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Hike the Barker Dam Trail

Joshua Tree National Park

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Hike the Barker Dam Trail pano

1.3 Mi


0.5 - 1.0



Gain (ft)
4 Star Quality



Barker Dam is one of the most popular trails in Joshua Tree National Park, and with good reason. The trailhead is located within a main hub of activity, just past Hidden Valley Campground and Intersection Rock. This hike excels at providing a quick look into water needs, cultural history, and an easy stroll through the Mojave Desert.

Hike the Barker Dam Trail Map

Start out at the large parking lot dip into a sandy wash before reaching the intersection for the loop.

Sandy Wash

Sandy start to the Barker Dam hike

Going clockwise saves the dam for the end of the hike. Barker Dam is an interpretive trail so take the time to read the signs. They cover some interesting information about how plants and animals have adapted to the lack of water. Check out the silver cholla cactus as you wind through the rocks.

Silver Cholla

Watch out for the Silver Cholla

A very short spur trail will lead you to a small rock cave which houses stunning petroglyphs. Then follow a well marked trail through some desert flats as you approach the dam. Pay attention to the flora as you approach and notice how the species change, becoming larger as more water is available.


Petroglyphs in a rock cave

Barker Dam was a natural water collection tank used by ranchers. Throughout the years a wall was built, then renovated again, in order to increase the reservoir size for livestock during dry months. In 2013 the dam was vandalized so it can no longer be approach from below. However you still get a great view from above and if you hike after a wet period you can still observe how effective this little dam is.

Barker Dam Wall

Behind the wall of Barker Dam

Barker Dam Reservoir

The seasonal reservoir is pretty dry

After relaxing at the dam head back through some lovely rock jumble to the parking lot to complete the route.


  • Turn east off Park Boulevard on Barker Dam Road towards Hidden Valley Campground. The turnoff is located 9 miles south of the west entrance station and 1.6 miles north of the intersection with Keys View Road. Continue on the paved road for 2.8 miles to a large parking area.
  • Driving Directions

    Permits & Fees

  • $25 : Joshua Tree Entrance Fee


  • Anytime

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