Arch Rock Nature Trail (Joshua Tree National Park)

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Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park
Arch Rock

Arch Rock Nature Trail (Joshua Tree National Park)

  • Location: White Tank Campground, Joshua Tree National Park. From Highway 62 in Twentynine Palms (43 miles east of I-10; 21 miles east of Yucca Valley) take Utah Trail south into the park. Drive a total of 8.6 miles, past the entrance booth, and turn left on Pinto Basin Road. Go 2.7 miles to the White Tank Campground on the left. The nature trail begins next to camp site 9. Parking is available opposite the camp site against a small rock formation. Park admission is $20 per vehicle for a 7-day pass. The inter-agency America the Beautiful Pass ($80 per year) is accepted here.
  • Agency: Joshua Tree National Park
  • Distance: 0.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 50 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: G
  • Suggested time: 15 minutes
  • Best season:  October – April
  • USGS topo map: “Malapai Hill”
  • Recommended guidebook: Best Easy Day Hikes Joshua Tree National Park
  • More information: Trip descriptions here, here and here (includes descriptions of other nearby trails)
  • Rating: 7
Geology at the White Tank Campground, start of the Arch Rock Nature Trail, Joshua Tree National Park
0:00 – Geological formations by the trail head (click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

Brief as it is, the Arch Rock Nature Trail is a Joshua Tree essential, at least if you find yourself in this area of the park. The arch and the other boulders in the area are examples of monzogranite: molten liquid pushed from the earth’s core, cooled by the rocks closer to the surface. Centuries of wind and a formerly moister climate has helped carve the rocks into interesting shapes, notably the arch.

Round granite boulders, Arch Rock Nature Trail, Joshua Tree National Park
0:02 – Round rocks shortly after the split (times are approximate)

From the the parking area, look for the sign indicating the trail and follow it through the various rock formations. Soon you come to a split (the start of the loop). You can hike it in either direction, but by going clockwise you can save the dramatic arch for last.

The trail dips in between several boulders as interpretive signs describe the scenery. Before long you reach the arch. A short, easy scramble across the rocks will being you right up to it; it stands about 10 feet tall and stretches about 30 feet wide.

Field of granite boulders, Arch Rock Nature Trail, Joshua Tree National Park
0:04 – Following the trail across a boulder field

After enjoying the scenery, climb back down to the trail, soon completing the loop. From there, retrace your steps back to the campground.

Under Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park
0:10 – Under Arch Rock

Text and photography copyright 2015  by David W. Lockeretz, all rights reserved. Information and opinions provided are kept current to the best of the author’s ability. All readers hike at their own risk, and should be aware of the possible dangers of hiking, walking and other outdoor activities. By reading this, you agree not to hold the author or publisher of the content on this web site responsible for any injuries or inconveniences that may result from hiking on this trail. Check the informational links provided for up to date trail condition information.

View from the Arch Rock Nature Trail, Joshua Tree National Park
0:14 – Heading back to White Tank Campground

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