Dog Dies on Joshua Tree National Park Hiking Trail

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Date: June 2, 2016
Contact: Jennie Kish Albrinck, 760-367-5520

Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, CA — A pet dog died on the Lost Palms Oasis trail on Saturday afternoon, May 28, 2016, when two male park visitors from Long Beach, Calif., took the animal with them on a seven-mile desert hike. Pets are not permitted on trails in Joshua Tree National Park.

At approximately 12:45 pm, other hikers came into the Cottonwood Visitor Center and reported that a four- or five-year-old black Labrador retriever dog was in trouble a little over a mile from the trailhead. Park rangers hiked to the site, where they found the dog already dead. They carried the body out on a litter.

One of the two men was also showing signs of heat-related illness. Temperatures on Saturday afternoon reached 81°F (27°C) in the Cottonwood area of the park.

The desert environment can be deadly, especially from May through September, when temperatures in the park often soar above 100°F (38°C). Visitors are cautioned to avoid physical activity in the heat of the day and to carry abundant water and salty snacks. Staying well hydrated helps the body cool itself through sweating, and salty snacks replenish lost electrolytes.

Pets are permitted in Joshua Tree National Park, but they may never be taken more than 100 feet (about 30 m) from a road, picnic area, or campground. Pets must be leashed at all times when outside a vehicle and may never be left unattended. Pets are never allowed anywhere in the backcountry, including on hiking trails;the only exception is the paved trail at the Oasis of Mara in Twentynine Palms.

Service animals, defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities, are allowed anywhere in the park. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

More information about planning a Joshua Tree visit with pets is available on the park website at

All visitors planning a trip to Joshua Tree National Park are encouraged to review the safety information at

Last updated: January 31, 2017

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