Hole-In-The-Wall is a popular destinations in the Mojave National Preserve, both for its natural beauty as well as being one of two established campgrounds and visitor centers in the Preserve. For hikers, there are three established trails, Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills, Barber Peak Loop Trail, and the Rings Loop Trail. There is also a short nature trail, for those that are a little less adventurous. For the purpose of this piece I will focus on the Rings Loop Trail.
The Rings Loop Trail begins at the Hole-In-The-Wall picnic area, just a short distance from the visitors center. The most popular way to hike this trail is by heading east, back towards the visitor center.
The first half-mile of the hike is along the walls of volcanic rock cliffs, these cliffs formed over a million years ago when volcanic activity from nearby volcanoes spewed lava and ash over the region. Uneven cooling and gases caused the swiss cheese like holes throughout the rock faces.
At roughly .59 miles, just as you are entering Wild Horse Canyon, pay close attention to the large volcanic tuff boulders that are strung along the trail. These boulders contain numerous petroglyphs, from a time when the Mohave and Chemehuevi Indians called this land home. Spend some time here exploring the boulders, some are completely covered. A number of natural rock shelters are also located here. These shelters could have been homes or resting areas for the Natives that created these petroglyphs.
The next half-mile will provide you with stunning views of Wild Horse Mesa, and the valley as you wind down through a sandy wash, arriving at the mouth of Banshee Canyon.
Here is where the trail may become a little more difficult. Don’t give up, despite the obstacles you will be proud of yourself for doing it! The canyon narrows quickly, and there is a small amount of boulder scrambling as you begin the ascent into Banshee. Keep an eye out for an old dam that was built by early ranchers in the area. They likely dammed this canyon to preserve precious rainfall for their cattle.
There are two 8-foot sheer walls in the narrows of Banshee, steel rings have been installed at both, making them easier to climb. If you have made it this far, you really don’t want to have to turn back. You are only yards away from the trailhead. Don’t worry about the anchoring of the rings, they are secure, and you are perfectly safe if you have the upper body strength to help pull yourself up.
Once you have exited Banshee Canyon you will be back at the trailhead. From here continue over to the overlook, for a breathtaking view into a canyon amphitheater.