Arroyo Antiguo

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Trek dates: 2013 Sep 26 and Oct 13

Wonderland Far East Hillside 01 arroyo view

JOSHUA TREE OFFERS SOME charming secret hideaways just waiting to be found. While hiking the Wonderland’s eastern edge I stumbled across one such area. I call it “arroyo antiguo” meaning old or ancient arroyo. Every language has comparable nouns, such as gap, abyss, abysm, breach, watercourse, cavity, cleavage, canyon, chasm, gulch, gully, kloof, what have you. In Spanish, it is arroyo. (I live only a half a dozen miles from Pasadena, California’s cleavage known as the Arroyo Seco ‘dry riverbed’ where the annual Rose Bowl football contest takes place.)

I decided to call this short, black-rock canyon arroyo antiguo. Ancient, it is; the granite rocks are up to 150 million years old with some of the dark Pinto gneiss boulders tipping the scale at 1.5 billion years!

silver chollas

silver chollas

The title was chosen after the music that accompanies a six-minute slideshow I made of the best-of 3D photos taken there. Benedetti & Svoboda’s “Arroyo Antiguo” provides the ideal theme music for recreating my two visits to the area. I could have selected another name, I suppose, but this ended up being the one.

The area in question is unusual for Joshua Tree, which itself is a geologic outlier among johnny-come-lately National Parks one sees around the world. It forms a “contact zone” between ancient granitic formations. The lighter White Tank monzogranite provides the astonishing inselbergs and piles for which the park is justly famous. They comprise the “Crown Jewel” of Joshua Tree known as Wonderland of Rocks.

darker color Queen Mountain monzogranite

Abutting the White Tank is darker-colored granite of the Queen Mountain monzogranite series. Finally, scattered on top of the Queen Mountain hillside are leftover truly ancient boulders from a much earlier epoch, which geologists call Pinto gneiss (pronounced ‘nice’). The juxtaposition of all three is breathtaking. Even more so when captured in three dimensions.

follow this line of rocks

follow this line of rocks

Finish off with a community of over one hundred red barrel cacti for color (I stopped counting at 90), some adorable silver chollas for their back-lit ghostly glow (don’t touch, they bite!), the usual yellow-green prickly pear with its amber-gold points—plus countless little mounds of spiny hedgehogs for contrast (watch where you step)—and you end up with a very scenic spot, one of my favorites in the Park.

(I have selected fifty or so of the best I took. Three Galleries are included—2D (with a slideshow), 3D Anaglyph (for viewing with your red-cyan glasses), and a 3D Half Side-by-Side gallery for those who want to copy the full-size JPGs onto a flash drive and view them on a big-screen 3D television.)

Wonderland Far East Hillside 02b Google Earth Directions:

Arroyo Approach

Arroyo Approach

  • Dirt parking lot 34° 1’40.77″N  116° 8’19.17″W
  • Arroyo Antiguo 34° 2’36.87″N  116° 7’53.03″W
  • Distance 1.25 mi.

Take the old dirt road from the parking lot as though you are heading to Wall Street Mill, but veer right and go cross-country up the obvious slope adjacent to the white granite blocks. Walk along the crest of the contact zone as you enjoy the incredible views of the Wonderland of Rocks.


2D Slideshow

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2D Gallery

(Click photos to enlarge)



  •  Use glasses to view 3D Anaglyphs
  • Click to Enlarge Photos

3D Anaglyph Gallery

(I feel I have to mention the muted color in the following 3D red barrel cactus anaglyphs; red-cyan glasses uniformly make red objects appear washed-out. This is one serious drawback when rendering 3D onto a 2D monitor and then using screening glasses to view them. The 2D and 3D Half Side-by-Sides, on the other hand, show their true tones. Whenever possible, Half Side-by-Side 3D photographs are the best viewing option on a 3D-capable television set.)



3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

(3D H-SBS images are suitable for viewing on a 3D-capable TV. Click images to enlarge. 1080p resolution. Windows users may right-click and choose SAVE LINK AS.)

Thank you! I do hope you enjoyed your stroll through the outer edge of Wonderland of Rocks. Visit the other Galleries in this extensive group from the Far East hillside of Joshua Tree’s “Crown Jewel.”




Updated 2015 Aug 4

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