Rita’s Cabin (Death Valley National Park)

Rita's Cabin - in the transition zone between Pleasant Canyon and Middle Park.


Traveling the “loop” from Pleasant Canyon over to South Park Canyon in the Panamint Mountains is always an enjoyable time; it doesn’t matter how many times you have completed the round trip – it never gets old. The historical aspects, and the natural beauty of climbing out of the barren desert valley, into a lush oasis, rugged mountain terrain, and finally a Pinyon pine tree forest – always leaves me in awe.

I’ve covered several of the prominent historical mines and camps (Clair Camp, World Beater, etc…) along this route, but have never made any mention of Rita’s Cabin.

Rita’s Cabin sits in the transition zone between Middle Park and Pleasant Canyon. Sitting at an elevation of over 6,000 feet, the landscape is covered in Pinyon pines – this is the perfect location to see how the desert meets forest in the highlands, something that most people never expect to see in Death Valley National Park.

The cabin was built in 1959, by George Farrell. Farrell was a teacher, and died relatively young. The next owners were the Bearcroft family Рwho would sell it to Rita & John Nicol.  The cabin would exchange hands at least one additional time, before becoming the property of the National Park Service. Unfortunately, this very little bit of information is all that is known (provided by a member of the PanamintValley.com message board).

Despite the cabins beautiful surroundings – today, it is not so beautiful. Because of the cabins elevation, winter snow storms have not been kind to it – the roof is partially collapsed, and all the windows have been busted out. The floor of the cabin is riddled with rat droppings, making it a possible oasis for hantavirus. Camping inside of the cabin is not recommended – there is a fire pit and picnic table located beside the cabin, if you intend to camp here, do so in the outdoors.

The Pinyon pine forest, that surrounds the cabin.

The Pinyon pine forest, that surrounds the cabin.


The inside of Rita's Cabin

The inside of Rita’s Cabin




About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.