Take the High Road

Hike Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree

You don’t have to rock climb to reach a brilliant panorama of Joshua Tree. A 3-mile (round-trip) hike up Ryan Mountain takes you to one of the highest peaks in the park. The trail is uphill from the get-go. Begin by following stone steps constructed from nearby rock that lead to straightforward dirt singletrack. Half a mile up and you might be feeling the altitude; or maybe you’re just breathless from the view of the Wonderland of Rocks—12 square miles of iconic towering rock piles spread through the heart of the park. As you continue ascending, the trail turns rockier before leveling out closer to the summit. Pleasant Valley stretches out towards the southeast side of the park. Topping out at the 5,461-foot peak, add a rock to one of the large cairns formed by previous hikers, and relish one of the only places where you get a 360-degree look at Joshua Tree, including bonus views of the Little San Bernardino and Hexie Mountains to the south, Quail Mountain to the west, Queen Mountain to the north, and the valley of Joshua Tree in between. Rocky mountain desert high!

BONUS CAMP: Ryan Campground and Sheep Pass Campground (group site) are the closest campsites to this hike, with Sheep Pass offering a rock scramble for extra, epic views!

From Twentynine Palms Hwy. (CA-62), turn south onto Park Blvd., where you will pass the Joshua Tree Visitor Center. From the visitor center, follow Park Blvd. (entering the West Entrance Station) until you see signs for Ryan Mountain on the south side of the road, 18 miles from the visitor center. Parking and bathrooms are available at the trailhead on the south side of the road. No dogs. Photo by gottshar

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