Ryan Campground

And Headstone Rock

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

Trek dates: 2012 Nov 5, 2013 Jan 21 and Dec 31.

Wayfarers: Murbachi & E!

GPS 33.982418, -116.154448

On This Page

  • Campground
  • Headstone Rock and Vicinity

See also

Ryan Ranch

The Long View

Ryan Campground and Headstone Rock are the anchor points of this Gallery page, enjoy this distant shot looking west from Ryan Ranch.

PERHAPS IT IS A GOOD THING THAT CAMPERS DO NOT KNOW the central rock pile inside Ryan Campground—where over-nighters and their nubbins scramble and clamber about with high abandon—is named The Manure Pile. Early rock climbers deemed it so. Climbs on The Manure Pile are: “Allen Steck Memorial,” “The Almighty” (aka “Mighty High”), “Tom Bombadil,” “Barely Crankin’,” “Deception,” “Baby Route” and “Camp Whore.”

At an elevation of 4,300ft Ryan Campground is located about three-quarters of a mile east of Cap Rock, along Park Blvd. The grave of Frank James (discoverer of the Desert Queen Mine) is located east of Headstone Rock, near the old Ryan Ranch Homestead (next to Lost Rocks).

Headstone Rock at Ryan Campground

Headstone Rock, south side, from Ryan Campground

Headstone Rock, south side, from Ryan Campground

Climbing "Southwest Corner" route

Climbing “Southwest Corner” route

A few hundred yards across the desert plain rises iconic Headstone Rock ( GPS 33.984355, -116.152316 ). Drive the campground loop almost all the way around and park at turnouts facing the Headstone. This feature can be seen from virtually everywhere in Lost Horse Valley. The south & southwest side, which faces the campground, has three routes, the most popular being “Southwest Corner,” with “South Face Center,” and “Cryptic.” Here is a climber ascending the “Southwest Corner” route. Miramontes says “considered by many to be mega-classic.” The west side includes three more: “The Cutting Edge,” which at a ranking of 5.13b is the most difficult, follow by two other tough ones “Headmaster,” and “Headbanger’s Ball.”

Ryan Campground Headstone Rock DSCF6280As is usual at Joshua Tree National Park, there are numerous large boulders at the base of Headstone Rock for those having an urge to climb such enlarged pebbles, some of which have names like “Fidelman Boulder,” “Facet Boulder,” “Moffatt Boulder,” “Mataté Boulder” and “Powers Boulder.”

Matate Boulder

Matate Boulder

Our first two visits to the area in late 2012 and early 2013 were made during late-afternoon. The third, at the tail-end of December, 2013, was an early morning excursion since my friend Elliot Koeppel (who uses the moniker E! to keep one step ahead of those who might be chasing him) wanted to explore for Native American campsites, acorn grinding holes, and possibly pictographs. Turns out there is even a burial spot in the area. (Link to Elliot’s Ryan Ranch Native American Habitat page from this trip HERE and his Ryan Ranch coverage HERE.)

The sun spread its warm afternoon glow in the western sky in these galleries, which provided deepening golden to finally orange-yellow hues. (The deepest orange shades were from the Nov 2013 trip.)

E! reminded me to photograph the crooked Joshua Trees as they cast their wraith-like shadows onto the rocks. On the first two trips, several climbers were ascending or descending the oblique granite monolith. The photographs you will encounter were taken on both occasions, from different approaches, hence the different Headstone members of the rock climbing community perilously defying gravity.

Shadows on the Wall

2D Campground & Headstone Rock

Ryan Campground Headstone Rock DSCF0500

Comparison 2D ♦ 3D Anaglyph ♦ 3D Stereo (H-SBS)

(One of my favorite afternoon angles of Headstone Rock and Lost Horse Valley as seen from the slope above Ryan Ranch ruins. Click to view full size)

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

3D Anaglyph Gallery

Be my guest 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.

Ryan Campground Headstone Rock DSCF6345

The small campground at Ryan and Headstone Rock is an advantageous stopover for visitors to Joshua Tree Park; and if it so happens if you are there for the late-afternoon sun, it will be highlighting the strange rock formation when you are there. If possible, try to schedule your route if you hope to experience the magic this photogenic spot. I hope that you have enjoyed the Ryan Campground and Headstone Rock 3D images!

John Murbach

Temple City, California


Posted 2016 May 2

Updated 2017 Nov 4