Jay Tanzman redpointing Lethal Weapon. Photo by Hi...
A sport climbing area of metamorphic basalt. The climbs range from 5.6 to 5.13. This is a high desert area...arid and hot most of the time. Quality climbs on very interesting rock.
Heading south from Barstow on Hwy 247 (Barstow Rd.), turn right on the dirt road at mile marker 63.0. Follow this road for 0.9 miles, where the road forks at a BLM kiosk. Bear left at the kiosk, and follow the road more-or-less straight ahead for 0.6 miles until the road dead ends at the main parking area. The maintained trail from this parking area that crosses the fence leads directly to Raven Rock
Difficult start. Slap the sloping arete and slap again for a hidden-edge-like feature. Clipping the second bolt is the first crux. Getting out of the underclings in the hueco up higher is the second crux. You'll need power and endurance to finish off....[more]Browse More Classics in CA
By susan peplow From: Joshua Tree Oct 6, 2013 CONDITION REPORT
October 5, 2013 - NJC confirmed open for climbing during Fed shut down. PLEASE be respectful and thankful to the camphost. Drive slowly, if you see him THANK HIM, be kind to your neighbor & pick up after yourselves and others. Heck why don't we always do that anyways?
According to the BLM website Sawtooth Canyon could easily and rightfully be closed as it is a Campground but it's not. Please don't give the host any reason to cone it off and send you & us packing.
By Brandt Allen From: Joshua Tree, Cal Oct 6, 2013 CONDITION REPORT
Just to add to Susan's comment: The campground host wore a big smile on his face as he went way out of his way to accommodate a huge throng of climbers. A little respect and courtesy on our part will go a long way to keep things happy at NJC.
First off: I just went to New Jack City for the first time yesterday. I would like to thank whoever developed it and who provided this guide.
Second: What is the crag that is located just north of Ravens rock North face like 30 yards away. I think it had either 2 or 3 bolted climbs? Also what is the boulder at the bottom of Hueco Wall called and rating? Looks like a cave with probably 2 problems.
Potential Camping Area Development At New Jack City:
A few months back I was out at NJC and ran into a BLM employee named John Kavanaugh. He approached me and asked me how I felt about NJC usage and the possibility of further development as a recreation area. I received an email from him a few days ago with this link
It outlines a proposal for development of a camping area and asks for written input, due at the Barstow BLM office no later than 5/16/2010.
My take--I started climbing at New Jack City in 2004 and have been dismayed at the increasing abuse that it takes--trash, broken glass, spent ammunition, numerous trash-filled fire rings and unnecessary social and OHV trails. I no longer camp there, not only because of the declining aesthetics, but also due to late-night noise from generators, stereos, OHV engines, etc. To me, the most intriguing part of this proposal is the possibility of a campground host site. A campground host could help regulate the "asinine human behaviors" that seem to be on the rise at NJC.
Whether you agree with my sentiments or not, please follow the link, draft some comments and send them to the BLM.
I started climbing out at NJC in 95-96, and it's WAY better out there than it used to be. The gunfire and broken glass is way down from the old levels. If you first got there in 2004, you have no idea. Jack tells me it was worse before then. Burning cars.
Now every time I go out there, I'm surprised how much better it's gotten, from less graffiti, to entire weekends where I don't hear a gunshot. The routes have cleaned up a good deal also :)
Of course, it's BLM land, and with the freedom to put up new routes pretty much at will and camp wherever you feel like comes the fact that paintball, OHV, generators, stereos, and gunfire are all pretty much par for the course. I'm just happy when the shooters aren't breaking glass and don't aim in my direction. I haven't been menaced by armed idiots at 2 AM in ten years or so. Heck, I haven't even heard the midnight ATV run in a couple of years. So, like I said, way better.
To give full credit, a lot of the improvement is due to the BLM fencing off some areas and closing others (no more high pointing the gas pipeline road). It seems that the climbers have been around long enough that even the most hard-headed shooters have generally gotten the idea that weekends are not the best time to shoot out there (a lot of the shooting is on the compounds on the other side of the ridge, so nothing the BLM does is going to have any effect on that). FWIW, hunting and off-roading are approved and historic uses there, so we don't have room to complain, not if we don't want our approved and historic use subject to the same restrictions. I don't need another climbing area closed.
My two cents (and unbiased information in a coming post, this is just IMO): I'm happy with it the way it is. The BLM has done a great job with a light hand so far; NJC has improved worlds and the trend is good. I don't need a campground host to look out for me, or to go complain to. I want to camp in my favorite spots. I don't want to pay. I like being able to put up routes with only my common sense to guide me. I'm happy to maintain the area on my own. I spent a couple of hours clipping wait-a-minute bushes back from the road and picking up trash last weekend, and we tuned up the benches a couple weeks before that. I like not seeing too much evidence of other humans, especially on Sunday evenings when the wind has blown everyone else out. I don't think that a campground host is going to cut down on the generators and stereos, esp. since the host is going to be a fair distance from the regular campsites, and it's legal. I wouldn't mind if people would stop burning the darn pallets so I'd stop getting flats, but I doubt that a campground host is going to stop that. As at most places, if you're willing to hike 10 minutes, or drive an extra bit, you can have all the quiet you can stand, night or day. Not that I want to encourage anyone else to climb anywhere but Raven Rocks and camp anywhere but Boy Scout Wall. Ski Vail, as they say. :)
I don't want it to turn into Josh, I want it to stay like Josh before it became a national park.
BLM Announces Public Scoping for Sawtooth Camping Area Improvements
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announces its intent to write an environmental assessment to consider improvements of the camping area in the Sawtooth Limited Use area of Stoddard Valley about eight miles south of Barstow. This proposed project would enhance the existing recreation opportunities for rock climbers and remote campers with the addition of 12 camp sites, one new restroom, a new kiosk, a picnic area and a host site. Each camp site would have a shade ramada, picnic table, fire pit and grill, and a barbeque.
Community members and interested parties are invited to participate in the environmental assessment by providing written comments by the close of business May 16, 2010. Only written comments will be accepted regarding the proposed camping-area improvements. Please submit your comments to the BLM Barstow Field Office, Attn: Sawtooth, John Kavanaugh, 2601 Barstow Road, Barstow CA 92311, or by email to John_Kavanaugh@ca.blm.gov. For further information about the project, please contact John Kavanaugh at (760) 252-6037.
I spoke to John Kavanaugh today and asked him some questions about the proposed camping improvements at Sawtooth Canyon, AKA New Jack City. I want to thank John for calling me back and taking the time to answer my questions.
Here's what I found out about the proposed improvements.
Four campsites will be near Boy Scout wall, just north of the concrete pad. There will also be a vault toilet and kiosk here. There will be a shade pavilion by the parking area underneath the Crossfire Crag. There will be three campsites on the other side of the canyon from Boy Scout Wall, closer to the existing kiosk. These campsites will be walk-in, in the sense that they'll be 50 feet from the parking area and will have a post and cable fence delimiting the parking area.
Five campsites will be by the White Face Wall, near the existing vault toilet. The host site will be to the northeast of the White Face, on the other side of the main road into the climbing area, and south of the existing kiosk.
The idea is to encourage campers to congregate in these areas.
An environmental assessment has not yet been filed; the BLM is waiting for the result of the scoping process to start that. Visual impact has been considered, not least because films are often shot there and the BLM doesn't want to affect that.
The BLM is not proposing any changes to the current situation regarding climbing, OHV use, shooting, hunting, and other uses of the area.
The BLM doesn't know yet if these sites will be pay sites, but there are no proposals currently to restrict camping elsewhere in the area.
Hopefully the BLM will work with climbers so that none of the campsites will be directly in front of a climbing area or boulder problem, so that people won't have to hike through someone's campsite to get to a climb.
Mr. Kavanaugh wants to hear your thoughts and comments on the proposed plan. Email is fine. You can email him at John_Kavanaugh@ca.blm.gov, and see the scoping announcement at
You tell an interesting story and one that I predicted would be told(NJC being WAY worse X # of years ago). However, in my mind, the relatively high level of gunshots/glass/yahoos/etc. ten years ago doesn't justify the current amount. I hear you on not wanting another J-tree National Parking Lot and I definitely have my own hideaway for camping.
I'm not totally convinced that an official BLM CG is the answer and am open to alternative options for NJC revitalization before I chip in my two cents to the BLM.
We spoke to John Kavanaugh on Saturday. A summary: 12 campsites plus a host site. Five sites near the existing toilet, four near the concrete pad along with a toilet and maybe a climbers kiosk/message board, and three sites around the corner in a semi-walk-in campground, along with a new parking area and fence. Currently this area is grassy and unused. The toilet will sit in or very near an obvious wash. It will not be composting. There will be a shade pavilion and two tables by the parking area below Crossfire Crag. Each campsite will have a fixed concrete picnic table, a fire ring, and a barbecue pit.
The BLM hopes to have a continuous host, at least during the main season (Sept-May). The host will have no enforcement powers. Since there are very few rules, there are very few that someone could enforce anyway - shooting, paintball, off-roading, and partying are not prohibited. There are no quiet hours. The hosts' duties will be up to the hosts. They may choose to greet every new arrival, or keep a low profile.
One of the White Face sites was sited in such a way that climbers would have to hike through the site in order to climb there. We tried to convince Mr. Kavanaugh to move this site around the corner on the theory that if there was a table there, there would always be someone camping there; whereas if the table was around the corner, there might not always be someone camped there. If you write a scoping letter, you might mention this. The other sites are away from climbing and bouldering and are where people usually camp.
Frankly, this seems to be a done deal. The BLM has already ordered the materials and scheduled the bulldozers for May 17, the day after the comment period ends. The Environmental Assessment, something that the USFS told us would take months and require a donation of $50k for Williamson, is going to be done on the evening of the 16th, and the bulldozers roll Monday morning.
More worrisome is that this whole area is being considered as a possible site for windfarms and solar arrays. A windfarm is being proposed just south, atop Granite Mountain. This is a much more serious threat to the entire area.
Thanks for coming out to meet us. I appreciate you going out of your way to get our input.
After thinking about it for quite a while, and talking to other climbers, my comments on the plans are these:
Sawtooth Canyon is a unique area in the Mojave desert. In all the wandering around that I've done, there is no other place with that kind of rock that's big enough to climb, and very few other places with any climbable rock at all. I'd prefer to see no more development there whatsoever. I concede that the toilet and fences have cut back on the Wild West attitude out there, and have improved the area, though it's difficult to divorce that from the fact that there are more climbers out there. Climbers tend to develop a personal relationship with an area that they come back to repeatedly. A climber who is coming out every weekend tends to litter less and tend better an area, perhaps moreso than a off-roader or a partier who is only going to be at the area once a year, or less.
I'd like to see the place remain as it is. Not exactly untouched by human hands, but pretty much just roads and desert.
That said, if there are to be picnic tables and toilets, I would request that Camp 1 be moved around the corner to the northeast, so it doesn't sit right in front of a popular climbing area. If there is a picnic table there, there will always be someone camped there, and climbers will have to go through that site to get to the climbs. If it's around the corner, more people will camp there, and not in front of the White Face.
As you know, the proposed toilet sits in or very near a seasonal wash.
Campsites 6, 7, and 8 sit in a grassy area that is currently largely untouched; what off-road trails are there are returning to nature. It's a mixed bag. The planned development there would be out of sight, but would also impact an area that is currently untouched by the off-road vehicles.
Again, thanks for your time. I hope you will let us know of any further development planned for this area.
I had the opportunity to visit NJC last spring while on a high desert road trip with my kids. Envy. You desert folk have a nice crag out there. I didnt think the glass/trash problem was as bad as some other areas we saw(Spy Mtn, Ghost Boulders). We ran into more than a few families of off-roaders and everyone was friggin cool. Me and my boys drove away from NJC promising to come back some day. Whats the current status on the CG construction at NJC? And is there anything to the rumors about plans for wind/solar farms in the area? Is the area closed for the construction? If so, when might it re-open? davi.
We are longtime residents of the High Desert, Barstow, and have loved camping in this area but always disappointed at the abuse. Son and grandson have often completely cleaned the area and on one occasion I took photos to the BLM on Barstow Road to implore more care for this unique area. That was over 10 years ago and a recent visit was amazing!! It is the most beautiful and well-planned place to walk, hike and rock climb. The total cleanliness of the facilities shows respect by the users for this exceptional gem and the extraordinary manner in which the camp hosts maintain it. We are anxious to spend a few days there. Thank you all
Camped and climbed at NJC yesterday. Spoke with Jim, from BLM. Asked about fees. Fee posts are installed but not being used as yet; fees for camping will begin quite soon (within days or weeks, not months).
The temps that are currently displayed on this page appear unrealistically low. The forecast I use, the NWS point forecast, shows highs 10 to 20 degrees warmer each day. Use the following link for the point forecast:
I just got back from New Jack... let me tell you... it has been a few years since I've been out there and I was extremely surprised to find the entire area developed. It really made me sad and kind of killed the entire experience. From the moment I came into the area I was confused. I turned around to go read the rules and then returned to find a lady standing in the middle of the road yelling at me. Evidently I was going faster than the poster 5mph sign. She was shaking her finger in my face and being extremely rude. The conversation ended with her cussing at me. Her name was Janet I believe. I climbed the rest of the day and set up camp (which you can only do in developed camping areas now!). After climbing my g/f and I decided to go grab some food in town. As I was exiting the campgrounds an older(ish) man (50-60) waved me down. I could tell it was going to be trouble from the begining as he ripped off his sweatshirt and threw it on the ground. He approached my vehicle, shoved an ID card in my face and said, "Park Ranger!" The conversation after that was another extremely rude one. I was not speeding this time at all. His name is Jim and he didn't really allow me to talk he more or less yelled at me and lectured me. I'm pretty sure he tried to kick me out of the campground but it was a confusing conversation and he ended up turning around and walking away without me literally finishing a single sentence.
New Jack is great climbing! The roads are nice now and the bathrooms and brand new. I didn't pay for camping so I guess it was free... but the camp hosts are definetly sub-par as far as I am concerned as they are were extremely rude.
Climbed, camped, and hiked with my wife/son for a weekend. Super mellow - no one bothered us at all, other climbers were friendly and low key, no loud late night conversations echoing around, free camping, but no trash cans so remember to pick up/pack out. At the end of the day almost all the cars left and it was just us with several other campers along with the host remaining.
A much more enjoyable sleeping experience than J-Tree's hidden valley or jumbo rocks campgrounds by far.
I was there this weekend, and have been told by "ranger *ick" that starting soon the area will be once again allowing OHVs in and around camp (the current host and hostess will be leaving in protest), they will also start charging a fee per site and have restrictions on the amount of campers and cars per site. Gotta love your government, spend thousands to develop an area no one wants developed and then start charging you to use the land you own as an American citizen. I will do my best to NOT follow any of the new rules.
Well, I guess some of you folks got what you wanted. You wanted more BLM presence, you got it. Camping fees, campground hosts, concrete, rules, regulations, closed-off areas, and speed bumps. And increased tool enforcement comes with it. You asked for it. They were more than happy to provide it.
Speed bumps in the desert! I've never seen such a ridiculous thing.
You can look forward to raptor closures, sensitive area closures, wildlife closures, primitive art closures, limits on fixed anchors, and entrance fees. Eventually they'll shut the place down to new routes, and sometime after that, they'll start looking for reasons to restrict climbing entirely. They'll put gates across the road, and next time there's a budget cut, the whole area will be closed.
Williamson is your guide here. Be careful what you wish for, those who wanted more BLM presence. It's easy to pick up broken glass. It's not so easy to get rid of the managers once they get their hands on an area.
Me, I'm never telling anyone about new climbing areas ever again.
Hadn't been to NJC in months then oddly twice in a week. NO problems with the host, he didn't even poke his head outside once let alone accost us. The free free area continues and the campground was quiet and pretty well maintained; people enjoying the shade structures and setting up respectful & clean camping. The bathrooms were looking much better on a Friday vs. Sunday but that's to be expected.
Best I can tell, the host is no problem at all. What I found most offensive was both visits was the BLASTING of peoples music and littering of cigarette butts. I couldn't do much about the music other than sigh but the butts....those I picked up along with other wrappers, no less than 6 tape-ends from ropes and other garbage.
Maybe we should look at our own presence and impact before bitching about the Tool.