua Tree National Park contains an abundance of life, some of which is exceptionally sensitive.  Additionally, if hiking off trail is something that interests you it is important to do so responsibly in order to minimize negative impacts on the terrain.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services can assist you in being a responsible back country traveler.

Are you a “Local”?

Wandering Mojave Hiking Services’ Lead Guide, Travis Puglisi, has been living in the High Desert around Joshua Tree National Park for 20 years.  The money generated by hiking with him will stay in the local economy and help support a family that lives, works, and plays in the Morongo Basin

Is a permit required for you to operate within Joshua Tree National Park?

Yes, any entity or individual who conducts commercial activities within the Park must have a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) Permit that is issued by the National Parks Department.  Acquisition of this permit is dependent on many factors, two of which are First Aid and CPR certification and Proof of Insurance.  If you select one of our competitors be sure to request proof that they are active permit holders.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services operates under Permit# JOTR-CUA-20055

What are your certifications?

Lead Guide, Travis Puglisi has the requisite First Aid and CPR certifications awarded by the American Red Cross. 

Do you offer any discounts?

Yes.  We offer a 10% discount for Active Duty and Retired Military and Teachers (K-12).  You must provide proof of status and the payment must come from individual providing proof of status.  During the hot months in the desert (Mid-July through Mid-September) we offer a 12% discount to all guests.  During this time Military and Teacher discounts do not apply.  Visit our Rates and Reservations to see the full breakdown on prices.  Discounts are only available to those who book directly through Wandering Mojave Hiking Services.  Third party bookings, such as AirBnB Experiences and ExploreOrigin.com will not receive discounts.

Is there an off season and is it cheaper to hike then?

Yes.  Generally speaking, fewer people hike in the desert between Mid-June and Mid-Septmber due to significantly hotter temperatures.  That does not mean you cannot hike during this time, it simply means you must choose routes carefully in order to account for the comfort and safety of the group.  Summer in the desert is a very special time and there are certain plants and animals that are more prominent during this time of year.  We’d encourage you to give it a try.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services offers a 12% discount during these months and prefer to offer Half Days over Full Days, although Full Days are still an available option.  Visit Rates and Group Options to see the full breakdown on prices.

Can I book online?

Sorry but no.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services believes that for the guest to have the safest and most enjoyable experience direct contact is required.  Reach out Lead Guide Travis Puglisi HERE .  If it’s a last minute reservation DO NOT hesitate to Call.  

Can you guide a group with more than 5 people?

While Wandering Mojave Hiking Services understands that not all groups fall within our preferred range of 5, it is important to maintain these numbers for reasons of safety, impact on Joshua Tree National Park, and the quality of experience our guests have.  If you feel that you have a special situation and would like Lead Guide Travis Puglisi to consider making an exception to the policy please contact by email at wanderingmojave@gmail.com

Can I request a specific hike?

Absolutely.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services would be happy to provide the support you need for routes you already have in mind.  Just let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll make sure the route is right for you and that the way finding happens as it should.

How do you feel about children on your hikes?

Owner/Operator and Lead Guide Travis Puglisi is the father of a 4 year old and believes that time shared by families outdoors is a crucial aspect of positive child development.  Children are absolutely welcome as members of the group.  A few important notes

  • Young children (infants-3years of age) that are carried for the duration of a hike in a carrier worn by a parent or guardian WILL NOT be considered as a numbered member of your group.  Meaning...you can have a child in a carrier AND up to 4 more individuals.
  • Children are unpredictable by nature.  What this means is that if you reserve a Half Day or Full Day Hike, but your child decides he/she isn’t up for it, Wandering Mojave Hiking Services WILL NOT pro rate or refund any shortened days due to child based detour.
  • There’s so much fun to be had, but it can be a taxing place with its heat, wind, and terrain, even for adults.  Unless a family has experience in being out for more than 5 hours at a time we suggest family’s opt for our Half Day outings.  We highly recommend The Scramble for children...they love it.

Can I rent gear?

Yes.  Wandering Mojave can provide Daypacks/Hydration packs, trekking poles,  and water bottles.  We DO NOT provide hiking shoes or boots.  If you're interested is renting gear please be sure to mention it when you Contact Us.

Layers of bent rock created by terrific pressure near Long Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park.

Will I see wildlife?

It would be almost impossible to take a step in Joshua Tree National Park without seeing something, but what that something is depends on location, time of year, and even time of day.  Red-tail Hawks, Jackrabbits, Coyotes and lizards are ubiquitous, and the opportunities to view and identify them are great.  If you’re interested in capturing glimpses of something larger or unique to the area; Mule Deer, BigHorn Sheep, Tortoise, Great Horned Owl, and Tarantulas for instance, then you really do have to be in the right place at the right time.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services will do its best to create the ideal conditions for wildlife viewing but cannot guarantee that guests will spot these creatures.  If wildlife viewing is a principal interest bee sure to check out the Three F's (Flora, Fauna, and Folks) theme on in the Ways to Wander section.  Also, we always have a set of binoculars on hand incase there's something in the distance.

Will there be wild flowers?

Much like viewing animals in Joshua Tree National Park, viewing wildflowers is all about time and place.  The fact is, there is almost always something blooming somewhere, it’s just a matter of getting there.  Prime blossom season generally falls between late March to mid-May, depending on temperatures and rain and snowfall from the previous winter and fall.  If you’re planning your visit outside of this window and the bloom has moved to higher or lower elevations then your ability to view them is entirely dependent  on you or your groups ability to make it to those locations.  Wandering Mojave Hiking Services will do it’s best to facilitate the viewing of desert blossoms if flora is your primary interest.  Be sure to check out the Three F's (Flora, Fauna, Folks) in our Ways to Wander section.

How much water should I bring?

The Mojave Desert is an arid climate.  This means that even if it’s cold it is still dry and moisture is easily whisked away from your body by even the most gentle breeze.  For Half Day hikes we consider two liters as the minimum.  For Full Day hikes a minimum of 3 liters should be carried.  These amounts may increase during the warmer months.  Depending on the situation and group size, the Lead Guide may be able to carry extra water so you can stay as hydrated as you need while hiking.

Can you provide food?

Normally food is a standard inclusion  but we have temporarily suspended the provision of food for both Half Day and Full Days hikes during the current health crisis.  If you would like to see all of the ways we have adapted our business practices to "flatten the curve" during the novel corona virus outbreak please click HERE

How much food should I bring?

When physically exerting yourself you need a blend of protein, carbohydrates, and salts.  See the following for what Wandering Mojave Hiking Services suggest for Half Day and Full Day outings so that you’re not hungry while out in the landscape.

  • Half Day
    • 1 “Bar” (Cliffbar or similar)
    • 1 piece of fruit that travels well (oranges and apples are great...bananas get squishy but work if packed smartly
    • 1/2 Sandwich
    • Something savory (salted nuts, jerky, crackers, chips)
    • Electrolyte packet
  • Full Day
    • 1-2 Bars (Cliffbar or similar)
    • 1 piece of fruit that travels well (oranges and apples are great...bananas get squishy but work if packed smartly
    • Whole Sandwich
    • Something savory (salted nuts, jerky, crackers, chips)
    • Something sweet (dried fruit, chocolate, cookies/biscuits)
    • Electrolyte packet

Besides food and water, what other gear should I have?

  • Sturdy closed toe shoes...we can discuss what sturdy means during your intake process
  • Long Sleeves and Long Pants advised, regardless of time of year
  • Sun Hat...wide brim is great but ball caps work too
  • Sun Glasses
  • Sunscreen...especially if you don’t have a hat
  • Daypack...18-22 liter capacity advised

How are you responding to the Novel Corona Virus

You can see the adjustments we're making to our business practices HERE.

Where should I stay while in the desert?

Once you've secured your reservation with Wandering Mojave we'd be happy to discuss lodging options in the high desert.  We'll have a Local Resource Page available soon for all kinds of services.


How do you handle payment?

We break every reservation into two payments.  A 20% deposit that reserves a specific date o dates for your group and a Remaining Balance payment after your hike has been completed.  These transactions are handled using the Square Invoice platform and all invoices are sent and paid via email.