Tidal Wave Bouldering Area

Hidden Valley Campground

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Trek Dates: Various

Featured on This Page

  • Voices Boulder
  • Tilt-o-Meter Boulder
  • Tidal Wave Area
  • Steve Canyon, east face
  • Patagonia Wall ♦ The Heap
  • The Blob bouldering area

Related Areas of Interest

Outback East ♦ 1

Outback East ♦ 2

Steve Canyon

Elliot Koeppel’s Iron Door Cave Page


Texas Rock climbing team (Lost in the Shuffle wall area)

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK OFFERS young people the chance to climb around on any number of famous big-name rocks. Scattered within the Hidden Valley Campground is one of the finest bouldering areas in the park. Often you will see bouldering teams like this accosting a particularly fine specimen. Sure looks like fun. →

Murbachi has no intention of learning boulder climbing. Admittedly, in my twenties I often went for a swim in Hanauma Bay near Honolulu surrounded by Humuhumunukunukuapua’a which never in the least triggered any concern. I even splashed around in the Toilet Bowl there and survived to tell about it, no worse for wear. (Sadly, today the Toilet Bowl is fenced and off-limits to locals and tourists alike. A great tragedy.)

The boulder “problems” in HV Campground’s spectacular northern Outback are legendary. They include “False Hueco Boulder,” “Cole Boulder,” “Lizzy Boulder,” and “Voices Boulder”—which Robert Miramontes in his Joshua Tree Rock Climbs book delightfully tells us “has excellent juggy rock for warming up.” “Voices Boulder” is broken in two and has the added distinction that its “juggy” part is covered in desert brown varnish.

Adjacent to “Voices” is an unusual pebble known as “Tilt-o-Meter” that “boasts overhanging problems on all sides.” (A Junior High School sweetheart had similar virtues.)

On my third and most recent visit to this area, I passed through two weeks after the last rain, which had allowed time for climbers to reapply their hand-chalk powder marks on the rocks. This white dusting showed me which were their favorite climbs. Devotees even supply funny route names. For instance, on Voices Boulder (pictured next) are “Mr. H.,” “Toys in the Attic,” “Voices Arête,” “Scissorlock,” and “False Scissorlock.” Notice the fine white chalk traces—scat marks from many eager gripping palms.

Voices (left) and Tilt-o-Meter

Next we come to the Tidal Wave Area proper, which Robert observes: “Whether you call it the Tidal Wave Circuit, the IDC Circuit, or the Dino’s Egg Area, this is the prime destination for the Josh bouldering. This is also the location of the mysterious Iron Door Cave.” (See Elliot Koeppel’s Cali49.com Iron Door Cave.)

Located within the Tidal Wave group are three favorites (among many other tempting granite masses)—”Dino’s Egg,” “Chuckawalla Boulder,” and “Tidal Wave Boulder.” Each has blackish-brown desert varnish that some geologists think takes up to a million years to form this deeply.

Three Main Tidal Wave Rocks


2D Gallery

Voices Boulder


Dino’s Egg

Miramontes notes seven routes on this pockmarked boulder: “Sit Down Flake,” “West Face Left,” “West Face Right,” “West Arête,” “Platypus,” “Dino’s Egg,” and “The Clutch.”

Tidal Wave Boulder

Miramontes lists several climbing routes on this dark patina side of Tidal Wave: “False Tidal Wave,” “Tidal Wave,” “Relic,” and “Bedrock Arête.”

General Interest

The Blob ♦ Rock Hudson ♦ Patagonia Pile

Outhouse Rock at Hidden Valley Campground


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Thank you for visiting the Tidal Wave Bouldering Gallery at Hidden Valley Campground; also, check out the Steve Canyon Gallery at Joshua Tree 3D.



Posted 2017 Apr 1

Updated 2017 Nov 7