Protruding from the side of the hill a short distance from the Western Divide Highway in the Giant Sequoia National Monument
, Dome Rock is a 400' high by 800' wide granite monolith. From it's easily reached summit, visitors are treated to spectacular views of the Kern River canyon and the nearby Needles
. The Dome is surrounded by a lush conifer forest. There's some fantastic rockclimbing here with routes available for climbers of all skill levels, from cracks, or corners, to smooth face climbs and some of the best Knob or "chickenhead" climbs to be found anywhere.
The summit of Dome Rock was once used as a helicopter landing site by the Forest Service until they made another site at the Peppermint work center across the highway. The old heliport access road still leads to the summit from the parking area, and provides non-climbers an easy route to the summit. The close proximatey to the highway, easy access, and the fact that Dome Rock is touted in local sightseeing guides as a "must see" attraction, means lots of folks come to take in the view from the top. Climbers should beware that some of those folks can't resist the temptation to toss stuff over the edge, even though there is a sign
declaring "Do not throw rocks- climbers below" in the parking lot.
Over the years there have been a few tragic accidents involving unwitting tourists, partiers, and dogs who got too close to the edge. According to a story in the Southern Sierra Rockclimbing Guidebook
..."One night during a party in the early 70's, a wild reveler drove a motorcycle in ever-widening circles on top of the dome, then suddenly straightened out and drove off into space, falling to his death
". The remains of the motorcycle is still at the base.
Getting thereFrom the north
- Take Hwy 190 up from Porterville. It's about 63 miles from Porterville to the 21S69 junction. Turn left on 21S69.
Alternate route from the North
~ This route is perferable over the Porterville route because it's much less windy.
From the city of Earlimart (Hwy 99) go east on Hwy J22 to California Hot Springs, turn left on the Western Divide hwy. and continue 12 miles to 21S69 and turn right, it's 1 mile to the parking area.
From the south
-You can get to hwy J22 by taking the Hwy. 65 turnoff from the 99 northbound just outside of Bakersfield. Then head north on the 65 and turn right onto Hwy J22 at the town of Ducor. It's 41 miles from the hwy. 65 turnoff to the Western Divide hwy. (M107) junction, then 12 miles to 21S69.
, - from the south you can take Hwy 178 east from Bakersfield to Lake Isabella then take
Hwy 155 to Wofford Heights and on to Kernville via road M99. From Kernville, head north on M99 (Sierra Way) to Johnsondale at which point M99 turns into M50. Continue 6.6 miles to the junction with the Western Divide hwy. (M107) and turn right. Then continue 12 miles to 21S69.
From the east
- Take Hwy 178 east over Walker pass to Kernville. From Kernville, head north on M99 (Sierra Way) to Johnsondale at which point M99 turns into M50 Continue 6.6 miles to the juction with the Western Divide hwy. (M107) and turn right. Then go 12 miles to 21S69.
You can call the forest Service for information. Office hours are 8:00am - 5:00pm .
Tule River Ranger District
Cannell Meadow Ranger District
Kernville, CA 93238
The parking lot is right next to the top of the dome. To get to the base, follow the climbers trail down along the left side.
The current guidebook is out of print and used copies are very hard to find. No word on when a new guide will be published.
There are no fees required here.
A California campfire permit is required for a fire outside a designated recreation site. A permit is available free-of-charge from any Forest Service
, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Bureau of Land Management office.
When to climb
Climbing season is April though November. The dome faces south and gets hot in the summer although if you wait until afternoon, you will find cooler temperatures as the face goes into the shade. Spring or fall are the best times to climb.
There are some nice rustic campsites located in and around the parking area. No fees are required.
A campfire permit is required.
Bring your own water.
There is a porta-potty in the parking lot.
The closest Developed campground with potable water is available at Quaking Aspen campground. 3 miles north of road 21S69 on highway 190.
The nearby Ponderosa Lodge offers the closest groceries and pay phone. They also offer lodging, dining and cocktails! (2 miles north of 21S69 on hwy 190).
Giant Sequoia National Monument
Some photos from the USFS website