Any trip to Joshua Tree National park will feel incomplete if you don’t plan on hiking Ryan Mountain. Since this hike is so central and easy to reach, it is a very popular destination. Plus, its prime location offers amazing viewpoints.

This is no easy nature loop though! That’s why this ultimate guide is here, to help you prepare and then make the most of this moderate hike!


Ryan Mountain Trail, Park Boulevard, Twentynine Palms, CA

If you’re coming from the town of Joshua Tree, you’ll enter the National Park through the West Entrance. Follow Park Blvd for about 30 minutes until reaching a turn-out with plenty of parking (~50 spots) right at the trailhead. There is a large sign that shares some hike information and also indicates the start of the trail.

The Trail:

The trail is a steady 1.4-mile incline to the summit of Ryan Mountain (2.8 miles round-trip). It’s rated as moderate because from the very start, it’s like Stairmaster with natural rocks set in the trail to improve the ease of access as you climb about 1,000 feet. Though these rock-stair-steps improve the quality of the hike, it also means that you need to wear proper gear and secure hiking shoes so that you’re not slipping all over the trail.

I find these types of hikes challenging because there’s almost no time to warm up, so I’d advise you to take a quick lap around the parking lot just to give your body a quick transition from sitting in the car to uphill hiking.

The trail is beautiful, with views rewarding your efforts almost immediately. Check out the view of the Wonderland of Rocks (pictured above). This area is so fun to drive through but to see it from above gave me a whole new appreciation for it.

At the top of the hike is a pile of rocks, big and small. A lot of people like to take a picture standing at the very top, but I’ve actually heard that it’s a tradition to throw a small rock on top of the pile once you’ve reached the summit and therefore lift the mountain even higher. Grab a snack and check out the panoramic views of the park at the top.

On your way down you’ll follow the same trail you came up. Now is a good time to remind you that proper hiking etiquette says that those going uphill have the right of way because you don’t want to stop their momentum, as it’s more challenging to go up than down. So if you’re on the downhill section, be prepared to step aside and make room for those coming uphill.

Heads Up:

There is almost no shade on this trail. Bring plenty of water and wear proper sun protection! I’d advise bringing a snack to enjoy and refuel with at the summit.


Hiking Ryan Mountain is challenging yet so rewarding! I recommend doing it early in the morning before the sun is overwhelming and the trail is crowded. Take your time and enjoy the stunning views of the park.

What I’m Wearing:

Sports Bra from prAna here!

Leggings from prAna here!

Leave me a comment below:

Let me know if you’ve done this hike and what you thought about it! Or let me know when you plan to check this one off your list!

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