This is our 11th year of spending the Thanksgiving holiday in the desert with friends. It’s one of my favorite trips of the year. Friends from Northern and Southern California gather together in a remote location far from civilization, where we hike, climb, eat, and make merry for the week. This year we met in an old mining alcove in the Mojave desert.

We enjoy seeking out old desert homesteads and mining cabins, bringing the warmth of a holiday celebration back to homes that have long been neglected. This year’s location was a spot that is well loved by many and under renovation. So, although I often report on my Thanksgiving trip in detail, I am keeping this year’s report vague out of respect for the great digs in which we spent the holiday.

The desert is often thought of as a hot wasteland. When I share my trip reports here, I do it with the goal of sharing the natural beauty and fascinating history you can find if you just take the time to look. Therefore, I want to share some highlights from this year’s trip that help me with this goal.

Thanksgiving Dinner in a cabin in the middle of nowhere
Thanksgiving Dinner in a cabin in the middle of nowhere

Natural Beauty

Morning View from near camp
Morning View from near camp
Mrs Butterworth?
Mrs Butterworth?
Endless rock piles. A jungle gym!
Endless rock piles. A jungle gym!
And many peaks to climb!
And many peaks to climb!

Natural History

Pictographs in a rock arch (enhanced to show off the paint)
Pictographs in a rock arch (enhanced to show off the paint)
Pottery shard found in a nearby alcove
Pottery shard found in a nearby alcove

Recent History

Abandoned homestead
Abandoned homestead
And no AAA out here
And no AAA out here
Watch where you step
Watch where you step
Follow an old mining road through a joshua tree forest
Follow an old mining road through a joshua tree forest

Thanks for coming along on this little tour of the things I love about the desert. Check out the link in the box above for more photos from the area.

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  1. Danielle

    Sooooooo…….did anyone have the guts to climb down that ladder??? 😉

    1. Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd Listing Owner

      Ha, it was actually closed off – i got this photo by sticking my lens between the metal bars. But to your question – oh hell no.

  2. Brett Bayley

    Rebecca.
    great post as always!
    good to see you found another killer spot for Thanksgiving.

    having combed through your pics i’m fairly confident I’ve figured out where this is-and am intrigued to go visit.
    i had a few questions as far as securing ‘residence’ at the cabin-surely no reservations, permits or anything? just first come first served kinda deal?
    and did you’ll pack gear-tents etc- as a fall back should the cabin be ‘booked’
    as far as staying in the cabin itself-i love the working wood stove and all! did you guys just bivy on the floors?

    as you mentioned folks are renovating/fixing it up a bit at a time-did you notice anything it may need to improve it? i’d love to contribute while on my visit and make it better for the next group.

    looks amazing.

    thanks for any info!
    Brett

    1. Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd Listing Owner

      Thanks for the comment, and thanks for the help with the place if you find it. That’s how I found it – pictures, then when exploring that area a while back we confirmed it.

      There are no hard and fast rules. Generally, most of the inhabitable cabins have a flag pole and a flag. Raise the flag when you arrive and take it down when you leave. Most people out there recognize that as a sign of ‘taken’.

      There are other places to dispersed camp in the area so don’t let people back there discourage you – just explore. Tons of nooks and crannies. None of us slept in the cabin – we all slept in our own tent/vehicle camping setup.

      As far as supplies, the one thing that was running low when we were there were coleman fuel canisters for the lanterns. Since it was so cold out (and getting dark at 4:30 pm) we ran through our canisters and didn’t have any to leave behind. We also constantly had the stove going since it was so cold (lower 20s at night) but we still had firewood to leave behind. I also donated an aluminum camp table.

      Thanks again for taking care of the place! I know the park historian/archaeologist has an interest in preserving this little nook of the park and I think that’s great!

    2. Dave

      I help maintain that cabin. It is not that hard to locate on any of the mapping services. As Rebecca states…..we go through lots of propane and fire wood. I’d say travel with plenty because you never know when some one might just use it all and move on. We are getting the second cabin cleaned up and I have spent a few nights in it. Its a bit smaller than the other cabin but it stays a lot warmer with less wood. I’ll be up that way over Xmas if you care to email me. dave_budd@yahoo.com

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