Arch Rock Trail in Joshua Tree National Park is a great short hike and one of our most frequent hikes in the summer season due to its short length and infinite beauty. The trail itself is only a 0.5 mile hike and is clearly marked, which allows us to get some fresh air while not being out in the heat of the day for too long. The trail is located at White Tank Campground which is also one of our favorite campsites in Joshua Tree National Park. You can do the hike in about 20 minutes, or you can scramble around in the rocks for as long as you’d like!
Once you’ve parked your car at the trail head, walk Arch Rock Trail along white tank granite. You’ll come across many beautiful rock formations that jut out of the earth alongside of the Joshua Tree’s cousin, the Yucca plant. About halfway down the trail, you come across an arch around 30 feet wide that you can easily climb up to and sit under for the shade. This is a great place to have a picnic and look out at the rock formations (just remember to pack out everything you’ve brought in). From here, you can either head back down the path, or you can start scrambling through the rock crevices—the most surreal part of the adventure. If you do decide to scramble off-trail, make sure to remember the path that you came from so you don’t get lost! One easy way to remember the direction that you’ve been hiking is that the lichen (in a beautiful bright yellow/green) predominantly grows on the northern face of the rocks.
Trail Info for Arch Rock Trail
0.5 mile loop. Takes about 20 minutes to hike, but you can spend an hour exploring the rocks.
How to Access
Use the north entrance of the park in Twentynine Palms and drive about 4.9 miles down Park Blvd, and take a slight left at Pinto Basin Rd. Continue down Pinto Basin Rd for about 2.7 miles and turn left into White Tank Campground Rd (We almost always drive by it since the sign doesn’t give you much heads up!). Enter the campground and turn left when you arrive at the bathroom. The trail head is past a few campsites near campsite #9.
What to Bring
The hike at Arch Rock is an easy one and good for all experience levels. Wear a wide brimmed hat, good hiking shoes or sneakers, sun tan lotion, and as always bring a lot of water (turn around when you’re halfway through your water supply, no matter what!).