Rock Climb at Headstone Rock in Joshua Tree

Headstone Rock, Twentynine Palms, California, United States

  • Activities:

    Rock Climbing

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

Easy Parking

Climb one of the top classic locations and climbs in Joshua Tree. Awesome climb with sweet views and great photography opportunities as well. This rock has two of the most popular moderate routes in the park, SW Corner 5.6 and Cryptic 5.8.

To find this climb, park on the east side loop of the Ryan Campground in the park. There are several parking spots here next to a bathroom. From here, take the trail straight out about 100 yards to Headstone Rock. It is clearly visible from where you park. 

One of the hardest parts about this climb can be finding the access to it. It requires some third class approach over some large boulders however you go. The front side that you walk up to has a route up it and there is also a back staircase looking approach that works as well. It is less than five minutes to hike up. Approach shoes are recommended.

These are very busy climbs in the park because of their popularity so plan accordingly. You only need Quickdraws for this climb but it is pretty run out at the top. You do need a couple longer slings (at least double-length) to set up the belay at the top of SW Corner. While this is a sport route, you should be at least somewhat of a moderate climber to attempt this. It can also get really windy and be a little tricky to lead. The 5.8 is a classic and great route too. Be sure to plan enough time to do both of them. 

Pack List

  • All climbing gear
  • Approach shoes
  • Lots of water (there is no water in the park - bring your own)
  • Layers - it can be hot or very cold and windy
  • Guide book for Joshua Tree to help with approach and set up
  • Food and snacks - again, there is no food or water here
  • Sunscreen - sun is very strong in the desert
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This is a truly fun climb. It's exposed! I watched the sunset from the top of Headstone Rock and it was unforgettable. Parking wasn't a problem, it's a quick approach and the scramble is easy enough. If you drive by you'll usually see someone one climbing there. We arrived while there was another group climbing but there was space and routes for all of us to keep busy. It's not a large area so you'll be close to each other but we made friends with them and ended up enjoying the rest of the day together.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Got to lead this climb a couple weeks ago and it was so fun! Climbed the 5.6 route (which is so closely bolted for JTree sport climbing) and then we rapped off the side with the 5.13 so we could stare at the craziness of that climb.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

Brynn Schmidt Explorer

I love wilderness/beaches: photography, hiking, camping, backpacking, conservation and hanging out with my guys while they climb. Mom, wife and co-founder of non-profit organization serving in Gabon and DRC, Africa. Find me on Instagram

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