Echo Rock area, North Face of Echo Cove, right side

Echo Rock area, North Face of Echo Cove, right side

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 34.02459°N / 116.15872°W
Additional Information County: Riverside
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 4300 ft / 1311 m
Sign the Climber's Log


North Face of Echo Cove, right side
Joshua Tree landscape
Climber on Big Moe

North Face of Echo Cove is a rock formation located in the Echo Cove area of Joshua Tree National Park, California.

Echo Cove area is convoluted and somewhat complex. Although not very challenging, Echo Rock itself is the largest formation of the group, thus it dominates the area. Some of the best routes of the area are located on the satellite formations such as Touch And Go Face, and South Face of Echo Cove.In the case of the South Face of Echo Cove, you are climbing on mostly less than vertical rock and in the sun. In contrast to the south face, the North Face is climbing on very steep, at least vertical, rock and, of course, in the shade.

The north face of Echo Cove, right side, does not seem to attract very many climbers. For the countless times that I have walked into this cove for other routes, I did not see anyone climbing any of the routes here with an exception, and a very big exception at that. The exception is a route called Big Moe, rated 11a. I have written in some detail about the beginnings of this incredible climb on my route page under Big Moe. Suffice to say that this is one of the most sought after routes in all of Joshua Tree. Typical to most Joshua Tree routes, Big Moe is only one pitch long, but it's on consistently overhanging terrain. Since it lacks adequate cracks for placing protection, it is mostly top roped. Approach to the base shouldn't take more than a minute. Big Moe has its own bolt anchor, and it's a snap to set up top rope.

It is hard to go to any of the traditional climbing formations such as Echo Cove and not run into the name that echos as loud as Herb Laeger's name as the first person to have established routes here. Herb left his mark here as well. The first ascent of at least two of the routes, Boulder Dash and Deceptive Corner on this cliff are attributed to him. In the case of Boulder Dash, rated 5.9, at least two variations were added to the start of the route. These variations range from the easiest, 5.7, the original, to a 5.11 for the direct start. The route itself wanders from right to left and up to reach the top. It should come as no surprise that the majority of routes on this cliff don't get much traffic; none of the routes take a direct line up the rock.

Topos of the select routes

Big Moe, 11a
Select Routes of Echo Cove, North Face, right side
Routes Topo
Big Moe, 11a
Big Moe, 11a

List of the select routes

Select routes of North Face of Echo Cove, right side
ADeath On The Nile, 10a, 1 bolt, standard rack
BDeceptive Corner, 5.7, Standard Rack
CBoulder Dash, 5.9, the easiest start is on the right side, Standard Rack
DBig Moe, 11a, R/X if done on lead. This route is mostly a top-rope problem.

How to get there

Echo Cove
The north face of Echo Cove is the formation on the right side of the photo
Road sign to Barker Dam
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 Quail Springs Road 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.
Just past Intersection Rock, take the road to Barker Dam for a short distance. Shortly after getting on this road you’ll see a sign for “Key’s Ranch” Road. Take this dirt road to a large parking area on the right. Just beyond the parking area there is a sign for “Key’s Ranch Guided Tours.” You can drive further on this road to access several other climbing formations, but you will run into a locked gate for “Key’s Ranch.” Walk along the dirt road and within less than a minute the South Face Of Echo Cove will be on your right, and right next to the road. Continue walking along the road to the end of the south face where you will see another small parking area. In front of the parking area there is a sign reading "Thin Crack" pointing you into the gully/cove. The North Face of Echo Cove, Right side, is immediately to your right.

Camping, noise considerations, Environmental concerns, Fees & Food

Joshua Tree landscape
Typical Joshua Tree landscape

Desert Flowers near...
Desert Flowers

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 sunset
There are nine campgrounds in Joshua Tree National Park. At the entrance to the park you are always asked if you would care to have a map and a brochure. The brochure will have plenty of information on the campgrounds and the map will guide you to many of the pleasant hikes throughout the park. You may even get the latest information as to availability of campsites. During the peak season (mid winter through spring) finding a campsite may become a major task. It is highly recommended to use the following link to get more information in advance.

Joshua Tree Camping

Noise considerations

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

Entrance station...
The best Thai food...
My wife and I have had Thai food in many different restaurants and cities. This Thai place beats them all. In November when the number of visitors to Joshua Tree reaches its peak, this restaurant puts on a Thai buffet, all you can eat for 10.95$/person. But, you must get there early, or be prepared to wait by the door for a table. The latest information indicates that the buffet style will be terminated by the end of February and will resume in November of 2010.