Foolproof Tower is a rock formation in the Wonderland of Rocks
area of Joshua Tree National Park
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
Don Juan Boulder
Shortly after the parking lot, take the left fork toward Uncle Willie's
Uncle Willie's Health Food Store
The hike into Wonderland of Rocks can be a lot of fun with incredible views of rock formations and valleys. The highlight of the hike is the view of the North and South Astro Domes from a distance.
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
Typical Joshua Tree landscape
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.
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
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
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.