Jumbo Rocks is one of nine campgrounds located at Joshua Tree National Park. My friend and I stopped there for a picnic lunch during our visit. We drove around the campground for a bit and eventually found an empty site to rest. The site, like most of them in the park, was right up against some rocks. It would have been so awesome to camp there. Too bad all the sites were full the weekend we wanted to camp. We’re just gonna have to try another weekend.
We ate our lunch while listening to the white-tailed antelope squirrels scuffle in the bushes near by. They weren’t confident enough to come ask for any of our food, which was sad, but also a good thing. It means campers aren’t feeding them and they are still able to find their own meals in the park without relying on the humans. We also watched as some lizards chased each other around the rocks, stopping to bask in the sun.
We finished our lunch and decided to check out the area a bit. We climbed up the nearest rock and could see trails leading around and through the campground. I found a rock with hand and foot holes that could be used to get to the top. I decided to give it a try and then realized how unsafe it was and found another way up to the top instead. We also found some impressions in the rocks and laid down to look at the sky. It was so blue and clear. You could see for miles. What a beautiful day!
We cut our exploring short because we had a couple trails we wanted to check out and as we drove out of the campground we realized that there were a lot of free sites. So, if you want to camp in Joshua Tree National Park and can’t get there early Friday or Saturday morning to claim a spot, try Sunday, not on a holiday weekend, and you shouldn’t have a problem.
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.