Back in February, I was talking about a place off of Wildrose Road, the Eureka Mine, which you used to be able to explore (or so I was led to believe). (Article here). A couple weeks ago, after I passed through Trona, I stopped by, because I wanted to check it out as it was closed in February. I stopped by one entrance, and then another, and then another, and found the same thing you can see in all of the pictures: the mine entrances were blocked off. At this point, I stopped, and had a good think. Those metal bars blocking the mine entrances? Fairly permanent. And by fairly permanent, I mean, actually permanent. I'll admit that I didn't have time to talk to a NPS Ranger about this, since I was on my way to 20 Mule Team Canyon, but at this point, after visiting twice at two completely separate times in the year, I can only conclude the mine is closed for good at this point. It is, however, still a really cool spot to visit, and after all, the mine is probably closed to protect the public from Morlocks, and that's a good thing!
There’s gold in them thar hills! Why else would people come to Death Valley – aside from the mystic saltwater pools, of course! If you’ve got a moment, and you’re heading into the park from the South entrance, or leaving the park from the South entrance, I’d suggest that you stop at the ruins of the Ashford Mill, where you can still see some of the structures of the former mill survive – mainly because they were built twice as thick as normal buildings. Supposedly, the buildings were built twice as thick, because extra material was delivered upon construction, but if you’re like me, you can speculate about more sinister, science-fiction type reasons while you’re there. In any event, while it’s not the Eureka Mine (http://lastadventurer.com/last-adventurers-fieldnotes/2012/2/27/eureka-mine-harrisburg-ghost-town-aguereberry-camp.html), it’s still worth a stop to see some of Death Valley’s mining past.
If you play your cards right, you can follow the previous posts from a snowy 11,000 foot peak (Telescope Peak), past some unique structures (the Charcoal Kilns and Eureka Mine), through an ancient canyon with cracked granite blocks (Mosaic Canyon) down to rolling sand dunes (Mesquite Flat) all within a day. That alone should make Death Valley a “must-do” in anyone’s book – I personally can’t think of another place world-wide where you can traverse such a variety of terrain in a day or less. Granted, if you’re going to do all of those things in a day, you’re going to need to get an early start, and move quick, but it is indeed possible.
As if there weren’t enough interesting things about Death Valley National Park, here’s one more for you: the park is honeycombed with tons of abandoned mines, representing a bygone era of mineral exploration and exploitation. Many of these mines can be seen from the trail, most notably in the Golden Canyon region, but a majority – if not all of these mines may be unsafe, due to a variety of factors – the mine may not be seismically stable, there may be hazardous gasses (methane), or there may be morlocks or other serious hazards within the mine. Fortunately, should you have the itch to explore a mine in a safe manner; there is an option for you: the Eureka Mine (provided you are headed there during the right season).