The indentation on this rock was formed by a combination of two geological processes; Undercutting and Cavernous Weathering. These are when moisture is trapped on the surface of the rock or in the soil long enough to erode away some of the minerals forming the rock. Then rain and wind wash away the loosened parts of the rock.
There has been archeological evidence found in the park of Human habitation of the area stretching back thousands of years. Here you see evidence of ancient cooking fires by the charring and blackening on the walls of the cave. This appears to have been an intermittent camp, probably used for hunting.
A magnet for climbers the rocks of the Park are an outstanding sight at any time of the day.
There must be some concern that the activities of climbers - both the ordinary visitor who sprints over them is ordinary trainers/sneakers and serious climbers wearing climbing gear will cause erosion but I saw little sign of any serious attempt to restrict activity on the rocks.
As you turn west from the main road the first locations you arrive upon are Split Rock Picnic Area to the north and Live Oak Picnic Area to the south. Both have picnic tables and nice views. If you go to Split Rock follow the trail to the small cave (especially on a hot day) and then continue a little further to where you get a nice view through a split in the rock.
Previous photos of boulders were shot in the late afternoon, which gives them a pleasant "warm" color. As we camped, this one was taken in the early morning, shortly after sunrise. The colors are very different and "colder". I prefer the color of the evening pictures.
In some areas, the different layers of granite did not resist in the same way to erosion. The weaker layer has gone faster and the boulders are more or less split. One boulder (not this one) is called "Split Rock"
Some of the boulders are of great size. The most striking ones have been given a name. I found that this one is especially pleasant for looking at and it must have got its own name but I have been unable to find it out. Help wanted ! Anybody knows ?
In this par of Joshua Tree National Park, water and wind erosion have carved the granite rocks to give round boulders. It is a perfect playground for climbing as the rock surface is coarse enough for a good grip.
This photo shows the most characteristic landscape of Joshua Tree National Park : barren hills in the backgrounds and these amazing plants called Joshua Tree in the foreground. You will never see anything of the same kind anywhere else in the world.
The campground at "Jumbo Rocks" is one of the first places you'll want to stop once you enter the National Park. Follow your map to the parking area. You'll see the giant rocks from a distance, but as you get closer, they don't look quite so intimidating. In fact, several of them are easy to climb. Scramble up to the top for a fantastic view of the desert and the Joshua Trees.
If you'd like to camp at Joshua Tree, this is one of the campground areas where you can stay.
--Photos to come--
I like this area better than Skull Rock. The trail is fun and the rock formation is interesting. Most of the time you are walking up and down rocks of different sizes, and often the trail is nowhere to be found. But that's quite alright. I used the split rock shown in photo to locate myself. Just hike a little into the rocky trail and you'll see it.
What I like about Split Rock area is that, you can walk around the rock formations and find cool, shady holes or rock cracks to take a nap in hot afternoon. However this seems to be a geologically active area because I was never able to find the holes I used before. It feels different everytime.
Split Rock is only about a mile east of Skull Rock. It's also located along Park Boulevard but on the north side. Unlike Skull Rock, you cannot see it from the road. Just turn north into the dirt road. In a few hundred yards you'll soon see the first split rock right by the parking lot (see photo). Leave your car here and there is a lot to explore.
As seen in photo, the flat rock on top of the boulder looks like a cap. It seems unstable and ready to fall anytime, but It's been there for a long time. Cap Rock is located at the junction of Park Boulevard and Keys View Road. Around Cap Rock there's a short pleasant trail. Rock climbing is also popular on the back side. But I've never seen people actually climb up to the top of the Cap. That would be dangerous.
Joshua Tree is a rock climbers paradise. At any given time several climbers are trying their skills on these very large boulders. The rocks are bigger than you think--maybe the size of a five or six story building.