Ok, so I have to admit, when my friend, Mikey, recommended we go spend a weekend climbing in New Jack City, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was beginning a road down to Southern California in my van wanted to squeeze in some quality rock climbing. This hidden gem was perfect!
New Jack City (NJC), also known as Sawtooth Canyon, is a sport climbing destination about 15 miles outside of Barstow. There are hundreds of bolted climbs surrounding dozens of free camping sites, all within a relatively short distance from Joshua Tree National Park, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. There are about 15 numbered campsites with concrete picnic tables and fire pits, and many, many more unofficial spots where can pull in and make your own camp. The BLM also cleans and maintains several bathrooms around the area. Since I was beginning my road trip and trying to keep a tight budget, I really appreciated the fact that these sites were free, you just can’t stay for more than 14 days.
I rolled into NJC mid-afternoon on Thursday, March 1st. After a quick lap, I settled into campsite #2, near the entrance to NJC and the Welcome Wall. Turns out there was great cell reception here but not in all the sites, so I lucked out. This meant that I could watch Netflix and work on my computer in the van at night. Score!
Over the next 4 days, we climbed many awesome routes and battled spring winds in the desert. The weather wasn’t ideal so we never had crowds at the crag, but I would imagine this place would be packed on sunny spring weekends. It was cool being able to grab my gear and walk less than 50 feet from my camp to a wall and start climbing. Now that this place is on my radar, I’m sure I’ll be back for many more climbing trips.