Foolproof Tower is a rock formation in the Wonderland of Rocks area of Joshua Tree National Park, California.
Most people hiking up the approach trail into the Wonderland of Rocks are looking for the two giants of the area, namely South Astro Dome and North Astro Dome. Foolproof Tower, being so close to the two big neighbors, more often than not, gets neglected. This formation, however, has plenty to offer to a party looking for a day of climbing away from the hustle and bustle of the Hidden Valley area. It is more than likely that you will find yourselves the only ones climbing on this formation, if not in the entire area.
Foolproof Tower is a healthy distance from any paved or dirt road and a little bit of a walk to get to. The walk up to the formation is pleasant and follows a wash leading deep into the Wonderland of Rocks. The routes are reasonable, 5.9 to 11a in difficulty levels. Foolproof Tower was discovered and climbed as early as 1977 by the climbing icon, Herb laeger, who also established mega classics in this area such as Solid Gold on South Astro Dome.
The earliest to be established and the most popular route on Foolproof Tower is High Strung, rated 5.9. This route follows a crack system on the left side of the formation and climbs straight up to the left side to the overhanging rock that caps the formation. A short traverse to the left under the overhang leads to the top and an anchor. This anchor may also be used to rappel down the rock.
Another worthwhile route is a crack system on the right side of the formation. This is the direct start to a route named Yogi The Overbear. This variation to Yogi The Overbear is rated 10c and the crux is in the first 25 feet of the route.
If you like climbing on super thin faces, there is a route here for you. Buford's House of Liver, rated 11a is on the smooth face on the left side of the formation. This route has only six bolts for its eighty feet of climbing—not exactly a sport route, but it's very typical to the kind of runouts you should expect in Joshua Tree.
List of select routes
Select Routes of Foolproof Tower
|A||Buford's House of Liver, 11a, bolts, anchor|
|B||High Strung, 5.9, standard Rack, anchor|
|C||Rice Cake Roof, 11a, standard Rack|
|D||Yogi The Overbear, 10a, standard rack, long slings|
|E||Direct Start to Yogi The Overbear, 10c, standard Rack|
How to get there
From the western entrance to Joshua Tree National Park drive on Park Boulevard, formerly known as Quail Springs Road, for about nine miles to a major rock formation called “Intersection Rock.” Intersection Rock is a major landmark on the north side of Park Boulevard with ample parking for visitors and climbers alike. This rock, true to its name, sit at the cross roads to “Hidden Valley Campground”, Barker Dam Road and the road to “Day use and picnic” area. Take the road toward Barker Dam.
To get to the trailhead to Wonderland of Rocks and South Astro Dome, drive about quarter of a mile past the Barker Dam parking on Big Horn Pass Road. This is a dirt road with a dirt parking area and a bathroom. From the east end of the parking area hike on a well worn trail for a hundred yards to a fork in the trail. Take the left fork and within a few minutes pass by the ruins of an old structure known as "Uncle Willie's Health Food Store."
Past Uncle Willie's, go left to the main wash coming down from the Wonderland area. Follow the trail next to the wash passing by a very small dam. After 20 minutes you will begin to see the two Astro Domes. To reach Foolproof Tower, locate a very large boulder to your left and further up the Wonderland Valley. This is Don Juan Boulder. Before reaching Don Juan Boulder look to your left. You should be a able to spot a rock formation with a cap on top and a large flake/block wedged in its middle section. This is Foolproof Tower. Easy walk around boulders will get you there.
Camping, Noise Considerations, Environmental Concerns, Fees & Food
Please tread lightly. The Access Fund has gone to great lengths posting trail marker for approaches to many of the more popular crags. Do your best to stay on these trails, and where you are forced to use a different path, choose the ones that rain can mend in time. Drainages make for good trails where there are no established trails.
Avoid stepping on native and fragile plants, and do not feed the coyotes. Coyotes are very much used to people and often hang around picnic areas and camp grounds in hopes of getting a hand out. It’s better to let them live their natural life.
Joshua Tree Camping
When you are camping with friends and sitting around the fire, it is easy to forget that there are other people trying to sleep in the nearby campsites. It is important to put yourself in their shoes. Keep the noise and music to a minimum and certainly not too much past 10 p.m. Your neighbors will smile at you in the morning instead of giving you dirty looks.
Fees and Food