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)

Trail Map
View Joshua Tree National Park in a larger map
Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.

Photos

Joshua Tree ArchArch Rock Joshua TreeJoshua Tree ArchArch Rock Joshua TreeJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree ArchJoshua Tree Arch

These photos were taken in November of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Crown Prince Lookout trail Crown Prince Lookout
This easy 3.25-mile round trip hike crosses a desert plateau to a pair of overlook near the site of an World War II era observation post.
desert queen mine trail Contact Mine
This 3.9-mile hike ascends 700 feet up a wash, a canyon, and an old road to a mountainside mine site that offers a glimpse into the mining history of Joshua Tree.
cholla cactus trail Cholla Cactus Garden
This quarter-mile loop allows visitors to stroll through an intense concentration of cholla cacti.
Mastodon Peak Trail Mastodon Peak
This 2.6-mile loop visits a 3,400-foot summit with panoramic views of southeastern Joshua Tree.
Lost Palms Oasis Trail Lost Palms Oasis
This 7.2-mile hike visits a desert oasis nestled between mountains in the southeast corner of the park.
Bajada Trail Bajada Trail
This level 0.3-mile nature trail loop explores the plants living on a desert bajada.
Joshua Tree Oasis Trail Fortynine Palms Oasis
The 3-mile round trip hike visits a cool desert oasis.
Desert Queen Mine Trail Desert Queen Mine
This 1.6-mile hike follows a level trail to an overlook before crossing a canyon to visits the ruins of one the most profitable gold mines in the California desert.
Ryan Mountain trail Ryan Mountain
This 3-mile hike offers summit views from the center of Joshua Tree National Park.
Ryan Ranch Trail Ryan Ranch
This 0.8 or 1.2-mile round trip hike visits the ruins of an old adobe homestead beneath Ryan Mountain.
Wonderland Wash trail Wonderland Wash
This level 2.1-mile hike travels past the ruins of Wonderland Ranch up a use trail into the Wonderland of Rocks.
Wall Street Mill trail Wall Street Mill
This level 1.55 to 2.15-mile hike visits a well-reserved gold mill, exploring the mining history of Joshua Tree National Park.
Barker Dam Trail Barker Dam
This level 1.5-mile loop visits a small foreign-looking reservoir within the Wonderland of Rocks.
Hidden Valley Trail Hidden Valley
This one mile loop circles the interior of a small valley surrounded by tall rocks that serves as an excellent bouldering arena.
Lost Horse Mine trail Lost Horse Mine
This 4-mile hike visits a well-preserved mine and mill.
Inspiration Peak trail Inspiration Peak
This 1.2-mile hike leaves the crowds at Keys View for even grander views at a 5,550-foot summit that looks out on the Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea, Mount San Jacinto, and much of Joshua Tree National Park.
Lucky Boy Vista Trail Lucky Boy Vista
This level 2.5-mile hike visits a modest overlook at the site of an old mine.
Indian Cove trail Indian Cove
The 101-site campground is home to a 0.6-mile interpretive trail and endless bouldering and rock climbing opportunities.
Warren Peak trail Warren Peak
This 5.5-mile hike summits a peak with impressive views over the west side of Joshua Tree.
high view nature trail High View Nature Trail
This 1 1/3-mile loop climbs a ridge on the west side of the park that offers views of San Gorgonio Mountain and Yucca Valley, along with an introduction to desert plants.
California Trails Hikes in the California Desert
Explore more trails in Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Mojave National Preserve.
Similar Trail
Landscape Arches National Park Landscape Arch in Arches National Park
This level 2.5-mile hike visits the longest natural arch in the world along with two other enjoyable arches.
Skyline Arches National Park Skyline Arch in Arches National Park
This short 0.4-mile hike ends below a wide arch near the top of a sandstone fin.
Delicate Arches National Park Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
This 3-mile hike visits this most iconic arch in the world, a beautiful span that should not be missed.
Double Arches National Park Double Arch in Arches National Park
This 0.8-mile hike visits a pair of connected arches in the Windows region of Arches National Park.
Window Arch Arches National Park Window Arches in Arches National Park
This one-mile loop presents three arches in close proximity, the North and South Windows and Turret Arch.
Utah hike Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park
This 0.7-mile loop visits a picturesque arch spanning across the mesa's edge.
Grandstaff Trail Moab hiking Grandstaff Trail to Morning Glory Bridge in Moab, Utah
This 4.65-mile round trip hike travels through a scenic canyon to a 243-foot long natural bridge.
Camping
Joshua Tree Camping Joshua Tree Campgrounds
Nine campgrounds with 500 total sites are spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.
Wildflowers
Joshua Tree Wildflowers Joshua Tree Wildflowers
The desert in bloom is something any outdoor enthusiast in California should see.
OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with · Arches · National Parks · Nature Trails
Distance: 1.3 miles · Elevation change: 100 feet

14 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 hikespeak.com 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! […]

Leave a Reply to John van Hooydonk Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go the extra miles...
Submit a rating of this hike to go with your comment. Contribute to the average trail rating.