Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
100.00 ft (30.48 m)
Trail type
1.70 mi (2.74 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.

The Skull Rock Nature Trail is a 1.7-mile loop in Joshua Tree National Park that is bisected by Park Boulevard; at the southwest end of the loop sits the main entrance to Jumbo Rocks Campground, and Skull Rock sits at the northeast end. There are parking places in either spot, so there are several places to access the trail. One of the best ways to break into this loop, however, is in Jumbo Rocks Campground at the trailhead just across from site 93. You won't face the traffic issues that come with parking off of Park Boulevard, and you'll be able to walk away from the crowds that stop in to see Skull Rock and skip off without enjoying the surrounding scenery.

However you decide to enter the loop, you won't be sorry you opted to take this scenic walk. While you could get through the loop in 40 minutes or so, there is so much to see and do along this hike that more time is very well spent. Plenty of interpretive signs along the trail are excellent at identifying the local fauna and describing its role in the desert ecosystem, and the steep gullies and towering rockpiles beg for exploration. With its bizarre sockets that formed as rain collected in tiny depressions, Skull Rock is definitely a highlight of the trail, but it would be a mistake to think of it as the main event. Really, this trail shines for the incredible biodiversity and geologic variation along the path. You'll also move from the tight corners and gullies into higher rises that provide excellent, broad views of Joshua Tree National Park's interior.

Generally the trail stays wide, though sections north of Park Boulevard may require a bit of maneuvering. There is some modest undulation to this trail, but this is a great choice for hikers of all abilities, and the distance won't overly stress young legs.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Family friendly. Unique rock formations. Interpretive signs. Desert flora.


Some crowds. Heat and sun exposure.

Trailhead Elevation

4,367.00 ft (1,331.06 m)


Rock climbing
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day



Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


Since "skull rock" is immediately off the main drag, it makes for an excellent place to practice night photography and light painting.
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