Towers Hills • Third Trip

Northern Approach ♦ 2014 Sept 28

Eastern Areas

Towers of Uncertainty Hills DSCF5016

(2D first. 3D Galleries and Slideshow below will require redcyan glasses to see the full 3D effect. Click Photos to Enlarge.)


Towers Hills Southern Approach ♦ 2014 Jan 23

Towers Hills Central & Western Areas ♦ 2014 Mar 28

Towers Hills Eastern Areas ♦ 2014 Sep 28 (this page)

Return to Towers of Uncertainty Main Index


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


ONCE COOL CONDITIONS RETURNED to Joshua Tree National Park in the early autumn, I chose what would turn out to be a lovely Sunday in September to continue exploring the rugged Uncertain Hills at Towers of U. The usual parking area, Stop 2 on the Geology Tour Road, was already occupied. With room for 6 cars, a single auto had taken “my” favored spot on the left. Sinister. Therefore, I nosed into the more honorable dexter side, or right-hand slot.

Heraldic protocols aside, this Third Trip into Uncertainty would include the northeastern outer reaches of the hills; then back up the main wash into the central basin for a rollercoaster loop-hike. 3D photography is a slow process. At least, for me. I will sometimes move only 20 or 25 paces between shots—often, multiple shots. This trip was no different. I headed due south then uphill to the SE. Despite the rugged looking terrain, most areas within the Towers of Uncertainty hills are easy to navigate. Back around to the north again, before descending, pausing at three areas that include wonderful 3D picture-taking opportunities. (I hadn’t had time for these in March 2014.)

Car Park ♦ Approach ♦ Eastern Shoulder

Joshua Trees are larger outside the Towers of Uncertainty formations. Two noteworthy ones occupy the center circle (click to enlarge). Once inside the hills, the Joshuas disappear almost entirely, save for an occasional small, though highly photograph-worthy specimen. Third in the circles is a Mojave yucca on the left, with a triple nolina beside it. Separate genus, but easy to mistake as the same plant. Like the Joshua Trees (also a yucca), the Mojave yuccas go away inside the Towers Hills, and virtually none are seen. The nolinas, on the other hand, present themselves in large numbers to the eager photographer. They are striking in their beauty against the textured granite steeples and boulders. An extract from the Wikipedia entry for nolinas explains that the genus is named after an 18th century French arboriculturist, Abbé C. P. Nolin. “Members of the genus are known as beargrasses, some of which are cultivated as ornamental plants.”

WITHIN THE HILLS, having traversed the wash on the eastern side approach, I arrived at the main formations and began 3D picture-taking. My original intent was to do the crest along the interesting-looking southern hill out of which sticks Table-top rock. However, once I began moving through the formations at a snail’s pace, I decided to leave the crest for another time. The 3D views from the hilltop will be, I am sure, worth the wait.

This day I found the same serene, surreal conditions as before. Which is the reason I had been patient for six months. Conditions would not allow it. Hot summer days at Joshua Tree aren’t to my liking. Even on a winter’s day, I go through a gallon or gallon-and-a-half of water. Mad-dogs or no, in summer, with no shade to speak of at Towers of Uncertainty until late afternoon, it would take an Englishman to go out in the Park’s noonday sun!

September 28th dawned beautiful and cool. It took two hours exactly from my house to the dirt parking lot. 140 miles, with speedy freeway conditions. The temperature was 55F when I shut down the car’s motor at 8 o’clock. By midday, it would still be a comfortable 65 degrees, with a mild breeze from SSW at about 10mph. Skies clear blue until mid-afternoon, when a few nicely formed and polite clouds appeared in the sky to assist me in framing the 3D photos. (Trusting, no doubt, they’d be featured in the shots.) Pictured at right is Table-top rock, so-called by Murbachi. And why not? Rather than use a less rhythmic sounding “Man, check out that huge clunker up there as though it wants to topple over!”

Clouds, fishing for attention

Foci of a 3D-enabled Camerman

 Over Yonder ♦ Way Up Thar ♦ Back This-a-Way

THE THREE FOCI, or main centers of attraction on which 3D-Murbachi had chosen to concentrate today, were: (1) a small double hill with a “saddle” betwixt and between, topped with dark knife-sharp spires, (2) a magnificent little 145ft high hill punctuated by any number of monzogranite bumps and nodules and doodads and whatsits, and (3) some more of my favorite Dr. Seuss formations tucked back in a gully. Each, from my previous experience at the Central and Western areas of this hill country, suggested many camera angles and endless new & fanciful combinations of plants and rocks, rolling landscape against blue Western skies. And you know? Turned out to be exactly that!

FYI—that’s short-hand for For Your Information—FYI, this day’s 3D photojournal consists of 800-and-two individuool shots and even a couple of minor video clips. (The videos are of some beargrass-looking nolinas shivering in the breeze. Shivering in 3D.) Now that many 3Ds, if I tried to lay them out on a single page would surely make your browser’s cache choke, or your computer’s hard drive buzz, or your random-access-memory fry. So I’ve shaved them way back into a decent but still full-calorie American-sized meal. What you see on this page is merely a snapshot. Ask me about getting others. If you want to see them. We’ll work something out. Just the 1080p 3D Half Side-by-Side set of 802 pictures runs 1.2 gigabytes. The 2Ds, 3D anaglyphs, 3D 2016p H-SBSs, will add on another few hundred calories.

I am hoping a few of you who read this section will go visit the Towers of Uncertainty next time you’re in Joshua Tree. All three regions are really something special. Uncertain how to continue, I figure I’ll repeat those snappy titles to delineate the groupings, and GPS-you where you are. Here is the first, a 9-shot mosaic with a 5-across grid tagging along. That’s to save space and speed loading. (Click to enlarge. Remember to use red/cyan glasses or you’ll swear your eyes need fixing)

Over Yonder

 Two Mounds w/Saddle Betwixt & Between

33°58’20.66″N 116° 5’16.12″W


THIS PAIR OF SMALL MOUNDS—with its saddle and plenty of rocks to sit on—would make an idyllic stopping point for a snack. An area in which to enjoy some quiet zen relaxation. However, duty calls and so onward and upward I went.

The gentle gradient behind the mounds leads east by south to the second, most dramatic photographic nirvana for the 3D photographer (not counting the crest of the hill, which I will do some other day). Granite formations point in every direction. They run up along a ridge that can be navigated on either side. They aren’t very big, the formations. Most are from 15 to 30 feet high. With plenty of grassy nolinas intermixed and junipers providing contrast for your camera—cool green hues set against the varied shades of cream-colored to deepest darkest brown “rock varnish.”

Again, a mosaic layout of 9—to grab your attention—tied to a grid, 5×5. Look for the 3D Anaglyph slideshow at the end combining “Over Yonder” with “Way Up Thar”:

Way Up Thar

33°58’18.03″N 116° 5’12.28″W



3D Anaglyph Slideshow

(Images take a minute to load. Use your 3D Anaglyph glasses to view.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Interlude: From Way Up Thar to Back This-a-Way

33°58’21.49″N 116° 5’10.13″W

ONCE DONE “UP THAR,” there are any number of ways to go. I chose a route into the gap in the hills, and took a few pictures toward Crown Prince Lookout two miles away. Following that pleasant diversion, I found an adjacent hill and took video of some nolinas wiggling in the breeze from up there. Satisfied I had gotten all the distance shots that were worth taking, I left the hill behind and zig-zagged down into “Back This-a-Way”—the Dr. Seuss fantasyland which you read about earlier and which you will find a gallery for after this pleasant Interlude. Thank you for your most patient patronage!

Back This-a-Way

33°58’21.60″N 116° 5’12.05″W

SOME JUNIPER BUSHES, nolinas by the score like confetti sprinkled around, needle-sharp cacti, black bushes, and other desert flora—in among the rocks— this is what the 3D camera finds. Lots to see, the nooks and crannies hide many secrets. And all set against a beautiful rolling high desert Joshua Tree landscape, the hills at Towers of Uncertainty. Elevation is 4400 to 4500ft above sea level.


3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

CAN’T FIND IT? Don’t Panic! Simply press the magic button with you pointer, and you will be whisked away to Another Page wherein will be found the desirable 3D H-SBSs. Page download speeds are improved this way.

Dont Panic 200

Thank you once more for participating in Joshua Tree 3D. I hope you found something new and interesting to view at Towers of Uncertainty Hills with your funny red & cyan glasses …besides Youtube videos — The Management.


Posted 2014 Oct 12

Updated 2017 Nov 11


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