World War II saw lots of training in the deserts of the southwest (and I’ll probably visit more of these sites as time goes on). And one of these lesser known spots is a bombing target just inside the northern border of Joshua Tree National Park.
Bombs were dropped on Joshua Tree? Yes! Apparently so. But at least they were only practice bombs. And, of course, this was long before it was a National Park.
The target itself is out in a flat and otherwise empty corner of the park. The concentric rings of the target are hard to see as they are almost completely erased by erosion and covered with desert sands. I believe the bombing target was used by the Army for aerial bomb practice from around 1944 to 1946.
Rusty practice bomb fragments remain. I believe they were originally filled with sand. Please leave anything you find here where it belongs.
From downtown Twentynine Palms (the intersection of CA-62 and Adobe Road) head east on CA-62 for 30.2 miles (48.6 km) and park off the highway in the dirt. It should be about 0.75 miles (1.2 km) passed mile marker 63. But you don’t have to be exact, the terrain here is flat, and you are just parking off the highway.
|Hike Distance||1.1 miles (1.8km) Out & Back|
|Elevation Gain, Loss||50 ft (15m) gain round trip.|
|Hike Time||30 minutes|
From the side of the highway (be sure to park off the pavement), look out towards the east-southeast across flat desert. You will see what looks like an old dry lakebed about a mile off in the distance; head towards that. It’s not the actual bombing target, but it’s just before it by about 500 ft.
The target consists of two asphalt concentric circles; one is 200 ft in diameter and the outer one is 400 ft. You won’t be able to see the target until you get inside of it. Wander around. There are quite a few twisted practice bomb fragments scattered about. I wonder why they picked this spot.
Last Updated on May 21, 2021 by Guy Starbuck