My favorite part of Joshua Tree National Park was climbing around at Jumbo Rocks. Just as it sounds, the Jumbo Rocks are a collection of boulders near the main road through the park. Visitors can climb on, around, and between the boulders.
Joshua Tree NP has a lot of fun activities, but exploring and climbing at Jumbo Rocks should be on your wishlist for sure. Here’s the scoop on what you need to know to visit Jumbo Rocks.
Getting to Jumbo Rocks
One important thing to note is that Joshua Tree has a Jumbo Rocks Campground, and a plain old Jumbo Rocks attraction, which is the rock field we’re talking about. These are close to each other, but not exactly the same. That can be confusing where you’re looking at Joshua Tree park maps.
If you park at the campground, you’ll have to take a short hike through the campground and over to Jumbo Rocks, which is not ideal on a hot day.
The better option is to park right at the Jumbo Rocks attraction itself. You will find a small pullout on the side of the road with space for cars.
These rocks can be found on Park Boulevard. They’re 23 miles from the park’s main entrance at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Boulders
Is it safe to climb at Jumbo Rocks?
We have to give the disclaimer that there’s always a risk of injury with any outdoor activity. Certainly there is the possibility that someone could fall from an elevated rock and get seriously hurt.
But for the most part, people with good balance who don’t take unnecessary risks should be fine. Basically, if you’re healthy enough to hike, you should be able to explore the rocks with no major issues.
Is any special equipment needed to climb the large rocks?
No special climbing equipment is needed. Just walk around until you see a trail you can follow or a few small rocks you can jump on top of to use as stairs to get even higher. Before you know it, you’ll be on top of the world!
How much time do you need at Jumbo Rocks?
This really depends on how much you’re enjoying ascending the boulders. It can be quite addicting. You climb a couple rocks and reach a small ledge, and then you climb up to another ledge, and then you just want to keep going.
You can get your money’s worth in 15-20 minutes at Jumbo Rocks. But if you really enjoy scrambling and climbing up rocks, you could easily spend more than an hour here. Just bring plenty of water!
Is there cell phone service at Jumbo Rocks?
Cell service throughout Joshua Tree is sporadic. Don’t expect to have a reliable cell signal while you’re at Jumbo Rocks, although you may get lucky and catch a signal if you climb high enough.
How did the large rocks get here?
Geologists say that when two tectonic plates collided millions of years ago, magma was forced toward the surface. That magma cooled and turned to stone, which then cracked over time. As the ground eroded and the soil was washed away, all that remained were piles of rocks. See here for a deep dive on the geologic history of Joshua Tree.
Photos from Jumbo Rocks
Check out these massive boulders! Some are rounded, a few are more jagged. Either way, this is the place to come and act like a kid by climbing through the maze of rocks.
I was surprised how much fun it was to climb on these rocks. I spent at least an hour here exploring the rocks and could have spent all day. Get your selfies here!
You’ll find some narrow passages between rocks that you can try to squeeze through! This was my favorite part. It’s like running through secret passageways. This part reminded me a lot of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada.
Kids can enjoy Jumbo Rocks too. Many of the rocks are small and easy for children to climb, so the whole family can have an outdoor adventure here.
Those of us who aren’t rock climbers never get to have these kinds of thrills, so it’s a fun chance to try something new. Do not pass up the chance to see Jumbo Rocks if you visit the park! And don’t forget to do the Barker Dam hike on your visit to the park.
Jumbo Rocks Campground
There’s also a campground here, the Jumbo Rocks Campground. There are 124 sites, which is a huge number. But during the busy winter season from October to May, the campground fills up and reservations are required. Click here to make reservations via the official site on recreation.gov.
None of the sites have electricity, and there’s no cell phone reception here. So prepare to rough it if you decide to camp near the jumbo rocks!
As of this writing, there are 124 sites at Jumbo Rocks Campground and basic sites (maximum 6 people) are $20/night. Those with a Senior Pass pay $10. There is no water, no firewood for sale, and no camp store.
The campground has vault toilets, but no showers. I walked through the campground and discovered that there is a moderate amount of shade in some parts, mostly from the tall rocks. Some (but not all) sites are tucked between trees or rocks.
From the campground, you can easily walk to Jumbo Rocks, or take the 1.7 mile Skull Rock Trail, a loop that connects a few of the park’s most rocky areas.
Would you visit Jumbo Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park?