Berdoo Canyon

Coachella, California (SanBernardino County)

Last Updated: 12/05/2020
4.7 / 5 ( 20 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Permit Information: Permit Required - Click Here
Length: 14.1 miles
Highest Elevation: 4280 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 20 minutes
Shape of Trail: Connector
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Coachella
Nearest Town w/ Services: Coachella
Official Road Name: Berdoo Canyon Road
Management Agency: Joshua Tree National Park Service
District: BLM and United States National Park Service
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Berdoo Canyon
Berdoo Canyon is home to an old ghost town named Berdoo Camp. Berdoo camp was founded by the water district when California built the Colorado River Aqueduct that still provides water to Southern California. The Camp was built in the early 1930s for the workers and their families to live while the aqueduct was being constructed under the mountain range. The camp was abandoned sometime in 1937 when the project was completed in the area, and the camp was no longer needed. Over the years the camp has been scraped of all the lumber from the roofs of the old concrete buildings. Now all that is left of the old camp are the skeletons of the concrete buildings that once housed the workers and their families. Building the Colorado River Aqueduct was an amazing feat of the time. The workers did not have the type of modern machinery we take for granted in our everyday lives during the construction. Come out and explore the colorful history of the Berdoo Camp as well as Berdoo Canyon. You might even get to see some of the desert wildlife as you head into Joshua Tree, or a ghost or two. Please tread lightly along the trail. I have lived my entire life in this area, and have seen many of these awesome trails closed, due to people making these beautiful desolate trails their personal landfill. Please, if you find trash along the trail, pick it up and help do your part in keeping this trail open for generations to come.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Berdoo Canyon

Route Information

Technical Rating:
( MODERATE )

Read more about our rating system

Waypoints

1. South Trailhead (0 mi)
Berdoo Canyon starts at the large wash where the pavement basically ends.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 33.812488, -116.171470

Starting Point: Indio or Whitewater

Directions to the south trailhead From the 10 Freeway in Indio, go north on Dillon Road, exit 146, 4.5 miles to Berdoo Canyon Road and turn right. Continue 1.2 miles until you cross the wash and the pavement ends Directions to north trailhead From the 10 Freeway near Whitewater, go north on Highway 62 to Joshua Tree, 26.9 miles, and turn right on Park Boulevard. Continue 5.1 miles to the Joshua Tree National Park entrance and pick up a park map. The trailhead for Berdoo Canyon is located off of the Geology Tour Road trail located inside Joshua Tree National Park.

Camping

Dispersed
Improved
Designated

Trail Reviews (27)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Definitely one to come check out if you're looking for a laid back day on the trail. At the starting point there was a bunch, and I mean at least ten different groups of people all out shooting in the area. I'm a firearms enthusiast myself, but to come across so many random folks with guns and one dude was even loading a handgun in the middle of the path made me a little uneasy. But everyone seemed to being safe and shooting into a berm or hillside. The trail is super easy, took my new stock JLUR out no problems and not even close to scrapping on anything. Did come across a fella in a Sarah with running board and he also scrapped them in the section we crossed paths but with a little careful spotting he made it through. It's super laid back, mostly just easy to follow dirt trail with a couple of flexy sections. If you're a newbie might be an exciting trail, if you're experienced it'll be a easy fun day on the trail. At the end there was some great view of Joshua trees in the park! If you watch till about the mid-point is where the trail starts on my video. And here is a photo from the flexy section. https://www.instagram.com/p/CNkZTdMDaP8/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Started early in the morning for a drive up Berdoo Canyon. Weather was crisp and only meet one other vehicle, which was coming down the trail. The trails was straightforward with a few occasional splits in the trail which returned back together in a short distance. After meeting up with the Geology Road Tour trail, we made our way over to Lost Horse Mine to exercise the legs as the Jeeps had already had their turn. There was a stiff breeze coupled with the not so warm temperatures that keep the hike cool. The bandanna over the face when hiking into the wind was actually more pleasurable that the chilly wind on the surface of the face. Sometimes you need to get out of the vehicle to really enjoy what is out there.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran Berdoo to Geology to Old Dale, hitting Mission and Brooklyn mines along the way, and finished through Mecca Dale Road and Gold Crown Road which ended right at the 62. Fun loop that provides plenty of miles with fun obstacles and sites, to fill most of a day. is mostly a rocky floor/wash that winds through the canyon with occasional tight squeezes between massive boulders, a few waterfalls (one is optional and has a large legal bypass area to the right, little offshoots, shooting and camping, and a spectacular journey. Geology is an extremely easy packed dirt road with rare, deep ruts to play between. This ends at busy soft pavement (don’t need to air up) that winds through the junction where the Borrego and Colorado join, giving rise to a unique battle of the two drastically different ecology. Old Dale is slightly difficult than Berdoo as it climbs up and around a series of old mines on a shelf road laden with decent sized rocks to give you just enough off camber moments to get the blood flowing, but nothing severe enough that we ever thought we were in a sketchy situation. In all, these offer a great opportunity to test the flex, stretch the old 4lo, and crawl a few big rocks relative in size to Gold Mountain, but on mostly flat ground, which taking in the always uniqueness of the deserts

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Got an early start for a South to North trip up and into Joshua Tree. Explored the old ghost town for a little bit but, for the most part, drove it straight through. No spotting needed today. The trail is used enough so it’s easy to know where to go. Trail ends at Geology Tour Road in Joshua Tree. Took that into the park, stopped for lunch then headed home. Will definitely use Berdoo Canyon to get into, or out of, JTNP in the future.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Took this trail from the Joshua Tree Geology Tour Road south to Dillon Road. Beautiful scenery and view of the Joshua Tree valley and the trail was in great shape. The small rock sections were fun to climb down. Temperature was in the mid 60’s. Be mindful of the rock outcroppings in the river bed as there are plenty waiting to slice a sidewall. I passed 6 vehicles on the trail, plenty of places for turnouts to allow for passing. No cell reception in the area for most of the trail. We took our 2014 Cherokee Trailhawk with a 2” lift and 31” tires. Fully loaded for camping and had no issues. Word of caution: Down on the southern end of the trail it becomes BLM land and many people park and shoot on the side of the road/trail. At some points in the trail you can tell you are in old target shooting areas. Just be cautious for shooters

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Nice easy beginner trail with only 2 small waterfalls to climb. Went South to North.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We entered at the North trailhead coming from Geology Tour Rd. I drove this road a couple years ago and not much has changed although I found it less intimidating now that I have a couple years of off-road driving experience. Originally I drove it in a stock Wrangler but this time with a raised Jeep and bigger tires. A beautiful narrow canyon. It was only 85F on this day and a busy park and dirt-road even during this mid-week.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
The trail was great. I did a couple of extra credit sections, but not the loose dirt hill. It was about 97 degrees but it didn't feel that hot. We connected it with the Geology Tour Road which was very nice and from there to the 2N02 Pioneertown to Big Bear. I have a Ram 1500 on 37s, so clearance wasn't an issue. There was a particular spot where I had to squeeze through a couple of big rocks though, but I got through fine. It's also close to a famous hiking and picture place Skull Rock.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Just ran the trail this weekend in my Frontier on 285’s and small leveling kit. Had no issues. There are some spots I needed to stop and get a spot but nothing that was concerning. Fun trail to run. You pass a shooting range so be careful. There was a group of people shooting in the direction of travel (North) which was sketchy.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this trail today. We had a group of 3 Jeeps and an F-150 4x4. None of us had any issues. We were told of a plateau that is used as a camping spot just South of JTNP gate, which was the only real challenge on the trail. Once we were off of Berdoo and on the trail around the park, we saw some gorgeous views of yellow blooms. The trail is quite fun (I am a newbie though).

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Did this with the wife today from Dillon road north to JTNP. I drove my ‘18 Power Wagon on 34” BFG KO2’s and has no problem. Needed to be careful in a few tight spots and the optional big rock obstacle I backed off to keep the wife happy :) Overall would be an easy Jeep trail but it was a perfect full size heavy duty with the wife today trail!!!!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
What a beautiful drive. We entered the National Park from the north and took Berdoo Canyon southbound. There are a few easy/moderate obstacles, but none posed a significant challenge for our group (all lifted at least 2.5 inches with 4WD). Once we passed the gate to exit the park and enter BLM land, we found a prime spot to camp. There are several cool areas to post up for the night. When we continued south in the morning toward Indio, there were quite a few folks target shooting off the side of the road. Keep an eye out and enjoy the trail!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Nice cruiser trail, ran into snow near the summit, fun times!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is a nice trail that I've done a bunch of times, usually as a way into or out of Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP). I've done it, usually alone, with all iterations of my vehicle from stock to modified, day and night and in all seasons. I can easily say the best experience is starting in Indio and doing it in the Spring when the flowers blanket the canyon walls - amazing. By starting in Indio, you'll experience a gentle climb mostly up a rocky wash that culminates in topping out in a beautiful valley in JTNP. You can either turn around or proceed to where the trail intersects Geology Tour Road and follow that back to the parks main road. There are a few rock gardens to keep things interesting, as well as, some side obstacles and challenges for those interested in punching up the excitement level, however the trail is mostly a rocky track. All the obstacles have by-passes except a narrow slot near the end of the canyon that is quickly followed by a mild rock crawl that requires some planning. However, there are often rocks stacked at the crawl portion that I've seen Subaru's negotiate without too much difficulty. The nice thing about this trail is it isn't too heavily traveled and the most people I've seen is maybe six vehicles at a time. Keep an eye out for Big Horn Sheep!!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I had the trails to myself and liked it so much I did it in reverse with lights, I did Pinkman and Thermal canyons as well. added a couple of new pinstripes to my 2019 4Runner TRD ORP w/3"lift, camped on the BLM area before the south entrance off Hwy 10. Trail conditions were perfect and a great time to go weather wise...

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Took advantage of Free National Parks Day and went up from Dillon Rd. In my 2010 4Runner SR5, just above average, no lift, better than stock suspension, 33" tires, we had only 3 hard/tight spots, the beginning, the middle, and the end, with caution, and some spotting, no dents, just a small scrape I didn't even hear or feel under the door panel. It gets a little tight in places, but you can do it with decent 4x4 skills. There are options to take along the way...Took two hours to get to Geology tour road, either turn around before, or pay the $$ at the exit to JTNP admission. Just over 15 miles to the road above. A nice Sunday drive, saw 4 others, maybe zero on a weekday?

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Pretty cool trail. We took two fairly stock Tundras through here, mostly at night. It's tight and slow-going, but doable. The trail is well marked, and once in J-Tree it's very smooth. FWIW, we saw an H1 giving "pink Jeep" tours. Fortunately, we crossed paths closer to the mouth of the canyon, but anywhere else and that may have been a little more challenging to get by.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
My run out here with Robert through Pinkham Canyon and checking on Snow Cloud Mine was fantastic! His review below me sums it up nicely.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This is my second trip on the trail. On previous visits to the park the Park Ranger told me Berdoo is the parks most difficult 4x4 trail whose condition can change dramatically after a rain as rocks will fall from the steep canyon walls. Just a note I dont recall anywhere along the trail where one could not be able turn easily turn around. We entered Berdoo from the south via Dillon Rd. Just onto the dirt section we encountered a movie production crew who were anxious for us to move along as they were in the middle of shooting. Since none of the crew members could tell me the name of the movie I suspect its "not coming to a theater near you soon". Further up Berdoo while still on BLM land is the shooting gallery. Even at 8am on a weekday there were several camps shooting from both sides of the road. Before actually entering the park boundary while still on BLM land, up higher from the road in the hills on the left are the remains of the work camp used to build the aqueduct that follows hwy 10. Be cautious on this access road up to the camp as there is a deep rut hidden from view until you are near on top of it that would swallow a vehicles front end. Someone has smartly marked both sides of the rut road there with rocks and there is a narrow bypass to the right that will get you by. Once at the top there are many concrete foundations some with still standing graffiti covered walls. Another caution here is to be aware of shooters in the camp. There area is littered with spent shells. There are some fun play area hill climbs in this area. A short distance north from the camp on Berdoo Rd is the Joshua Tree National Park entrance where the you will pass through a recently installed park gate. On my last trip there was a boulder strewn gate keeper at the entrance but it appears the park has pushed aside most of those obstacles now. The trail is well worn and easily followed. Any potential deviation is marked for no vehicle access. The canyon portion of the trail is surrounded by steep walls. Boulders can appear to precariously balanced along the steep reminding me of the cautionary note from the park ranger. There area a few rock gardens and waterfalls when in the canyon. A high clearance is vehicle is needed. Once leaving the canyon it turns to rocky sandy 2 tracks through a Joshua Tree forest ending at Geology Tour Rd. A left at the loop (one way only here) takes you on a well groomed dirt road out to the paved Park Blvd.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
First time through Joshua Tree, and first time off-roading really. I got a recommendation for Berdoo from a friend and glad we did it. I'm driving a 97 XJ 4x4 with 3" lift and 31s; no disconnects or lockers. We entered from south side on Dillon Rd, past a few groups target shooting, then hit the actual trail. Nearly all of Berdoo Canyon Rd is clear, easy dirt road with occasional rocks, good width and frequent bypasses. The canyon waypoints listed above that are rated 2-4 gave us our first chance to crawl a few rocks in 4Lo. Like another reviewer said, I'm sure we spotted more than was necessary but it was a great learning experience, and we came away with more confidence in our lines and our Jeep. After the narrower canyon it opened up, crested a ridge and we had great views of the park as we stopped for lunch. Coming down was an easy drive to meet the Geology Tour Rd loop. The giant rocks by Squaw Tank are absolutely worth a visit. We drove out north to meet Park Blvd and out. This was a great intro to the fun of getting off-road; I'm hooked!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Second time up Berdoo Canyon (first was 4 years ago in in my 2.5" lifted & 35" treaded Jeep Rubicon Unlimited), this time in my stock 2018 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Definitely more challenging in the Tacoma to squeeze through in 2 spots. No scrapes but did need my son to spot on the trickiest part "No By-Pass Here (5.6mi)" and took the left side of that one cleanly.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Did this trail in a stock height 2018 Tacoma TRD4x4OR and Chevy Colorado Z71 doing an out and back from Indio. First trip through here, second trail run ever (Meccacopia was the first) and had relatively no problem with it. Being our second trail run ever we spotted way more than was actually necessary to be safe but really there was only 1 area at the end, if you came from Indio, where a spotter felt necessary. With that said, this is a very smooth, sandy, and easy trail except for that one spot.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Fun trail, no problem for lifted FJ cruiser on 33’s. Bypasses for just about everything except the waterfall at the end before you get to the top of the canyon. The closer you get to geology tour rd the better the views get. Made the mistake of driving through the park to south entrance just to go around to trailhead. Should have just taken the trail backwards then forward. The people shooting near the trailhead were sketchy and one guy shooting almost towards the trail.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great little trail, this is the first time I have done it in a long time. Can't wait to do it again

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
A desolate and sometimes very narrow canyon in the Joshua Tree National Park. Dry, hot, dusty and rocky. Some good technical challenges for the novice and the trail should only be attempted with a partner. No problem with a stock JKU but with some guide help at some of the more difficult sections. Park Rangers called this one of the most difficult trails in the park as rains will cause rocks to fall on the trail and it may be different after each storm. Before entering the part you travel along Berdoo Canyon through BLM land which is heavily used by target shooters who will park and set on right on the road. This section can be disconcerting when you hear the shooting and especially when you hear and FEEL the 50 caliber rifle rounds. Coming out of the canyon you enter flat desert and head out onto Geologic tour road which is signed by the park to point out some of the interesting terrain and how it was formed.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Driven top to bottom in stock Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. Spotter recommended.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Finally with a break in the weather today being in the high 70's and cloudy we decided to check out Berdoo Canyon. See what has changed since last time, if anything. Last time the group made this trip it was well over 100 degrees, so we did not do much exploring along the trail. The canyon has seen a bit of rain since the last time we came through here and has eroded the old paved road even more. These sections of the road can be very dangerous in some spots, with the road being washed away or undermined. Try to take the bypasses around these remaining pieces of old pavement if you can. This trip we were able to locate the correct turn-off for Berdoo Camp. Instead of one of the many turn-offs people have made over the years. The road going up to Berdoo Camp was the same as last time, use caution when you decide to check out the camp watch for holes in the road! We worked our way all the way to the park boundary to see if the National Park Service has replaced the missing Berdoo Canyon trailhead sign. Still no new sign just the empty posts. After spending a few minutes walking around and taking some pictures we decided to head back and find a spot to have lunch. Berdoo Canyon was busy like normal with people enjoying this weather and shooting targets. Gunfire is a normal sound in this canyon so do not be alarmed if you do hear some.

Questions & Answers (5)

Q: I've got a Ram 1500 with the Off Road package and we have done Burns Road out of Pioneertown, can we do this trail or is my truck too big?
–Don Lee (12/19/2020)
–Dennis Clark (12/19/2020)
Q: Hi, I drive a stock (with exception of A/T tires) 2008 Range Rover HSE and I'm new to off-roading. Do you think I would be able to drive this trail?
–Ludovico Verducci (04/09/2019)
–Dennis Clark (04/10/2019)
Q: I have a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek with A/T tires. Would I be able to make it over the 'No by-pass'? Thank you
–Thomas (05/27/2018)
–Dennis Clark (05/28/2018)
–Thomas (05/28/2018)
–Dennis Clark (05/27/2018)
Q: i have a tundra 2wd trd off road with limited slip and 30 years off roadexp. from lower pave to camp berdoo for day trip. does sand get too deep? Thanks in advance kk6wxd
–sean (10/21/2017)
–Dennis Clark (10/21/2017)
Q: do you think a new stock Jeep Wrangler 4 door Sahara would be ok on this trail? 31" dia wheels as it came stock.
–Robert (09/09/2017)
–John Ayala (09/10/2017)

Writer Information

Dennis Clark

Mapping Crew - California and Idaho

Dennis Clark was born in Los Angeles in 1942 and after 76 years of living in So Cal he moved to Emmett, Idaho with his wife Patricia, has four adult children with many grand and great grandchildren. He has loved the outdoors since his Cub Scout and Boy Scout days while camping with the family. He's an archer, hunter and fisherman but no longer wishes to harm animals. He has been involved with photography since the 1960's. He became more of a serious hiker in 2010 when he started Geocaching and has hiked the three tallest peaks in So Cal, Mt San Jacinto, Mt San Gorgonio and Mt Baldy, along with most of the lesser peaks in search of caches. Geocaching started his love for the USFS Trail system as he used the trails frequently to get to certain trailheads. He had a 2002 Ford Ranger 2wd and its amazing where that little pickup took him. In 5 years of weekly geocaching he was only stuck once in some Palm Springs sand. His 2016 Wrangler Sport Unlimited was purchased in 2015. He has become quite lazy in the hiking department as he can now drive to most locations. He's looking forward to posting some trails and don't hesitate to ask him for any help you might need.
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