The highest percentage of visitors tend to only experience the roadside attractions in the lower end of Death Valley near Furnace Creek, yet there is much more to see in this vast National Park. Death Valley National Park actually is the largest federally operated park in the lower 48 states and the borders cover several unique terrains that beckon to be explored. In fact, many of the mainstream tourists never make it further west than Stovepipe Wells because of time constraints or tour bus limitations, yet there is a whole world of discovery to be found just around the bend. The access point for the old two lane touring route to Wildrose and several other mining areas in the Panamint Mountain Range lies just a few miles west of Stovepipe Wells, yet relatively few visitors do this side trip on any given day.
The Panamint Range borders upon the west side of the lower end of Death Valley and a lot of old west history was made in these mountains. Roaming prospectors discovered several precious metal and mineral deposits in this region back in the early days, but the extreme environmental conditions certainly made the extraction process a real challenge. Eventually a few mining operations sprouted up after investment money started to pour in, but the profitability was oversold in most cases, so it was just a matter of time before the mining camps were abandoned. Most of the old historic Panamint Range mining sites now remain in an arrested state of slow decay and each offers a unique learning experience and a whole bunch of adventure for the entire family.
Emigrant Canyon Road is the old two lane road to the Wildrose mining district and there are several side roads worth exploring along the way. The dirt roads are fairly smooth in this region, but a high ground clearance vehicle will provide a cushier touring experience and a 4x4 will open up many more options in the backcountry. For those who just want to experience an old west mining site in person without committing to a multi day adventure, Aguereberry Point Road is a good choice. The Euereka Mine Site and the old Harrisburg Mining Camp are located along this side road on the way to Aguereberry Point on the crest of the mountains, which overlooks the entire Badwater Basin area within Death Valley. Doing a complete tour of Aguereberry Point Road will add up to a long half day that is full of exciting things to see and do, so this is the perfect excursion for those who wish to escape from the big crowds.
The Aguereberry Point Overlook was featured in a previous article, so it is easy to look ahead to see the majestic views that lie in store. Along the way are the old Eureka Mine and Harrisburg, which provide hours upon hours of interesting sights to see. The Eureka actually was a fairly profitable gold mine as far as this region goes, but like many others, bilking investors was part of the game. The main head frame, mine shafts and an ore cart tunnel still remain at this site, while tons of rusty antique equipment is scattered around the grounds. Every few steps reveals a new connection to the past and young visitors will certainly be fascinated by all there is to learn. The features of the old Eureka Mine also present some great photo opportunities both in daylight and under the stars at night, so be sure to pack a good camera for the venture!
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