Centrally located within Joshua Tree National Park, Ryan Mountain rises over 1,000 feet above its western Sonoran Desert surroundings, easily providing the best and most accessible 360-degree views of the 790,636-acre park.
The hike itself is relatively straightforward, starting on the mountain's north side (right off of Park Boulevard) and gradually climbing 1,070 feet over the duration of the 1.5-mile trail. While hiking you'll pass the park's classic yellow sandstone rocky crags, blackbrush, Mojave yucca, and countless wildflowers during the spring season. Once you've reached the 5,457-foot summit, stand atop the mountain's cairn and take in the expansive views, including San Jacinto Peak (10,804 feet) to the west across the Coachella Valley and San Gorgonio Mountain (11,503 feet) to the northwest, part of the San Bernardino Mountains and Southern California's tallest peak.
A ubiquitous name within the national park, "Ryan" originates from Jepp, Tom and Matt Ryan, three brothers who were notable homesteaders and miners in what is now the boundaries of the park. You can explore the remains of their cattle ranch along the Ryan Ranch Trail and their gold mining operation, Lost Horse Mine.
Note: Before embarking on this 3-mile hike, be sure to have ample sun protection and an extra layer as it is common for winds to be quite strong at the summit.