- Learn or hone rock climbing skills from professional, certified guides
- Backpack through the memorable landscape of Joshua Tree
- Spend one night in the backcountry
Joshua Tree National Park holds some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California's deserts. Exposed granite monoliths and rugged mountains of twisted rock testify to the power of the natural forces that shaped this unique landscape. This combination of spectacular scenery and amazing rock make it a climber's paradise.
This weekend getaway lets us fully enjoy every aspect of outdoor adventure that Joshua Tree has to offer. Our backcountry trip combines moderate, guided backpacking with professional rock climbing instruction for those new to rock climbing or looking to hone their novice skills. Learn basic knots, rappelling and climbing techniques, and backpacking skills. We carry our gear into the park and sleep in the backcountry to make the most of our climbing experience.
Prefer the comfort of the front-country? Check out our Joshua Tree Climbing & Camping trip.
- Route Variation - This itinerary has some seasonal variation.
- Day 1 - Meet at our campsite for an orientation, dinner, and gear check.
- Day 2 - Hike into the backcountry and enjoy our first day of climbing instruction.
- Day 3 - Practice our skills on more challenging routes before departing.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Route Variation - This itinerary has some seasonal variation.
In sensitivity of local bird migrations, our backcountry itinerary varies based on whether departures take place during the spring or fall. REI will send a final itinerary closer to departure.
Day 1 - Meet at our campsite for an orientation, dinner, and gear check.
Our trip begins today in Joshua Tree National Park, CA. Meet our guides and other group members at Ryan Campground by 3:00 p.m. inside Joshua Tree National Park. Attend an evening trip orientation, a wonderful dinner, and a brief gear check before retiring for the night. Dinner included.
Day 2 - Hike into the backcountry and enjoy our first day of climbing instruction.
After breakfast, we'll backpack from Ryan Campground to a remote site where we'll establish camp and then hike to our first climbing site. We get instruction on ropes, knots, rappelling, and climbing. Ropes will be set up on various routes from absolute beginner to more advanced, depending on the experience level and goals of the group. At the end of the day, reconvene at camp to relax and enjoy a great dinner. Breakfast and dinner included.
Backpacking: 4-5 miles. Elevation gain: 800 ft.
Day 3 - Practice our skills on more challenging routes before departing.
After breakfast, we pack up camp and join our guides again for a second day of climbing instruction and exploration. Tackle some slightly more challenging routes today, where everyone gets a chance to test their skills from the previous day and push themselves to the next level. After a full final morning of climbing and instruction we hike back, returning to our cars around 5:00 p.m. If you are flying home after the trip, consider booking a hotel night in Palm Springs and flying out in the morning if you cannot get a flight home tonight after 8:30 p.m. Breakfast included.
Backpacking: 4-5 miles; Elevation loss: 800 ft.
Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control. This includes changes to routes and climbing areas to be used when circumstances or conditions warrant. This trip is operated rain or shine.
Contact REI Adventures prior to purchasing your airline tickets to confirm that the trip has the minimum number of participants required to operate.
Professional rock climbing instruction and guided backpacking; all rock climbing gear (harness, helmet, ropes, shoes and more); meals as noted on the daily itinerary; mixes for energy drinks; group cooking gear; group first-aid kit, water filters; campsite and backcountry permit fees.
Transportation from your hometown to group meeting point; park entrance fees where required; insurance of any kind; alcoholic beverages (please do not bring); 2 lunches; soft drinks; guide gratuities and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated Moderate Plus(3-4). The climbing portions of the course warrant a Moderate (3) rating, as you may elect to rest at any time and will never be required to climb anything that you do not wish to attempt. Backpacking portions of the course warrant a Moderate Plus (3-4) rating. Participants will be carrying their own backpacks with weights of 30-40 lbs. over terrain with 1,200’ or more of elevation gain/loss on some days. Please make sure your backpack is fitted to your body before the trip. Trip members need to in good physical condition. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip, we strongly encourage participants to be involved in a training regimen before the trip. The better shape you are in, the more you’ll enjoy all that Joshua Tree National Park has to offer.
Daytime temperatures usually range between 60o - 90o F but can sometimes drop lower. Evening temperatures typically drop into the 40o - 50o F range or lower. While rain is rare in Joshua Tree, it is always a possibility so adequate raingear is important, even in this arid landscape.
Palm Springs, CA 45 miles, 1 hour; Los Angeles, CA 155 miles; 2.75 hours; or San Diego, CA 175 miles, 3 hours.
There is no reliable transfer service from any airport to our meeting place. Anticipate renting a car if flying in for this weekend getaway. The directions above are from major interstates to our meeting point. Consult a map and plan ahead to ensure that you can find the interstate highway or major road indicated in the directions as you are leaving the airport.
If you are traveling alone we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. A limited number of single accommodations are available, and are assigned only as necessary.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Weekend Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and detailed pre-trip information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Joshua Tree Rock Climbing & Backpacking Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To obtain maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary - this will help you and the field staff.
- Tents (3 season, 2 person)
- Cooking gear
- Stoves and fuel
- Water filter
- Group first aid kit
- Chalk bag and climbing chalk
- All needed climbing gear, including harnesses, ropes, helmets, rock climbing shoes, hardware, and more (you will need to bring your own hiking boots, though).
- Backpack: large internal frame or external frame (65-80 liter)
- Pack cover – waterproof
- Sleeping bag (rated at 30-35 degrees F)
- Sleeping pad
- Rain jacket and pants, lightweight, waterproof and breathable
- Midweight fleece jacket or wool sweater
- Midweight thermal top and bottom made of synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, quick-drying, lightweight (zip-off legs are great) No jeans!
- Hiking shorts, quick-drying, lightweight
- 1 T-shirt, synthetic
- 2 changes of underwear
- Hiking socks, 2 pairs of wool or synthetic
- Sock liners, 2 pairs of synthetic liners (optional)
- Down parka (for Feb dates)
- Sun hat with brim
- Wool or fleece hat
- Lightweight wool or fleece gloves
- Hiking boots or light hikers, depending on your preference (REI Adventures will provide climbing shoes, but not hiking boots).
- Lunches for each day (ex: salami/jerky; cheeses; crackers)
- Favorite snacks
- Two 1-quart water bottle, Nalgene-type, or hydration system equivalent
- Headlamp with spare batteries and bulb
- Plastic bowl, spoon, fork, 16 oz. mug with lid
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Glasses case to protect sunglasses
- Sunblock, small amount—not the whole bottle, min SPF 25
- Lip balm (unscented)
- Toothbrush & trial-sized paste
- Pack towel and/or washcloth
- Personal first-aid kit, small and light with personal medications
- Individually packaged Anti-bacterial hand wipes (WetOnes-type)
- TP System: In a gallon Ziploc Bag store these items: Toilet paper (not a full roll) & 1 ziploc quart baggie, WetOnes, Feminine Wipes, Pantiliners for women
- 1 large plastic garbage bag
- Trekking poles
- Ear plugs
- Lightweight camp shoes/sandals
- Journal and pen
- Camera and film- think weight
- Climbing harness, helmet, shoes and belay device (you may use your own gear if you wish to – please do not bring other hardware or rope)
- Climbing tape
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.