Western Wilderness ♦ Part 1

Indian Cove Campground

Jailhouse Rock ♦ Sneakeye Spring Area

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Sneakeye Spring hillside

Trek dates: 2017 Sep 24 & Oct 12

On this Western Wilderness Part 1 Page

  • Gunsight Canyon
  • Nature Trail Wall
  • Jailhouse Rock
  • Old Ridegetop Road-Trail
  • Sneakeye Spring Area
  • … and lots more

Western Wilderness Part 2

Related Destinations

Moosedog Tower

Indian Cove Nature Trail

Forgotten Canyon


Google Satellite Images

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THE INDIAN COVE WESTERN WILDERNESS BEGINS where the upper campground road ends. Drive to the west end of the campground past Dos Equis Wall and Moosedog Tower and park at the loop. Follow an old road-trail that leads southwest from the parking lot. Directly south can be seen a large, boulder-filled canyon. This is Gunsight Canyon. The helpful folks at Mountainproject.org tell us “The Canyon lies nearly due south of the parking lot. Go across the flat and enter the canyon by scrambling over and under the large boulders.” Notice that second sentence. Your 3D photographer and narrator in this adventure, at this stage in his career, has no interest in “scrambling over and under” large boulders. Thank you very much. I would rather spank a rhinoceros. That said, readers may enjoy the following images of Gunsight Canyon entrance.

Gunsight Canyon

The canyon entrance is the start of a 2.75 mile loop which Patty Furbush in her On Foot in Joshua Tree National Park guide, describes as “an adventuresome hike that covers some beautiful, but extremely rugged terrain. The route travels 800′ up a steep draw filled with slick rock canyons and boulder caves. The route is not recommended for anyone less than proficient in serious boulder scrambling.” (Furbush rates this hike as strenuous and difficult with “(+)” added for emphasis.)

Upon leaving the parking area, the road-trail skirts around several medium-sized formations (Nature Trail Wall and Jailhouse Rock—see below). The path then takes you along a ridgetop that leads to the end of a ridge. From here, a narrow trail leads down and south into the well-vegetated wash.

There is an ancillary trail at the ridge top branching east across some rolling topography where it encounters several large granite formations behind Apparition Wall area (see the Moosedog Tower page which covers the northern side of this formation).

Beyond and to the west of the parking lot, the land rises slowly. All throughout the southern edge of this area is the Wonderland of Rocks. Numerous rocky hills and inselbergs that rock climbers have visited on rare occasions can be found several hundred yards further west in this beautiful, rugged section of Indian Cove; Mountain Project describes these formations in general terms on their website, suggesting suitable material for rock climbing routes exists here. (Notice the large boulder-strewn hill in the third photo. This hill forms the outer wall of Forgotten Canyon, which is the subject of another Indian Cove gallery.)


Nature Trail Wall ♦ Jailhouse Rock

Nature Trail Wall presents this beautiful display at the base of Wonderland of Rocks

Nature Trail Wall

A slabby north-facing wall that overlooks the western loop of the dirt Indian Cove road, there are six climbing routes on Nature Trail Wall: “Nature Walk,” “Force of Nature,” “Slab Rats,” “Manzanita,” “Wax” (a.k.a. “Nature of the Beast”), and “Jumping Cholla.”

Jailhouse Rock

Jailhouse Rock is located at the extreme right (west) end of the campground. From the parking area, take the road and walk south to the rear of the large formation. Several routes are found on the two cracked slabs near the peak, “Cellbound,” “Cell Break,” “Jail Bound,” “Jailbreak,”  “A Snitch in Time,” and “Margarita Crack”—the last, about 50′ down and left of the previously established routes on this face, Margarita is on the steep brown wall visible in the first three shots. The wall has several crack systems.


Sneakeye Spring Area

We turn next to Patty Furbush’s chronicle of Sneakeye Spring. “Before 1940,” she explains, “Sneakeye Spring was a productive water source. Today, the only water found in the area is rainwater caught in the series of granite slab potholes that surround the spring site. However, some man-made remains of a water collection system indicate the spring was not always dry.

“These remains include a couple of low cement walls (tanks) with a valve protruding from one of the cement walls.” As is the case with Gunsight Canyon, the hike to Sneakeye Spring is challenging. Furbush notes that it involves scrambling up through a rocky draw filled with boulders. At the bottom of the wash from where these pictures were taken is a small tank or rancher’s dam. “Look under an oak tree about 25′ west of the rocky draw.” (Those wishing to navigate up to the spring can cross the wash and scramble up the draw about 100 vertical feet. From there, follow a shallow “slick-rock slot canyon as it curves around to the right and leads to an open area vegetated with oaks.”)


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Thank you for visiting the Western Wilderness area galleries at Indian Cove ♦ Joshua Tree 3D.



Posted 2017 Dec 7

Updated 2017 Dec 13