The Desert Swallows All- Death Valley NP, California

Death Valley National Park, Abandon places



At a slow pace, it devours all

I feel like i’m being super creepy with the way i’ve been writing about Death Valley, at least with the last two posts BUT i’m nothing if not honest and its all fun and games out here until you realize you’re dozens of miles away from the next living person.
Which is both awesome and terrifying.

Still editing the last post for the Death Valley portion of the trip (the ghost town of Rhyolite) after which we’ve still got Joshua Tree, Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain and Carlsbad Caverns. I’m seriously the worst at procrastination but I feel like considering all the different places I went on this last trip, I’m gonna cut myself some slack- but just a little.

~m

The Voices In the Hills- Skidoo Ghost Town, Death Valley National Park, California

Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP

Have you ever seen the movie, the Hills Have Eyes?

Even if you haven’t, i’m sure you’ve heard of it….or you at least have an idea of what i’m getting at.

It would be pretty fair to say this was the part of the park that we spent the most time at, though Rhyolite would probably be a close second (though technically not actually within the boundaries of the park…but more on that later). I definetly enjoyed my time here- it was worth the bumpy and at times slightly perilous drive to get out there and the complete solitude was just perfection, but….

So. I have a pretty active imagination- some might say over active- and while at first the complete solitude in this area was amazing, after the first hour it went from amazing to somewhat more, how shall we say, eerie? Its the remneants of a ghost town complete with the decaying structure of an abandoned stamp mill, so of course we expected a certain amount of eerie solitude. But the whole time we were there in that part of the park, about 2 almost 3 hours, we didn’t see one single person (or animal) around. Not even birds in the sky. And after we’d gotten out fill of exploring the stamp mill, we headed back to the towns original location and thats when we started noticing the doors.

The town of Skidoo was a gold mining town- hence the stamp mill- which results in oddities like doors carved into hills. Some are high up and far away from the road, just dark blots on the landscape of rolling hills but others…. well, others seem to appear out of almost nowhere, you just look out your car window and happen to spot a door ajar, tucked in the mouth of a hill just by the side of the road. And your mind can’t help but wonder if anything lives beyond those doors, down in the darkness deep in those hills.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t make the journey out to Skidoo, I had a blast exploring out there and honestly just reveling in the uniqueness of the experience but yeah, just be aware it’s not really an adventure you’d want to do by yourself for a multitude of reasons (one of them being no cell service unless you get up high on the hills).

Explore responsibly, don’t leave any trace of yourself behind and maybe don’t go peeking behind half opened doors that lead into abandoned mine shafts,
~m

P.S if you’d like to read more on the Skidoo’s town history, this is a really informative site.

A Chill in The Wind- Skidoo Abandoned Stamp Mill, Death Valley NP

Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley national park
Mine entrance, Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley national park




Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley national park
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley national park
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley national park
Skidoo Stamp Mill, Death Valley national park

I go to weird places.
Thats pretty self evident if you’ve been following this blog for a bit, from wandering around space ship shaped houses , taking a sunset stroll alonside abandoned factories and exploring old gold mining towns . I come from and love cities but there’s something about reaching out towards the left behind that I genuinely can’t get enough of.

Which is why when I started making plans for Death Valley I was incredibly excited about the prospect of not only seeing a park i’ve been dreaming of seeing since I was a child (yup, I was an odd kid) there was also the thrill of getting a chance to explore some abandoned towns and structures here in this most desolate of places.  Since we only had one full day here in the park, there’s a couple of places I decided to leave for another visit to give us the time to make it out to the two places I most wanted to see, Rhyolite and Skidoo.

So lemme start with the fact that technically, if you’re headed out here just for the idea of exploring the ghost town of Skiddo, it doesn’t exist. There are no standing buildings or structures that belonged to the town, and the area where the town used to be only has a placard in place of anything else to see. I figure it would be good to say that, and most guidebooks will tell you the same because getting out here is a real….adventure. Definitely do not attempt if you’ve only got a sedan type vehicle and weak knees. Best case scenario would be attempting this if you’ve got a 4WD high clearance vehicle and guts of steel for when the dirt path called a road starts to climb up into the mountains and your eyes inadvertently gaze down into the valley below.  We were somewhere in the middle of those scenarios, my stomach knotted up but fingers tightly gripping my camera as we rounded those curves in our much abused Jeep.

We reached the mill around 1130am, the sun climbing hotter and hotter up into the blazing sapphire tinted sky and even with all the directions i’d amassed from various guidebooks and websites ( here’s one ) we still only managed to make it to the mill by accident, and then we decided to backtrack down to attempt making it up a steeper hill opposite the mill to get a better view of it. A bumpy 10 minute drive later we’d crested over the hills, so far up that far off to our left we could see the shimmer of salty basins below. The whole ride up and around and over, we were completely alone. No signs of life whatsoever, from humans or animals alike, and sitting up there eating our lunch while gazing out at the abandoned stamp mill below and the gentle peaks surrounding us, it was the one moment of complete solitude that I experienced on the whole trip and it was magnificent.

~m

(This is going to be a two-parter because there’s still something to be said for the town and the surrounding area thats a chilling kind of haunting, the doors to mine shafts popping up all over the landscape like little portals to darkness, and then there’s the closer look at the stamp mill I managed to get as well. )