Before visiting, I thought Joshua Tree National Park only had Joshua Trees! Not so. Joshua Tree National Park is also a bouldering playground! We loved our visit there and enjoyed hiking around. In spite of the conditions left by the Federal Government Shutdown, I fully enjoyed exploring and photographing Joshua Tree National Park. One of my favorite small hikes was the hike down the Arch Rock Nature Trail. The main attraction of this hike is the Arch Rock formation! Keep reading to learn more about this amazing hike and to discover Arch Rock at Joshua Tree National Park for yourself!
Arch Rock Trail Details & Location
Elevation Gain: 22 ft. | Distance: .5 miles out and back from the White Tank Campground | Hiking Time: About 20 minutes (depending upon stopping time and how long you go exploring)
Location: The Arch Rock Nature Trail Trailhead is located in the White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Directions to Arch Rock are fairly straightforward. From the north, head down Park Boulevard and then turn left onto Pinto Basin Road. Turn left when you see a sign for the White Tank Campground. We found parking near the front of the campground near the restroom. Once you park, hike up to campsite #9 (pictured below). The Arch Rock Nature Trail begins here. Arch Rock is located a little ways down the Arch Rock Nature Trail on the right. While not wheelchair accessible, Arch Rock is super easy to find and the hike is a lot of fun, even for the novice hiker.
Arch Rock is nestled amongst a sea of boulders
I must admit, I didn’t know what to look for when I hiked to Arch Rock at Joshua Tree National Park. I was expecting a grand entrance, like many of the Arches have at Arches National Park. Instead, we were surrounded by a desert landscape and an alien world of boulders.
That said, I loved climbing up the giant boulders and approaching this 30′ arch! It was a lot more intimate than I had imagined from the photos I had seen.
Early morning is a great time to visit Arch Rock
We hiked to Arch Rock in the early morning and had the place to ourselves. One thing I loved about this hike was that we could hike up to and then through Arch Rock. This arch reminds me of mini version of Elephant Arch at Arches National Park. Doesn’t that look like a giant elephant trunk to you?
In addition to small crowds, another advantage of hiking to Arch Rock in the early morning was being able to capture a sun star with my camera. The winter sun shone directly through the center of the Arch.
After hiking through and around Arch Rock, there is still plenty to explore
Once I photographed Arch Rock and hiked through it, I decided to continue my hike down the Arch Rock Nature trail in search of Heart Rock.
Supposedly Heart Rock is located just 1/4 mile beyond Arch Rock.
Sadly, we never found it. We hiked for around 30 minutes looking for it. After searching in vain, my nine-year-old daughter started crying and so we decided to turn back.
It is easy to get lost on the Arch Rock Nature Trail
Once we decided to turn around, my bearings were completely off. I searched for the actual trail, but beyond Arch Rock it is not well marked.
We we far enough away from our starting point that it was impossible to see Arch Rock. We wandered in circles for a little while and then finally saw the large boulder we were looking for. So much for Heart Rock!
While a little disorienting at times, the hike to Arch Rock is definitely worth it and was a highlight of my trip!
In spite of getting lost, the hike to and through Arch Rock at Joshua Tree National Park was a highlight of my trip. It definitely made getting up at the crack of dawn worth it!
With every National Park I visit, I am constantly trying to discover why Theodore Roosevelt and other presidents established these locations as National Parks. Thus far on my journey, I have not been disappointed.
Joshua Tree National Park captured my heart and that of my children the moment we began hiking. In the midst of a desert landscape, we found ourselves surrounded by beautiful boulders, water at Barker Dam, and, of course, the impressive Joshua Trees.
As you can see, Joshua Tree National Park has a lot to offer! I hope you have enjoyed learning more about how to find Arch Rock and that you get to visit this beautiful National Park for yourself. If not, at least you can see it through my photos! Thanks for reading and sharing my adventures with me!
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