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Arch Rock Nature Trail

by Andrea Iniguez


Name of area/general location: Joshua Tree National Park


Land acknowledgment : The lands currently managed by Joshua Tree National Park include parts of the traditional homelands of the Maara’yam (Serrano), Nüwü (Chemehuevi), and Kawiya (Cahuilla), and the traditional use area of the Aha Macave (Mohave).


Trail rating: This hike is easy given its short distance and small elevation gain.


Trail mileage 1.4 miles / 100 feet elevation


Permissible trail uses: Only service animals are allowed on the trail, but they must always remain on a 6-foot (1.8 meter) leash.


Description of area, sights, wildlife and any key markers on the trail:

The trailhead to the Arch Rock Nature Trail is in a parking lot that access both the Arch Rock Nature Trail and the Twin Tanks Trail.  It is on the west side of Pinto Basin Road,.  The trail is 1.4 miles long and traverses’ various terrain types, including deep sand and rocky surfaces. Visitors should follow the route for 0.6 miles or until it becomes a short loop. From there, the National Park Service advises visitors to follow the loop counterclockwise for the best experience. The loop has interpretive signs along the path which highlight some of Joshua Tree National Park’s unique geological features. The arch, which is one of the most famous and photographed rock formations in the park, is located about 0.1 miles into the loop.


The loop is 0.2 miles long and it is well marked, so visitors should continue its path until they reach the starting point once again. The hike should take about forty-five minutes to ninety minutes to complete. However, some visitors choose to visit Heart Rock as well. This natural granite boulder is heart-shaped, which has caused it to become somewhat of a social media sensation. 


The trail to Heart Rock is well-marked and connected to the Arch Rock Nature Trail. This detour adds about 0.3 miles to the journey, but it is well worth it.


The National Park Service recommends that visitors start this trail in the morning, ideally before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., to avoid the afternoon heat and the typically large number of visitors to this trail This trail has no shade and no cell service, so make sure to plan accordingly for the weather, especially high temperatures.


This trail is accessible all-year round; however, Fall, Spring, and Winter are the best seasons to visit the area.


While this is a beautiful and interesting trail, if you are looking for peace and solitude, this is not the trail for that experience.


How to get there: The Arch Rock Nature Trail is in Joshua Tree National Park. Twin Tanks and Arch Rock Trailhead Parking Lot is located on the west side of  Pinto Basin Road, approximately 6.8 miles from the Park’s “north entrance” in Twentynine Palms. 


From the parking lot, you will need to walk across Pinto Basin Road to continue on the trail to Arch Rock and Heart Rock.


Areas to camp nearby: A second trail to the arch is available through White Tank Campground; however, it is only accessible by those who camp at White Tank Campground. Belle Campground is nearby as well.


More information (AllTrails link, etc.):  Arch Rock Trail, California – 3,958 Reviews, Map | AllTrails