Latest Desert Tales

  • The Trona Pinnacles are the very definition of “weird landscape,” with their outer space like appearance. Located in Searles Valley – on the Searles Dry Lake, the Pinnacles are located roughly twenty-three miles east of the community of Ridgecrest, CA – and thirteen miles south of Trona. For those visiting Death Valley National Park, the Pinnacles are south of Stovepipe Wells; roughly 82 miles.  Access is very simple, with the main entrance being well-marked, off of Route 178. Once off of the pavement, there is a seven mile stretch of dirt road – this can be a little slow going depending […]

    Trona Pinnacles {REBOOT}

    The Trona Pinnacles are the very definition of “weird landscape,” with their outer space like appearance. Located in Searles Valley – on the Searles Dry Lake, the Pinnacles are located roughly twenty-three miles east of the community of Ridgecrest, CA – and thirteen miles south of Trona. For those visiting Death Valley National Park, the Pinnacles are south of Stovepipe Wells; roughly 82 miles.  Access is very simple, with the main entrance being well-marked, off of Route 178. Once off of the pavement, there is a seven mile stretch of dirt road – this can be a little slow going depending […]

  •   I have traveled the Panamint Mountain Range countless times over the years. I have hiked and driven the canyons and drainages, and I’ve camped among the burros. This not only goes for the Panamints, but a large portion of the Mojave Desert, yet I haven’t seen it all, and I likely never will. There is far too many countless crevices for one person to see in their entire life, much less multiple lives…if you believe in such a thing.  The prospectors of yesteryear, who spent a majority of their adult lives wandering the desert in search of ore, have […]

    The Panamint Mountains through my Lens

      I have traveled the Panamint Mountain Range countless times over the years. I have hiked and driven the canyons and drainages, and I’ve camped among the burros. This not only goes for the Panamints, but a large portion of the Mojave Desert, yet I haven’t seen it all, and I likely never will. There is far too many countless crevices for one person to see in their entire life, much less multiple lives…if you believe in such a thing.  The prospectors of yesteryear, who spent a majority of their adult lives wandering the desert in search of ore, have […]

  • Long before cars speed by on the 118, and even before the Spanish Portolà expedition reached Simi Valley in 1770 – Simi Valley was home to a band of Chumash Indians. Over 5,000 years ago the Chumash settled Simi Valley; there was no freeway system, no streets lined with businesses, no children playing in fenced backyards. Simi Valley was wild, as wild as Alaska’s, Yukon. When the Chumash first arrived in Simi Valley, their way of life was very primitive. Hunting technology was still at it’s earliest form, thus, these early Native American settlers survived on mostly acorn and marsh […]

    Hummingbird Spring – Chumash Habitation Area (Simi Valley)

    Long before cars speed by on the 118, and even before the Spanish Portolà expedition reached Simi Valley in 1770 – Simi Valley was home to a band of Chumash Indians. Over 5,000 years ago the Chumash settled Simi Valley; there was no freeway system, no streets lined with businesses, no children playing in fenced backyards. Simi Valley was wild, as wild as Alaska’s, Yukon. When the Chumash first arrived in Simi Valley, their way of life was very primitive. Hunting technology was still at it’s earliest form, thus, these early Native American settlers survived on mostly acorn and marsh […]

  •   “Creator gave us sacred places, we have not forgot. Not just rocks with paintings, but all that is around here – guardian spirit rocks, as well.” – Chumash Elder Once again, I find myself venturing outside of my usual territory, my comfort zone, my home, my beloved scorched desert. But the more time that I spend in the Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez Mountians, the more they begin to also feel like home; with a few noticeable difference, more trees, and overall much denser vegetation. These places remain truly wild despite their relatively short […]

    The Painted Wind Cave – Santa Ynez Mountains

      “Creator gave us sacred places, we have not forgot. Not just rocks with paintings, but all that is around here – guardian spirit rocks, as well.” – Chumash Elder Once again, I find myself venturing outside of my usual territory, my comfort zone, my home, my beloved scorched desert. But the more time that I spend in the Sespe Wilderness, Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez Mountians, the more they begin to also feel like home; with a few noticeable difference, more trees, and overall much denser vegetation. These places remain truly wild despite their relatively short […]

  • I enjoy wandering, I prefer it over walking the same old trail that thousands of people have walked before me. The reward in not taking the beaten path sometimes comes in finding interesting places or things that are not common knowledge. I’ve scoured around Queen Mountain and Valley at various times over the past year. The area has kind of become my go to place when I’m feeling too lazy to plan anything else. Don’t take that the wrong way, I do thoroughly enjoy the area. Along the base of Queen Mountain there are stacks of boulders, a variety of […]

    The Mystery Fireplace and mines of Queen Valley (Joshua Tree National Park)

    I enjoy wandering, I prefer it over walking the same old trail that thousands of people have walked before me. The reward in not taking the beaten path sometimes comes in finding interesting places or things that are not common knowledge. I’ve scoured around Queen Mountain and Valley at various times over the past year. The area has kind of become my go to place when I’m feeling too lazy to plan anything else. Don’t take that the wrong way, I do thoroughly enjoy the area. Along the base of Queen Mountain there are stacks of boulders, a variety of […]

  •   Welcome to cattle country, the abundant number of hockey pucks is all that you need for proof of that –  along with the bull that is staring you down after having startling him awake during his creosote induced slumber. Either way, this portion of the eastern Mojave is the home of open grazing, and desert living like it is supposed to be done.  Despite being a National Preserve, there are plenty of private ranches that still have grazing rights to a large portion of the land. Rustler Canyon would be considered remote to most people, the nearest sign of […]

    Rustler Canyon (Mojave National Preserve)

      Welcome to cattle country, the abundant number of hockey pucks is all that you need for proof of that –  along with the bull that is staring you down after having startling him awake during his creosote induced slumber. Either way, this portion of the eastern Mojave is the home of open grazing, and desert living like it is supposed to be done.  Despite being a National Preserve, there are plenty of private ranches that still have grazing rights to a large portion of the land. Rustler Canyon would be considered remote to most people, the nearest sign of […]

  •   Black Canyon and Inscription Canyon are very special to me, these were the first places that I encountered Native American petroglyphs. Prior to visiting these beautiful canyons, I had focused all of my energy on visiting ghost towns, and mines – how quickly that changed after the ancient designs carved in the black basalt canyon walls also became etched in my mind. My fascination grew into an addiction overnight, to the point that I will endure anything, just to be able to see “rock art” first-hand, and document it for my own purposes. Neither of these canyons are big […]

    Black Canyon & Inscription Canyon {REBOOT}

      Black Canyon and Inscription Canyon are very special to me, these were the first places that I encountered Native American petroglyphs. Prior to visiting these beautiful canyons, I had focused all of my energy on visiting ghost towns, and mines – how quickly that changed after the ancient designs carved in the black basalt canyon walls also became etched in my mind. My fascination grew into an addiction overnight, to the point that I will endure anything, just to be able to see “rock art” first-hand, and document it for my own purposes. Neither of these canyons are big […]

  • Red Rock Canyon State Park is a gem in the California State Park system. It is located along Highway 14, about twenty-five miles north of the town of Mojave, at the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  It is a unique niche in the Kern County desert, which is often seen as a barren desert wasteland, by those that don’t stop to discover the beauty first hand, or are just to arrogant or blind to see it. The park is most widely know for its colorful sandstone formations, rocky cliffs, and desert buttes. Because I am not a […]

    Red Rock Canyon State Park (California)

    Red Rock Canyon State Park is a gem in the California State Park system. It is located along Highway 14, about twenty-five miles north of the town of Mojave, at the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.  It is a unique niche in the Kern County desert, which is often seen as a barren desert wasteland, by those that don’t stop to discover the beauty first hand, or are just to arrogant or blind to see it. The park is most widely know for its colorful sandstone formations, rocky cliffs, and desert buttes. Because I am not a […]

  •   How have I never written about Titus Canyon before? I have driven Titus Canyon Road more times than I have fingers; have spent hours photographing sunrises along the famous Red Pass. I’ve been here when it was snowing, and when it has been over 100 degrees. In all honesty these aren’t the first words that I’ve written, on at least one other occasion I’ve sat down and tried to come up with something to say, but ended up at a loss for words. I still have no idea what I’m going to say, but here it goes… If coming […]

    Leadfield Road aka. Titus Canyon Road (Death Valley National Park)

      How have I never written about Titus Canyon before? I have driven Titus Canyon Road more times than I have fingers; have spent hours photographing sunrises along the famous Red Pass. I’ve been here when it was snowing, and when it has been over 100 degrees. In all honesty these aren’t the first words that I’ve written, on at least one other occasion I’ve sat down and tried to come up with something to say, but ended up at a loss for words. I still have no idea what I’m going to say, but here it goes… If coming […]

  •   The eastern Mojave Desert contains a treasure trove of archaeological sites of various sizes and significance; many of which are little to not at all known by the general public. The Cow Cove petroglyph site has become more of a public rock art site, it’s semi-remote location in the northeast coroner of the Aiken Cinder Cone field has been regularly advertised in multiple guide books (including my own), as well as having been published on several websites. With this “reboot,” I have provided a map of the area, including the hiking trail, and an outline of the area containing […]

    Cow Cove Petroglyphs (Mojave National Preserve) {REBOOT}

      The eastern Mojave Desert contains a treasure trove of archaeological sites of various sizes and significance; many of which are little to not at all known by the general public. The Cow Cove petroglyph site has become more of a public rock art site, it’s semi-remote location in the northeast coroner of the Aiken Cinder Cone field has been regularly advertised in multiple guide books (including my own), as well as having been published on several websites. With this “reboot,” I have provided a map of the area, including the hiking trail, and an outline of the area containing […]

  •   The Mojave National Preserve is still very much a wild place, a vast majority of it’s 2,403 square miles remains highly undocumented (at least in the public sector), and rarely visited. For years, I have enjoyed visiting the Preserve over any of the other California desert parks; mostly because you can spend days out bumping along dirt roads or hiking, and never see another soul. Perhaps that is why it remains off of the radar for most people; no food, no gas, and no hotels are a big turn off to most folks. In the spirit of Grumpy Cat, […]

    Burro Canyon Petroglyphs (Mojave National Preserve)

      The Mojave National Preserve is still very much a wild place, a vast majority of it’s 2,403 square miles remains highly undocumented (at least in the public sector), and rarely visited. For years, I have enjoyed visiting the Preserve over any of the other California desert parks; mostly because you can spend days out bumping along dirt roads or hiking, and never see another soul. Perhaps that is why it remains off of the radar for most people; no food, no gas, and no hotels are a big turn off to most folks. In the spirit of Grumpy Cat, […]

  • In early 2013, while out hiking in the El Paso Mountains outside of Ridgecrest, I found a small Native American camp. I have never gotten around to posting it, because I forgot about it; and recently rediscovered the photographs on my hard drive. Unfortunately that also means that I don’t remember the location of the camp, but I assume that it was in the north-west portion of the range. Based on the territory of the camp, it was most likely inhabited by the Desert Kawaiisu; previously known as just the Kawaiisu. Recent research has introduced the idea that there was […]

    Kawaiisu camp in the El Paso Mountains

    In early 2013, while out hiking in the El Paso Mountains outside of Ridgecrest, I found a small Native American camp. I have never gotten around to posting it, because I forgot about it; and recently rediscovered the photographs on my hard drive. Unfortunately that also means that I don’t remember the location of the camp, but I assume that it was in the north-west portion of the range. Based on the territory of the camp, it was most likely inhabited by the Desert Kawaiisu; previously known as just the Kawaiisu. Recent research has introduced the idea that there was […]

Death Valley Jim Radio Program Archives

  •   At the end of August, it was announced that the mystery of the “Sailing Stones of Death Valley” was no longer a mystery. In December of 2013, the “citizen scientist” team of James Norris of Interwoof and his cousin, Dr. Richard Norris of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, caught the first recorded glimpse of the stones on the Racetrack Playa moving. In just a short period of research and observation – the team of cousins had managed to do what others have been trying to do for over 90 years. On this week’s program we are joined by James Norris […]

    Death Valley Jim Radio Program – “The Sailing Stones of Death Valley” – w/special guest James Norris

      At the end of August, it was announced that the mystery of the “Sailing Stones of Death Valley” was no longer a mystery. In December of 2013, the “citizen scientist” team of James Norris of Interwoof and his cousin, Dr. Richard Norris of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, caught the first recorded glimpse of the stones on the Racetrack Playa moving. In just a short period of research and observation – the team of cousins had managed to do what others have been trying to do for over 90 years. On this week’s program we are joined by James Norris […]

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  •   This week we are joined by explorer, film maker, and author Nicholas Clapp.  Clapp’s works include several documentaries for National Geographic including “The Haunted West”, “Bushmen of the Kalahari”, among others. He has authored, “The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands“, “Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen“, “Who Killed Chester Pray?: A Death Valley Mystery“, and “Gold and Silver in the Mojave: Images of a Last Frontier“. “Gold and Silver in the Mojave: Images of a Last Frontier” – Is an amazing look at the mines, the towns, and the people who […]

    Death Valley Jim Radio Program – “Gold and Silver in the Mojave” – w/special guest Nicholas Clapp

      This week we are joined by explorer, film maker, and author Nicholas Clapp.  Clapp’s works include several documentaries for National Geographic including “The Haunted West”, “Bushmen of the Kalahari”, among others. He has authored, “The Road to Ubar: Finding the Atlantis of the Sands“, “Sheba: Through the Desert in Search of the Legendary Queen“, “Who Killed Chester Pray?: A Death Valley Mystery“, and “Gold and Silver in the Mojave: Images of a Last Frontier“. “Gold and Silver in the Mojave: Images of a Last Frontier” – Is an amazing look at the mines, the towns, and the people who […]

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  •   This week we speak with Gloria Denton, mother of April Beth Pitzer. Gloria has spent the last 10-years looking for her daughter who went missing from Newberry Springs, CA in June of 2004. April came out to California looking for a getaway – hopes and dreams of beaches and sand castles. What she ended up with was a life much more difficult than that in which she had tried to escape. She landed in the small rural desert community of Newberry Springs – located several miles outside of the city of Barstow.  Falling into wrong “crowds” would send her […]

    Death Valley Jim Radio Program – “Missing in the Desert” – The April Beth Pitzer Story

      This week we speak with Gloria Denton, mother of April Beth Pitzer. Gloria has spent the last 10-years looking for her daughter who went missing from Newberry Springs, CA in June of 2004. April came out to California looking for a getaway – hopes and dreams of beaches and sand castles. What she ended up with was a life much more difficult than that in which she had tried to escape. She landed in the small rural desert community of Newberry Springs – located several miles outside of the city of Barstow.  Falling into wrong “crowds” would send her […]

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Death Valley Jim News

  •   National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 27th.  This is a day to lend a helping hand in cleaning up our public lands.  I have put together a list of California and Nevada desert clean-ups, a link is provided to obtain additional details from the National Public Lands Day website.   Why is National Public Lands Day Important? NPLD educates Americans about the environment and natural resources, and the need for shared stewardship of these valued, irreplaceable lands; NPLD builds partnerships between the public sector and the local community based upon mutual interests in the enhancement and restoration of […]

    National Public Lands Day – September 27th – Desert clean-up locations

      National Public Lands Day is Saturday, September 27th.  This is a day to lend a helping hand in cleaning up our public lands.  I have put together a list of California and Nevada desert clean-ups, a link is provided to obtain additional details from the National Public Lands Day website.   Why is National Public Lands Day Important? NPLD educates Americans about the environment and natural resources, and the need for shared stewardship of these valued, irreplaceable lands; NPLD builds partnerships between the public sector and the local community based upon mutual interests in the enhancement and restoration of […]

  • I’ve done more ranting as of late, than writing about historic places. I haven’t intended for it to be this way, it has just sort of happened based on a number of circumstances that have either frustrated or infuriated me; in most cases both. I’ve never in the past considered myself an environmentalist, and I probably have a long way to go before any fanatical enviro-group would ever allow me to join their ranks. I find that I fit somewhere right in the middle – enough to piss off the complete tree-huggers, and the people with “this is my public […]

    Something stinks in Barstow

    I’ve done more ranting as of late, than writing about historic places. I haven’t intended for it to be this way, it has just sort of happened based on a number of circumstances that have either frustrated or infuriated me; in most cases both. I’ve never in the past considered myself an environmentalist, and I probably have a long way to go before any fanatical enviro-group would ever allow me to join their ranks. I find that I fit somewhere right in the middle – enough to piss off the complete tree-huggers, and the people with “this is my public […]

  • I first learned of the disappearance of Erin Corwin, a young pregnant Marine’s wife stationed on the Twentynine Palms Marine Base via a local “for sale” group on Facebook, just a day or two after she had been reported missing by her husband, Jonathan Corwin on June 29th, 2014.  This was before local media or national media picked up the story, which would go on to make headlines across the country. I didn’t know Erin, her husband or anyone else directly involved with the couple, but the story had a profound impact on me; after all, this happened in my […]

    My thoughts on the murder of Erin Corwin

    I first learned of the disappearance of Erin Corwin, a young pregnant Marine’s wife stationed on the Twentynine Palms Marine Base via a local “for sale” group on Facebook, just a day or two after she had been reported missing by her husband, Jonathan Corwin on June 29th, 2014.  This was before local media or national media picked up the story, which would go on to make headlines across the country. I didn’t know Erin, her husband or anyone else directly involved with the couple, but the story had a profound impact on me; after all, this happened in my […]

  •   Jim, and John sit down for an exclusive, hour-long chat with tommi Johnston, the widow of Robert Johnston aka. The Ballarat Bandit.  Robert Johnston was a husband, and father of four when he left Canada to find himself in the Southern California desert.  For nearly a year he survived the harsh, Death Valley desert; becoming the focus of an intensive man-hunt after committing a series of  burglaries in the Ghost Town of Ballarat, CA and the Panamint Mountains.  Most of his theft involved basic supplies like food, water, and camping gear…but he also had a thing for guns. The […]

    The Ballarat Bandit: Special Report – The Death Valley Jim Radio Program – 8/16/14

      Jim, and John sit down for an exclusive, hour-long chat with tommi Johnston, the widow of Robert Johnston aka. The Ballarat Bandit.  Robert Johnston was a husband, and father of four when he left Canada to find himself in the Southern California desert.  For nearly a year he survived the harsh, Death Valley desert; becoming the focus of an intensive man-hunt after committing a series of  burglaries in the Ghost Town of Ballarat, CA and the Panamint Mountains.  Most of his theft involved basic supplies like food, water, and camping gear…but he also had a thing for guns. The […]

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