• Sunrise at the Cholla Cactus Garden

    Joshua Tree

    National Park California

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  • Cottonwood Trails Closed

    Trail access remains closed to Cottonwood Spring Oasis, Lost Palms Oasis, and Mastodon Peak. More »

  • Pinto Basin Road Under Construction; Expect 30+ Minute Travel Delays

    Visitors should expect 30+ minute waits when heading north and sound bound on the Pinto Basin Road. Due to construction activity around Cottonwood Visitor Center, additional waits of 30 minutes may be in place when leaving the visitor center parking lot. More »

  • Deteriorating conditions of Black Rock Canyon Road

    The road leading to Black Rock campground has deep potholes, is deeply rutted, and can be difficult to negotiate, especially in large vehicles. Please drive with caution.

Riverside Man Dies in Climbing Accident

A Riverside, California resident died on March 15, in a rock climbing accident at Joshua Tree National Park. Curtis Woodrow Stark II, 67, suffered fatal injuries during a fall while climbing a rock formation called the Great Burrito. A second climber, Alfred Kuok, 44, of Claremont, California also sustained injuries during the accident.

At approximately 4 p.m. on Sunday, Curtis Stark and Alfred Kuok were climbing in an area near the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. Mr. Stark was the lead climber on the Great Burrito rock formation and was being followed by Alfred Kuok. Experiencing difficulty with his climb, Stark began to descend. During the descent he lost his grip and fell. As he fell, Stark struck Alfred Kuok causing him to fall as well. Mr. Kuok’s protection held arresting his fall, but Curtis Stark continued to fall suffering fatal head injuries when he struck the ground. It is estimated Stark fell about 100 feet.

Two nearby rock climbers responded to the scene and lowered Kuok from the cliff face. National Park Service rangers received word of the accident at approximately 4:40 p.m. Park rangers and members of the Joshua Tree Search & Rescue responded to the incident. Mr. Kuok was treated by emergency personnel for back pain, rib injuries, and other possible internal injuries. A San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was called in and airlifted Kuok to Desert Regional Hospital in Palm Springs. Personnel from the Riverside County Coroner’s Office also responded to the accident scene.

Park visitors are reminded that rock climbing poses inherent dangers. Extreme caution, safe climbing techniques, and properly functioning equipment should be used at all times while climbing the park's rock formations.

Did You Know?

Desert Tortoise

The reptiles of Joshua Tree National Park include one tortoise, 18 lizards, and 25 varieties of snakes. More...