Geology Tour Road

Joshua Tree National Park

Western Sonoran + Colorado Desert, California

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Geology Tour Road


  • Entrance to the Geology Tour Road.- Geology Tour Road
  • Backcountry gateway along the tour road.- Geology Tour Road
  • Joshua trees and granite rocks typical of Joshua Tree National Park.- Geology Tour Road
  • It is fun to stop and play in the boulders.- Geology Tour Road
  • The rocks of Joshua Tree National Park.- Geology Tour Road
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Geology Tour Road
  • Junction for the one-way loop road.- Geology Tour Road
  • Mining remnants are common in the park.- Geology Tour Road
  • Geology Tour Road as it enters Pleasant Valley.- Geology Tour Road
  • Malapai Hill twin peaks in the distance.- Geology Tour Road
  • Geology Tour Road.- Geology Tour Road
  • Lichen (here seen on Pinto gneiss) is one force that causes erosion of the rocks in Joshua Tree National Park.- Geology Tour Road
  • Looking back toward the far end of the loop road.- Geology Tour Road
  • - Geology Tour Road
Overview + Weather
Magnificent vistas. Informative tour guide. Solitude.
Rough road in places.
Western Sonoran + Colorado Desert, CA
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Pro Contributor

The many short hikes in Joshua Tree National Park, such as Skull Rock, Split Rock and Hidden Valley, are a marvelous way to experience the park’s mystical rock heaps, but experiencing the solitude and vast spaces of the park’s wilderness generally requires backcountry hiking and camping. One way for those less fit (or anyone needing a rest day) to get away from the more-visited parts of the park is to take the 17-mile four-wheel drive geology tour road for a bit of adventure.

The tour road starts just west of the Jumbo Rocks Campground, where the free tour brochure is available. The first 5 miles of the road is well-graded and suitable for passenger cars. Great views of the Queen Valley, Ryan Mountain and the twin peaks of Malapai Hill to the west contrast with the jumbled granite boulder mounds to the east. The historic Squaw Tank is reached about 5 miles in, and this marks the stopping point for vehicles that aren’t high-clearance (or any vehicles after or during a significant rainfall).

Shortly after the Squaw Tank pullout, the road forks to a clockwise one-way loop and heads east and south across Pleasant Valley to the 1.7 billion-year-old Pinto gneiss of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. This loop offers spectacular views across the ancient dry lake bed, old mine remnants and the roughest road segments of the tour. Along the way, the park brochure offers much information about the geological forces that created the landscape and many examples of how fault activity, volcanic activity and erosion have created this unique terrain. 

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(11 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(32 within a 30 mile radius)

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Adventure Community

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