Ryan Mountain is a straightforward but moderately tough hike up one of the most prominent, centrally-located peaks in Joshua Tree National Park. From this popular trail, hikers can get nearly 360 degree views of the entire park. This is a wonderful way to get a feel for the scope of the landscape, and a highly-recommended stop for first-timers.
Unlike some of the busier trails closer to Los Angeles, the crowds don’t seem to diminish the experience of this route. Maybe it’s the landscape of Joshua Tree, or the fact that people who come here are really going out of their way, so they tend to be more respectful of the environment … either way, don’t be put off by a full parking lot or big crowds. This trail is worth it.
Slowly, you’ll start to see that the trail isn’t just a simple straight line over the ridge. The rounded interior of the mountain will reveal itself as you make your way south over the moderately strenuous terrain. And again — all the while, you’ll have incredible views of the western half of the park.
Because Ryan Mountain is a centrally located trail and a spectacular vantage point for in-shape hikers, you can usually expect to have a few friends sharing the summit with you when you arrive.
Excellent. There's pretty much just one path straight up the mountain so it's difficult to lose sight of it. The path itself is very well constructed but does have many jagged boulders and uneven ground. Nothing too dangerous - but watch your step.
First-come, first-served Ryan Campground is the closest place to spend an evening in Joshua Tree.
The Ryan Mountain trailhead sits pretty much in the center of the park, just east of the intersection with Keys View Road. If you're traveling east, pass the Ryan campground on your right, and look for the large parking area just up the road, also on the right. Alternately, you can start this trail from the Sheep Pass Group Campground.
With recent wildfire damage and ongoing waves of COVID-19 infections and restrictions, National Forest, National Park, and other public land closures, restrictions, or social distancing guidelines may be in-effect.
If infection rates are on the rise, please do your best to remain local for your hikes. If you do travel, please be mindful of small gateway communities and avoid as much interaction as you can. Also remember to be extra prepared with supplies so you don't have to stop somewhere outside your local community for gas, food, or anything else.
Please be sure to contact the local land management agency BEFORE you head out, as these conditions are likely to change without enough notice for us to fully stay on top of them. Thanks, and stay safe!
Click here to read the current CDC guidelines for traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.