Walk the Arch Rock Nature Trail

Arch Rock is arguably one of the best sights in Joshua Tree National Park. At 30 feet wide, this is a really beautiful sight to see. You can park at Twin Tanks Parking Area and then take a short leisurely stroll down a well-marked trail passing spiky Joshua Trees until you get to the grand Arch Rock.

To Get There

  • Trailhead location: Twin Tanks Parking Lot

  • Nature Trail: 1.2 miles Out & Back

  • Rated: Easy
    Elevation change: 88 feet

When To Go

The best time of year to visit Joshua Tree National Park is March-May and October-November.
Avoid July & August, too hot to do anything.
The winter months of December - February are cold but still doable if you prefer off season travel.
June and September are on the hotter side, but if you avoid midday hiking you would be okay.

Arch Rock Nature Trail

Start the hike at the Twin Tanks Parking Lot. There are clear signs for the trail from here at the south side of the lot. This is a heavily trafficked trail so it should be easy to follow.

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As you get closer to the Arch, the rock formations start to get larger.

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You’ll see a sign for Arch Rock after approximately half a mile. Look for the shape below from the trail. You’ll need to do some light rock scrambling to get to the side view which is the best.

Side view of Arch Rock

Side view of Arch Rock

We got to the Arch about 90min before sunset. The light was dramatic, with a large shadow cutting across the rock formation. If you want to be fully lit I recommend getting here about 2 hours before sunset or earlier. This would also be a great spot at night with a tripod to capture the stars.

If you are going to climb up the Arch like we did, don’t wear open-toed shoes. You don’t need full on hiking boots because the rocks have good traction, but some sort of sneaker or boots are ideal so you don’t slip.

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The rock formations in this area are epic. You can rock scramble across these large boulders and be fully immersed in nature.

Near Arch Rock

Near Arch Rock

You can continue to explore more boulders, or turn around and head back the way you came in. This is an out and back trail.

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Nearby

If you have enough daylight left, head to Cholla Cactus Gardens. It’s about a 15min drive from the Twin Tanks Parking Lot and is the perfect place to be at sunset overlooking 100 acres of fuzzy teddy-bear chollas that glow in the falling sunlight.

Another pro-tip is make a reservation at Kitchen in the Desert for dinner if you’re exiting the park through the east entrance in Twentynine Palms.

If you visit Joshua Tree, I would put this nature trail high on your list. It’s the most stunning boulder formation I’ve seen in the park, and it’s easy to get to. Have any other tips for this trail, leave them in the comments below!


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