Rock Formations of Indian Cove

Rock Formations of Indian Cove

Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 34.09439°N / 116.15639°W
Seasons Season: Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 3000 ft / 914 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Note: Joshua Tree National Park is tremendously large and includes thousands of rock formations. The purpose of this page is to bring some sense of organization to many "Mountain & Rock" pages I have posted for the past two years. This particular page may be considered as a mini "Area & Range" page that will be attached to the main Joshua Tree page as a child.

Joshua Tree National Park is about 800,000 acres. Of the thousands of rock formations within the park, the greatest concentration of explored and climbed rock formations is on the west side of the park. There is, however, a smaller area that may be considered as a "mini Joshua Tree" on the east side of the park. This area is known as Indian Cove and, for the most part, is accessed via the east entrance to the park. The main climbing areas and formations are located behind campsites. It is obvious that long before this area was used for rock climbing, it was used mainly for camping. There are no paved roads here and the campsites and driveways tend to be large. In fact, many people with RVs tend to use Indian cove as opposed to the campgrounds closer to the west entrance. It is a good idea to ask for permission to cross occupied campsites to approach the rocks.

Moosedog Tower

Moosedog Tower

Routes of Moosedog Tower

Moosedog Tower is, by Joshua Tree standards, a high rock formation. Its two tier system consists of two pitches of well featured faces with several moderate climbs on high quality granite. You will not find any sport routes here. What you will find, however, are a number of memorable trad routes.

The first documented climbing activity on Moosedog Tower dates back to 1969 when a certain amount of direct aid was used on the “Direct South Face, 5.9.” Direct South Face is one of the best climbs on Moosedog Tower and it starts on a left facing dihedral directly below the most prominent overhang on the south face. The climb by-passes the overhang by the means of climbing a bulge/shoulder to the right and continues up the cracks and face moves to the top of the first tier.
The short second pitch climbs up discontinuous cracks and face moves on the upper tier to the top.

Another great climb is Wandering Winnebago, 5.8+. This route climbs up to the prominent overhang via the same left facing dihedral as Direct South Face route. Upon reaching the overhang, the route traverses left and up, and true to its name, wanders up the face until it joins back with the direct south face route and continues to the top of the lower tier.

There have been several variations made on a number of the routes on Moosedog Tower. For the sake of simplicity, I have chosen the most standard routes.

Climbs of Moosedog Tower
ALucky Charms, 5.7, Standard Rack
BThird Time's A Charm, 10b, standard rack
CBitch In Heat, 5.9, standard rack
DWandering Winnebago, 5.8, standard rack
EDirect South Face, 5.9, standard rack, a must do
FTranquility, 5.6, standard rack

Feudal Wall

Feudal Wall

Left sideLeft Side
Routes of the middle sectionMiddle Section
California CrackCalifornia Crack

select routes of Feudal Wall
AMonaco, 11b, bolted face
BMarchesa, 5.2, Standard Rack
CDum Roodle, 5.6, Standard Rack
DPrincess, Standard Rack
EThe Mikado, 5.6, Standard Rack
FCalifornia Crack, 11a, toprope

Pixie Rock

Pixie Rock
Routes of Pixie Rock
The earliest documented climbing activity on Pixie Rock dates back to early 1970s when a route called “Who’s First, 5.6” was climbed by Bill Squires and Craig Parsley. In the next few years several more climbs were established, all under the 5.10 range. Then, in 1982, Alan Nelson and Mike Beck top roped a climb on the steep right side. About a year later this climb was bolted and climbed on lead by Glenn Svenson and Michael Pfundt. They named the climb “Silent Scream” and rated it 10a. Wow, 5.10 had come to Pixie Rock. The popularity of Pixie Rock exploded and on several of my trips to Indian Cove I noticed climbers waiting in line for their turn on Silent Scream. It did not take long for climbers to realize the potential for steep climbing on the right side. The extra attention resulted in “Silent But Deadly” rated 10d. For a period of time there seemed to be a controvery about whether “Silent But Deadly” was more difficult than 10d, and actually a 5.11. But, at the end of the day, the guide book author settled for 11b.

A personal note: I top roped “Silent But Deadly” in 1992 and thought it was 10d/11a. I do realize that top roping a climb, as opposed to leading it, tends to reduce the mental factor in difficulty rating.
Pixie Rock, right sideright side
Pixie Rock, left sideleft side

Climbs of Pixie Rock
ALascivious Conduct, 11c
BScream Chuck, 5.7 run out
CVaino's Lost In Pot, 5.7 Run Out/ X=extreme danger
DWho's First, 5.6
ERhythm Of The Heart, 5.8, X, extreme danger
FSilent Scream, 10a, bolts
GSilent But Deadly, 11a, bolts
HPixie Stick, 10a, top rope

Billboard Buttress

Billboard Buttress
Select Routes
Driving Limitations, 5.8

If there is one place in the Indian Cove area you could see many people bouldering, it is on the base of Billboard Buttress. For most people the first six to eight feet of the smooth and difficult start to Gait of Power, rated 10b, is sufficient to get satisfaction and still stay within jumping down height, or down climbing to the right. Note: The start of Gait of Power is shown in light blue. The best way to do anything higher, however, is to use a rope, essential equipment, and a partner.

There are a number of moderate routes on this formation. If you are in the mood for a great hand crack, consider The Reverend, rated 5.8. This is a crack inside a dihedral on the right hand side of the west face. Another highly recommended climb is a face route on the south face called Driving Limitations, rated 5.8, and protected by a few bolts.

Select Routes of Billboard Buttress
AWe Dive At Dawn, 5.8, standard rack
BThe Reverend, 5.8, standard Rack
CDriving Limitations, 5.8, bolts

Short Wall

Short Wall
select routes of the left sideLeft side
select routes of the right sideRight side
Class in session Class in session

Short Wall has traditionally been an ideal sight for climbing classes, private climbing clubs and groups. The right side with all of its easy cracks is a perfect location for beginners to learn jamming techniques. The approach to the top to set up top-rope could not be easier. Go around the formation from the right side to reach the sandy corridor separating this rock from Feudal Wall and scramble up and around boulders to reach the top of Short Wall.

The left side, however, is somewhat different in that it offers a number of more difficult routes to mid 5.10s. One of the face routes on the left side is "Double Trouble, 10a" and its first ascent goes to my good friends Herb and Eve Laeger. Unfortunately, at some point in time, the bolts protecting this route were chopped rendering it into only a top-rope problem. In addition to the list of select routes in this page, there are many more face routes that climb in between the crack systems. You will also find several face routes to the right of the last crack, "S.O.B." on the right side of this formation.

select routes of Short Wall
ADouble Trouble, 10a, Top-Rope
BMad Race, 5.4, Standard Rack, wide pro
CBombay, 5.8, standard Rack
DCalcutta, 5.7, standard rack
EDouble Cracks, 5.3, standard Rack
FToe Jam Express, 5.3, Standard Rack
GS.O.B. 5.6, Standard Rack, wide pro

Varnished Wall

Varnished Wall

Select Routes
Jumbo Rocks areaA New Day Begins

Walking from the campground parking area toward the base, one feature of Varnished Wall will jump out at you. This is a perfectly straight-in crack up the middle of the smoothest part of the wall. This crack is the most popular route on the entire wall. It's called Crank Queenie, rated 5.8. No bolts here, bring your own standard rack. There are a few more moderate routes to the left of Crank Queenie such as "With Malice and Forethought, rated 5.7. This is a crack line slanting to the right located on the left side of the wall. Be careful with the three routes in the 10d and 11a range between these two easier routes.

To get to Varnished Wall:

Indian Cove is located roughly nine miles east of the town of Joshua Tree on highway 62. The sign directing you to Indan Cove is obvious. Turn right, going south, here. If you go as far the town of 29 Palms, you have gone too far. It’s about three miles from here to Indian Cove Campground. Drive south on this road to a ranger station and the enterance to the park. You will be checked at the gate for your America The Beautiful card, or will be charged an enterance fee. Driving past the gate will bring you to the Indian Cove Campground. Pixie Rock is to your right just before entering the campground. Varnished Wall is a short distance across the road to the southeast of Pixie Rock.

select routes of Varnished Wall
AWith Malice And Forethought, 5.7, standard Rack
BMosaic, 5.8, standard Rack
CCrank Queenie, 5.8, Standard Rack

Dos Equis Wall, by Dow Williams

Dos Equis Wall
Dos Equis Wall, 5.7-5.12b

Willit Pillar

Willit Pillar
Routes of south face

Routes of Willit Pillar
AUnknown Highway, A1, lookout for missing bolt hangers and bolts
BHollywood And Vaino, 10c, RUNOUT, standard rack
CCall of The West, 5.9, standard rack
DSouth Face Route, 5.9, standard rack



Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.