Belle Campground Revisited

Detailed View

Return to Belle Campground Introductory Page

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

Castle Rock, south face

Castle Rock, south face

Trek dates: 2016 Sep 3 and 2017 Mar 9

On This Detailed Page

  • Castle Rock, North Side
  • Castle Rock, South Side
  • McClure’s Clump
  • Short Cake Rocks
  • Half Rock
  • Unusual “tafoni” pockmarked rock
  • View of Becky’s Buttress Area

Belle Campground Joshuas in Bloom

Related Destinations

Becky’s Buttress

Stirrup Tank


Link to Joshua Tree National Park’s Belle Mountain Webcam


Castle Rock at Belle Campground, north side

THE SMALL BELLE CAMPGROUND with its 18 campsites lies at the high point of a large, sweeping valley that drops both to the north and to the south. South you will find White Tank Campground, beyond which the Mojave Desert makes a transition into the lower, drier Colorado Desert basin of Joshua Tree National Park.

Belle Mountain view from Belle Campground (McClure’s Clump in foreground)

Dark brown Belle Mountain, with its ranger facilities and the Belle Mountain Webcam is shown at left. Pictured in the foreground is McClure’s Clump climbing formation that lies a few hundred yards east of Castle Rock.

The main Belle Campground rock-climbing formation is Castle Rock (with 24 routes) at the base of which are the campsites. Short Cake Rocks (see below), is a short walk of 200 yards south of Castle Rock. It hosts 6 routes. The far end of Belle’s campsites encircle McClure’s Clump that has 2 routes. Finally there is Half Rock dominated by an obvious split boulder just south of the campground. Half Rock has 4 routes.

A mile northeast and jutting out of the hillside are additional monzogranite clusters known as Becky’s Buttress, Gorby’s Mound, and Tollakson’s Tower.

Becky’s Buttress area seen from Bell Campground

Conditions were ideal. On the March 2017 trip, numerous Joshua Trees within the campground were showing off their spring blossoms. While elsewhere in the Park, areas like Quail Springs and Lost Horse Valley, the blooms were barely 1 in 10 (meaning a blossom or two on only ten percent of the trees), Belle Campground was putting on fine display. There are numerous squat Joshuas in this section just down from Pinto Wye. Many were profusely decked out. I counted 7 blooms on one tree, and 9 on another! See the Belle Campground Joshuas in Bloom page for a dedicated look.

Belle Campground, Mar 2017, Joshua trees in bloom (click link above to visit the blooming page)


Castle Rock, North Side Detail

(Click to Enlarge Photos)

The north-side’s major routes are staked out all along the flanks. A few of the many climbs here include “Bela Lugosi,” “That Old Soft Shoe,” “Bride of Frankenstein,” “Transylvania Twist,” “Count Dracula,” “Diagnostics,” and “Diabetics.”

End Block on Castle Rock

Meanwhile, End Block hosts “Belly Dancer,” “Bell-E-Up,” and the quite difficult 5.12a “The Strange Attracter.”

Castle Rock, South Side ♦ Short Cake Rocks

The south side of Castle Rock (see below) hosts a number of climbs that include: “True Grit,” “Yucca Bowl,” “Bonny’s Boo-Boo,” “Bonnie Brae,” “Bubba’s Tourist Trap,” “Betty Flop,” and “Sand in My Shoes.”

Short Cake routes include the incredibly difficult (5.13a 2-star) “Piece of Cake,” “Cake Walk,” “Short Cake,” “Short Flake,” “Blue Sky Mine,” and “Ashes to Ashes.”

Short Cake Rocks Detail

Short Cake Rocks have been code-named ever so shrewdly: Rock 1, Rock 2, and Rock 3. Because on approach from the campground they merge into one heap, identifying them turns out to be a chore. Fate, however, shines upon us all: using a special camera filter known only to two or three people, I am able to identify which is which from whatever angle I choose:

Half Rock

Climbs on this granite pinnacle are “Kinder and Gentler,” “Rangers in Space,” “Vanishing Desert,” “Big Sandy Bound” and “Global Warming.”

Tafoni boulder near Half Rock

An unusual rock with numerous tafoni scoops in its face can be found a few paces northwest of Half Rock; this unique find is a natural result of monzogranite weathering seen throughout Joshua Tree National Park, but seldom this impressive.

According to a useful handbook Joshua Tree National Park Geology, by D. D. Trent and Richard W. Hazlett, “at Joshua Tree, tafoni are restricted mainly to granitic rocks. The darker gneiss of the park weathers and breaks down differently than granite owing to its different mineral composition…”

McClure’s Clump


2D Gallery



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3D Anaglyph Gallery

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3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

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Thank you for visiting the Belle Campground Galleries and those for Becky’s Buttress at Joshua Tree 3D.



Posted 2017 Mar 13

Updated 2017 Nov 7