This hike leads into the heart of the “Wonderland of Rocks” in Joshua Tree National Park in southern California.

The hike, which has no significant inclines, first crosses a plain covered with many distinctive Joshua Trees. Later it goes into a true labyrinth of rock formations, dried out river beds (washes) and canyons, which are for many the highlight of the park.

At the end of the tour, there is also a narrow valley in which water can collect, creating an unusually lush stand of “green plants”.

Hiking through the Mojave Dessert into a rock labyrinth

The tour starts at a parking lot directly on the park road that crosses Joshua National Park. This is also the starting point of the Boy Scout Trail which runs to a small part on the same road. From the parking lot we follow a well visible and flat trail over a plateau to the north. Many large Joshua Trees, but also a variety of cacti and desert flowers (in spring when the winter was not too dry) determine the vegetation in this part of the Mojave Desert.

The water in the Willow Hole creates a small oasis

The trail branches off to the east after about 2.5 kilometers, separating here from the Boy Scout Trail. It now goes directly into a rugged rocky landscape with a variety of curious rock formations. Sometimes you get the impression that the wildly layered boulders defy physical laws.

The trail now often leads through dry riverbeds (washes), which make progress somewhat difficult with their deep sand. At the end of the trail, in Willow Hole, we come across a small pond which has created a real oasis with lush vegetation. From here we take the same path back to the starting point of the hike.

In summer you should be up early to avoid the heat

A very beautiful hike that should be started as early as possible, especially in summer. From noon on it can get unbearably hot on the trail between the rocks. The pond in Willow Hole is mostly dry in summer. Drinking water is not available here (as on all other trails in Joshua Tree NP).

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Wonderland of Rocks Trail – Wanderung im Joshua Tree NP USA
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Wonderland of Rocks Trail – Hike in a valley surrounded by rocks.

  • Length: approx. 12 km (outward and return)
  • Start: At the park road about 3.5km northwest of Hidden Valley Campground
  • Duration: about 3-4 hours
  • Endurance: medium
  • Difficulty: very low
  • Danger potential: low
  • Ascent/Descent: very low
  • Special features: extreme temperatures likely in summer

Further info:

Important note about hiking in Joshua Tree NP

Temperatures in Joshua Tree National Park can quickly rise above 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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