North Wonderland Approach

Crown Jewel of Joshua Tree

North Wonderland Joshua Tree NP DSCF9162

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Nolina Gallery

Trek dates, 2015: Apr 24 & May 16

THE PARK SERVICE describes the Wonderland of Rocks as The Crown Jewel of Joshua Tree National Park. Most visitors will arrive at the West entrance, via a 28-mile-long, 4,000ft climb up the hill from Coachella Valley and the Highway 62 exit off of Interstate 10. Immediately past the park’s entrance booth, numerous large and often dauntingly huge rocky hills line the road on the left-hand or eastern side. This begins the Wonderland of Rocks.

Typical Joshua Tree NP Inselberg 34° 3’57.57″N 116°10’1.96″W

The stand-alone rock piles are known by their scientific name “inselbergs” from the German for “island” and “mountain.” The online Encyclopedia Britannica describes an inselberg as an “isolated hill that stands above well-developed plains and appears not unlike an island rising from the sea. The early German explorers of southern Africa were impressed by such features, and they dubbed the domed or castlelike highlands inselbergs.”

Joshua Tree National Park’s infinite variety of inselbergs also occur on a highland plateau, coincidentally, and were formed deep underground from ancient White Tank monzogranite plutons. The rocks you see were formed anywhere from 85 to 150 millions years ago.

The area covered in this section comprises the Northern Wonderland of Rocks Approach where the full panoramic beauty hits you in the face. The trail finally reaches several branching washes, the largest one leading another mile or so further to Willow Hole.

A number of the photos in this group show glimpses of the hills in the distance. Darker in color than the lighter monzogranite outcrops, this area comprises the Queen Mountain monzogranite plutons or rock-intrusions. The distance from the pyramid-shaped inselberg pictured above to Queen Mountain hillside is almost exactly two miles. But don’t even think about hiking from here to there! The intervening Wonderland presents a wizard’s maze that will challenge even the most adept hiker.

Fortunately, today’s digital cameras and camcorders have almost infinite storage capacity for taking pictures. Best of all, the landscape  before you is perfect for 3D photography.


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

3D Anaglyph

(1080p resolution. Windows users, right-click and choose SAVE LINK AS).


 3D Half Side-by-Side

(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. Larger size & complete JPG sets available on request. Also, I have made slideshows of these in H-SBS MP4 1080p format for 3D TVs.)


DSCF9748End of North Wonderland Approach galleries. The Wonderland of Rocks is mesmerizing and beautiful. Bring some chocolate chip cookies along since you never know when might run into this little guy (careful, he bites and spits fire unless you are polite) →


Posted 2015 May 6

Updated 2017 Nov 8

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