Tucked away in the backcountry wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park is a hidden gem called Cary’s Castle. In 1935, and at the tender age of 24, a young man named Arthur L. Cary (often misspelled “Carey”) moved from Colorado to the Coachella Valley. Besides starting a small family, he almost immediately became involved in mining. He staked a few claims, along with his father, in their spare time. This one was called the “Welcome Stranger” but seems to have been owned by Arthur alone. He spent much of his time out here from 1938 to 1941 developing the mine and enjoying the remote country. He probably built the Castle at that time.
Interestingly, Cary wasn’t the first person to make a home under this boulder. Native Americans once thought the shelter was a good place to live and get out of the harsh desert sun as well. A handful of red, black and white pictographs adorn the ceiling and stand testament to their presence. (Please don’t touch them.)
There is no trail to reach the Castle; only numerous desert washes to navigate and weathered granite boulders to climb over. Don’t go without a GPS or a map and good route-finding skills. It takes about a half day to get out there.
The NPS has temporarily closed the Castle to public visitation as historical artifacts have been stolen from the site. Park staff want to be sure no more history is lost. Upon my most recent visit, I found the front door missing. Since my visit, I learned that the NPS is working on restoring the door. Please do your part to help and leave everything as you find it. I held off posting this site for a few years because of this.