Latest Desert Tales

  •   The Mojave Desert has hundreds of abandoned buildings and shacks left over from the late 1800′s to as recent as the 1970′s. These buildings provide a look at a bygone era, an era when men (and sometimes women) took to the desert wilderness in the search for gold and other precious metals and minerals. Many of these cabins are looked after today by the desert rats (hikers, 4×4 clubs, off-roaders, modern day prospectors) that still use them to lay their head at night after a rough day of playing in the desert. Sadly many of them are disappearing from […]

    Buckhorn Boxcar Cabin

      The Mojave Desert has hundreds of abandoned buildings and shacks left over from the late 1800′s to as recent as the 1970′s. These buildings provide a look at a bygone era, an era when men (and sometimes women) took to the desert wilderness in the search for gold and other precious metals and minerals. Many of these cabins are looked after today by the desert rats (hikers, 4×4 clubs, off-roaders, modern day prospectors) that still use them to lay their head at night after a rough day of playing in the desert. Sadly many of them are disappearing from […]

  •   The Viking Talc Mine is an interesting stop along Saline Valley Road, just a couple of miles from the pavement of Highway 190. Like many of these smaller mining operations, finding historical data is difficult. What little I have managed to gather comes from a 1942, U.S. Geological Survey titled, “Talc deposits of steatite grade, Inyo County, California.” At the time of the report, Edith Lockhart of Darwin owned the Viking Talc, and had leased it to a Mr. Wilcox in April of that same year. Much had likely changed since this report was published, however at the time, […]

    Viking Talc Mine

      The Viking Talc Mine is an interesting stop along Saline Valley Road, just a couple of miles from the pavement of Highway 190. Like many of these smaller mining operations, finding historical data is difficult. What little I have managed to gather comes from a 1942, U.S. Geological Survey titled, “Talc deposits of steatite grade, Inyo County, California.” At the time of the report, Edith Lockhart of Darwin owned the Viking Talc, and had leased it to a Mr. Wilcox in April of that same year. Much had likely changed since this report was published, however at the time, […]

  •   Beveridge, CA is considered California’s most remote and inaccessible ghost town. The town is situated in Beveridge Canyon between 6,000 feet to 4,500 feet, in the Inyo Mountain wilderness. Mining in Beveridge began around 1860, and lasted through 1930. The few people who have managed to visit, tell that there are extensive ruins in the form of cabins, mills, and other various mining equipment.   Beveridge has been on my “list” of places to visit for several years. I couldn’t possibly tell you how many times I had stared at its location on Google Earth. From satellite imagery you […]

    Beveridge, CA – California’s most Isolated Ghost Town (An expedition report – Part 1)

      Beveridge, CA is considered California’s most remote and inaccessible ghost town. The town is situated in Beveridge Canyon between 6,000 feet to 4,500 feet, in the Inyo Mountain wilderness. Mining in Beveridge began around 1860, and lasted through 1930. The few people who have managed to visit, tell that there are extensive ruins in the form of cabins, mills, and other various mining equipment.   Beveridge has been on my “list” of places to visit for several years. I couldn’t possibly tell you how many times I had stared at its location on Google Earth. From satellite imagery you […]

  •   Newberry Springs, CA – Known mostly as a stop along old Route 66 (National Trails Highway); the home of the internationally famous, Bagdad Cafe, which serves up overpriced bad food to unsuspecting tourist; and the Newberry Springs Pistachio Festival. Newberry Springs is also the place that April Beth Pitzer went missing from back in 2004, and has remained missing from ever since. You are probably asking yourself now, why the hell would I ever bother to stop in Newberry Springs?  Well, if you fancy yourself any bit of an archeological nerd, you will find much interest in the 3,000 […]

    Immigrant Rock Mortar / Blind / Petroglyphs

      Newberry Springs, CA – Known mostly as a stop along old Route 66 (National Trails Highway); the home of the internationally famous, Bagdad Cafe, which serves up overpriced bad food to unsuspecting tourist; and the Newberry Springs Pistachio Festival. Newberry Springs is also the place that April Beth Pitzer went missing from back in 2004, and has remained missing from ever since. You are probably asking yourself now, why the hell would I ever bother to stop in Newberry Springs?  Well, if you fancy yourself any bit of an archeological nerd, you will find much interest in the 3,000 […]

  •   Near the old route 66 town of Daggett, CA, is this small porphyritic butte, which contains dozens of Native American petroglyphs. It received the name, Rattlesnake Rock, because of the large number of rattlesnakes that made their home in the nooks and crannies of the rocks. Very little is written about the site, however it came under the protection of the State of California in 1974. Likely due to the close proximity of the town of Daggett, Rattlesnake Rock has had it’s fair share of vandalism, in the form of etching by more modern people, as well as spray […]

    Rattlesnake Rock Petroglyphs

      Near the old route 66 town of Daggett, CA, is this small porphyritic butte, which contains dozens of Native American petroglyphs. It received the name, Rattlesnake Rock, because of the large number of rattlesnakes that made their home in the nooks and crannies of the rocks. Very little is written about the site, however it came under the protection of the State of California in 1974. Likely due to the close proximity of the town of Daggett, Rattlesnake Rock has had it’s fair share of vandalism, in the form of etching by more modern people, as well as spray […]

  •   The Wonderland of Rocks holds its fair share of “hidden,” or “secret” locations, whether it be Native American rock art sites, caves with iron doors, a “chasm of doom,” or in this case a natural arch in stone. Garrett’s Arch, was discovered by back country park ranger, Gary Garrett, some years ago.  The arch is considered to be the largest documented arch in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s location has been kept somewhat low-key over the years, likely as an effort to keep inexperienced people out of the maze like back country of the Wonderland of Rocks. On a personal […]

    Garrett’s Arch (Joshua Tree National Park)

      The Wonderland of Rocks holds its fair share of “hidden,” or “secret” locations, whether it be Native American rock art sites, caves with iron doors, a “chasm of doom,” or in this case a natural arch in stone. Garrett’s Arch, was discovered by back country park ranger, Gary Garrett, some years ago.  The arch is considered to be the largest documented arch in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s location has been kept somewhat low-key over the years, likely as an effort to keep inexperienced people out of the maze like back country of the Wonderland of Rocks. On a personal […]

  •   The mining history in Macedonia Canyon is mostly centered around the Macedonia Mine, which was discovered in the 1860s. It would later be renamed, the Columbia Mine around the turn of century. More on the Columbia Mine at another time. The Blue Rock Mine, has managed to escape the history books, making the details around it mysterious.  A single source has provided the little details that are available about the activity here.  The Blue Rock Mine, in the 1980′s was owned by Los Angeles resident, Bill Brown. Brown operated the mine part-time on the weekends.  A majority of what […]

    Blue Rock Mine (Mojave National Preserve)

      The mining history in Macedonia Canyon is mostly centered around the Macedonia Mine, which was discovered in the 1860s. It would later be renamed, the Columbia Mine around the turn of century. More on the Columbia Mine at another time. The Blue Rock Mine, has managed to escape the history books, making the details around it mysterious.  A single source has provided the little details that are available about the activity here.  The Blue Rock Mine, in the 1980′s was owned by Los Angeles resident, Bill Brown. Brown operated the mine part-time on the weekends.  A majority of what […]

  •   The desert is full of mystery, it doesn’t matter what desert, they all have their own myths, legends, and secrets. I tend to focus a majority of my time on more factual based locations, however a good legend never hurt anyone. Butchers Cave is everything that legends are made of, a story that may or may not be true. The original Butchers Cave story is as follows. In the 1920 the cave was discovered, and is said to have contained over fifty bighorn sheep skulls stacked inside of it.  An anthropologist researched the cave and it’s contents, concluding that […]

    The Legend of Butchers Cave (Joshua Tree National Park)

      The desert is full of mystery, it doesn’t matter what desert, they all have their own myths, legends, and secrets. I tend to focus a majority of my time on more factual based locations, however a good legend never hurt anyone. Butchers Cave is everything that legends are made of, a story that may or may not be true. The original Butchers Cave story is as follows. In the 1920 the cave was discovered, and is said to have contained over fifty bighorn sheep skulls stacked inside of it.  An anthropologist researched the cave and it’s contents, concluding that […]

  •     The “Surprise Rock” Pictographs, is an impressive site. Almost as impressive as the elusive “Hidden Cave” site. The sheer volume of both pictographs and petroglyphs in this hollowed out boulder is overwhelming, and is easily a contender for one of the largest sites in the Wonderland or Rocks area. The pictograph designs are painted with an orange pigment. While their color is fading, a majority of the designs are still bright enough to be made out without any sort of image enhancements. The petroglyphs are more recent than the pictographs, as they are carved over top of the […]

    “Surprise Rock” Pictographs / Petroglyphs (Joshua Tree National Park)

        The “Surprise Rock” Pictographs, is an impressive site. Almost as impressive as the elusive “Hidden Cave” site. The sheer volume of both pictographs and petroglyphs in this hollowed out boulder is overwhelming, and is easily a contender for one of the largest sites in the Wonderland or Rocks area. The pictograph designs are painted with an orange pigment. While their color is fading, a majority of the designs are still bright enough to be made out without any sort of image enhancements. The petroglyphs are more recent than the pictographs, as they are carved over top of the […]

  •   Along the eastern border of Joshua Tree National Park is a mountain range that is so hostile, so wild, and so unforgiving that few people venture there. That range is the Coxcomb Mountains, while reaching only an elevation of 4,416 feet, its jagged and rocky terrain is some of the most difficult to traverse. A series of sandy washes, allow you to navigate between the prehistoric looking mountains. But don’t be fooled, the washes hold their own challenges, from boulder jammed through ways, to dead ends, and cat claw…lots of cat claw! Desert Mike from Joshua Tree Camping, and […]

    A Journey into the Prehistoric: The Coxcomb Mountains (Joshua Tree National Park)

      Along the eastern border of Joshua Tree National Park is a mountain range that is so hostile, so wild, and so unforgiving that few people venture there. That range is the Coxcomb Mountains, while reaching only an elevation of 4,416 feet, its jagged and rocky terrain is some of the most difficult to traverse. A series of sandy washes, allow you to navigate between the prehistoric looking mountains. But don’t be fooled, the washes hold their own challenges, from boulder jammed through ways, to dead ends, and cat claw…lots of cat claw! Desert Mike from Joshua Tree Camping, and […]

  •   I’ve often thought that Joshua Tree National Park has picked the most uninteresting and insignificant sites to shuffle unsuspecting tourist to. For some odd reason the attraction planner had a thing for man-made dams. For instance there is Barker Dam, Squaw Tank Dam, Live Oak Tank Dam, and Twin Tanks among others. All of these sites are signed with parking areas, and sometimes a trail. There is usually an informational sign about how early ranchers built the dam, yadda, yadda, yadda…and Joe Shmoe eats it up. These tanks or dams are natural holders of water, and most have a […]

    Rock Art at Twin Tanks (Joshua Tree National Park)

      I’ve often thought that Joshua Tree National Park has picked the most uninteresting and insignificant sites to shuffle unsuspecting tourist to. For some odd reason the attraction planner had a thing for man-made dams. For instance there is Barker Dam, Squaw Tank Dam, Live Oak Tank Dam, and Twin Tanks among others. All of these sites are signed with parking areas, and sometimes a trail. There is usually an informational sign about how early ranchers built the dam, yadda, yadda, yadda…and Joe Shmoe eats it up. These tanks or dams are natural holders of water, and most have a […]

  •   The Pinto Wye Arrastra is an example of nineteenth and twentieth century milling technology. The most interesting aspect of this particular arrastra is the use of a wooden wheel, as the pivot mechanism. Regionally this is the only wagon wheel arrastra that still has integrity of its original location, and construction. The National Park Service was unaware of the arrastra until the mid-1960, when an employees wife “discovered” it while out on a hike.  Locals claim to have known of its existence for sometime prior. To give you a better understanding of the workings of an arrastra, I am […]

    Pinto Wye Arrastra (Joshua Tree National Park)

      The Pinto Wye Arrastra is an example of nineteenth and twentieth century milling technology. The most interesting aspect of this particular arrastra is the use of a wooden wheel, as the pivot mechanism. Regionally this is the only wagon wheel arrastra that still has integrity of its original location, and construction. The National Park Service was unaware of the arrastra until the mid-1960, when an employees wife “discovered” it while out on a hike.  Locals claim to have known of its existence for sometime prior. To give you a better understanding of the workings of an arrastra, I am […]

PhotoBlog

  • Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus)   While camping at a remote desert cabin in the Mojave National Preserve, I decided to perform a nighttime scorpion hunt around the outskirts of the cabin. After 20 minutes with no luck, I was about to give up for the night, when I caught a glimpse of this strange little creature crawling across the desert floor. At first I thought that it was small snake, his movements were more of a slither than crawl or a run. When he finally stood still long enough, I was able to see that I was looking at […]

    Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus) (Photoblog)

    Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus)   While camping at a remote desert cabin in the Mojave National Preserve, I decided to perform a nighttime scorpion hunt around the outskirts of the cabin. After 20 minutes with no luck, I was about to give up for the night, when I caught a glimpse of this strange little creature crawling across the desert floor. At first I thought that it was small snake, his movements were more of a slither than crawl or a run. When he finally stood still long enough, I was able to see that I was looking at […]

    Continue Reading...

  • Coyote, the Noble Trickster     The Coyote, an animal that is notorious in the American southwest. He is loved by many, and hated by possibly more.  To Native people, the coyote is sacred…some tribes see him as the Creator,  others as a brother.  According to the Wasco, the coyote is a hero, sent to kill the thunderbird, the killer of people.  However you see him, he is here to stay…a magnificent creature, a true survivor of the elements. The name “coyote” is borrowed from Mexican Spanish coyote, ultimately derived from the Aztec word cóyotl, meaning “trickster”. Its scientific name, […]

    Coyote, the Noble Trickster (Photoblog)

    Coyote, the Noble Trickster     The Coyote, an animal that is notorious in the American southwest. He is loved by many, and hated by possibly more.  To Native people, the coyote is sacred…some tribes see him as the Creator,  others as a brother.  According to the Wasco, the coyote is a hero, sent to kill the thunderbird, the killer of people.  However you see him, he is here to stay…a magnificent creature, a true survivor of the elements. The name “coyote” is borrowed from Mexican Spanish coyote, ultimately derived from the Aztec word cóyotl, meaning “trickster”. Its scientific name, […]

    Continue Reading...

  • Straight-Stemmed Projectile Point     I’ve walked the area many times, a wash with roughly two-miles of basalt cliffs surrounding it. Thousands of petroglyphs adorn the black volcanic rock. The Mohave and Chemeheuvi Indians inhabited this area hundreds of years ago, and possibly Arachaic man as far back as 8000 to 2000 BC. Despite having paid several visits to this site, and many others like it, I have never found as nice of a projectile point as this one. Recent rains likely uncovered the specimen, leaving it vulnerable. The point is made of obsidian; a volcanic glass. There are no […]

    Straight-Stemmed Projectile Point (Photoblog)

    Straight-Stemmed Projectile Point     I’ve walked the area many times, a wash with roughly two-miles of basalt cliffs surrounding it. Thousands of petroglyphs adorn the black volcanic rock. The Mohave and Chemeheuvi Indians inhabited this area hundreds of years ago, and possibly Arachaic man as far back as 8000 to 2000 BC. Despite having paid several visits to this site, and many others like it, I have never found as nice of a projectile point as this one. Recent rains likely uncovered the specimen, leaving it vulnerable. The point is made of obsidian; a volcanic glass. There are no […]

    Continue Reading...

Death Valley Jim News

  • Those of you in Kern County (California), check out the new Spring 2014 issue of Bakersfield Magazine for an exclusive article about me! For a list of locations that Bakersfield Magazine is available, click here.  The article has also been posted online on the Bakersfield Magazine website. Thank you to Maryann Kopp, and the rest of the staff at Bakersfield Magazine for thinking of me!

    Death Valley Jim in Spring issue of Bakersfield Magazine

    Those of you in Kern County (California), check out the new Spring 2014 issue of Bakersfield Magazine for an exclusive article about me! For a list of locations that Bakersfield Magazine is available, click here.  The article has also been posted online on the Bakersfield Magazine website. Thank you to Maryann Kopp, and the rest of the staff at Bakersfield Magazine for thinking of me!

  • AVAILABLE NOW!   There are many reasons to visit Joshua Tree National Park. Mammoth granite boulders leaning topsy-turvy against each other create cartoon-like wonderlands of endless hiking, climbing, and exploring opportunity. It’s vistas and landscapes are some of the most photographed desert  lands in the world. First recognized as a National Monument, and now a National Park, Joshua Tree National Park is a national treasure. Within it lies many natural wonders, valuable cultural resources, and  history. Hidden Joshua Tree is an unofficial, but extensive guide to the places in Joshua Tree National Park that have been kept from general public […]

    AVAILABLE NOW: Hidden Joshua Tree: The Real Guide to Joshua Tree National Park

    AVAILABLE NOW!   There are many reasons to visit Joshua Tree National Park. Mammoth granite boulders leaning topsy-turvy against each other create cartoon-like wonderlands of endless hiking, climbing, and exploring opportunity. It’s vistas and landscapes are some of the most photographed desert  lands in the world. First recognized as a National Monument, and now a National Park, Joshua Tree National Park is a national treasure. Within it lies many natural wonders, valuable cultural resources, and  history. Hidden Joshua Tree is an unofficial, but extensive guide to the places in Joshua Tree National Park that have been kept from general public […]

  •   Beveridge is known to be California’s most remote ghost town, tucked away in the Inyo Mountains at 5,587 feet. No roads have accessed the townsite for many years. The trails that one would once use, have virtually disappeared as the desert has taken them back. Few that attempt the dangerous, life-threatening trip actually make it to the old townsite. Even fewer have made it in recent years, torrential storms have pulverized the area, making the canyons impassable. In April, Jim and his friend Aleksandr Stzhalkovski will brave Saline Valley, and the Inyo Mountains in an attempt to reach Beveridge. Carrying minimal […]

    Expedition to Beveridge, CA

      Beveridge is known to be California’s most remote ghost town, tucked away in the Inyo Mountains at 5,587 feet. No roads have accessed the townsite for many years. The trails that one would once use, have virtually disappeared as the desert has taken them back. Few that attempt the dangerous, life-threatening trip actually make it to the old townsite. Even fewer have made it in recent years, torrential storms have pulverized the area, making the canyons impassable. In April, Jim and his friend Aleksandr Stzhalkovski will brave Saline Valley, and the Inyo Mountains in an attempt to reach Beveridge. Carrying minimal […]

  •   On January 18th, a group of fifteen 4×4 vehicles, and nearly fifty people met at Red Rock Canyon State Park for my first ever public outing.  I wanted to put together something to say thank you to my loyal readers.  Space for the outing was limited, when I formally announced the outing back in December of 2013, it was full within 48 hours. My plan for the day was ambitious, it included six stops, over twenty-five miles of rugged desert trails. I had never planned anything like this, I’ve never traveled with this many people, in this many vehicles […]

    January El Paso Mountains 4×4 Outing

      On January 18th, a group of fifteen 4×4 vehicles, and nearly fifty people met at Red Rock Canyon State Park for my first ever public outing.  I wanted to put together something to say thank you to my loyal readers.  Space for the outing was limited, when I formally announced the outing back in December of 2013, it was full within 48 hours. My plan for the day was ambitious, it included six stops, over twenty-five miles of rugged desert trails. I had never planned anything like this, I’ve never traveled with this many people, in this many vehicles […]