Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
100.00 ft (30.48 m)
Trail type
0.30 mi (0.48 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Cap Rock Nature Trail is a 0.3-mile loop that winds through rock formations in Joshua Tree National Park. Signs along the path explain the geology and flora of the region.

Along the trail you may notice seemingly random stacks and piles of boulders. The rock piles in Joshua Tree began underground; magma cooling into granite rose toward the earth's surface and into the cracks of the existing rock (the Pinto Gneiss formation). Groundwater filtered downward into the cracks, and centuries of erosion sculpted the rocks into their rounder shapes. Erosion on the surface from flash floods, wind, and rain wore the earth down around these already fully-formed piles.

Although the desert may seem empty at first sight, it is home to many unique species. For example, Joshua Trees are only found in parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona. Other plants found in the region include peachthorne, desert almonds, Mormon tea, mojave yucca, juniper, and a variety of annual flowers. Animals include bighorn sheep, roadrunners, quail, desert tortoises, and a variety of lizards.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Bouldering. Educational signs along the trail. Wheelchair accessible.


Very hot during the summer.

Trailhead Elevation

4,240.00 ft (1,292.35 m)


Rock climbing
ADA accessible
Geologically significant


Nearby Lodging + Camping


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