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Lizard’s Hangout: Best Roadside Top-Rope Cliffs at Joshua Tree

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Lizard's Hangout: Perfect Winter Cliff
Lizard’s Hangout: Best Roadside Top-Rope Cliffs at Joshua Tree

Follow a short trail, marked with a park sign, to Lizard's Hangout, a popular and good top-rope cliff on the west side of Joshua Tree National Park.

Photograph © Stewart M. Green

Climb in the Sun Like a Lizard

Lizard’s Hangout is a small southwest-facing dome of rock west of the Joshua Tree National Park’s scenic drive and just north of its intersection with Lost Horse Road. The 50-foot-high crag, named for the lizards that enjoy sunning and hanging out on its warm granite walls, offers a good selection of moderate top-rope routes on its west face. The area is popular but, because the climbing sector faces away from the park road, feels private if you’re the only party climbing there. If others come, however, remember that you need to share routes.

Cliff Offers Lots of Top-Rope Routes

Lizard’s Hangout offers lots of routes, many of which can be top-roped from single sets of gear anchors on the top. The crag is close to the park road; easy to access on a short marked climber’s trail; has a sunny southwestern exposure, making it an ideal venue for winter afternoons; offers a dozen routes with a wide range of grades, making it a good training crag and practice crack climbing area; and is a great place to be like a lizard and hang out in the sun, particularly on the boulders below the south face.

Needed Top-Rope Equipment

The cliff-top has lots of cracks to set up solid top-rope anchors. Bring a set of cams like Friends or Camalots along with some medium to large Stoppers or other wired nuts and a few slings to build top-rope anchors. Use long extender slings or an extra rope to get your top-rope close to the edge. A single rope, either a 165-foot (50-meter) or 200-foot (60-meter) rope, works fine for climbing all the routes. Remember to use SECURE for building safe and sturdy top-rope anchors.

Finding the Cliff

From the west entrance to Joshua Tree National Park southeast of the town of Joshua Tree, drive southeast on Park Boulevard, the park’s scenic drive road, for 7.2 miles or just before the right turn onto Lost Horse Road. If you’re coming from Intersection Rock to the southeast, drive 1.4 miles on the park road from the Real Hidden Valley junction.

Park in a large pullout on the right or west side of the road. Immediately south is Roadside Rock, while Lizard’s Hangout is the nearest rock pile to the west. Hike 350 feet or 3 minutes on a marked climber’s trail to the base of the southwest face. To access the summit to set up anchors, scramble up the southeast side of the dome.

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