Flickr album link: Saline Valley Road To Boxcar Cabin
This article is the first in a series about the lengthy dirt road that runs north through the Saline Valley and mountain passes to Big Pine, California. This 100 mile dirt road touring route offers plenty of picturesque landscapes to view and there are several historic places to experience along the way. The Saline Valley hot springs are the main attraction for most visitors that take on this trail, but the thought of relaxing in a tub of warm water should not be reason to let the defenses down. The Saline Valley is a very remote area in the north end of the park, so a reliable vehicle and emergency supplies will be needed for making the long journey a safe one. The few cool weather months of the year are best for this trip, since the triple digit heat of summer can affect vehicle reliability. Checking the weather forecast will be necessary too, because the mountain passes are subject to winter snow storms that can create impassible situations.
The Boxcar Cabin is one of the first historic sites to be encountered when heading north on Saline Valley Road from Highway 190. The dirt road to the cabin passes through rolling hills sparsely covered with Joshua Trees and the silence is deafening. This setting certainly is a peaceful place to be and it is easy to see why prospectors moved the old boxcar to this site back in the early 1900s. Mineral mining was active in this region back in those days and old abandoned mine shafts can be seen throughout the hills.
Since the Sierra Nevada Mountains are right next door, it is easy to imagine that the winter weather can be brutally cold in this region. After the passing of the local mining boom toward the 1940s, the old abandoned Boxcar Cabin soon became well known for being a place to shelter during challenging weather and it has served this purpose ever since. In fact, the Boxcar Cabin has become a cult destination for long distance trekkers, just like with so many other abandoned structures located along major hiking trails. People routinely hunker down for an overnighter in the old boxcar, which is basically governed by unwritten hostel rules. This means if upkeep or cleaning needs done, a visitor should take on the task. Visitors often leave basic food stocks, snacks, books and other necessities in the cabin for others in need, which creates a warm and welcome atmosphere. Prospector shelters like Boxcar Cabin are a common site along the backcountry dirt roads of the west, so be sure to check it out and take the time to relax for a spell!
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