Skull Rock Trail | Joshua Tree

Skull Rock is an amazing stop in Joshua Tree National Park. Unfortunately, it’s amazingly busy as well. When we stopped at this roadside pullout, we had to park around a quarter mile away due to the cars packed onto both sides of the road. There was even a line that we waited in for ten minutes to take a picture with the rock. But it is a stop must-do in Joshua Tree. We also enjoyed Skull Rock Trail in Joshua Tree that begins at this same stop.

Skull Rock is the starting point for this hike.

The Skull Rock Trail is a 1.7 mile loop that starts at the parking area for Skull Rock. As we started down the trail, the crowds fell away, and we spent most of our time as a family group, without too many other people around us.

Skull Rock Trail

The Skull Rock Trail in Joshua Tree starts across the road from the formation. It runs along the north side of the road to the west. There are several maps on sign posts, and according to them, Skull Rock Trail runs 0.7 miles before crossing the road into the Jumbo Rocks Campground.

The first section of the Skull Rock Trail hike is by far the most interesting. There are massive towering rocks, and dozens of nooks and crannies. The flora is beautiful with yucca, cactuses, and, of course, Joshua trees. You will even see a few information signs. We took this part of the hike slowly and enjoyed the winding trail, which is mostly flat with a few small rises. There are a few places with stairs or areas to climb around rocks. Nothing was difficult, but it was definitely not a flat, easy trail.

The trail is well marked and easy to follow.
Watch for information signs along the way.
Parts of the trail are sandy and other parts are walking on rocks.
Our boys loved climbing rocks along the Skull Rock Trail in Joshua Tree.
There are a few ups and downs along this hike.
This view just before the campground is amazing!

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Eventually, the trail winds back down to the road. It crosses at the Jumbo Rocks Campground. Now you are on the south side of the road. Turn into the campground and follow the paved road past the campsites. This section of the trail continues for around half a mile before a sign leads you away from the campground into the rocks.

The trail hikes right through the campground.
The trail is well signed and easy to follow.
After walking through the campground, the hike continues back to Skull Rock.

Final Stretch

The last half-mile takes you back to the east, and you are within sight of the road almost the entire way. There are a few informational signs along this part of the hike, too. This area is also great for spotting desert tortoises. We visited in winter, so they were hibernating, but if you are there in a warmer time of year, make sure to keep an eye out.

The trail is easy to follow back to Skull Rock and the city of cars parked there. If you missed taking a picture with Skull Rock before, you can stop and take one now, since you will end up back at the same starting point.

The trail heads back toward Skull Rock.
There are signs about the plants along the trail.
There are also a few Joshua Trees.
Soon you will see the crowds waiting for skull rock.

Make sure to spend some time exploring the area around Skull Rock and Jumbo Rocks. This terrain is really interesting, and when we visited, the area was open to explore. Our boys enjoyed climbing on the large rocks and there were many people scrambling around.

There are lots of places to explore on the rocks.

Skull Rock Trail in Joshua Tree is a great family-friendly hike to view the rock formations in this national park. It was one of our favorite hikes in the park. Check out all of our other Kid Hikes in Joshua Tree on this post.

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