Skidoo is an old historic gold mining site in the southwest end of Death Valley National Park. This mining camp is located in the Panamint Mountains about a mile above the floor of Death Valley and this remote area is not the easiest to access. Previous articles describe points of interest along Emigrant Canyon Road to Wildrose beginning near Stovepipe Wells and the dirt road to Skidoo can be found near the trail to Aguereberry Point. There are vehicle size restrictions to be aware of on Emigrant Canyon Road and a high ground clearance vehicle will be needed to get to Skidoo, so access to this side trip destination is limited. As an alternative, hiking or biking to Skidoo is an option, but only during the very short cold weather seasons because the summer temperatures are dangerously hot in this region.
The dirt roads to Skidoo traverse a few mountain ridge lines that offer splendid panoramic views, so the journey getting there is half of the fun. There are optional 4x4 trails that end atop mountain peaks that are perfect spots for an afternoon picnic, so be sure to take the time to explore the branches of the main dirt road. A map is not really needed, because nearly all of the trails can be seen from the high ground, which makes it easy to navigate the pathway to the old Skidoo townsite and the gold mine.
There are several mine shafts sunk in these hills and the burden piles are easy to spot. These historic spots are fun to explore by foot, but care must be taken in these dangerous areas to avoid injury, since the chance of rescue might as well be a million miles away. There is signage marking the spot where the town of Skidoo used to be, but all that is left is bits of concrete foundation and a whole bunch of rusty metal scrap from the old days. The Skidoo building materials were almost completely scavenged for other projects in this region, so if it were not for the historic marker it would be difficult to even realize that this ghost town ever existed.
The historic Skidoo Mill Site is located a few hundred yards past the townsite and it is perched high in the side of a steep mountain slope. The trail going to the old gold mill is closed for safety reasons, but the scenic views from the gate are as dramatic as can be. The mine was established back in 1906 when Skidoo was named Hoveck in honor of the mine manager. A significant amount of gold ore was processed with the water powered gravity fed cyanide extraction system, which was the perfect design for this steep slope. Traces of the lengthy waterline can be seen heading toward the source on Telescope Peak, which was quite a hasty engineering project in itself. The Skidoo mining operations closed in 1917 after the mother lode ran dry and this mill is still in top condition, so it is pure eye candy for fans of the old wild west!
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