Towers South Main Formations

Second Trip, 2013 Dec 31

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Towers of Uncertainty 2D DSCF9736


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

ON THIS RETURN AND IN-DEPTH PHOTO JOURNAL of the Towers of Uncertainty, my friend E! and I chose the more solid Geology Tour Road Stop 4 in which to park. The date was 31st of December, 2013. We powered down Big Blue at approximately 12:30 p.m. The approach from Stop 4 is 750 yards, and therefore longer than from Stop 3 on our brief visit the prior November. The day was beautiful—as it almost always is at this time of year: temperature in the high 50s F; little to no breeze. What’s not to like! And blue skies from here to eternity, cloud-free until a few swept past late in the day. By then, with the sun lower and Golden Hour upon us, we agreed to head cross-country a mile and a half to do “The Lost Pencil” area. The clock was ticking before we lost daylight. (The “Lost Pencil” set of 3D Anaglyphs and 3D H-SBS photos can be found in a separate Gallery using this link back to Towers-South Main Index.)

It is helpful to memorize ahead of time the often-comical nicknames given to the main rock-climbing features. For one thing, this allows you to show off for your friends who are along for the ride (ignore them if they shake their heads and roll their eyes). Being familiar with the names also makes it easier to locate where you are. There is nothing more upsetting than to find yourself turned around. (Notice how I avoided the provocative word “lost” since adults never get lost, that is strictly for children and Chairmen of Federal Reserve Banks.)

Feel free to download as many of the 3D Anaglyph or 3D Half Side-by-Side photographs as you like. Share them with your 3D friends. (You may share them also with any 2D friends.) Note: 3D H-SBS inages should be saved only if you have access to a 3D TV. Otherwise viewing them properly will be futile.

Towers-South Formations

  • Crow’s Nest
  • Two-bolt Rock
  • Demon Dome
  • Lava Dome
  • Cave Rock (with small cave on north end)
  • Gravity Rock
  • Sunlight Rock
  • Friable Rock (“friable” means “crumbly”)
  • Reef Rock

In order to cover all nine formations, I created a map similar the one you see below. On it went a highlighted path to catch them from all sides without needing to double back.


Spiral Cathedral

Note: I coined the name “Spire Cathedral” since, to a 3D photographer, this is the most exalted looking lump of monzogranite spires and projections for miles around. On my Third Trip to Towers-South, I took scores more pictures of  the cathedral, from inside of it, and looking across at it from Reef Rock. Most inspiring. Standing partway up the incline, the view explains better than anything why the towers are “Uncertain”! (A link to the Third Trip can be found on the Towers-South Main page.)

High Heel Shoes Not Recommended

A friend of mine many moons ago wore high heel shoes to an air show at Edwards Air Force Base in California, whose attendance topped 500,000 people. I shall call her Peggy to insure her privacy. I suggested to Peggy that she might want to bring along a pair of comfortable tennis shoes “just in case,” because we’d be on concrete runways the whole time. However, Peggy declined my invitation. After 30 minutes and for the rest of the day, she was walking around barefoot.

JTNP in this and many other places in the Park contains monzogranite rocks and rock-pediment, with uneven decomposed granite soil. It pays to wear comfortable walking or tennis shoes. Or better, if you plan to explore all day, put on a pair of comfortable hiking boots.

Each step involves crunchy, sometimes slippery surface. Your ankles, calves, knees and thighs get a workout. I learned the hard way. Ankle-supporting boots make all the difference in the world. (“As does a bag of chocolate chip cookies,” chimes in E!’s disembodied spirit, who is reading along with your thoughts while you browse this.)

Typical rough, uneven pavement

 Route Map for Second Trip

Towers of Uncertainty Google Earth 5c route map

Trek Date: 2013 December 31. Trekkers (trekkees?) were E! with his Nikon and tripod; Murbachi with a pair of trusty Fuji 3D cameras “just in case.” Water supply: 64oz. since we would be out all afternoon away from the truck and covering over 4 miles (including to “Lost Pencil”). Visit E!’s Towers of Uncertainty page at to see his beautiful clear images.

  • Geology Tour Road Stop 4 (parking for 2 cars; alternate, Stop 3 but for 4WD-only, sandy)
  • Type: X-country
  • GPS:  33°58’0.87″N 116° 5’7.22″W
  • El. 4318ft
  • Approach: 750 yds; flat
  • Area: the rock climbing Towers of Uncertainty. Somewhat round to oval in shape, the area is 545 yds across E-W, somewhat less N-S.
  • Features: compact area of 40′ to 70′ formations, some with dark desert varnish, scattered nolinas, small to medium size Joshua Trees & Mojave yuccas scattered widely. The usual pincushion, beaver tail, silver cholla, and hedgehog cacti. A few knolls for picture-taking within, at the north end, and in the field between the Towers and Towers Hills.
  • Things to see include Ryan & Lost Horse mountains (abt. 3-4 mi), Queen and Pleasant valleys, Hexie Mountains, Crown Prince Lookout, “The Galapagos” & “Virgin Islands” rock climbing formations, Pushawalla Plateau, Towers Hills, “Rocky Marciano,” “Jerry’s Quarry,” Malapai Hill, “The Lost Pencil,” etc. My favorite feature is at the NW corner, a sloping rise into what I call the “Spire Cathedral”.

In the beginning…

We had this ground-level view of the broad alluvial plane we were crossing. South from our parking spot, Malapai Hill, a dark volcanic hill projecting out of the more-or-less flat desert landscape. To the right of Malapai, a sequence of boulder piles backed up by the Lost Horse mountains. For close-ups of Malapai, “Jerry’s Quarry,” “Lost Pencil,” and other areas, please see the “Lost Pencil” gallery from the Towers of Uncertainty, South Main Index page. (Click images to enlarge.)


3D Anaglyph Gallery

Towers-South ♦ 2013 Dec 31

(Click images to enlarge. 1080p resolution. Or Windows users, right-click and choose SAVE LINK AS). 3D Anaglyph Slideshow follows.

3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

Towers-South ♦ 2013 Dec 31

(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.)


Thank you for visiting the Towers of Uncertainty Galleries at Joshua Tree 3D. This is a little-visited, yet intriguing area comprising numerous spiny towers, undulating hills you can explore, and even a small dam at the north end which holds water for a few weeks after it rains, which can happen any time of the year.

Return to Towers of Uncertainty-South Index

Posted 2014 Sep 21

Updated 2017 Nov 11

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