Mine Sites Of The Southern Panamint Mountains


In April of 2007, I had the opportunity to take a quick solo trip up to the southern Panamint Mountains of Death Valley California. This was my first trip into the area and I not only wanted to see some of the mining equipment that the area is known for, but I also wanted to drive several backroads and walk several trails described in the guides that I had so that I could have a basis for interpreting the difficulty ratings for getting into other places on future visits.

I approached the area from the west through Trona California and crossed the Panamint Valley to the old town of Ballarat. From there I drove and walked into two mine sites on the west side of the range, then drove northward to the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns and the Skidoo Mill. I ended my trip by poking into two canyons on the east side of the mountains. I was impressed by the quality of the sites that I visited and the ruggedness of the terrain of the Panamint Mountains. I did find the roads to generally be in better condition than what I had read.

Click on Photos to Enlarge:

Telescope Peak

High Point of the Panamints

Panamint Valley



The first mine site that I visited is known on the Internet as the "Spur of the Moment" mine. It is accessed by a two mile walk up an old washed out mine road. The gold mine has been intermittently worked since the early 1900's and saw its last activity in 1990-91 when a new cabin was constructed, the cableway was used and a couple hundred tons of ore were blasted down in the mine.

Mine Camp

Lower Ore Bins

Lower Terminal Station

Tramway Bucket

Turn Wheel

Tram Tower

Engine and Winch at Upper Station

Trestle and Ore Haulage Tracks

Trucks to Ore Car



The next site also on the west side of the Panamint Range is at the end of an 6 mile 4 x 4 road. It goes by the moniker of the "Corona Beer Mine". There is a ton of old machinery at this site.

The Mine Camp

Engine and Slusher Combo

Blacksmith Shop

The Mill

Fairbanks Morse Engine

Desert Rat

Jaw Crusher

Ball Mill

NOVO Engine Winch Combo

Road in Canyon


The next stops on the trip were drive-ups on good roads to two of the area's more famous attractions the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns and the Skidoo Mill. The Charcoal Kilns were constructed in the 1870's to provide charcoal used in the smelting process for nearby mines. The Skidoo Mill, a water powered stamp mill, was in operation in the early 1900's processing the gold ores of the area.

Wildrose Kilns

Door Details

Skidoo Mill

The Stamps


My guide for the stops on the east side of the Panamint Mountains was Michel Digonnet's "Hiking Death Valley". After looking it over, I decided to drive to the Morning Glory Mining Camp, then hike to the Old Dependable Mine to see the mining equipment and the tram line that he described and then walk up the steep grade to the Mining Glory Mine. While I was in the area, I would also check out the Broken Pick Millsite and walk a mile or so up to see a "well-stocked junkyard". The equipment at these sites was not as spectacular as those that I had seen previously, but still very interesting. The walk up to the Morning Glory mine was quite a "hump" of about 6 miles round trip.

Morning Glory Mine Camp

Tram Bucket

Old Dependable Antimony Mine

Buda Compressor

Tram Line to MG Mine

Cabin at Morning Glory Mine

Mountain reclaiming cabin

Miners' Artifacts

Ore Bucket

Ore Car

View Down the Canyon

Coffee on the Porch

BFNB(Bed Frame No Breakfast)

Broken Pick Mill Camp

Main House at BP Mill Camp

Bucket Loader


My last stop for this trip was to be in the Gold Hill area off the Warm Springs Road. I wanted to find the "interesting mining rigs" described in the Digonnet book. I walked the area for 6 miles and found the stone walls, claims markers, and several mine workings, but did not find the interesting stuff I was expecting. It must have been the last set of mines that I just didn't have the time to get to! On the way to this area, I passed by the impressive Gold Hill Mill and the Warm Springs Mine Camp.

Engine at Gold Hill Mill

Arrastre at Gold Hill Mill

Warm Springs Camp

Swimming Pool

Main Building

Bunk House


On my way south from Death Valley, I pulled in to look over the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave Preserve. I was intriqued that they were "singing" dunes. To check that out, I had to hike to the top. When I bailed off the steep side, the movement of the sand produced a loud low-pitched humming sound! That was very cool and a great conclusion to my first trip to the area!

Kelso Dunes

3rd Highest Dune in

North America