Joshua Tree is the largest climbing area in north America, with over 8,000 routes, and countless boulder problems spread out on various formations, outcrops, domes, and cliffs. The routes are typically short, with the crags being rarely more than 230’ (70m) high, but the access is usually a short, easy walk through the desert.
The white Quartz Monzonite granite at Joshua Tree is famously course, thus providing excellent fiction. The style of the climbing is huge, with a variety of routes from easy slabs, many thin and wide cracks, to balancy slabs and overhanging sport routes. However the majority of the routes are traditional, requiring the placing of cams and nuts, though the odd bolt will also be used where there is a long runout. The slabs can be bold with few bolts, but are crimpy and thin using small edges for hands and smearing on bumpy friction holds. However there are also many crack climbs that are well protected. With over 8,000 routes there is something for everyone’s style and taste across a wide range of grades.
Bouldering is found all over the park and ranges from slabby to gently overhanging problems, with lots of highballs. The photograph opposite shows the typical Joshua Tree rocky landscape.
Joshua Tree is easily accessible from southern California and is around a 3-hour drive from Los Angeles, which is roughly 100 miles away. Palm Springs is around 40 miles away and most of the climbing is concentrated near the West Entrance to the park.
Joshue Tree, along with Hueco Tanks in Texas, is one of the best winter rock climbing areas in the country. The weather here is generally mild and sunny for much of the winter with only occasional snatches of snow. Therefore the best climbing season at Joshua Tree is from mid-October through to late April or early May. During these months climbers bask in reliably winter sunshine, and the park is rain-free an average of 358 days a year.
There is a vast array of different rock climbing guidebooks for Joshua Tree. The Joshua Tree Rock Climbs is a selective guidebook. It covers 3,000 of the best routes and bouldering problems in Joshua Tree National Park. There is also a separate dedicated bouldering guidebook called Joshua Tree Bouldering. Buy these guidebooks from our shop.
Buy rock climbing guidebooks for Joshua Tree from
Read an article by Ian Wyatt describing
“Joshua Tree Bliss”.