Skull Rock Nature Trail

Joshua Tree National Park, California
Elevation Gain398ft
Trailhead Elevation4,424ft
Elevation Min/Max4331/4449ft
Elevation Start/End4424/4424ft

Skull Rock Nature Trail

Skull Rock Nature Trail is a hiking trail in Riverside County, California. It is within Joshua Tree National Park. It is 1.3 miles long and begins at 4,424 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 2.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 398 feet. Near the trailhead there are restrooms. The Skull Rock can be seen along the trail.
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Lakeside, CA
Explorer | 14 pts
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Placentia, CA
Trailblazer | 1154 pts
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Skull Rock and Jumbo Rocks are two more highly popular scenic attractions in Joshua Tree National Park. This super short 1.7 mile hike (2 miles if you wander through the campground like we did), is another must-do hike for anyone wanting to soak in the majesty of Joshua Tree. It’s easily reachable from the park’s northern Loop Road, and is engaging enough even for young kids — particularly with all the cool rocks to climb. (Date hiked: February 18, 2013.) Read full write-up at:

Skull Rock Nature Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Bill Cunningham & Polly Cunningham
"A hike up Ryan Mountain provides a spectacular panorama from the center of the park. The route is steep in places, with rocky steps, but the reward in achieving the summit is worth the effort."
Bill & Polly Cunningham
"The trail is haphazardly marked with rocks and not always clear. Although the eroded boulders are a spectacular sight, the information provided is not thematic. An easy nature loop through interesting rock formations, with periodic informational signs."
"The Skull Rock Nature Trail tours the outstanding geology of the Jumbo Rocks area and passes interpretive signs describing the uniquely adapted desert vegetation. It can be reached from one of three trailheads: the one described above across from the Jumbo Rocks Campground entrance, from Skull Rock itself 0.6 mile farther east along Park Boulevard, or from the Jumbo Rocks Campground across from site 93. This trip assumes a clockwise loop starting at the campground entrance, crossing the road at Skull Rock, continuing to the campground, and returning by way of the campground road. Rock formations along the way tempt curious hikers to explore and scramble. It’s easy to accidentally stray from this trail, so backtrack if you find yourself off route."

Trail Information

Joshua Tree National Park
Nearby City
Joshua Tree National Park
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Joshua Tree National Park
Local Contacts
Trails Illustrated Joshua Tree or USGS Malapai Hill 7.5'
Local Maps