Crown Prince Lookout Trail in Joshua Tree National Park Crown Prince Overlook hike World War Two Lookout Point Joshua Tree hike

Joshua Tree National Park has a lot of interesting history, like old gold mines and Native America sites. Crown Prince Lookout highlights another period of the park’s history, when a warning station for World War II airplanes was located atop a granite formation near today’s overlook. The lookout and a second nearby viewpoint can be reached via an easy 3.25-mile round trip hike up an old jeep trail. With extra effort, you can boulder up granite formations to discover broader views along with the remains of the old observation post. There is only about 50 feet of elevation change between the high and low points of this hike, allowing you to make a brisk hike to breathtaking views.

This is not a maintained park trail so finding the trailhead at the begging of the hike and the overlooks at the end of the hike requires a little effort. Start from the day use parking around at Jumbo Rock Campground and walk close to a quarter mile west along Park Boulevard to the start of the trail (where roadside parking is not permitted). The old jeep trail to Crown Prince Lookout is marked by large boulders along the road, designed to block any vehicles from driving down the old road. If you are still walking on Park Boulevard when it makes a sweeping turn to the right, you just missed it.

Joshua Tree Crown Prince Lookout Trail
The start of the trail to Crown Prince Lookout

The old double-track trail heads southwest for almost a tenth of a mile and then makes a 90 degree curves to the left. From here, it is a smooth and gradual ascent across a desert plateau for another third of a mile, gaining 25 feet of elevation to a subtle high point on the old road. The road turns downhill (although you may hardly notice) for a modest descent across the desert. Joshua trees, yucca, and brush line the sandy tracks of the old jeep road.

Joshua Tree Crown Prince Lookout Trail
Looking back down the trail to Crown Prince Lookout

Ahead, the rock formations surrounding Crown Prince Lookout rise up from the flat desert landscape. Just under half a mile from the subtle crest in the road, and 0.88 miles from Park Boulevard, you will come to a split in the road. The right fork of the Y leads to Crown Prince Lookout, a quarter mile away. The left fork of the Y leads to a smaller viewpoint near another cluster of granite boulders, which is also roughly a quarter mile from the split.

The course of the left fork remains fairly clear. Angling east, the trail makes a level run at a granite formation covered in tall boulders. At the end of the road, you’ll find a view down a narrow boulder-strewn valley. With extra effort, you can leave the old jeep road and climb up the boulders for bigger views.

Joshua Tree Crown Prince Lookout Trail
A view from the second vista point near Crown Prince Lookout

Return to the trail split, and follow the right fork toward Crown Prince Lookout. The old road circles southward aiming toward the tallest rock formation in the area (the site of the military post). When the trail fades alongside the large formation, continue walking along its north side, aiming toward a smaller outcropping just to the north. You will spot paths leading to Crown Prince Lookout, located in the saddle of the second dip to the left side of the tall formation. While the lookout is not marked, you will know when you’ve arrived because an expansive new view opens to the southwest across the Queen Valley. It is an expansive perspective of a landscape that is pure Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree Crown Prince Lookout
A view from Crown Prince Lookout

An outcropping on the north side of Crown Prince Lookout makes a good plae take a seat on a rock and gaze out across the desert expanse toward the Pinto Mountains.

After taking in the view from Crown Prince Overlook, and doing all the exploring that you like, simply return the way you came. Joshua Tree National Park has a fee for each vehicle entering the park, but no permit is required to hike to Crown Prince Lookout, so get out and enjoy!

To get to the trailhead: Take Park Boulevard to the Jumbo Rock Campground located on the south side of the road, 3.5 miles west of the intersection with Pinto Basin Road and 6.9 miles east of the intersection with Keys View Road. Park in the day use lot near the campground entrance and begin waking west down Park Boulevard toward the start of the old jeep road.

Trailhead address: Park Boulevard (Loop Road), Joshua Tree National Park, CA 92277
Trailhead coordinates: 33.991885, -116.067908 (33° 59′ 30.78″N 116° 04′ 04.46″W)

Trail Map
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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

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These photos were taken in February of 2013. Click to enlarge.
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Tagged with · National Parks · Off Trail
Distance: 3.25 miles · Elevation change: 50 feet

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