Desert Queen Mine Hike & Eagle Cliff Mine
|In This Guide|
|Distance||1.8 miles (2.9 km)|
|Other Options||4.2 to Eagle Cliff Mine|
|Hike Time||1-1:30 Hours (Total)|
|Total Ascent (?)||180 feet (55m)|
|Highest Elevation||4,460 feet (1359m)|
|Fees & Permits||Park Entry Fee|
|Park Website (?)||Joshua Tree National Park|
|Stay In Touch||Newsletter - Instagram - YouTube - Facebook|
The Desert Queen Mine hike is a cool one; you can actually touch and explore the ruins of a mine that dates back to the 1890s and has a rich story involving cattle rustlers and gunfights of the Old West. And of course, you can enjoy all the natural beauty of Joshua Tree at the same time. If you’re feeling adventurous, I highly recommend the optional extended hike to Eagle Cliff Mine, a remote mine and rock cabin perched above a beautiful overlook.
How to Get to the Desert Queen Mine Hike
The trailhead is in a smallish parking lot at the end of Desert Queen Mine Rd, a dirt road off of the main Park Blvd. The trailhead road is dirt but you can do it in a regular low-clearance car. There are also signs on Park Blvd for the Desert Queen Mine turnoff. Use this trailhead address:
Desert Queen Mine Rd, Twentynine Palms, CA, 92277, USA
Gear for the Hike
If you have light hiking gear, that will serve you best at Desert Queen. Hiking boots with cuffs will help keep the debris out of your feet. That said, this is a short hike and you can get away with fitness or casual clothes in a pinch. Bring at least 1L of water and sun protection; you are hiking in the desert.
The La Sportiva Spire boots feel like comfortable sneakers but offer the protection of hiking boots. They’re great on everything from short hikes to longer hikes of 10+ miles. You don’t want to skimp on your feet.
Reviews & Lowest Prices: Women – Men
I test a lot of gear, and for short to medium day hikes, travel, and everyday use, the Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women) are consistently the best. They’re lightweight, hold a hydration bladder to make drinking water easy, have lots of pockets to organize gear, and most importantly, are incredibly comfortable. Check out the reviews; they are impressive.
Reviews & Colors Here: Osprey Stratos (men) and Osprey Sirrus (women)
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI (or Amazon).
Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated March 2020.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here
No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.
Desert Queen Mine Trail Maps
I have three trails marked on this map:
- The out and back hike to Desert Queen Mine
- An optional extension on a more primitive trail to Eagle Cliff Mine
- An alternate route back from Desert Queen Mine that takes you past more ruins
Desert Queen Mine Hike & Eagle Cliff Mine Map Downloads
Download the Hike GPX File
View a Printable PDF Hike Map
Quick Hike History
- Gold was discovered at Desert Queen by a prospector named Frank James in 1894.
- Local cattle-rustler Jim McHaney, who had scrapes with other local prospectors, sent his men over to muscle the claim from Frank James. In the process they ended up murdering him.
- Rewind a few years to another Joshua Tree celebrity, Pegleg Smith, considered ” the champion liar of the Rocky Mountains,” He claimed to have found an incredible gold mine in the area and sold “maps” to gullible prospective miners. The “lost mine” was a great cover story for the murder of Frank James and his claim, and Jim McHaney (re)claimed the land.
- Jim McHaney owned the mine for two years, but he squandered the $30,000 he made from the gold, missed his bank payments, and had the mine foreclosed on by the bank.
- In 1915 the mine was acquired by local rancher and homesteader, Bill Keys, who was also a member of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. At the time he was the caretaker of the mine. When the owner died owing him back-pay, he made a claim and gained the mine. You can visit his ranch today at the park.
- The mine ran until 1961, producing almost 4,000 ounces of gold. Today you can explore the shafts and old gear littered around the site.
Desert Queen Mine Hike Directions
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Turn by Turn Directions
There are several mine shafts at Desert Queen Mine. They are sealed up and (obviously) dangerous to enter. There is also an active bat community in the mine shafts. Just a heads up if you poke your head in by the grate to have a look.
From here you can either continue on to Eagle Cliff Mine (more below) or return the way you came. If you want to return and explore more ruins, follow the yellow path on the map above for the alternate way back.
Extension to Eagle Cliff Mine
If you want to continue on to the remote Eagle Cliff Mine and boulder house, follow the directions below. The trail isn’t as defined as the first part of the hike, so having a GPS with the GPX track loaded is helpful.
There is a very special place here at Eagle Cliff Mine, an old miner’s cabin built into the boulders called the Boulder House. I hesitated to include this hike on the website because I’ve seen items stolen from the cabin over the years, and it’s sad. But if you don’t find the directions here, you’ll find them somewhere else, so I have the directions with a small request. As a HikingGuy reader, I’m guessing you probably know this already, but if you’re new to the site (and/or hiking), please don’t touch, move, or take anything from the cabin. You’ll have to poke around to find the Boulder House, and this is what it looks like.
Once you’re done here, you just hike out the way you hiked in.
Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.