Latest Desert Tales

  •   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 […]

  •     Less than a half-mile from where today’s tourist set up their tents, make fires, and sing songs is this small pictograph site. It is hidden behind an array of flora, tucked neatly into the corner of one of Joshua Tree’s famous granite boulder piles. It isn’t a large site, but that doesn’t make it any less significant, it still tells a tail, a tail that you and I can’t decipher. This land was once the home of the Chemehuevi, the Serrano, and the Cahuilla.  Archeologist believe that the first native people came to this region as few as […]

    Hidden Valley Pictographs (Joshua Tree National Park)

        Less than a half-mile from where today’s tourist set up their tents, make fires, and sing songs is this small pictograph site. It is hidden behind an array of flora, tucked neatly into the corner of one of Joshua Tree’s famous granite boulder piles. It isn’t a large site, but that doesn’t make it any less significant, it still tells a tail, a tail that you and I can’t decipher. This land was once the home of the Chemehuevi, the Serrano, and the Cahuilla.  Archeologist believe that the first native people came to this region as few as […]

  •   The mountains behind Barstow, CA are a treasure trove of ancient Native American petroglyphs. Both Black Canyon and Inscription Canyon in the Black Mountains have become a place that both the curious and the well versed archaeologist types have come to learn more about the earliest people to have lived in this land of volcanic stone, desert scrub, and sand. Archaeological evidence reveals that this region had humans living here for over 8,000 years. Extensive studies of the petroglyphs have revealed both Great Basin curvilinear and Great Basin rectilinear styles. These styles can be traced to the Shoshonean Period […]

    Tortoise Mountain Petroglyphs

      The mountains behind Barstow, CA are a treasure trove of ancient Native American petroglyphs. Both Black Canyon and Inscription Canyon in the Black Mountains have become a place that both the curious and the well versed archaeologist types have come to learn more about the earliest people to have lived in this land of volcanic stone, desert scrub, and sand. Archaeological evidence reveals that this region had humans living here for over 8,000 years. Extensive studies of the petroglyphs have revealed both Great Basin curvilinear and Great Basin rectilinear styles. These styles can be traced to the Shoshonean Period […]

  • The Pioneertown Mountain Preserve is located near the community of Pioneertown, north-west of Yucca Valley. It is operated by The Wildland Conservancy, which also operate a dozen additional private preserves. The Pioneertown Mountain Preserve consists of 25,500 acres of desert lands, which include the nearby volcanic mesas, desert scrub lands, and the riparian filled Pipes Canyon. A large portion of the Preserve burned in 2006, leaving a very barren landscape. A large portion of the area is closed off to hiking, to allow the vegetation to return, and the land to heal. Having known about the Preserve for sometime, it […]

    Pioneertown Mountain Preserve – Murder in Pipes Canyon

    The Pioneertown Mountain Preserve is located near the community of Pioneertown, north-west of Yucca Valley. It is operated by The Wildland Conservancy, which also operate a dozen additional private preserves. The Pioneertown Mountain Preserve consists of 25,500 acres of desert lands, which include the nearby volcanic mesas, desert scrub lands, and the riparian filled Pipes Canyon. A large portion of the Preserve burned in 2006, leaving a very barren landscape. A large portion of the area is closed off to hiking, to allow the vegetation to return, and the land to heal. Having known about the Preserve for sometime, it […]

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 […]

    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 […]

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  • Early memories of Cantil   A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip back to California City to visit my family that resides there. They recently had found a number of old photographs and documents that my late grandmother through marriage had held onto.  The family lineage is firmly gripped in the area. Betty Buckskin (A Paiute Woman), the earliest known family member, was orphaned by the Keysville Massacre of 1863. Frederick Butterbredt found her a short distance from the massacre site, and married her. Together they pioneered Sageland, in the New El Dorado Mining District, at the base […]

    Early memories of Cantil (Photoblog)

    Early memories of Cantil   A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip back to California City to visit my family that resides there. They recently had found a number of old photographs and documents that my late grandmother through marriage had held onto.  The family lineage is firmly gripped in the area. Betty Buckskin (A Paiute Woman), the earliest known family member, was orphaned by the Keysville Massacre of 1863. Frederick Butterbredt found her a short distance from the massacre site, and married her. Together they pioneered Sageland, in the New El Dorado Mining District, at the base […]

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  • Giant Desert Centipede   Centipedes are arthropods that have elongated bodies with one pair of legs per segment. They are distant relatives of lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp. They prefer moist areas, such as under stones, logs, or leaves. Even though the name means “hundred legs”, the centipede doesn’t really have that many; this one has about 40. The giant desert centipede is one of the world’s largest species of centipede, growing to 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long. It can be identified by its orange body and black head and tail. The bright coloration advertises the centipede […]

    Giant Desert Centipede (Photoblog)

    Giant Desert Centipede   Centipedes are arthropods that have elongated bodies with one pair of legs per segment. They are distant relatives of lobsters, crayfish, and shrimp. They prefer moist areas, such as under stones, logs, or leaves. Even though the name means “hundred legs”, the centipede doesn’t really have that many; this one has about 40. The giant desert centipede is one of the world’s largest species of centipede, growing to 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long. It can be identified by its orange body and black head and tail. The bright coloration advertises the centipede […]

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Death Valley Jim News

  • 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 […]

  • Jim is pleased to announce his next work, “A Guide to 50 Southern California Rock Art Sites”. The guide includes GPS Coordinates, maps, extensive photo galleries, and site backgrounds to fifty of Southern California’s most elusive art galleries. The guide book is presented in full color, with over 200 pages of rock art gold! RETAIL PRICE: $39.99 PREORDER SPECIAL: $34.99   PREORDER YOUR COPY NOW!

    A Guide To 50 Southern California Rock Art Sites

    Jim is pleased to announce his next work, “A Guide to 50 Southern California Rock Art Sites”. The guide includes GPS Coordinates, maps, extensive photo galleries, and site backgrounds to fifty of Southern California’s most elusive art galleries. The guide book is presented in full color, with over 200 pages of rock art gold! RETAIL PRICE: $39.99 PREORDER SPECIAL: $34.99   PREORDER YOUR COPY NOW!