Ryan Mountain

Joshua Tree
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Ryan Mountain

Distance: 3.0mi
Elevation: 1,398ft
Time: 1.25-1.5h

Difficulty Rating:

This popular hike ascends Ryan Mountain, yielding fantastic panoramic views of the central park. Since this is a popular route with never ending sun exposure, get here early to enjoy the cooler morning air (and hopefully less crowds)!

Getting there

From the West Entrance continue along Park Boulevard past the Hidden Valley turnoffs, turning left towards 29 Palms. Shortly thereafter, turn right towards the Ryan Mountain parking area. Here you’ll find a relatively small parking lot with a pit toilet.


When to do

Spring and Fall, avoid summer heat

Backcountry Campsites



At trailhead

Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Out and back


Detailed Description

The obvious and well-trodden Ryan Mountain Trail leads out from the middle of the parking lot. Follow all signs for Ryan Mountain (as well as the hikers in front of you). The trail starts to climb gently and veers to the right. As you continue to gain elevation you will start ascending a wide gully, on the other side of which there are several interesting cliff formations.

Soon you will contour around to the left and regain a ridge. Here is where the panoramic views start in earnest. Continue along the trail and start heading up along the ridgeline. The last climb up to the true summit — including the massive summit cairn — eases up. The sloping summit has plenty of places to rest and admire the view, but does not, however, have any shade!

From your perch, you will easily be able to admire the ‘plane and range’ topography of the region; desert basin’s abutted by steep mountain ranges. You will also be able to enjoy incredible valley bottoms and even the hugest boulder formations. On all sides of you are the previously mentioned planes, and in the distance surrounding you entirely are the afore mentioned ranges! Depending on which season you go, you might even be able to see snow still on the highest mountains to the west.

After soaking up the view and hopefully not cooking in the sun, return the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • This is an extremely popular hike. Get here early to enjoy it for yourself, avoid the sun and witness a stunning sunrise!

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