Tacoma panoramic view at Geology Tour Stop 14 overlooking Pleasant Valley and Malapai Hill
Joshua Tree,  Southern California,  Trip Report

Trip Report and Guide – Geology Tour Road and Berdoo Canyon

Trip Report and Guide – Geology Tour Road and Berdoo Canyon April 2018

 

30 second review: Geology Tour Road is an easy offroad trail that guides you through a cross section of Joshua Tree’s many types of geological formations. It’s a nice trail if you want a change from the hiking around Joshua Tree. However, since there isn’t much for kids to do on the ride, I think the best way to experience this trail is to enter through Berdoo Canyon and use the trail as a fun way to enter the park.

 

Fees: If you start at Geology Tour Road you will have gone through Joshua Tree National Park’s entrance and paid the $25 entrance fee. If you enter through Berdoo Canyon there is no fee collected at that time, but when you leave through a park entrance you will be required to pay then. However, if you leave back through Berdoo or another 4WD road (such as Old Dale Road or Pinkham Canyon) then you’re on the honor system to pay.

Amenities: There is a pit toilet at the beginning of Geology Tour Road and that’s it. So bring your own water and pack out everything else.

Offroad Difficulty: Geology Tour Road is generally an easy trail suitable for all vehicles. Stop 9 at Squaw Tank has a turn around because after that point the road is no longer graded. That being said, a stock 4WD vehicle or any high clearance 2WD vehicle would have no problem completing the loop unless it has rained recently.

Berdoo Canyon is also a relatively easy trail minus a section near the middle (marked in the GPS directions below) which requires  a high clearance vehicle. Depending on the conditions at the time of your passing, you will probably also want at minimum a front skid plate and some larger tires to make sure you’re not damaging your vehicle passing through here. If coming from Geology Tour Road, you can also turn around at this point and hike on if you don’t want to risk it.

Is Geology Tour Road Good For Kids? While there are 16 stops along Geology Tour Road there are really only two good stopping points to let your kids roam around (6 – Rock Sculptures and 9 – Squaw Tank). I would say this trip is more for the parents than toddlers, but in the spirit of true overloading – it is definitely a more interesting way to enter the park. All that being said, Ava thoroughly enjoyed riding on the bumpy road and even fell asleep for a portion of the trail.

Maps: We mapped exact coordinates for the stopping points along Geology Tour Road but many of the “stops” are highlighting formations which are off in the distance and can be seen from many points along the tour. Stops 8 and 13 aren’t actually stops either, you’re just in an area of interest.

Berdoo Canyon begins after Stop 12 – “Mines.” At the end of the straight shot you will come to a “y” intersection with a sign for Dillon Road. Berdoo continues straight and Geology Tour continues to your right.


Geology Tour Road begins off the main road, Park Boulevard, about 20 minutes from the entrance, and 5 from Jumbo Rocks campground. This is your last stop for a bathroom for the next 2 to 4 hours so take note. This is also where you can grab the printed guide with details on the stops from the National Park Service.

Geology Tour Road Stop 5 Rock Piles
Stop 5 – “Rock Piles” – The valley is scattered with well… piles of rocks. It’s one of the most striking examples of the geological diversity you see all along this trail.

Stops 6 – “Rock Sculptures” and 9 – “Squaw Tank” are the best stopping points for your kids. Or you may want to save these as stopping points on your return trip as a lunch spot or if you want to stretch your legs.

Geology Tour Road Stop 6 Rock Sculptures
Stop 6 – “Rock Sculpture” – These are more of the same rock piles you saw before but close enough for you to go explore right off the side of the road.

 

Tacoma overland rig at Geology Tour Stop 9 Squaw Tank
Stop 9 – “Squaw Tank” – This is a turn around point for 2WD vehicles as well as the starting point for Squaw Tank Hiking Trail. This is also a good spot to explore or maybe have lunch if you’re on the return portion of your trip.

If you choose to head down Berdoo Canyon keep your eye out for a sign for Dillon Road. At the end of straight shot once you pass Stop 12 – “Mines” you will come to a “y” intersection. Head straight for Berdoo Canyon and you will be treated to a mild offloading trail up until the waterfall section shown below.

You will want to turn around here unless you have a high clearance vehicle with at minimum: a front skid plate and larger tires. Depending on your exact set up you may experience some body damage.

Tacoma overland rig posing in Berdoo Canyon
Head down Berdoo Canyon to get even more of a geological tour by driving through a canyon.

 

Rock obstacle hard part of Berdoo Canyon
Obstacle at Berdoo Canyon just to let you know what you have to look forward.

 

Berdoo Canyon rough driving obstacle area
More views in Berdoo Canyon just south of the rock obstacle.

 

Lone Poppy Flower in Berdoo Canyon
We found a lonely poppy in the canyon.

The highlight of the trail in my opinion was the panoramic view at Stop 14. If you were paying attention along the way you’ll be able to point out all of the geological features you just passed. Personally, I thought it was amazing to see so many different types of rocks and rock formations so close together.

Tacoma overlooking Pleasant Valley and Malapai Hill at Geology Tour Stop 14
Once back on Geology Tour Road you get a final panoramic view of Malapai Hill, the rock piles, and the other stops from the tour.

From here you will continue back along to the trail until you come to another “y” intersection where you will make a left to continue back to the beginning of Geology Tour Road.

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