Hike with panoramic views over Joshua Tree National Park in California.

The hike through the desert landscape of Joshua Tree Park leads up a mountain with great views of the surrounding mountain ranges and the Mojave Desert valley covered with the namesake and whimsical Joshua Trees.Something special is to do the trail in the evening to then enjoy the sunset at this exposed location.

The trailhead is located at the Ryan Mountain Parking Area near the Sheep Pass Campground (alternative trailhead), which is signposted directly from the park road (see also the official map of the National Park Service). The trail (out and back) is just under 5 km long and there is about 320 meters of elevation gain. The trail is well maintained but a bit steep in places. However, steps help in these places to make the trail easy to walk.

The Ryan Montain Trail goes steadily uphill around the mountain, then through a small valley cut onto the mountain saddle. During the last section, the adjacent mountains to the east become more and more visible. Directly on Ryan Mountain (1665m) , which is marked by a pile of rocks, you have a great view over the valley.

Sunset over Joshua Tree National Park

A good option is to do the hike in the evening and enjoy the sunset over Joshua Valley. Of course, this should only be considered if you are suitably trained and fit, and if you carry good headlamps or flashlights for a safe descent! Even if the chance to see the rare desert bighorn sheep is not very high, the chance to see them is still the highest in the area around Ryan Mountain.

As in all desert regions in the southwestern USA, the months of April and May are especially recommended because of the sometimes numerous (depending on the amount of precipitation in winter) blooming flowers and cacti.

Ryan Mountain Trail – Hike to a Panoramic Point

Ryan Mountain Trail
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Important note about hiking in Joshua Tree NP

Temperatures in Joshua Tree National Park can quickly rise to over 40°C in summer. There is a typical desert climate. In general, you should always carry enough water, even on short hikes. Sun protection in the form of a hat and sunscreen is then essential. There is no water on any of the trails and there is practically no shade on the way to protect yourself from the sun.

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