I’m not sure how many “Sentinel” rocks there are, but I can think of three immediately: Sentinel Rock in Yosemite National Park, The Sentinel in Zion National Park, and then, there is The Sentinel in Joshua Tree National Park.
East Face of Sentinel Rock
Sentinel in Joshua Tree is a beautiful, 200 foot, pyramidal granite formation in a very special area called “Real Hidden Valley
.” Not to be mistaken for “Hidden Valley” which is right next to a paved road, “Real Hidden Valley” is truly hidden. During the day time hours you can see many sight-seers walking right past this great formation without so much as a glimps at it.
Of all the times I have been to the area I’ve never seen a climber on the great north east face of The Sentinel. This could be due to the star ratings in the guide books. None of the great climbs here gets more than two out of maximum of five stars; therefore, most of the attention seems to go to the west face of The Sentinel located in a narrow gully it makes with “The Hidden Cliff.”
Illusion Dweller, 10b
Illusion Dweller is the obvious crack just above the Yucca Plants
One of the most sought-after climbs on the west face is a hand crack called "Illusion Dweller," rated at 10b, with a five star quality rating. Most of this climb goes as 5.9 with an airy and scary exit section that goes at 10b. The start of this climb really feels like 5.10 without good protection. You certainly don't want to fall here because of a big Yucca plant on the base anxiously waiting to give you the best spot of your life. Enjoy!
Narrow gully flanked by west face of Sentinel from the left and Hidden Rock from the right.
The obvious crack on the left with pin scars is Desert Song, 11b. The obscure features to the right of Desert Song is The Scorpion, 13b.
Some of the popular climbs on the west face of Sentinal are:
Some Like It Hot, 12c
The Scorpion, 13b
Illusion Dweller, 10b
The Chameleon, 12b
Some of the climbs of the east face of Sentinel:
Ball Bearing, 10a
Fote Hog, 5.6
Western Saga, 5.9
Note: There are many more climbs on both the west and the east face of Sentinel, however, the list above are the ones I can spot without looking at the photo too many times.
Camping and Noise Considerations
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 make reservations in advance.
For current Campground information please see the link bellow:
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.
Joshua Tree National Park has a very fragile ecosystem. 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.
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 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.
Turn right onto the road leading to day use area with a large parking lot and bathrooms. The Trail to “Real Hidden Vally” is obvious and starts here. This trail leads to “Nature Loop Trail” and “Real Hidden Valley.”
When you get to the Loop Trail take the left fork. After a few minutes you will come to the largest formation in the area. That is Sentinel to your left and it’s mostly east facing.
There are no permits required to climb or hike in Joshua Tree National Park. However, there are fee requirements for entering and camping within the park boundaries.
7-Day pass for each passenger car---$15
7-Day pass on foot, bicycle or motor cycle ---$5
Joshua Tree Annual Pass/non transferable---$30
Interagency Annual Pass---$80
Campsite fees are $15/night for Black Rock, Cottonwood and Indian Cove campgrounds.
The fees for the remaining campgrounds are $10/ night.