The Mojave National Preserve is a massive 1.6 million acre park on California’s southwestern border. Sandwiched between the I-15 and I-40, most California roadtrippers pass by on their way to Nevada and Arizona without realizing the abundance of adventure opportunities available within the park. Mojave NP has sand dunes, caverns, mountain peaks, cinder cone volcanoes, wildflowers, a massive joshua tree forest, and much more. One of my favorite quick-trips to Mojave NP is to visit Hole-In-The-Wall Campground and then hike the nearby Rings Loop Trail. In this guide, I’ll provide information on the campground and how to access the trail directly from your campsite.
Directions to Hole-In-The-Wall Campground
Hole-In-The-Wall Campground can be reached via I-40 or I-15, but I-40 is the optimal route. The route from I-15 requires the use of dirt roads that are best for high clearance 4x4s. My 4runner has no problem, but a sedan would take a beating. From I-40, take exit 100 for Essex Rd. After 10 miles, take a slight right onto Black Canyon Rd. Continue 10 more miles to the campground
Hole-In-The-Wall Campground Key Points
- Location: Essex, CA 92332
- Reservations/Permit: Not accepted; Campsites are first-come, first-served.
- Facilities: Potable water, Pit toilets, trash receptacles, fire rings, picnic tables; no utility hookups. Firewood is not available in the park.
- Site Elevation: 4400ft
- Road Conditions: Paved road from I-40 to the campground
- Activities: Hiking and camping
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Weather: Very hot during the summer months. Temperatures reach freezing and below during the winter months.
- Cell Phone Reception: Spotty
Hole-In-The-Wall Campground Photos
Once you arrive at Hole-In-The-Wall Campground, you’ll want to drive the loop and find an available site. The kiosk to self-pay is located at the entrance. Just fill out the envelope slip and attach the tear off to your site post.
There is potable water located throughout the campsite, but be mindful of your usage as water is very limited in the desert.
Each site has room for a large tent or trailer, and comes equipped with a park bench table and fire ring. If you have a tent, make sure to stake it out properly, as the evening winds can pick up without notice.
It’s almost impossible to pick a bad site at Hole-In-The-Wall Campground. The views of sunrise and sunset are absolutely stunning.
The Rings Trail Loop Hike Profile
- Distance: 2.00 miles
- Elevation Gain: 1619 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 4191 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 4316 ft
- Time: 1-2 hour
- Difficulty: 1/5 for the hike, but the rings are very physically demanding
- Dog Friendly: Yes
- Permit Required: No
- Trail Condition: Well graded single track, pebbled wash, and rings in a canyon
- Cell Phone Reception: Spotty
The Rings Trail Loop Hike Map And Elevation Profile
The Rings Trail Loop Hike Description
To begin this hike you can drive to the Hole-In-The-Wall Visitor Center, or walk there from the campground. The visitor center can be seen from the campground and a well marked quarter-mile trail leads to the Rings Loop trailhead.
Once at the visitor center, head to the southern corner of the parking lot to find the trailhead. This will take you on a clockwise loop of the trail. I’ve done this hike four times and find it easier to go up the rings. Going clockwise also leaves the beauty of Banshee Canyon for the end.
Leaving the trailhead, you’ll follow a wash along a single track trail. Along the way, you’ll see a rock formation with petroglyphs.
After leaving the petroglyphs, the trail swings north towards Banshee Canyon. This area makes for a beautiful backdrop at sunrise and sunset.
As you head into Banshee Canyon, you’ll see the iconic swiss cheese rocks of The Rings Loop. Be very careful where you climb here and do your best to stay on the trail.
As you progress further into Banshee Canyon the trail gets narrow and eventually requires hikers to pull themselves up a series of rings to ascend. As I mentioned above, I find it much easier going up than I do going down. Be very careful here if you have kids and dogs. My son had no problem on the rings, and I was able to use the handles on my dogs’ harnesses to lift them up.
After climbing out of Banshee Canyon you’ll reach the end of the hike and the point that brings you back towards the visitor center. Make sure to keep an eye out for the short overlook trail nearby. It’s a quick addition to the Rings Loop.
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6 thoughts on “Camping at Hole-In-The-Wall Campground and Hiking The Rings Loop Trail”
+1 for hauling the dogger up the rings! Max approves.
Great post Drew. With plenty of information, as always. Thanks
Thank you! I hope all is well in Greece.
All is well here, but unfortunately we are in the second lockdown already 6 weeks now, and I don’t think we will be allowed to move freely until February. This means, that I’m not able to enjoy the outdoors as I would have liked, thus, unfortunately, I can not also report new adventures from Greece.
Take care drew.
We just had the same thing happen here in California. Starting today, even campsites have been locked down. Looking forward to a brighter future. Stay safe and well!