Live Oak Picnic Area

And the Pope’s Hat

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

Live Oak Picnic Area Joshua Tree NP DSCF3490


On this Overview Page

  • East Side
  • West Side
  • Small Live Oak Dam

Detailed Coverage of the Area

Pope’s Hat & Hilltop Vistas

Ivanpah Tanks

The Hen House


Elliot Koeppel’s webpage Live Oak & Ivanpah Tanks

Trek dates: 2013 Apr 1 and 2015 Sep 16

THIS SCENIC AND IDYLLIC PICNIC SPOT at Joshua Tree National Park includes the iconic ‘Pope’s Hat’ formation with cement  tables, barbecues, and a restroom facility at its base, three cattleman’s dams—the closest of which is a few paces beyond the large live oak tree and almost buried in sand—while a double-humped hill just west provides gorgeous views in all directions as far away as Belle Campground, White Tank area and Pinto Basin.

Live Oak and the Pope’s Hat can be found across Park Boulevard from The Wedge area. (See The Wedge 3D Gallery HERE.)





The Wedge from Live Oak DSCF3222


What you will discover in this first of three Gallery pages are the picnic area, some shots of the Pope’s Hat, of course, and a few of the undulating gullies and balanced rocks nearby.

A second Gallery page continues with the rock-climbing routes and main features on Pope’s Hat, along with some up-slope shots I took of the areas south and east as well as of The Wedge location northwest of Live Oak.

Picnic area on east side

Live Oak Picnic area on east side

Picnic area on east side

Live Oak Picnic area on east side

Ivanpah Tank completes the threesome with its surreal granite gullies and projecting formations. Be sure to visit all three Galleries.

I photographed Live Oak and the Pope’s Hat on two occasions, once to do in detail the main inselberg that is the Pope’s Hat rock-climbing formation along with the small hills nearby; and a second time where I had lunch at the east-side picnic tables and then walked the 0.3 mile road-trail to the large, well-maintained dam called Ivanpah Tank.

If you have spare time, climb at least the lower of the two small hills right (west) of the main Pope’s Hat pinnacle pile in the above images and enjoy the view. The big round boulder and next to it a scooped-out rock are highly photogenic against this spectacular Joshua Tree canvas!

Ivanpah Tank with picnic area beyond

Ivanpah Tank with picnic area beyond

Live Oak Tank filled with sand

Live Oak Tank filled with sand

A short loop hike travels past a very large, rare hybrid oak, after which the picnic area was named. On my initial trip (2013 Apr 1), the tree had just begun to awaken from its winter hibernation grays and was sporting new green leaves.

The route leads down a sandy, rock-enclosed wash to Live Oak Tank and then on to Ivanpah Tanks. A tank is a watering hole found behind a man-made wall that spans the width of a wash. Ranchers built Ivanpah Tank, one of the larger tanks in the area, for cattle-raising in the early 1900s and added a smaller dam just downstream a hundred or so yards. The easy to overlook Live Oak Tank is barely visible at the bottom in the left photograph. Now sand-filled, perhaps there was a time when it was actively used with the ranchers regularly removing the sand.

Unlike many of the other small dams in the park, Ivanpah holds water in the wet seasons. When the water subsides, a field of daturas flourishes in the damp soil. Follow the sandy wash south past the large oak. The first low stone wall is Live Oak Tank.

Ivanpah, a much larger tank, is farther down the same wash. As a substitute, begin on the east side of Live Oak Picnic Area where there are tables and barbecues, as mentioned, following an old road-trail that leads south from the picnic area to Ivanpah Tank.

Live Oak and Pope's Hat view from Split Rock picnic area

Live Oak and Pope’s Hat (center)—view from Split Rock picnic area



2D East Side

Click images to enlarge. 1080p resolution. Or Windows users, right-click and choose SAVE LINK AS.


2D West Side


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

3D Anaglyph Gallery

Enjoy these and 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 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.


Live Oak picnic ground and the Pope’s Hat offer a lot of photo opportunities, as you can see. And wait until you view the main Pope’s Hat and Ivanpah Tank Galleries following this one! Thank you for visiting Joshua Tree 3D.

John Murbach

Temple City, California


Posted 2017 Mar 4

Updated 2017 Nov 4