Queen Mountain sits along the northern border of Joshua Tree National Park, its highest peak is 5,677 feet, making it one of the highest peaks in the park. Over the past year I have made a half-dozen or more trips to the top of Queen Mountain, most of those trips I have spent wandering the washes in search of Native American pictographs, and a cave that has been said to have been the cave of butchers! While I have been pleased with the two locations in which I have managed to locate, I have found myself bitching about coming up empty-handed more often than not. Those that have come to know me through reading this website, should be aware that I enjoy solitude.
Other animals that may be encountered on Queen Mountain include the majestic Desert Bighorn, crafty bobcats, brother coyote, ringtails (also known as the Miner’s Cat), a variety of snakes, lizard, and birds. One of the main reasons for the large animal population, may be attributed to the abundant amount of vegetation.
Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout.
With its proximity to Los Angeles, an almost otherworldly desert landscape, and abundant hiking and rock climbing opportunities, Joshua Tree National Park is an ideal outdoor education site.
Your Naturalists at Large Field Coordinator will work with you from start to finish to create just the experience you’re looking for, whether your emphasis is academic (geology, biology, astronomy and human history) or you want to focus on helping your students bond as a group while building self-confidence and developing important life skills.
Our instructors are knowledgeable outdoor professionals who excel at leadership and group facilitation.
Schools looking for a service learning component can take part in Joshua Tree's "Discovering the Ancients".
During our three- to five-day programs, your students will develop a “sense of place” as they are introduced to the natural and cultural history of the Joshua Tree area. Daytime activities include exploring area trails, studying the various habitats within the park, rock climbing, and group initiatives. Students are generally organized into groups of 12 or 13 and are challenged to work together to establish camp, participate in meal preparation and clean-up, and solve problems posed by their instructors. Your Naturalists at Large Program Coordinator will work with you to establish a theme and goals for your Joshua Tree trip, and then all activities will be designed around those goals. NAL typically uses group sites at Joshua Tree, but there are both group and family sites available.


Comfort in the outdoors is critical to the success of any outdoor education program, and over the years we’ve developed customized tents and a system that works well for students and faculty.
Area trails are diverse and offer campers an intimate experience with the park’s unique flora and fauna.
Boy Scout Trail – this 7-mile long trail starts in higher desert, surrounded by Joshua trees, and ends at Indian Cove campground.
Gunsight Canyon – Leads up out of the campground and into a narrow canyon for about a mile.
Johnson Spring Caves – a downhill mile-long walk from the campground leads you this spot where students spend an hour or so exploring the cool, talus caves.
The mountain is for the most part trailess, the only exception being a faint trail leading up to the peak from the south side of the mountain. Every trip up the mountain, I have found myself wandering deeper, looking harder, fighting with more difficult terrain, and usually coming up empty-handed in my search. While most of the critters prefer night over day, their presence is made know by the extensive number of tracking leading throughout the meandering wash systems.
For those of you that are birders, this is a place that you definitely want to be spending time.
Pinyon pine trees, Joshua trees (though few), a variety of yucca, as well as having the most diverse number of species of cacti in the park. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.
I know of two more picto sites near the vicinity of Butcher’s Cave that I hope you can find and write about soon.
Located about 2.5 hours east of Los Angeles along the transition between the Mojave and upper Sonoran Deserts, the park is populated with its namesake Joshua Tree woodlands, a variety of cacti and numerous species of colorful wildflowers in the spring. Our goal is to provide your faculty and students with the best possible experience based on your goals while providing fun and stimulating activities for all ability levels. Students’ leadership abilities will be enhanced while they learn basic camping skills and develop group cooperation through a shared camping experience. Natural history themes can include the desert community, adaptations of plants and animals for survival in a dry climate, geology and astronomy.


It’s the perfect length and difficulty if you’re interested in adding a backpacking component to your trip. It offers a great spot for bouldering and getting out of the mid-day sun while taking in the amazing views. Explore as far as you like up this canyon where water seeps from secret wells and the rock has been sculpted by thousands of years of floods. Since 1985, we have provided outdoor education programs for tens of thousands of students from over two hundred schools, offering custom client designed trips, flexible dates and locations, commitment to safety and comfort in the outdoors, the wonder of nature and the importance of outdoor and experiential education. The top of Queen Mountain is a vast playground of miles and miles of maze like washes, and granite boulder formations. It hasn’t been until my two most recent hikes up the mountain that I have come to terms with the fact that Queen Mountain is by far my favorite place to spend a day in Joshua Tree National Park.
This is a far contrast from much of Joshua Tree NP, which is over run with visitors for what is now a majority of the year (over 1.5 million visitors in 2014). I’ve always felt that Queen Mountain has its own unique ecosystem, while similar to that in valleys below, but extensively more diverse.
In terms of wilderness and remoteness, this is about as wild as it gets in Joshua Tree National Park, with the exception of the park’s most eastern range, the Coxcomb Mountains. Hope someday you have the chance to visit the great desert we have in the New Mexico and Texas area. Having just climbed up a 30-foot dry fall, we stopped to take a rest at a boulder pile above. Just the other week my wife and I visited the three rivers petroglyph site and I was thinking you probably would really enjoy the area and what it has to offer. Investigating our surroundings, we noticed something large peering out at us from a cave in the granite tower above us.




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