Arch Rock Joshua Tree National Park Hike Arch Rock Trail

Want to see a natural arch in Joshua Tree National Park? Take a short hike to Arch Rock within the granite formations surrounding White Tank Campground. An easy and enjoyable 0.3-mile loop leaving the campground is a must-do stroll for anyone staying at White Tank Campground. Other park visitors can now enjoy a 1.3-mile lollipop loop hike that begins from a trailhead along Pinto Basin Road.

Arch Rock from Twin Tanks Trailhead

To reach the new trailhead, take Pinto Basin Road 2.2 miles south of Park Boulevard or half a mile northwest of White Tank Campground to the Twin Tanks Day Use Area on the west side of the road. Set out south from the Twin Tanks.

After 0.15 miles of cross desert hiking, make a left on California Riding and Hiking Trail, cross Pinto Basin Road, and then make a right off of California Riding and Hiking Trail to continue hiking gradually downhill toward White Tank Campground. At 0.55 miles from the trailhead, come to a T-junction at the start of a 0.2-mile loop to Arch Rock.

Arch Rock from White Tank Campground

Campers will find a trail to Arch Rock from within White Tank Campground. Driving into the campground, take the left split in the road. A path to Arch Rock begins alongside campsite nine. The arch is an eighth of a mile up the trail and easy to spot. Take your time getting to Arch Rock and read the placards along the trail that describe the geological history that contributed to the creation of the arch.

Day use parking may be available near site fifteen at the end of the loop. However, with the creation of the trail from the Twin Tanks Day Use Area, the campgrounds day use parking may no longer be available (and was limited to begin with).

Joshua Tree Arch Rock
One of the signs along Arch Rock Nature Trail

Arch Rock Loop

The single-track trail provides a side-view of Arch Rock, and a few steps off trail puts hikers right below the rock span. Climb right up and touch it if you like. Arch Rock is about 30-feet across and shaped somewhat like a brontosaurus. Though certainly not in the same league as the spans in Arches National Park, Arch Rock is still a fascinating formation.

Arch Rock Joshua Tree
Arch Rock

The trail circling back the junction with trail from Twin Tanks or with the edge White Tank Campground (depending on where you began).

This is easy and family-friendly hike makes a nice outing. Arches are always cool to see, so go check it out. Joshua Tree National Park has an entrance fee, but no permit is required to hike to Arch Rock.

To get to Twin Tanks Trailhead: From the intersection with Park Boulevard and Pinto Basin Road (4.5 miles south of the north entrance), head southwest on Pinto Basin Road for 2.2 miles to Twin Tanks Day Use Area, on the right. The trail begins from the south end of the parking area. Coming from the other direction, the trailhead is half a mile past White Tank Campground.

Trailhead address: Twin Tanks Backcountry Registration Board, Pinto Basin Road, Joshua Tree National Park, CA 92277
Trailhead coordinates: 33.9899, -116.02275 (33° 59′ 23.6″N 116° 01′ 22″W)

To get to White Tank Campground: From the intersection with Park Boulevard and Pinto Basin Road (4.5 miles south of the north entrance), head southwest on Pinto Basin Road for 2.7 miles to White Tank Campground. Enter the campground and proceed to the trailhead near site #9. Coming from the other direction, White Tank Campground is 27 mile up Pinto Basin Road from the Cottonwood Visitor Center.

Campground address: White Tank Campground, Pinto Basin Road, Joshua Tree National Park, CA 92277
Campground coordinates: 33.9852, -116.01655 (33° 59′ 06.7″N 116° 00′ 59.6″W)

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These photos were taken in November of 2010. Click to enlarge.
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Tagged with · Arches · National Parks · Nature Trails
Distance: 1.3 miles · Elevation change: 100 feet

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15 Comments on Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park

  1. Forma wrote:

    There is another fun way in through an easy slot canyon just southeast of the arch for those who want a little more adventure and exploring.

  2. Ken wrote:

    Thanks for the info and maps! Very useful! You mentioned a day use parking area around Campground #15. If you are not camping in White Tank Campgrounds, where would you recommend parking if taking photos of Arch Rock at night? Thanks!

    • hikespeak wrote:

      Hi Ken,

      There is space for a few cars to park (near site #15). These spaces are not reserved for campers so if you are staying elsewhere, you can drive in, park there and then hike to the Arch. Daytime is fine. Have fun!

      • Hannah Schwalbe wrote:

        Hello! The trailhead for Arch Rock is now at the Twin Tanks Parking Area. Hikers should not park in White Tank Campground for this trail, though campers are still able to access the Arch Rock from the campground.

  3. Rick Conway wrote:

    Subject: Arch Rock in Joshua Tree National Park
    Hi Hikespeak

    We will be arriving in May from Canada and were wondering which park entrance to use and if it is possible for someone with a cane to walk to the Arch Rock.

    • hikespeak wrote:

      The north entrance will be the closest, but you can reach Arch Rock from any of the three main entrances. The trail is short, level, and even. The tricky part for someone with a cane will be getting from the trail up next to Arch Rock itself, but depending in their fitness level/assistance, this hike seems doable.

  4. […] vegetable kingdom,” wrote Captain John C. Fremont in 1844. Known as the park’s namesake, the Joshua trees are a species of yucca growing only in the high desert, mainly the Mojave. There are […]

  5. John van Hooydonk wrote:

    Thanks to Seth Smigelski for this creation.
    We finally found the arc rock site today after missing it prior years. The trail goes west of Camp site # 9 and has black slate markers on posts. Trail goes up and around big rock just north and west of #9 campsite. Trail has stepped rocks and trail rock markers until you reach the arc rock sign post, the fourth such post marker. You will be looking east northeast and you will see the arc shaped rock with a gap in it. It is on top of the formation. It is a long rock somewhat shaped like a leg and hip joint. There are two smaller rocks seated in the hole in the arch. You can climb in the rock crevices from the marker post up several rocks and crevices to get right up on the ARC Rock. You can also approach the arc rock from the west side looking east south east. it is an awesome sight. Great venue for awesome pictures. You can easily climb up carefully and sit in the arc and climb on top of the arc if you are nimble. Not recommended if you are not flexible and nimble. You need to have the use of your arms, legs and hands. Shoes with good soles and ankle support are highly recommended. The surface of the rocks is quite sandy and slippery in spots. Being thin will be an advantage to get through the crevices that will lead you up the formation to the hole in the rock under the arc. If you have a bad back or knees maybe just have a look best you can without trying to climb up into the crevices. Not a good spot to take a fall or slip into a crevice. Be careful and enjoy the view. Sit back and just inhale the beauty of the spot and the unusual placement of the rock fragments. Sunset and Night shots of the rock opening are awesome as someone posted on line as viewed March 15th, 2014. Worth the trip just to see it with your own eyes and 360 degrees of access. Took about 3 -4 hours round trip from Palm Desert without stopping to view other rock formations, via Jucca Valley and Joshua Tree in the west gate. You can get to the Arc Rock through the north gate via 29 Palms as well which is possibly a bit quicker but not as scenic in so far as rock formations is concerned. Recommend you allow 4 -6 hours to make a return trip just for Arc Rock. The White Tank Campsite has many awesome rock formations and several trails to explore. It is easy to see why people camp there. It is magnificent. Did I mention that a camera would be very nice to have to capture and keep the scenery. If I was young again, man o man?! Nature…such a wonder.

  6. […] More information: Trip descriptions here […]

  7. Iia wrote:

    Where can I find heart rock?

  8. Iia wrote:

    Heart rock shape location please n how to find it,thku

  9. […] Millenia of whipping winds and rushing water have served to sculpt some incredible designs throughout these deserts. One of the most miraculous, the 30-foot-tall Arch Rock, is easily accessible thanks to a 0.5-mile out-and-back trail starting from White Tank Campground. […]

  10. […] and tons of Cholla cacti. There’s a loop trail that takes you through the acres of cacti.  Arch Rock: Large natural rock formation – one of the rocks is shaped like an arch. Visitors […]

  11. […] The rocks surrounding Arch Rock Nature Trail were the perfect size for our kids (ages 6, 9 and 11) to have an incredible time climbing and exploring on without giving me too much of a heart attack. We love this Amazing Rock Paradise! […]

  12. […] Arch Rock Loop trail within the park, close to several other important points in the park. Here are exact directions to get to Arch Rock from a variety of starting […]