Eagle Cliff Mine in Joshua Tree National Park

Eagle Cliff Mine is one of my favorite places in Joshua Tree National Park, and one of the most well maintained old mining homesteads I have seen. Because of that, this post will not be a traditional post where I give step by step directions to find the mine. If you want to see it, it is easy to find the information to get there online, but it does require some route finding, which is a good way to keep the hike to those that want to respect this awesome spot for future adventures. The old house that awaits you, is something you will not soon forget in the park, read on for more information.

Details

  • 3.5 miles
  • 500 feet of elevation

The Trail

There are two ways to get there, one leaves from Split Rock and another from Desert Queen Mine, neither are maintained by the park or have any signs. Again, do not attempt if you do not know where you are going as it is very easy to get lost in the desert.

After hiking from the Desert Queen Mine trail, my friend Chris and I eventually made it to the area where the mine is located. I had a GPS point, so I knew where I was heading, but it is still out in the middle of nowhere near a large area of rocks.

When you get close, you will see the start of a cave that heads only about 15 feet into the hillside before it was abandoned.

Continuing on from the cave, you will head into the area of rocks and will see the actual mine shaft in the ground ahead of you. This was more a hole in the ground so don’t try to go down into it.

As you reach the cliffside, the old mine building will be on the right, but it is easy to miss.

This place was once a home to the miner who worked this area, and it is still well maintained.

The journal inside of the house can be signed by the people who make it to the mine, and it showed that 15-20 people come out a day to this location.

There are still jars, jugs and other pieces situated inside the small three wall house.

There is a cave in the back that is where the miner slept, which was surprisingly cooler than the rest of the house. Don’t forget to walk by the outside where the rocks are built up to make a wall, and see the small window in the middle that looks out from the kitchen.

As you can see this is an awesome place to explore in Joshua Tree. If you make it out here, please make sure to keep it exactly the way you found it so that it can be enjoyed for the next generation and check out more places to explore in Joshua Tree here.

Eagle Cliff Mine in Joshua Tree National Park

Eagle Cliff Mine is one of my favorite places in Joshua Tree National Park, and one of the most well maintained old mining homesteads I have seen. Because of that, this post will not be a traditional post where I give step by step directions to find the mine. If you want to see it, it is easy to find the information to get there online, but it does require some route finding, which is a good way to keep the hike to those that want to respect this awesome spot for future adventures. The old house that awaits you, is something you will not soon forget in the park, read on for more information.

Details

  • 3.5 miles
  • 500 feet of elevation

The Trail

There are two ways to get there, one leaves from Split Rock and another from Desert Queen Mine, neither are maintained by the park or have any signs. Again, do not attempt if you do not know where you are going as it is very easy to get lost in the desert.

After hiking from the Desert Queen Mine trail, my friend Chris and I eventually made it to the area where the mine is located. I had a GPS point, so I knew where I was heading, but it is still out in the middle of nowhere near a large area of rocks.

When you get close, you will see the start of a cave that heads only about 15 feet into the hillside before it was abandoned.

Continuing on from the cave, you will head into the area of rocks and will see the actual mine shaft in the ground ahead of you. This was more a hole in the ground so don’t try to go down into it.

As you reach the cliffside, the old mine building will be on the right, but it is easy to miss.

This place was once a home to the miner who worked this area, and it is still well maintained.

The journal inside of the house can be signed by the people who make it to the mine, and it showed that 15-20 people come out a day to this location.

There are still jars, jugs and other pieces situated inside the small three wall house.

There is a cave in the back that is where the miner slept, which was surprisingly cooler than the rest of the house. Don’t forget to walk by the outside where the rocks are built up to make a wall, and see the small window in the middle that looks out from the kitchen.

As you can see this is an awesome place to explore in Joshua Tree. If you make it out here, please make sure to keep it exactly the way you found it so that it can be enjoyed for the next generation and check out more places to explore in Joshua Tree here.

Desert Queen Mine in Joshua Tree National Park

Desert Queen Mine is located pretty much in the center of Joshua Tree National Park. The trail is popular, even though it is located down a dirt road, and the short path can lead you to an overlook, or you can explore the mine up close. You can also use this hike as a jumping off point to see places like the Eagle Cliff Mine as well. Here is all the information.

Details

  • .75 miles to the overlook, 1.5 to the mine itself
  • Flat to overlook, 150 feet of elevation to mine

Getting There

The trailhead for this hike is located down a dirt road that’s adjacent from the Geology Tour Road. The one-lane dirt road shouldn’t be an issue for most cars and about a mile after you pass the parking area for Lucky Boy Vista, you will make it to the Desert Queen Mine parking area.

The Trail

There is a bathroom at the trailhead and the trail leaves from right next to it. It continues along a relatively flat path for the first third of a mile.

Eventually, you will reach a split with one way heading to the overlook and the other leading down towards the mine.

If you only have a short time, then just go to the overlook and check it out, if you have more time then head down to the mines themselves.

The trail to the mines goes past a small rock building that still has walls standing.

It continues downhill until you reach the gully and start going up again.

Eventually, you will reach the first of many mine shafts. I found at least five when I went, and all of them are gated over so that you don’t fall in. While you can’t see much, it is still crazy to find all of these massive mine shafts on the side of the mountain.

There was also a few old pieces of machinery and tools that you can see along the path as well.

If you continue up to the top of the small hill, you will see a mine shaft that you can enter a few feet into, before it being gated off. Also, on top of the hill, there are three more shafts in the ground that you can see.

When you finish exploring, you can head on to the Eagle Cliff Mine (be sure to have a GPS track if you do though!) or go back to the parking area. Remember that you are hiking in the desert and that this trail is not shaded so it can get sweltering. Let me know what you think of Desert Queen Mine in the comments.

Samuelson Rocks in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is full of wonders that are not on any of the park maps. Much like all of the other national parks, some of the best adventures can only be had if you put in the research to find them. Samuelson Rocks, the cube, and Eagle Cliff Mine are places like this. Samuelson Rocks is a small hill in the west part of the park where an early homesteader wrote sayings on the rocks that run the gauntlet between providing words of wisdom to insulting then president Hover. It is a wild spot to explore and its fun to see these old (1920’s) historic rocks. Here is all the information.

Details

  • 3 miles
  • Flat
  • Need a GPS location to find it
  • There is no cell reception out here so make sure you download the track before you come out.

Getting There

This hike does not have an established trail, and there is no marker I can give you to park at. I would recommend entering from the west entrance and getting a GPS track from one of the many sites online that have one, prior to going out of reception. That way you can follow it all the way to the rock, and you can also see where to park. Note this hike is in the exposed desert, do not attempt it during the heat of summer.

The Hike

From the road where you pull off (see above for recommendations on getting a GPS track), you will want to follow the path out towards the mountains.

Since this hike is still relatively popular, look for the footpath trail and try to stay on that as you head out.

The “trail” is open and uneventful for most of the first mile as you head back towards the mountains. Eventually, you will see a small mound on the right, up near the base of one of the mountains, that is where the rocks are located.

On the way there keep your eyes peeled for the remnants of the homestead which includes an old jeep that is decaying into the ground and a house.

The jeep is much like what you would see on the Wall Street Mill hike with not much left but the metal.

The house is also pretty much destroyed as well with no walls still standing. There was a small basement that you could look into, but it didn’t seem very safe to go in.

From here we headed over to the mound with the rocks on it. There are seven quotes on six rocks (one has two). We found all but one on the small hill.

You will be able to see the first one easily as it has a small bench you can sit at right in front of it.

The rest are scattered around the hill though and finding them will require keeping your eyes peeled and hiking around the hill looking for them.

My friend Chris and I had a good time hiking around and looking for all of the rocks. This would not be a great hike when it is hot as there is no shade, but in the winter months, it is a lot of fun.

After you finish exploring, head back the way you came, following the GPS back to the car. Let me know what you think of this hike in the comments.

Hidden Valley Trail in Joshua Tree National Park

Hidden Valley is one of Joshua Tree National Park’s most popular hikes. The one-mile loop trail takes you through a valley that is primarily enclosed from the outside world with towering walls of rocks. It was also a popular spot for rustlers to hide their cattle since it is a mainly confined valley. The trail is pretty level, and it is an excellent hike for the whole family. Here is all the information.

Details

  • 1 mile
  • 50 feet of elevation
  • Location:

Getting There

Hidden Valley is located opposite the Hidden Valley Campground and close to the turnoff for Barker Dam. It is well signed, and you can reference the park map to see its exact location.

The trail

From the parking lot, you will head out on the well-marked trail in the northwest part of the parking area.

The trail heads uphill first along a series of stone steps. After less than a tenth of a mile, you will reach the top of this section and be in the Hidden Valley.

It is said that the opening you walk through was blasted by Bill Key’s from Keys Ranch to give his cattle better access to the grasses in the valley.

The hike continues on a clockwise loop, heading slightly downhill on a well-maintained path.

There are many signs along the way that note interesting parts of the trail as well as different plant and animal life.

The trail then passes an extensive collection of rocks on the right and starts to head downhill into the valley.

As you continue downhill you will start to see how big the valley is and the large rocks on each side of you. It was a lot bigger then I anticipated it being. The trail will then curve around, and you will start to go back the way you came.

Don’t miss the giant burrito, which is the name for one of the more massive rocks in this section. Eventually, you will come back to where the trail split in the beginning and then head back down the stairs to where you parked.

Also, note that this is a great spot for sunset, the colors are beautiful here, and the views are impressive. Let me know what you think of this spot in the comments and find more places to explore here.

Arch Rock Trail in Joshua Tree National Park

One of my favorite places in all of Joshua Tree National Park is the White Tank Campground. This collection of 11 campsites are private and awesome, plus they lead to a wonderland of rocks which includes the popular arch rock. This short trail will take you the arch and if you have time you can explore and find the heart rock and other fun spots in the area as well. Here is all the information.

Details

  • 1 mile
  • Flat
  • Location: White Tank Campground

Getting There

To get to White Tank Campground from the Oasis Visitor Center in 29 Palms, head south on Park Blvd. There will be a split in the road and you will want to head left. From there you will pass by Belle Campground and then get to White Tank Campground. If you went to Cholla Cactus Gardens then you went too far. When you enter the campground you will drive down the small main road and will then reach the trailhead sign and a place where 3-4 cars can park for the hike.

The Trail

From the parking area, you will see a sign for the trailhead. Head out on the well-maintained trail as it climbs up a small hill.

You will then get a view of the backcountry area and can look out over the sea of rocks around you.

Continue to follow the trail down and you will see a sign for Arch Rock.

From here you can see the arch and you can start your exploration of the area, including climbing on the rocks surrounding it to get a better view.

One of the best things about camping in the White Tank Campground is that you can come walk out here at night and take star trails photos of the arch as well.

Heart Rock

Many people ask me about where Heart Rock is, and I think it is fun that this spot is more unknown and you have to search to find it.

I won’t give the exact location either, but it is about a quarter mile or so from Arch Rock if you want to look around for it.

As you can see, this is a great hike in the park and one that is easy enough for families to do as well. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Key’s Desert Queen Ranch Tour in Joshua Tree National Park

Located in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park, Key’s Ranch (AKA Desert Queen Ranch) is an incredibly well-maintained homestead only accessible via a 90 minute guided tour. It’s one of those spots that I didn’t even know existed in the park and something that I highly recommend you visit if you get the chance. Here is all the information.

Details

  • $10 + park entrance fees
  • One tour each day, Thurs – Sun. Check dates on their site as they do change and are not offered in certain seasons.

Getting Tickets

Tickets can only be purchased from the Oasis Visitors Center in 29 Palms. If you want to visit this spot, you will want to get to the center early as they sell out fast, especially on the weekends. I have heard stories of it selling out right when they open at 8:30 AM. When I went, I got there at 10 AM on a Thursday, and there were only three tickets left. Once you get a ticket, you will proceed to the entrance and pay your fee to enter the park and for the ticket cost. You can then explore the park until meeting time 15 minutes before the tour starts.

History

George Barth was born in the late 1800s and got into mining before joining the traveling road show and working as a stuntman. He was asked to join the Rough Riders but broke his leg and was sidelined from the show. He traveled around and did some mining before he settled in Joshua Tree in 1914 and was in charge of running the ranch. He changed his name to Bill Keys and married in 1918, raising multiple children at the homestead. After his death, the ranch was sold and passed through a few owners before it became part of Joshua Tree National Park in 1970. They started doing tours in 1972.

The Tour

After meeting at the locked gate 15 minutes before it was time for the tour to start, the ranger let us through the gate, and we all drove to the parking area for the ranch.

The tour began from the parking area, and over the next 90 minutes, we learned the history of the family and homestead as well as walked all over the property, looking in windows and experiencing this unique site.

I will say that it is a tour and you can not go off on your own, so you can’t set up any pictures and must take them as you walk along. Here are some of the highlights from the tour.

The Shed

This metal building had a lot of old tools and artifacts from the early years of the ranch.

The Well

The well, which sits under the windmill, was interesting to see out in the field where they used to grow their food.

The House

The house is the highlight of the ranch tour as it is well maintained and the interior is left primarily as it was when the family moved from the ranch. You can’t go inside, but you can look in the windows.

There’s an old retaining wall reinforced with metal from bed springs outside of the house as well.

The gate that goes around the house is made of Joshua Trees that were cut right here on the property.

In the back is a collection of many old cars and machines that were used on the ranch. They are all in disrepair, but they are cool to see out there.

One of the cars was even used as a makeshift chicken coop to keep the chickens safe from coyotes.

In the 1960s two movies from Walt Disney were filmed here, such as “Wild Burros of the West,” and the building they built to house tools for the movie is still here as well.

After exploring some more, our time at the ranch came to an end. It was a great tour, and it was easy to see why this area is off-limits to the public since there are so many historic artifacts. The sheer amount of stuff here and how well it has been maintained makes it a really unique place to explore in Joshua Tree National Park. Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Cholla Cactus Gardens in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Trees are of course the main draw for Joshua Tree National Park, but one of the most impressive areas, botany-wise, is the Cholla Cactus Garden. The few acres of land here have grown countless Cholla cactus and they dot the landscape as you look out towards the hills. It’s a great short hike in the park and a fun 30-minute adventure for the whole family. Here is all the information.

Details

  • .5 mile round trip
  • Flat
  • Great for sunrise and sunset

Getting There

From the Oasis of Mara entrance to the park, you will head south on Park Blvd till it splits. Head left and go past Belle and White Tank Campgrounds before arriving at the Cholla Cactus Garden about 5-10 minutes later. There is a small parking lot where you can park for the short hike.

The Trail

From the parking area, you will see the two entrances to the trail heading out in front of you. It doesn’t really matter which side you start on as it is a loop trail and you will see everything.

At the further west entrance there is a plaque with information though and a small paper pamphlet on the area (not always there).

The trail is flat and short but you will want to take your time as you look out over the cactus and even get up close with some of them.

Don’t get too close though as the cactus get their name because they stick to you pretty quickly.

The trail continues to wind around, and there are a few short bridges that you will use to cross the terrain.

While it doesn’t take long to see this area, it is a really impressive area of the park. It’s also a perfect spot for sunrise as well, since the views are facing east. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Cholla Cactus Gardens in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Trees are of course the main draw for Joshua Tree National Park, but one of the most impressive areas, botany-wise, is the Cholla Cactus Garden. The few acres of land here have grown countless Cholla cactus and they dot the landscape as you look out towards the hills. It’s a great short hike in the park and a fun 30-minute adventure for the whole family. Here is all the information.

Details

  • .5 mile round trip
  • Flat
  • Great for sunrise and sunset

Getting There

From the Oasis of Mara entrance to the park, you will head south on Park Blvd till it splits. Head left and go past Belle and White Tank Campgrounds before arriving at the Cholla Cactus Garden about 5-10 minutes later. There is a small parking lot where you can park for the short hike.

The Trail

From the parking area, you will see the two entrances to the trail heading out in front of you. It doesn’t really matter which side you start on as it is a loop trail and you will see everything.

At the further west entrance there is a plaque with information though and a small paper pamphlet on the area (not always there).

The trail is flat and short but you will want to take your time as you look out over the cactus and even get up close with some of them.

Don’t get too close though as the cactus get their name because they stick to you pretty quickly.

The trail continues to wind around, and there are a few short bridges that you will use to cross the terrain.

While it doesn’t take long to see this area, it is a really impressive area of the park. It’s also a perfect spot for sunrise as well, since the views are facing east. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.

Mastodon Peak in Joshua Tree National Park

Mastodon Peak is a great hike if you are coming from the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park. This is the most likely entrance you would use if you are staying in the Coachella Valley and want to visit the park. The hike is 3 miles round trip, and it takes you to the top of a small peak as well as past an old mine. Here is all the information.

Details

  • 3 miles round trip
  • 450 feet of elevation
  • Leaves from Cottonwood Springs parking area.

Getting There

From the 10 Freeway, you will want to get off at Cottonwood Springs Road and head north towards the park entrance. Eventually, you will make it to the Cottonwood Visitors Center. Turn left here and head towards the parking area for Cottonwood Springs, which is where you will start the hike.

The Trail

I chose to make the loop counter-clockwise since the trail is easier to follow in this direction.

The trail leaves from the east side of parking lot and heads down into a small oasis with a few green trees.

From here you will head up on a gradual incline on an easy to follow trail.

The trail does have a lot of sand sections though which are not very fun to walk on.

It builds momentum as you continue the progressive climb with small hills on each side.

After . 7 miles the trail splits from the Cottonwood Springs trail and goes up towards Mastodon Peak.

This split is where you will experience some of the elevation as you climb up the roughly hewn rock steps.

When you get to the top of the small climb, you will be at the base of Mastodon Peak.

It’s a tenth of a mile scramble to the top, but it’s not bad. I recommend walking around the backside and climbing up that way to the top.

The top provides a great 360-degree view out over the park and even across to the Salton Sea if it’s clear.

After hanging out and taking photos head down the way you came, back to the trail, and continue on towards the mine.

Mastodon Mine

After a tenth of a mile, you will see the remains of the mine.

There is not a lot to see here, but you can still look down into the mine shaft which is pretty cool. From here it is a .9 mile hike back to the car.

The end of the trail is uneventful with most of the walking on a sandy washout area. Don’t miss the turn to go back to the parking area and not on to the campground though.

All in all, this is a fun, relatively easy hike in the park. I recommend you check it out if you come in from the south entrance, but I wouldn’t drive down from one of the other entrances just to see it. Let me know what you think in the comments.