Tumbling Rainbow Rock

Page Type
California, United States, North America
Trad Climbing
Fall, Winter
4000 ft / 1219 m
3790 Hits
90.81% Score
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Tumbling Rainbow Rock
Created On: Sep 23, 2010
Last Edited On: Apr 26, 2016


Tumbling Rainbow
Sentinel Rock and Tumbling Rainbow

Tumbling Rainbow Rock is a formation located in the Real Hidden Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park, California.

This beautiful formation sits a few hundred yards to the south of The Sentinel and to the southwest of Sport Challenge Rock and Hidden Tower. Being situated across a boulder field from the Nature Loop Trail gives this rock the all-welcome isolation from spectators. You won't be hearing the clicks and beeps of tourists' cameras while climbing on Tumbling Rainbow.

Tumbling Rainbow seen from...
Tumbling Rainbow Rock seen from the Nature Loop Trail
This rock was named after the original route that was done on it in 1973. Tumbling Rainbow, rated 5.9, follows the most prominent feature on this rock, a wide crack inside a dihedral that splits the formation in half from bottom to top. It should come as no surprise that the credit for the first ascent of this crack should go to none other than John Long who has the biggest pair of hands I have seen in my life. Another very popular route, credited to John Long, is "Fisticuffs", rated 10b. This route, not shown on the topo, is located on the north face of the rock.

The most popular route on Tumbling Rainbow Rock is a bolted face climb called "Run For Your Life", rated 10b. This route takes a direct line up the face to the left of the prominent crack, Tumbling Rainbow. This route was established by another climbing icon, Herb Laeger, and friends in the late 1970s. To descend from the top walk and down climb the south side of the rock.

Select Routes

Select Routes Topo

Select Routes of Tumbling Rainbow Rock
ARun From Your Wife, 10c, standard Rack, small pro, bolts
BRun For Your Life, 10b, bolts
CTumbling Rainbow, 5.9, Standard Rack, pro to 4 inches
DRainy Day, Dream Away, runout, 11b, Standard Rack
ETales of Brave Ulysses, 5.9, standard Rack

the following images by Dow Williams:

Tumbling RainbowFisticuffs to the right, Tumbling Rainbow in the middle and the iconic Run for your Life mapped out to the left....a great trio
Fisticuffs, 5.10bDow on Fisticuffs, 10b

How to get there

Intersection Rock
Intersection Rock
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.

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. Before reaching "The Sentinel," which is the most prominent rock formation to your left, work your way around boulders toward Tumbling Rainbow Rock.

Camping, Environmental concerns, noise considerations, 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 at dusk
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 a very reasonable price per 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.