For Virgin Islands and East Virgin Islands
Geology Tour Road Approach ♦ Part 1
(Click Photos to Enlarge)
Trek dates: 2015 Sep 16, Oct 6
THE VIRGIN ISLANDS AREA of inselbergs lie for the most part on the eastern side of Geology Tour Road where the road begins a steep descent of over 900 feet into Pleasant Valley.
This group comprises the Virgin Islands and East Virgin Islands. It is rather extensive, quite varied—and with complexity, breadth, and breath-taking views everywhere you look. I chose to split it into several Galleries.
Visitors to this website who have only a passing interest in seeing 3D images of Joshua Tree Park’s Virgin Islands and East Virgin Islands areas, are directed to the three Overview Galleries listed below. This will get you started. Anyone interested in delving deeper, I have included much more detail. Because conditions were so exceptional on the Oct 6 trip, you will notice many shots with lovely desert clouds throughout the galleries. Gorgeous conditions the Park offered that day!
… for those who occasionally find themselves orbiting in space …
33°57’5.14″N 116° 4’39.53″W
What’s on this Main Index & Overview Part 1 page:
- Approach and scenery nearby
- Little Europe
- The Volcano ♦ North Side
- Lechlinski Crack Formation ♦ North Side
- The Diamond Clump
- Star Wars Rock in Detail
- Jerry’s Quarry
- Star Wars Rock to Perpetual Motion Wall
- Scenic Views of Queen Valley to Lost Horse Mountain
- The Volcano ♦ Human Sacrifice Boulder Area
- Lechlinski Crack Formation & The Ski Slope
- Malapai Hill
Virgin Islands ♦ Focus On
- Knick and Knack
- Raker’s Blaring Hat Rack
- Krakatoa Rock
- Giant Bread Loaf Boulder
- Human Sacrifice Boulder
- Volcano Rocks
- Bouldering Areas
- The Ski Slope
- Views of Malapai Hill
East Virgin Islands
33°56’40.71″ N 116° 3’31.39″W
- Hone Dome
- Virgin Pile
- Pinion Point
- Tom Sawyer’s Island,
- The Titanic
- Pac Man Rock
It Depends on One’s Perspective
CLOSE UP, THE VIRGIN ISLANDS group at Joshua Tree National Park is difficult to visualize. The terrain slopes. The piles are strung along the eastern border of the Geology Tour Road like disjointed rocky pearls. One inselberg in particular—appropriately named The Ski Slope—somehow fast-tracked to the other side and the road bisects it and Lechlinski Crack Formation (now there is a mouthful). I have cobbled together shots from different vantage points taken during several trips to the area. When you are in the middle of the forest, so to speak (in this case, rock piles), it is often helpful to know your position within.
THE SUBJECT OF INSELBERGS often comes up in polite dinner conversation. The Virgin Islands (see maps)—like other stand-alone JTNP formations along the Geology Tour Road—are called inselbergs.
Geology Tour Road snakes right through the Virgin Islands group. Rock islands, they are. The name is borrowed from the German usage for “ice bergs” to describe floating chunks of ice. The Geology Tour inselbergs do, indeed, appear to float serenely upon the landscape.
THE 18-MILE LOOP ROAD is described fully and illustrated by my friend and colleague, Elliot Koeppel at his Cali49.com website, with the page link to Geology Tour HERE. The Virgin Islands and East Virgin Islands can be approached from either Stop #5 or #6 on the wide dirt road. Stop #5 has room for 3 cars if everyone cooperates and doesn’t hog, otherwise roomy space for 2. (That’s me, hogging. Place was deserted the 3 hours I was scrambling about.)
According to an old 1970s Joshua Tree National Monument brochure Elliot used to illustrate the various stops, Stop #5:
5. “ROCK PILES. The quartz monzonite, forming the rock piles on both sides of the road, was once part of a molten mass which was forced upward into the overlying, older Pinto gneiss rock. The monzonite cooled without reaching the surface and crystallized to form solid rock. Erosion over the ages has stripped away the darker Pinto gneiss, exposing the monzonite outcrops as you see them. The mountains to the right (west) are composed primarily of gneiss, and Ryan Mountain, near Cap Rock, displays the contact between the two kinds of rock. Harder, more resistant areas within the monzonite form the numerous rock piles. Many of these have well-defined joint systems, while others have collapsed and are nothing more than jumbled piles of rock.”
Westerly from the car park, one views Jerry’s Quarry (abt. .75 mile away), beyond which lie scattered piles the rock climbers have dubbed “The Lost Pencil,” “The Cheyenne Social Club,” “Harry’s Quarry,” “The Solomon Islands,” “Island in the Stream,” and 2.5mi distant, “The Galapagos” many of which are illustrated on the image directly above.
Geology Tour Road Stop #6 puts you at The Volcano formation within the Virgin Islands. To its right are Lechlinski Crack Formation and The Ski Slope, plus this extremely large bread loaf shaped boulder. From E!’s website, I insert the Tour brochure piece which explains things further:
6. “ROCK SCULPTURE. The monzonite was fractured into many cracks and joints, usually two sets intersecting at nearly right angles. The agents of erosion are best able to attack the rock along these zones of weakness and weathering occurs at a faster rate. The result is boulders which are roughly rectangular in shape. A massive rectangular boulder to the left of the road illustrates this type of erosion.”
So THAT’s how you get a giant rock that looks like a loaf of bread. I’ve seen square and rectangular rocks all over the park, sometimes they’re so perfect that you’d think they must have been chiseled. But nature can do all kinds of interesting things. — E!
2D Virgin Islands Approach ♦ North Side
(Click to Enlarge)
2D Jerry’s Quarry
33°57’14.29″ N 116° 5’27.63″W
Jerry’s Quarry, while a kissing-cousin of the Virgin Islands group, is one of the main nearby features whose rock climbs are noteworthy among devotees of the sport. Route names, as always, tend to be tongue-in-cheek if not downright salacious. The two most popular are on the rock indicated by the “Equinox route” marking: “Elephant Walk,” and “Equinox.” But one shouldn’t sniff at the lesser climbs on boulders & rocks immediately left such as “Ali Shuffle,” “To Hold and to Have,” “Zen and the Art of Placement,” “Spank the Monkey,” “Igor’s Failed Road Trip,” “Toffied Ear Wax,” and “Huevos Rancheros.”
A smaller formation lies 80 yards northeast of Jerry’s Quarry, with three difficult climbs, and is known as “Skyscraper Rock.” Routes are “Holiday in Detroit,” “Cross Fire,” and “The Rustler.”
2D Virgin Islands Named Formations
(Hover mouse over for caption)
- Use glasses to view 3D Anaglyphs
- Click to Enlarge Photos
3D Anaglyph ♦ Jerry’s Quarry
(Feel free to download as many of the 3D Anaglyph or 3D Half Side-by-Side photographs as you wish. Share them with friends.)
3D Anaglyph ♦ Virgin Islands
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.)
Thank you for visiting the Virgin Island Galleries. Please check out the others in this group, there are some snazzy looking shots and eye-watering vistas.
Posted 2015 Sep 25
Updated 2017 Nov 6