View of the Santa Rosa Mountains from Mt. Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park

Mt. Inspiration (Joshua Tree National Park)

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Mt. Inspiration  (Joshua Tree National Park)

  • Location: Joshua Tree National Park. From Highway 62, about six miles past the junction with Highway 247 and 26 miles northeast of I-10, take Park Boulevard (signed for the park) south (turn right if you’re coming from the west, left if from the east). Follow the road for a total of 15.6 miles, past the entrance booth and turn right onto Keys View Road. Head south for 5.5 miles to the end of Keys View Road. Admission to Joshua Tree National Park is $20 per vehicle for a week. The inter-agency America the Beautiful pass ($80 per year) is also accepted here.
  • Agency: Joshua Tree National Park
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 750 feet
  • Difficulty Rating: PG
  • Suggested time: 1.5 hours
  • Best season:  October – April (day use only; gate shuts at sunset)
  • Recommended gear: hiking poles sun hat
  • Recommended guidebook: Afoot and Afield: Inland Empire
  • Dogs: Not allowed
  • Cell phone reception: None
  • Water: None
  • Restrooms: Vault toilets at trail head (known to have problems with bees)
  • Camping: The nearest campgrounds are Ryan, Sheep Pass and Hidden Valley. Most campsites in Joshua Tree National Park fill up well in advance, especially on weekends during the fall, winter and spring, so plan accordingly.
  • More information: Summit Post page here; Map My Hike report here
  • Rating: 8

This terrific little hike brings you to the third highest named summit in Joshua Tree National Park. At 5,575 feet, Inspiration Point can be reached via a short but action-packed hike from the popular Keys View vista point. The views are similar to those of Ryan Mountain, but the route is less crowded.

The hike begins to the right of the short brick wall at the western end of the parking lot. Two unmarked use trails head steeply uphill. The route is a little vague, but trail ducks help you stay on course. By about 0.1 mile, you should find yourself on an established trail. Almost half of the climbing on the whole route takes place during the first third of a mile, which brings you to a plateau. Drop down to a saddle, providing views of the Coachella Valley to the left and Lost Horse Valley to the right.

You then climb to another ridge, ignoring a false trail on the left (0.5 mile from the start). By this point, Mt. Inspiration should be visible to the northwest, marked by a lone Joshua tree on the summit. The route heads northwest to another bump before making a steep, rocky descent (expect to use your hands) to another saddle, marked by an abandoned maintenance shed, three quarters of a mile from the start. One last climb brings you to Mt. Inspiration.

From here, your 360 degree view includes San Gorgonio, San Jacinto, Toro Peak, the Salton Sea and several of Joshua Tree’s major summits such as Quail and Ryan. After enjoying the scenery, retrace your steps carefully along the steep, loose descents. For much of the return, the parking lot will be in sight. Because the hike is so short, you will probably have time to visit other destinations in the area, such as Lost Horse Mine.

Photo Gallery (Click thumbnails to see the full sized versions)

The first ascent
Steep climb at the start of the hike
Mt. Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park
Coachella Valley from the first hill
Mount Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park
Descending the first bump
Mt. Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park
View from the saddle below the first peak
Mt. Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park
Looking southwest from the second ridge
Mt. Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Looking northeast from just below the summit
Mt. Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park
Looking north from Mt. Inspiration’s summit
Mt. Inspiration, Joshua Tree National Park
San Bernardino range from Mt. Inspiration











Text and photography copyright 2016 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.


    1. Thanks Ruth! I don’t know if you’ve ever had the chance to go to JT but if you’re ever in the L.A. area I recommend it.

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