Last summer, we visited the fantastic little ghost town of Bannack, Montana, which has been preserved and turned into a state park. It is similar to Bodie State Historical Park but with fewer buildings and no mill tour. Still, remaining ghost towns from the gold rush days are rare and this one is worth the visit.
The Jayhawkers are famous for their harrowing journey through the unexplored lands of Death Valley in 1849 on their way to reach the fabled gold fields of California’s Mother Lode. They made it, but only after burning their wagons and ditching some of their possessions. They are likely the first white people to set foot in the vast alkali valley and are credited for giving Death Valley its name.
I was out exploring in the wild hinterlands of Utah a while back, a backcountry cabin caught my eye. There aren’t many other cabins (or mines) out here, so I definitely wanted to pay this one a visit.
Hidden a few miles into the monzogranite maze wilderness of the Joshua Tree National Park lies the “Born Again” Pictograph site. It isn’t an easy site to reach but this rock shelter was once a habitation site and is covered with faded pictographs. The rock outcrop even has a tunnel that was probably used for rites of passage rituals. It is an impressive find worth the effort to reach.
A few years back, we found this huge abandoned gold mill out in Nevada. It is similar in size and scope to the Atlanta Mill (now destroyed) that we visited some time ago. This mill was abandoned decades ago and has sat idle since. Vandals have ransacked some of the place but a surprising amount of equipment is still left.
Sometimes in the desert, you can find what you are looking for.
It was already dark by the time we started our drive out into the desert. The sky was completely overcast and the wind was howling. And after a few hours of driving on the highway, it started to rain. Light at first and then heavy and constant. We weren’t exactly looking forward to getting into camp late at night in a heavy rain. But that is what we did. And after more than an hour of driving down rocky dirt roads and navigating across sandy washes, we spotted a faint light off in the murky distance. Minutes later, we rolled into our friend’s camp. They had gotten there earlier in the day and were wisely already hunkered down in their tent. We buckled down in our truck for the night. Wind and rain rocked the truck for hours and made for a restless sleep.
My friend Micah and his family joined us for a fun little trip to the great Sonoran desert at the start of 2016. Winter is a great time to be in the southern deserts and this time we had our sights set on the Big Eye Mine which is down in the south end of the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge and the Castle Dome Mountains. The mine is reached by fifteen miles of 4wd roads.