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