Hike Statistics

  • 2.6 miles round trip
  • Easy half-day walk
  • No trail
  • Route @ 233deg from turnout parking spot on road
  • 4 hrs duration


This half-day hike serves up one of the strangest objectives in the park.  Some early worker in the Joshua Tree area named John Samuelson spent considerable time carving the wisdom of a lifetime into eight stone tablets.  These tablets are located an easy 1.3mi's from the main road that goes through the park.  

In 1927, Samuelson had a passionate agenda and must have had a burning desire to enlighten the world so he set out to carve these serious thoughts into stone.  But Samuelson had a few handicaps: 

  1. He was Swedish and didn't speak English very well.
  2. His spelling is even worse than mine... and spell checkers for stone tablets didn't exist in 1927. 
  3. Cross-outs and redo's on rock is very hard to accomplish.

Nevertheless, Samuelson was apparently determined... or bored... and spent countless hours meticulously carving each letter on eight stones located miles from anywhere.  The tablets are distributed over a 100yd diameter area amongst a pile of other rocks comprising a 30ft high mound.

The best plan of attack, once you've found the rock mound where Samuelson did his work, is to fan out to locate the inscribed stones.  Once a stone-writing is found, the group should  come back together to decode the meaning.  It's more fun as a group activity.  You'll need good knowledge of turn-of-the-century history, politics and religion in order to be successful.

The following photo essay will attempt to present the words just as Samuelson carved them and then make a stab at interpreting the meaning of each.  The viewer is invited to join in the fun and provide his own meaning.  I'd like to hear from you if you have an alternate reading of Samuelson's message.