“Traveler’s Prospect” (Death Valley National Park)

In my line of work I tend to get some pretty interesting requests on a semi regular basis. The most recent was to simply hike to a set of coordinates that was provided by the client and take a photograph of my GPS showing the coordinates along with whatever was at the location.  When I plugged the coordinates into Google Earth I was excited to see that there were a couple of abandoned structures and a mine at the location.

The mine has no official name, it is listed on topographical maps as a prospect, not a full fledge mine. The closest mine to the prospect is the Christmas Gift Mine, it is possible that this was a prospect that belonged to the Christmas Gift, but I’m not positive.






The hike to the coordinates began at a closed dirt road off of Emigrant Canyon Road in the Panamint Mountains, just a few miles shy of where Emigrant Canyon Road intersects with Charcoal Kiln Road. In total the hike was 3.5 miles in each direction, with just shy of 2,000 feet of elevation gain (the most significant gain being in the last mile).

Along the old road (now closed because of a wilderness corridor) I was surprised to encounter half a dozen horny toads (PHRYNOSOMA PLATYRHINOS). Every year it seems as though I see less and less horny toads across the Mojave Desert, but they appear to be thriving in this region of the Panamints.

The views of the Panamints, and of Telescope Peak along the way are breathtaking. Looking behind me,  I could see the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada Range poking up behind layers of other ranges.






The first sign of habitation (besides the road) was a crumbling corral a mile or so before my intended destination. From the corral it was steep climb to a peak before descending down to the prospect.

The prospect consisted of a partially collapsed corrugated metal building, along with a headframe above an open vertical shaft. Lumber, and various metal debris was scattered across the scene. A rusted Traveler’s Motor Oil can, and a cracked (but intact) jug both sat inside of the structure. I didn’t enter the shaft because I’m a firm believer that vertical mines are unsafe, and should only be entered by trained professionals.

While the ruins of the prospect are sparse, there is still more here than many of the mines across Death Valley, and the views are breathtaking. I only wish that there was more from a historical backstory that I could share with you.









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.