A picnic area with pit toilets and parking. Lots of rocks to scramble on, crawl under, and explore. A 1 mile loop nature trail is here. A campground located nearby. No water.
We visited Hidden Valley on a mid-March day when the temperatures were in the low-70s. We decided to eat a snack at the picnic tables first and then tackle the 1 mile nature trail loop. The picnic tables were large and in a gorgeous location where we could stare at the Joshua Trees, watch birds nest in rocks high above our heads, and ground squirrels scamper about. We were pleasantly surprised to see that the picnic area even had BBQs. There were pit toilets both next to the picnic tables and at the trailhead.
The nature trail was a great distance for my almost 5 year old to do on his own, and I had no problem keeping my 11 month old entertained in his backpack. We saw several species of birds, wildflowers, lizards, and flowering cacti and yucca. We stopped and gawked at the mountain climbers as they scaled the giant peaks.
While some trails at Joshua Tree National Park were wheelchair/stroller accessible, Hidden Valley was not one of them. Be prepared to walk on uneven ground, and up and down some rock stairs. The trail was well marked with arrows. Informational signs about the area and the wildlife were placed along the hike. There was very limited shade. We found it necessary to bring water with us and we drank more than we thought we would during our hike.
My kids LOVE climbing rocks. I used to, until I became a mom. Then I seemed to lose my confident balance, petrified that I would fall... actually that my kids would fall. My kids LOVED Hidden Valley at Joshua Tree, but I wasn't so sure.
We stopped for a picnic lunch and some rock climbing/exploring. The picnic tables were great, the pit toilets stinky, but the rocks were stunning. Most people seemed to stop at Jumbo Rocks (Skull Rock) so we kept going and thought this area was just as cool and full of adventure.
My older boys, 10 and 12 hopped up on the rocks and climbed from one boulder to the next until they were a good 50-75 feet above the ground. I trust them for the most part, and there were no crazy drop offs where they were headed. The problem was that my 6 year old wanted to follow them, and quickly got far away from me. This I did not like as there were some challenging jumps between big boulders with 4-5 foot falls down to the ground.
When I finally convinced him to let the big boys climb (with Daddy's help... phew!) and we could explore some lower rocks, I enjoyed our time much more. Down at the lower part of the parking lot I found some tall rocks that were not stacked upon each other. Due to erosion, there were tunnels, cracks, and caves that were TONS of fun to explore with my little ones. There wasn't much to climb up high on, just things to crawl through and under.
* Make sure kids are supervised with a steady adult because scrambling here can quickly become dangerous.
* Find tunnels and cracks close to the ground to explore with little ones (as long as you aren't claustrophobic)
* Bring lots of water; there is no place to refill water in this area.