Arcturus Mine and Buckwheat Wash Dunes

Down in the southern end of Death Valley, a small group of mines lies hidden in a low set of hills. Also known as the Ibex, it was first prospected for copper and silver in the 1880s but was developed as a mine in 1914 by the Ibex Spring Mining Company.

The deposits turned out to be small and due to the remoteness of the area ore was packed out on burros. Like many other mines of the era, they never amounted to very much.

In later years, the mines were revived and worked briefly for talc. Those too proved to be small and unprofitable. Not much is left from those early mining days, except a few bits of rusted machinery, tin cans, and a small, rustic cabin.

Along the way to the mines are a small set of wind-blown sand dunes that don’t see many people. The dunes are off-limits to vehicle traffic, but they make a fun place to relax and play.

My photos are from trips in 2006 and 2020. For more photos from the 2006 trip with the Dzrtgrls, check out the Dzrtgrls’ trip report.

Road Directions

mile(km)Road Directions
0(0 km)From Baker, CA, drive north 39.7 miles (63.9 km) on CA 127 to the Ibex Springs Road turnoff. Turn left and start here. If you've gone through Ibex Pass, then you've gone too far.
0.3(0.5 km)Drive by a cell tower off on the left. Continue straight. The road quickly becomes rough after this. 4WD sometimes required.
0.4(0.6 km)Road is almost washed out here.
1.1(1.8 km)Road merges with an old road from the highway. Continue straight through scattered low hills. Entering Death Valley National Park.
2.8(4.5 km)Pass a road on the left that goes to Saratoga Springs.
3.2(5.1 km)Cross a big wash
3.4(5.5 km)Another big wash. This one is nearly washed out. There's another one a few hundred feet farther.
3.7(6 km)Drop off at a large wash. The road detours on the right.
3.9(6.3 km)Another big drop-off. Detour on the left. Watch for this.
4.8(7.7 km)Pass a side road (and a couple more) on the right. Continue straight.
5.2(8.4 km)Ibex Springs Camp is on the right. The road gets rougher from here on out. 4WD high-clearance required. The road does a slight jog across a wash and parallels it.
5.4(8.7 km)The road does a hard left here and noticably downhill. This spot can be hard to find. GPS track helps.
5.6(9 km)Road crosses hills.
6.2(10 km)Our route merges with a by-pass road coming in from the left. Careful not to get on this road on the way back, which I have done a few times. Road enters a canyon here with a few wash outs.
7.2(11.6 km)Road enters Buckwheat Wash valley. There are a couple of small washouts along the way.
7.9(12.7 km)The road turns northward up the valley.
8.9(14.3 km)End of road at a wash out.

Hike Descriptions

Hike Distance3.7 miles (6km) Out & Back
Trail TypeCross-Country
Hike DifficultyEasy
Elevation Gain, Loss610 ft (186m) gain round trip.
Hike Time2.5 hours

From the edge of the wash-out at the end of the road, follow the wash north. It’s cross-country and there isn’t a trail but if you stick close to the hills and in the wash, it will take you directly to the mine cabin. Watch for an old road after 1.7 miles (2.7 km) that climbs out of the wash and to the cabin.

Beware an open shaft near the cabin. Other mine workings are scattered in the hills waiting to be explored.

GPS

Arcturus Mine Cabin.gpx

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Arcturus Mine and Buckwheat Wash Dunes
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Last Updated on January 14, 2021 by Guy Starbuck