Desert Queen to Eagle Cliff - Joshua Tree National Park photos

Desert Queen MineAfter a series of potent winter storms, we're overjoyed at the blue skies that greet us as we shoulder our packs at the trailhead. In spite of the cool wind, we're really excited to try this new route to the Eagle Cliff site from the old Desert Queen Mine. Also, this time our goal isn't to pay a lengthy visit to the Eagle Cliff rockshelter cabin, but rather to continue down past it in search of the lower mine workings. These are rarely visited due to a strenuous descent and are said to consist of two deep, steeply inclined shafts and a nearby possible blacksmith work area nestled behind a dry stacked stone wall.

Our starting point today, The Desert Queen Mine, has a very colorful and complicated history. In short, it seems that it was likely discovered by a miner named James in 1892 or 1893. James was later shot and killed by the McHaney cowboys under suspicious circumstances and Jim and Bill McHaney gained title to the mine in 1895. The initial gold find at the mine proved extremely rich and Jim McHaney seemed to be on a personal crusade to squander as much money as he could! The next chapters of the Eagle Cliff Mine ruinsmine read like a soap opera with a colorful cast of characters. Bill Keys became involved in the mine in 1911 and worked several claims there as well as processing ore from the mine at his five stamp mill, as well as a two stamp affair, off and on until about 1961. Today the several thousand feet of underground workings are closed to the public, but there are interesting reminders to be seen as one explores the area.

It's at the prospect pits at the highest point of the Desert Queen workings that we'll be picking up the trail that winds its way east to the Eagle Cliff site. We're hoping that the route will be scenic and that we'll be able to find those elusive lower workings! If you like rambling around the back country, then cozy up to that computer screen and lace up those slippers. A click on the photo link below is all that's needed to hit the trail.


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