Arch Rock Trail | Joshua Tree

Arch Rock is our favorite physical feature in Joshua Tree National Park. This may be because it reminds us of our own arches that populate southern Utah! Still, a beautiful arch after a flat, open hike? What could be better. Arch Rock Trail in Joshua Tree is a must-do trail for families visiting this national park.


Arch Rock Trail can be a little tricky to find. This is because the parking situation is a bit strange. In order to access Arch Rock Trail, you have to park in a lot that is labeled as Twin Tanks. Twin Tanks is a much longer hike, but you park in this area. Then you walk to the south end of the parking lot parallel to the road to begin the trail. Within 80 meters, the trail crosses the road to the east side and continues to the arch. It isn’t as difficult as it sounds, but was a little confusing to us at first.

Walk to the end of the parking lot by the sign to begin the trail
Then cross the road to continue on to Arch Rock.

Trail to Arch Rock

After you cross the road, the Arch Rock trail in Joshua Tree is perfectly flat. It runs straight toward the arch, and there is usually quite a bit of traffic. It’s a little over a half-mile from this point to the arch, and the total roundtrip distance is 1.4 miles according to park literature.

After the straight walk over to the ridge line, the trail gets a bit confusing again. To the left is “Heart Rock.” We hadn’t read about this formation since it doesn’t appear on any maps, but there were signs. We found out later it is only a third of a mile to a heart-shaped rock that is about 12 feet high.

The trail is flat and easy as you head toward the arch.
Arch Rock is in those rocks.

There are several ghost trails at this split, but the arch is generally straight ahead from the sign and not too distant. There is a trail that leads to it if you follow the Arch Trail loop from the sign. It is slightly hidden as it is in a narrow fin of rock, but you can usually follow the trail of people right to it. In fact, we waited about five minutes to take our turn getting a picture at Arch Rock.

This is the trail from the sign that heads over to the arch.
There is a sign so that you don’t hike on by the arch.
A little scrambling is involved to get up inside the arch, but lots of young kids made it.

Other Areas to Explore

Once you do get that picture, make sure to explore the area. This is what makes the Arch Rock Trail in Joshua Tree so good: all of the extra exploring around the arch area. Our kids enjoyed scrambling around, over, and through the rocks more in this section than anywhere else in the park (except for maybe Hall of Horrors!). We found some really cool places to take pictures and explore. We just wish we’d have explored out to Heart Rock! I guess we need to go back. For a list of all of the other good family friendly trails in Joshua Tree, visit this post.

There is a narrow canyon to walk through by the bottom of the arch to some great rock formations.
The rocks in Joshua Tree are so cool!
This place was heaven for exploring.

Leave a Reply