Camp Entrance ♦ Part 2

Indian Cove Campground

Center Crag ♦ Billboard Buttress ♦ Varnished Wall

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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.)

Billboard Buttress at left, Bilbo’s Buttress, center. Campsites 1-5 at base.

Trek dates: 2017 Sep 24 & Oct 12

On This Part 2 Page

  • Center Crag
  • Varnished Wall
  • Billboard Buttress
  • The Bilbo Buttresses
  • Willit Pillar ♦ Campsites

See Also

Camp Entrance ♦ Part 1 Gallery

  • Campfire Crag, North and South Faces
  • Alpentine Wall Area
  • Pixie Rock ♦ Circle Crag ♦ Jaime’s Rock
  • Amphitheater

King Otto’s Castle

Left to right, Varnished Wall, Bilbo’s Buttress and Billboard Buttress.

AS DESCRIBED IN PART 1, INDIAN COVE CAMPGROUND hosts 101 regular campsites. The Camp Entrance is at an elevation of about 3250ft. Several large formations comprise this Part 2 group, with the two most notable being Center Crag/King Otto’s Castle, and the complex of rocky crags and canyons beginning at Billboard Buttress and Varnished Wall then extending generally east and south. Part 2 is focusing on this group in our journey around Joshua Tree National Park’s remarkable Indian Cove Campground.

Because this area is the central hub in a busy campground, casual trails crisscross everywhere among the many campsites leading to and from the key rock climbing features.

Labeled are several public parking areas marked with a large blue P in the Google Earth illustration at right (click to enlarge). All provide convenient restroom facilities close by. The first is at the camp billboard serving Varnished Wall area and boulder field at the east end of the Wall, as well as Billboard Buttress, Bilbo’s Buttress, and Center Crag. Campsites 1-5 are located at the base of the buttresses. More parking can be found just across the road from campsites 19-29, while a third lot is at the base of Short Wall further east, down the road a few hundred yards. Look for it at campsites 8-9.

2D Gallery

Center Crag

Center Crag

Center Crag is located in the center of the campground and faces north and east. The same formation with south and west sides is known as King Otto’s Castle (described in the next 3D Gallery page). The north face of Center Crag lies directly southwest of Billboard Buttress and faces the camp entrance. The rock climbers have staked out four main routes on this side, two of which it is possibly in bad taste to mention, but since we are all adults here and hope to eventually escape Planet Earth and colonize Mars one day, I’ll list them in the left-to-right sequence used in the climbing guides: “Vertical Corrector” which climbs the scooped wall behind the table and fire pit in campsite #25; “Oh God, It’s My Boss” on the upper tier of Center Crag to the right and above Vertical Corrector; followed by “Oh Shit, It’s My Dog,” and “Awesome Betty.”

Center Crag’s north side is shady most of the day

Varnished Wall

Campground entrance with Varnished Wall, north face; bouldering area at base and around on the east side

This large formation is across the entrance road from Pixie Rock. Its north side overlooks a large alluvial slope down into 29 Palms; the major rock climbs are on this shaded side. Routes the climbers use include

Varnished Wall‘s east end (nearest Morbid Mound), has a bouldering area at the base of the formation. “The Varnished Wall is really only noteworthy for a couple of 1-star routes,” explain’s Mountain Project’s website, “but worth checking out if the better areas are crowded.”

There are 8 named routes, all of them concentrated on the dark varnished surface at right in this closer view: “East Meets West,” “With Malice and Forethought,” “Circle of Benevolence,” “Presence of Grace,” “Double Crux,” “Mosaic,” “Disco Sucks,” and “Crank Queenie.”

The Varnished Wall is located approximately 100 yards east of Pixie Rock on the opposite (east) side of the road. Park at Billboard Buttress and walk north along the road for about 100 yards. Varnished Wall will be on your right.

Pixie Rock, east side from below Varnished Wall, a portion of which is visible on the extreme left

Billboard Buttress

Billboard Buttress, parking area at base

As the name of this handsome dark brown tower suggests, it is located at the camp entrance billboard. One of several convenient public parking areas is adjacent to the buttress. Billboard Buttress is attached to Bilbo’s Buttress (see next), with each having distinctive features.

Billboard Buttress is the formation due south of Pixie Rock and is a popular meeting spot due to it’s central location, message board and trash/recycling bins,” observes the editor. “Routes here have zero approach and run the gamut from easy cracks to runout face with something for everyone—except that parking spot you just missed.”

Getting there: Billboard Buttress is the obvious formation the road curves around as you first enter Indian Cove proper. The message board and trash/recycling bins are also a giveaway that you’ve arrived. The impressive tower’s routes average from 35ft to 60ft. Some of the names are “Sheet Bends,” “Ceramic Bus,” “Squat Rockets,” “We Dive at Dawn,” “Gait of Power,” “The Reverend,” “The Rabbi,” “Driving Limitations,” and “Knaug and Hide.”

Campsites at base of Center Crag (left). In the distance, Campfire Crag (south face)

The Bilbo Buttresses ♦ Willit Pillar

Bilbo Buttress, or more properly The Bilbo Buttresses, form a wall in a campsite just behind Billboard Buttress. The wall gets sun all day. There are small walls here. Mountain Project explains The Bilbo Buttresses: “if facing Billboard Buttress, it is directly to the right. New bolted line El Chivo 5.8, 4 bolts with a 3 bolt anchor. Also White Trash 5.8, Val De Mello 5.10b and Debbie Does Donuts 5.6. A good one right out of the back of your car. Billboard Buttress is often crowded but I have found this set of climbs to be generally empty (Ask permission of course if campgroud is taken). Best climbed on weekdays!”

Individual campsites around Billboard Buttress (dark varnish tower) and Bilbo Buttress (at center)

Willit Pillar is found just behind campsite 3, about 75 yards right of Bilbo Buttress. This small formation gets sun all day. Willit Pillar is home to several moderate free routes along with an A1 bolt ladder on the west side of the rock, according to Mountain Project. There are 8 routes listed: “Fraud Squad,” “Unknown Highway,” “Moving Targets,” “Hollywood and Vaino,” “Call of the West,” “The Flare,” “South Face Route,” and “Sand Donkey.”

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3D Anaglyph Gallery

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Center Crag and Campsites

(3D Galleries  require redcyan glasses to see the full 3D effect. Click Photos to Enlarge.)

Varnished Wall

(3D Galleries  require redcyan glasses to see the full 3D effect. Click Photos to Enlarge.)

Billboard & Bilbo Buttresses ♦ Willit Pillar

3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

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Thank you for visiting the Camp Entrance Galleries at Indian Cove and I hope you enjoy your visit to Joshua Tree 3D.

John Murbach

Temple City, California


Posted 2017 Oct 30

Updated 2017 Nov 4