Discovering the scenic Geology Tour Road in the Joshua Tree NP

The Geology Tour Road is a very scenic drive located in Riverside County, in the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. The road is 18 miles long leading through one of Joshua Tree National Park's most fascinating landscapes, where the forces of erosion, earthquakes and ancient volcanoes have played out in stunning splendor.

Geology Tour Road

Located in the Joshua Tree National Park, in southern California, the road is gravel and sand. There are some interesting rock formations along the way. Pick up a map at the beginning so you know what you're looking at. A printed guide is available at the beginning of the road. It is a fairly good dirt road with lots of washboards and ruts in the first few miles and then a fair bit of soft sand after that. In good weather, most passenger vehicles may access the first few miles of the Geology Tour Road. Watch for the sign marking the point beyond which a 4-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended, and turn around there if your vehicle is not capable of handling deep ruts and soft sand. The road is not suitable for campers, trailers, and motor homes. 4×4 is recommended, but you can usually get to Squaw Tank without it. Driving on to complete the loop generally requires 4×4 though.

Plan 2 hours to complete the drive. It’s one of the famous backcountry roads in the Joshua Tree National Park. There are 16 stops along a dirt road and it takes approximately two hours to make the round trip. An interpretive brochure for the Geology Tour Road that highlights each stop is available online and at the beginning of the road. The road turns south from the paved road two miles (3.2 km) west of Jumbo Rocks Campground. The distance from the junction to Squaw Tank is 5.4 miles (8.8 km) This section is mostly downhill but bumpy and sandy. Starting at Squaw Tank, a 6-mile (9.7-km) circular route explores Pleasant Valley.
Pic&video: sandnsky8