Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park
Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park
Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Anyone may take this trip.

Joshua Tree National Park is a wonderland of rocks and high desert scenery. This is one of the most famous rock climbing areas in the United States with over 4500 climbing routes to choose from.  Our time will be focused on learning and practicing the sport of rock climbing while enjoying the pleasures of desert camping.  This Joshua Tree Rock Climbing trip is specifically geared towards the first time outdoor climber.  We will start off with the basics and by the end of the weekend you will be amazed at what you have learned and accomplished.

“Very fun and learned a lot.  Met new people. Camped in desert for the first time.”

“Good confidence builder and inspired new hobbies”

“It was a great deal and a great opportunity”


Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Pre-Trip Meeting

Pre-Trip Meetings are required and are held the Monday, the week of your trip, from 6-7:30pm in the AMC rooms, right outside the ARC. You will meet the leaders and other trip members, as well as cover all details such as weather, menu, safety issues, and clothing requirements. You will also be issued all of your equipment at this time (sleeping bags, pad, tent, etc.).

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Day 1: Depart SDSU by 2pm. We will drive approx. 3 hours to our campsite which is usually located in the Indian Cove Campground of the Park.  Our campsite is a short walk from the “vault” toilets and our amenities include plenty of tent space, picnic table and fire ring.  All water will be obtained from the Ranger Station spigot and transported to our site.  After setting up camp, our first challenge includes cooking dinner.  After dinner, for those that still have energy, a night hike and exploration of the Indian Cove “cave” is in order.  For many trip members, this secret wonder is a major highlight.

Day 2: Saturday we will wake up early, have a hearty breakfast and pack lunch “to go”. After securing camp, we will get back in the van and drive into the main area of the National Park to spend the day climbing in Lost Horse Canyon.  Our climbing site allows us to set up a variety of top rope climbs suitable for all abilities and challenges.  Our staff will take you through the step by step process of learning to climb beginning with “ground school” teaching belaying skills, knot tying, equipment use, safety communication, and much more.  Our instructors will set a comfortable learning pace that will allow everyone to participate fully.  Don’t worry, by the end of the day you will be tired and ready to head back to Indian Cove for a delicious dinner, campfire, S’mores and stories before drifting off to sleep under the stars.

Day 3: After Sunday breakfast, we will take down camp, pack our lunch and load the van to head back to the main area of the park to climb in a different area.  Multiple top rope routes will be set and our focus will be putting Saturday’s acquired skills to the final test and introduce you to rappelling.  Our instructors will be very supportive and provide “refreshers” wherever and whenever needed.  We usually depart at 3:00pm and stop for dinner on the way home. Plan on being back at SDSU no later than 7:00pm.

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Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Packing List

We are limited on space, and the less stuff you bring, the less you have to carry around. Ask yourself…What would I want in the coldest weather or the hottest weather? Pack to be prepared for both!

Things that should be packed inside your personal day pack and kept with you inside the van:

  • Small day pack
  • Money for road meals
  • A warm layer
  • Headlamp
  • Travel size pillow
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Camera


  • Sunglasses w/retainer strap
  • Personal stuff- extra contact lenses, chap-stick, sunscreen, baby wipes, baby powder, ear plugs, hand lotion, medications you usually take…
  • 2 durable crush proof one liter water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Toilet paper in a Ziploc bag
  • Small, light weight fast drying camp towel


  • Wide brimmed shade hat
  • Beanie/ stocking cap
  • Bandana
  • Cotton or synthetic blend hiking shirt (breathable layer)
  • Cotton or synthetic camp shirt (a clean shirt to wear at camp)
  • Synthetic Long Sleeve Top(s) – Polypro, Capilene, or polyester.
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sports bra
  • Windbreaker
  • Rash guard
  • Spray Jacket
  • Nylon shorts
  • Light weight long pants/ cotton or synthetic hiking pants
  • Rain Pants (Aztec Adventures can provide this if you don’t have your own!)
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic long underwear (top & bottom)
  • Gloves
FEET: No Flip Flops!!!!
  • Tennis or Hiking shoes with good ankle support
  • Hiking Socks
  • Climbing Shoes (we provide)

Personal Equipment Provided by Aztec Adventures:

  • 0 or 20˚ sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Ground Tarp
  • Tent with rain fly (sleeps 2-3)
  • Head lamp
  • Camp chair
  • Rain gear (if you don’t have your own)
  • Coffee mug, bowl, and utensils
  • Pack Bag: to hold all of the above items PLUS your personal gear and clothes

Group Equipment that Aztec Adventures will provide:

  • Expedition First Aid Kit Ground Tarp
  • Stoves, fuel and all cooking gear-pots, pans, utensils, spice kit etc.
  • Repair kit for tents, stoves, packs, etc.
  • Water bags -2+ gallon bags for camp use
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts
  • Satellite Phone
  • Climbing equipment: including climbing shoes
Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Physical Challenge

Hiking and climbing in Joshua Tree can be strenuous on the entire body. Designated trails may be non-existent. We could be hiking and climbing for the better part of six hours a day. Staying well hydrated, taking your time, resting when necessary (but not for too long), and keeping your energy level high is essential. Trip members should be in good physical condition for climbing rocks up to 50 feet high and hiking on sand and rugged desert terrain. From now until the trip begins, we highly encourage you to get in shape and highly recommend you to take the climbing wall orientation at the ARC and climb at the indoor wall to get a feel for the physical demands of climbing outside.

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Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Risks/ Hazards/ Safety

There are numerous risks and hazards associated with the desert. Joshua Tree is a high desert environment where temperatures can change rapidly. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, cactus and other sharp desert plants require extra caution when hiking. Not dressing appropriately can result in heat or cold illnesses (Hyperthermia or Hypothermia). Not drinking enough water results in dehydration and not being in adequate physical condition can result in sore muscles. Trip members must make a conscious effort to be safe. Rock climbing demands respect for the safety instruction provided by the leaders. One person’s disdain for safety will always result in more hardship for the group. If we have an accident or injury that requires medical attention beyond the scope of our leader’s experience, the trip is immediately over without refund. Our leaders are trained to administer first aid in an outdoor environment; however, while they may be able to treat injuries, they cannot always prevent them.

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Rock Climbing, Beginning, Joshua Tree National Park

Hygiene & Comfort

No showers or running water will be available.  A perfect substitute for showers are the use of baby wipes and baby powder.  Pit toilet facilities (outhouses) are available near each campsite. Aztec Adventures will provide a hand wash station with soap and water to best maintain hygiene and sanitation.  Tents, warm synthetic sleeping bags, thermarests and ground tarps will be our means to having a comfortable night’s sleep. We will have a designated camp ground of hard packed dirt in Indian Cove both nights of our stay.

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