East Virgin Islands

Adjoining the Hillside


East Virgin Islands

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33°56’40.71″ N 116° 3’31.39″W

Trek date: 2015 Oct 6

On this page:

  • Approach & Surrounding Area
  • Hone Dome & Virgin Pile
  • Pinion Point
  • Views of Tom Sawyer’s Island, The Titanic, Pac Man Rock, etc.

APPROXIMATELY SIX-TENTHS OF A MILE due east of the Virgin Islands group, and stacked against the deep blackish-brown Hexie Mountains, are some formations that have eroded out and stand today as you see them, the East Virgin Islands. Their whiter color points to their being Joshua Tree National Park’s White Tank granite. This granite formed eons ago miles deep beneath an even earlier overlying structure whose remainder is seen as the Hexie Mountains. The White Tank is estimated to be between 85 million and 150 million years old.

(Click Photos to Enlarge)

This scenic yet out-of-the-way locale provides the hiker and photographer extensive views. Down the slope are Pleasant Valley, Squaw Tank—with its small rancher dam built c.1920s—and the almost-black Malapai Hill whose composition points to a volcanic origin. Westward can be seen the rock piles comprising the Virgin Islands proper. Up-slope stretching for a couple of miles, you encounter an incredible (and fantastic looking) jumble of boulders, blocks, and rock piles, intermingled with Joshua trees and scores of hearty Mojave yuccas. One finds the usual cacti and creosote bushes, of course. Pinyon pines are absent, but occasional jojoba bushes and the like dot the landscape.

Tom Sawyer's Island

Tom Sawyer’s Island

There is a small hill between the Virgin Islands and East Virgin Islands which, if you approach from Stop #5 on the Geology Tour Road the way I did, provides a superb point for taking 3D shots in all directions. Were I a panorama photographer, this would be heaven!

From this hilltop (which lies at 4100ft elevation) it is approximately 650 yards to the main East Virgin rock piles, pictured below. At this distance, Tom Sawyer’s Island in the middle of the group appears to be the tallest. It may well be. However, this is an optical illusion, since the field is sloping down to a hidden wash where Tom Sawyer and The Titanic are. (Pac Man Rock on the hillside, is another 500 yards further back.)

East Virgin Islands Joshua Tree DSCF1756I made my approach using a wide arc from left to right to record the experience, and partially to visit two smaller, unnamed formations between a cute balanced rock (pictured at right). After photographing the area for close to 90 minutes, I had to leave to finish covering the the Virgin Islands while daylight permitted. Little did I realize that at one point Tom Sawyer’s Island had disappeared. When I got home and sorted through the day’s work, the strange disappearance drew my attention.

The East Virgin Islands are, from left to right in the image below: Pinion, Tom Sawyer, Virgin Pile, Hone Dome (ignoring the rest). In the second, Tom Sawyer vanishes. The illusion occurs because the base of Tom Sawyer’s Island lies in a wash 250 yards behind and below Pinion/Virgin Pile. In the right-hand shot, and from this angle only, Tom Sawyer’s peak is completely blocked from view.

Mysterious Disappearing Tom Sawyers Island


2D Slideshow

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2D Gallery

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  • 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.


Thank you all for visiting Joshua Tree 3D and the East Virgin Islands—an area that few visitors to Joshua Tree Park ever get to see. My inspiration was the few Virgin Islands photographs available, other than the (mostly small, low-resolution) ones provided by Mountain Project, the rock-climber’s website.

John Murbach

Temple City, California


Posted 2015 Nov 4

Updated 2017 Nov 6