As my friend and I drove through Joshua Tree National Park, one of our main stops was to see Skull Rock. This rock is located right off the main east-west road, Park Blvd, near Jumbo Rocks campground. You don’t even have to hike to see it, reach it, explore it, or climb all over it. Parking is all along the street with two main paved pull offs on each side of the road with spots marked. If those are full, feel free to park in the dirt closer to the rock and on either side of the road as well.
If you haven’t guessed it yet Skull Rock resembles a huge skull. The eye sockets and nose that we see have been eroding over hundreds of years. Rain drops must have gathered in tiny depressions in the rock and started to erode the granite. Over time more and more granite was washed away. We can clearly see the two hollowed-out eye sockets and nose impression that resemble a skull today.
Looking at Skull Rock directly from the road he appears to be hiding behind his hands. Maybe one of those hands is a little inappropriate for children, but most people will just chalk it up to his sassiness. As you walk up the trail and closer you can see just how massive this rock really is. His eye sockets are big enough to fit a whole family inside them and if you have the right footwear and are pretty athletic you might be able to scramble up Skull Rock’s face and sit inside his eye for a photo opportunity. If you can’t make it to the left eye don’t be discouraged it is a tricky climb with basically nothing to hold onto. And to be honest, who wants to be stuck in an eye all day trying to figure out how to get down or waiting for the park employees to come and save you? No one! So if you can’t make it to the eye socket on the left eye, try the right eye. Most people can reach the ledge just below the eye on this side.
Skull Rock, the sassiest rock in the park, is definitely one of the main attractions in the park with many visitors coming to see it from all parts of the world. We were only there for a short time, but it was full of people from the moment we pulled our car off the main road until the moment we drove away. Many small groups with people of all ages, young and old, were sharing the Skull Rock experience with us. I wonder if they spent more time than we had as there is a 1.7 mile nature trail to be explored if you wish to extend your stay at Skull Rock and the Jumbo Rocks campground. According to the National Park Service website it begins either just across from the entrance to Jumbo Rocks campground or inside the campground, across from the amphitheater. I’m sure many did check out the nature trail and I plan on getting back to Joshua Tree someday soon and trying that hike too.