Skull Rock

And Face Rock Area

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

Jumbo Rocks Skull Rock area Feature DSCF0644

Skull Rock at Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree NP

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Typical honeycomb tafoni, Hidden Valley Campground

THE JUMBO ROCKS NATURE TRAIL leads to Skull Rock, an unusual rock formation with deep concave tafoni scoops in its face, a natural result of monzogranite weathering seen throughout Joshua Tree National Park, but rarely this deep and impressive.

E! skulking around Skull Rock, Nov 2012

E! skulking around Skull Rock, Nov 2012

Skull Rock is an especially good example of tafoni and also shows how widely spaced joints control the development of the granite rocks. According to a useful geology guidebook Joshua Tree National Park Geology, by D. D. Trent and Richard W. Hazlett, “at Joshua Tree, tafoni are restricted mainly to granitic rocks. The darker gneiss of the park weathers and breaks down differently than granite owing to its different mineral composition…”

Interpretive signs along the trail identify plants, explain and describe plant uses by early Native Americans. The 1.7 mile trail can be accessed from four locations, the entrance to Jumbo Rocks Campground; near the entrance to Loop E in the campground; at Conan’s Corridor trailhead; and at Skull Rock, a pullout located a short distance east of the campground entrance.

Face Rock across from Skull Rock

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Face Rock, north side


MOST VISITORS WHO STOP AT SKULL ROCK TURNOUT in Joshua Tree National Park’s Jumbo Rocks area, fail to realize that just a few hundred yards away, on the opposite side of the street from where you park, lies yet another interesting JTNP curiosity. I suppose the main reason is that Face Rock’s face isn’t visible from the road. The profile that has caught the imagination of rock-lovers everywhere faces north. What you see from Skull Rock is only a flat wall displaying dark desert-aged varnish below The Wedge:

Another view of Face Rock, this time what the Skull sees each morning upon awakening from its slumbers and rubs the grit out of its eye sockets!

Face Rock Joshua Tree NP DSCF6076


2D Skull Rock to Face Rock Area

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3D Anaglyph Gallery

Visitors to Joshua Tree 3D are invited to download as many of the 3D Anaglyph or 3D Half Side-by-Side photographs as you wish. Note: 3D H-SBS images should only be saved if you have access to a 3D TV.


3D Anaglyph Slideshow

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3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

Suitable for 3D TV viewing. 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.


Skull Rock is a favorite with tourists, children, photographers, and (likely when the former have gone to their camping tents for the night) very popular with desert dwellers like mice, antelope squirrels, rabbits, black beetles—the ghosts of giant ground sloths and sabre tooth cats—and other fauna who venture forth after sunset. I hope that you enjoyed the photos and were able to view the 3Ds as well.

John Murbach


Posted 2016 Mar 10

Updated 2017 Nov 4