Climb in Wonderland

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree scramble     Photo: R. Tyler Gross/Aurora

Most visitors to Joshua Tree are content to traipse around in the desert, gawking at alien plants and strange geologic formations, like aptly named Skull Rock. But if staring up at the rocks leaves you with the jones to stand atop one, pack your harness, rack, and rope. There are more than 7,500 routes here, a mix of bolted and trad, all of them on remarkably clean monzogranite rock. Pitch your tent at the free Hidden Valley Campground (first come, first served), just off Park Boulevard about ten miles from the west-entrance station, and scamper up such classics as the three-pitch, 5.7-rated Walk on the Wild Side. For a little more solitude, park at Keys Corner, along Quail Springs Road, and make the hour hike into the North Wonderland area. The place is lousy with bouldering options. Or get higher on Dos Chi Chis, a fantastic two-pitch, 5.10-rated bolted climb that gets you right to the top of a lumpy crag for killer views of the entire park. New to climbing? REI Adventures hosts three-day beginner camps in spring and fall in the Wonderland backcountry ($660).

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