The Oyster Bar

And Cowboy Crags

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(2D images first. 3D Galleries further down the page will require redcyan glasses to see the full 3D effect. Click Photos to Enlarge.)

Granite slabs layered like a bed of oysters (viewed from Saddle Rocks trail)

Granite slabs layered like an oyster bed (viewed from Saddle Rocks trail)


Trek Dates: 2013-16

On this page: The Oyster Bar and Cowboy Crags

In a Supporting Role & Other Scenery

  • Saddle Rocks ♦ Ryan Mountain
  • Lost Horse Valley
  • Planet X & The Love Nest
  • Cap Rock ♦ Ryan Ranch Area
  • Dramatic views, Wonderland of Rocks

Nearby are the 3D Galleries for:

Saddle Rocks

Planet X & the Love Nest

Ryan Campground

Ryan Ranch

Cave Corridor

Cap Rock


Target Rock (left) and Conrad Rock, with large split in it

Target Rock (left), and Conrad Rock with large split in it

THE OYSTER BAR ENCOMPASSES the lowest portion of the Cowboy Crags, a band of cliffs that starts up and right (south) of Saddle Rocks and curves down the hillside to the south. The lowest formations are on the desert floor. These are referred to as the Oyster Bar Area.

Park at a large parking lot on the east side of the road about .5 mile south of Hall of Horrors and Saddle Rocks parking area. The approach is a fairly level hike on a marked trail of about .3 mile. The bulbous rock in front of you upon your arrival at the Oyster Bar area is Target Rock, the formation closest to the road. More than eight climbing routes for Target Rock are mentioned in the climbing guides, some will make you scratch your head. Who names these, anyway? “Unnamed,” “Visualize World Peace,” “Adult Gerbles $1.59″—their spelling of gerbils, not mine—”Ancient Future,” “Better You than Me,” “East of India,” “Spirit of the Dead,” and “Pearls before Swine.”

On your right and separated by a boulder-strewn canyon is Conrad Rock with a sinister looking corridor bisecting it. Inside is known as Heard of Darkness whose namesake climb “Heart of Darkness” is a favorite one in the area, and among the most difficult, rated 5.11c with four stars. Other routes within the crack and outside are “Apocalypse Now,” “Up Chuck,” “Colon Blow,” “Heffalump,” and, on the south face of the same rock as Heffalump, the one and only “Boom Boom O’Hara”: “Climb a slanting gully to the top. (The entry move is the crux.)” Always, there is a crux! I had mine removed back in ’99.

The Oyster Bar (left), across from Agent Orange Rock

The Oyster Bar (left), across from Agent Orange Rock

Meanwhile, left of Target Rock, and partway up the hillside, can be found Agent Orange Rock. Agent Orange is a large formation easily recognized by the orange area low on the northeast side facing Saddle Rocks a few hundred yards away. There are several large boulders in front of the orange area, with a famous climb “Pearls before Swine” lying on one of these boulders. The main Agent Orange routes, true to their color are “The Iron Curtain,” “Bloody Knuckles,” and “Rust in Peace.” Next in line comes The Oyster Bar, from which the group gets its name. This formation lies to the northeast of Agent Orange separated by a wide gully. Routes, per include “Path of the Oyster,” “Bonor Donor,” “Stress Puppet,” “I Saw Elvis,” “The Oyster Bar,” “Bearded Oyster,” and “Buckets of Blort.”

Other formations in The Oyster Bar group with staked out climbing routes are known as The Asylum, slightly uphill from Agent Orange. The Asylum is an enclosed corridor running north-to-south which is made up of three separate walls—Scary Rock, Keith’s Wall and Split Personality Rock.

The broad valley stretching away before you is Lost Horse Valley. Large rock piles (inselbergs) litter the desert floor and include, off in the distance, Headstone Rock at Ryan Campground, Cap Rock, the Love Nest and Planet X area (first photo below), Hall of Horrors (third photo), and The Comic Book area (fourth). Beyond, unless you know your Joshua Tree, it will seem to be only a jumble of confusing rock piles, hills and distant mountains:


View From Afar

In early February, 2015, I collected 3D images from the “Jimmy Cliff” area near Hidden Valley. This Lost Horse Valley long shot provides context for the Oyster Bar, Cowboy Crags and Saddle Rocks hillside visible in the distance. The little rock pile below the word “Bar” is the Love Nest out on the open desert floor (and where rattlesnakes gather to snooze away the winter, by the way). The little dribble of rocks extending left from the Love Nest is Planet X area. Even from this distance can be spotted Planet X Pinnacle below the shady area at the Oyster Bar.

I offer Joshua Tree 3D Gallery pages for each of the areas mentioned in this group, should anyone dare to delve deeper.


2D Gallery ♦ The Oyster Bar


2D Gallery ♦ Cowboy Crags

The Cowboy Crags are located well up the west side of Ryan Mountain, above and slightly right from Saddle Rocks, as seen from the road. Their continuation south merges into The Oyster Bar group. According to the website, “the identified routes in the guide are all traditional and located on the middle or highest formation.” The climbs have, how should one put it, bemusing route names: “The Unberable Lightness of Being,” “Cling Peaches,” “No Biggy,” “Immuno Reaction,” “Wisest Crack,” and “Baby Fae.”


2D Gallery ♦ Saddle Rocks

Visit main Saddle Rocks page if you want to see more (opens new page in your browser)


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


3D Anaglyph Gallery

Please feel free to download as many of the 3D Anaglyph or 3D Half Side-by-Side photographs as you wish. The 3D H-SBS images should only be saved if you have access to a 3D-capable TV. Half Side-by-Sides avoid the minor Anaglyph anomalies that can occur. Click images to enlarge. 1080p resolution. Or Windows users, right-click and choose SAVE LINK AS.


3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery


Thank you for stopping by The Oyster Bar section. I hope that you found the descriptions and photography entertaining and informative. This area is worthwhile visiting when you in Joshua Tree, and only a few hundred yards easy stroll from the parking lot.

John Murbach

Temple City, California


Posted 2016 Oct 6

Updated 2017 Nov 9