Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular spots for outdoor recreation in Southern California. Just a short drive away from LA, it’s also one of the most visited (despite its remote location). Many travelers take day trips out to Joshua Tree to enjoy the hikes, climbing routes, bouldering, scenery, and otherworldly landscapes. I’m a huge fan of Joshua Tree day trips, but nothing beats staying a few nights at one of the park’s campgrounds. My favorite campground in the park is Jumbo Rocks, due to its close proximity to many of Joshua Tree National Park’s most well recognized sites. In this post, I’ll cover all of the camping details, and also highlight a hike that will take you to Skull Rock, Face Rock, and Split Rock.
Directions to Jumbo Rocks Campground
Jumbo Rocks Campground is located on the northwestern side of Joshua Tree National Park. The campground is an 18-mile drive from the Joshua Tree entrance along a two lane asphalt road. From Los Angeles, drivers will head east towards Palm Springs along I-10 and head north on CA-62 to arrive in Joshua Tree.
Jumbo Rocks Campground Key Points
- Location: Jumbo Rocks Campground,Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
- Sites: 124 individual tent and RV campsites
- Reservations/Permit: Reservations are required for Jumbo Rocks Campground during the busy season from the end of August through early June. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance online at www.recreation.gov.
- Facilities: No potable water, many pit toilets and trash receptacles, no hookups, fire rings and picnic tables at each site, firewood is not available in the park
- Site Elevation: 4322ft
- Road Conditions: Paved road from Joshua Tree to the campground
- Activities: Hiking, climbing, bouldering, bird watching, and camping
- Dog Friendly: Yes, but not on park hiking trails
- Weather: Very hot during the summer months. Temperatures reach freezing and below during the winter months.
- Cell Phone Reception: None
Jumbo Rocks Campground Photos
Located in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park, Jumbo Rocks campsite is very close to many of the main attractions. As you enter the campground, you’ll pass by campsites right along the road, so make sure to drive very slow.
The campsites are situated right alongside the ‘jumbo’ rocks that the site gets its name from. We were fortunate to grab a site with a view of the Crown Prince Lookout. This is a very popular hike that you can take straight from the campsites. There is no established trail, but there are plenty of ‘use trails’.
Looking down from the overlook, you can see the Jumbo Rocks grounds, and many other notable features within the park.
Jumbo Rocks is located very close to Skull Rock, Face Rock, and Split Rock. In this short hiking guide, I’ll give you some basic instructions to see these points of interest on a short walk.
Hike Profile for Skull Rock, Face Rock, and Split Rock from Jumbo Rocks
- Distance: 4.10 miles
- Elevation Gain: 505 ft
- Minimum Elevation: 4,192 ft
- Maximum Elevation: 4,365 ft
- Time: 1-3 hour
- Difficulty: 1/5 for the hike, but the rings are very physically demanding
- Dog Friendly: No
- Permit Required: No
- Trail Condition: Well graded single track and pebbled wash
- Cell Phone Reception: None
Skull Rock, Face Rock, and Split Rock Hike Map And Elevation Profile
Skull Rock, Face Rock, and Split Rock Hike Description
0.0 Miles: To begin this hike you’ll need to walk over to the pit toilets and trash cans across from site 93. On the side of the road, you’ll see a sun faded sign for Skull Rock. Head north here past the information sign and enjoy the well graded trail that passes by cholla, juniper, lichen, rock dikes, and more!
The trail passes by many jumbo rocks and there are many ‘use trails’ that lead out to the more scenic formations. This is one of those hikes that is jam packed with amazing views, so make sure to leave yourself with enough time to enjoy it all.
0.4 Miles: When you reach the sandy wash part of this trail, you’ll know you’re getting close to Skull Rock. Continue along the wash as it parallels the main road through the park.
It’s always amazing to see what water can do to granite in the desert, and how our brains lean towards the pareidolia effect of seeing faces in everyday objects. Skull rock doesn’t take much imagination though, as the skull-like features are very apparent from the first glance.
0.6 Miles: Once you’ve enjoyed enough time at Skull Rock, you’ll cross the main road to pick up the next part of this hike. Just after crossing the road, you’ll see a marker for the Discovery Trail with signage for Face Rock. Head north from here and follow the signs.
As you make your way towards Face Rock, you’ll pass through a small slot canyon. The rocks in this canyon area have beautiful patches of lichen on the backside, which are definitely worth a close look.
0.9 Miles: As you approach the first mile of hiking, you’ll see a sign for Face Rock Trail and Split Rock Trail. The path here is pretty easy to follow, but it’s good to keep the rock formation in site and stay to the left. Keep your eyes up to catch a glimpse of Face Rock.
1.2 Miles: After leaving Face Rock behind, you’ll head north and begin the Split Rock loop trail. You’ll see the back of the sign pictured below, and that’s when you’ll know you’re in the right place. Head right at the junction to complete a counter clockwise loop of this trail.
The Split Rock loop is a very scenic trail with rock formations at every turn. Make sure to get an early start, as it can get very hot on the stretch of the hike.
2.0 Miles: As you complete the second mile of hiking on this hike, you’ll approach Split Rock and the adjacent parking lot. Continue on through the parking lot to find the back half of this loop hike, and when you reach the Face Rock Junction, you’ll return to Jumbo Rocks Campground the same way you arrived.
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