Joshua Tree NP – Geology Road (4x4 drive)

Introduction:

What? : The Geology Tour Road is an 18-mile, self-guided driving tour along a dirt road winding through the park's open desert landscape. 4-wheel-drive and high clearance vehicles are highly recommended beyond Squaw Tank. This is a nice drive, especially if you want to escape the park main roads.

 

Related blogs:

Joshua Tree National Park – Visit planning

Joshua Tree NP – Keys View

Joshua Tree NP – Barker Dam Nature Trail

Joshua Tree NP – Hidden Valley Nature Trail

Joshua Tree NP – Arch Rock Nature Trail

Joshua Tree NP – Cholla Cactus Garden Trail

 

 


Where? : Geology Tour Road is clearly shown on the park brochure map, the entrance is located on the main park road between Jumbo Rocks and Sheeps Pass. There is a clear sign noting the turnoff.

Google Map Link


 


When ? : Late fall, winter and spring is the preferred time to visit the Mojave desert, summer is hot.

 

Due note 1: Water - Always take more than what you think you need, this is desert and temperature can be hot, in summer this is extremely hot environment. There is no water available in the park.

 

Due note 2: Pets are not permitted on any trails in the park, except for the paved Oasis of Mara Trail.

 

Due note 3: There is limited cell service in Joshua Tree National Park, so make sure to have a park map on hand.

 

Due note 4: No gas service in the park, there are many options near the north and west entrance to the park, make sure you have enough gas when driving into the park especially if you are driving down to Highway I-10.

 

Due note 5: Most of Joshua Tree trails have little to no cover from the sun, make sure you are coming prepared especially at the hot summer.

 

Due note 6: this road is popular by dog owners; pets are not allowed on any other park trail, so dog owners use this road to hike with their pet. Please drive slowly when passing a hiker and try to minimize the dust-cloud your car is creating.

 

My thoughts: After overwhelmed by the number of visitors at Arch Trail and the traffic jam and lack of parking along the main park road, especially at Skull and Split Rock section I decided to take this off-road drive and enjoy less crowded sections of the park and experiencing the solitude and vast spaces of the park’s wilderness. This is not the most beautiful landscape of the park, as you drive down you see less and less Joshua Trees and the large boulder piles are far away but overall, it is a fun drive if you have the time.

 

 

The Drive:

 

An 18-mile motor tour leads through one of Joshua Tree National Park's most open landscapes and what the park would have looked like back in the day. Driving the full length of the road takes approximately two hours to make the round trip. The road provides access to scenic pullouts, a few hiking trails, and some climbing access routes.

For a 4x4 high clearance car I will rate this as easy drive, in few short sections you can have soft sand or rockier terrain and it is almost impossible to lose your way.

 

In good weather and dry conditions, most passenger vehicles may access the first few miles of this road. Once the road start to descend to the valley it gets rougher and I do not recommend driving pass Squaw Tank, turn around there if your vehicle is not capable of handling deep ruts and soft sand.

Do not think “if I can pass it?” but rather “what I will do if I get stack?”.

Things can “just” happen, you may have flat tire or other car malfunction, you can get stack in “simple” to pass places, in mud, deep send or river bad.

The road is not suitable for campers, trailers, and motor homes.

 

 

The below information is from my Jan. 2022 visit.

 

The drive:

 

I did not saw official up to date brochure of this trail, but I found few links with road attraction points, see below links.

There are number of pull outs stops along the drive with explanatory signs but I did not stop at any of them, I just want to enjoy the drive and the open desert view and escape the over-crowded main park roads.

 

At the six-mile mark, just after the long descend, you will see a turnout for Squaw Tank on your left. You will have to walk short distance to see the old concrete wall that once served as a dam for water in the area.

 


The road then enters Pleasant Valley, here a clockwise one-way loop will take you alongside the mountain and then right across the dry lake bad.

The road gets narrower and rockier at this section as you head up the small hill and the junction with Berdoo Canyon Road, here turn right.

The road start to make to loop and after 2.5 from the loop starting point you will reach the far side of the valley.

as it looks out over the valley and provides a 180-degree view. You can also see the road you came in on in the distance.

Here you have a nice viewing point from an open area near the road, from here you can see out over the valley, in the other side you can also see the road you came in on in the distance

After taking some photos at this small pullout, you will want to continue back to where the road split and then drive back, left, the way you came in.

 


This drive is not at my top things to do in the park, but it was fun drive easy and away from the overcrowded main park roads.

 

www:

https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm

https://thesecrettours.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/NPS-Geology-Tour-Road-Pamphlet.pdf

 

Map:

https://www.nps.gov/carto/hfc/carto/media/JOTRmap1.pdf

http://digital-desert.com/joshua-tree-national-park/geology-tour-road/

 

Pictures:





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