The Castle Mountains National Monument is one of the newest national parks and the easiest pathway to get there begins near Searchlight, Nevada. When traveling just a few miles west of Searchlight on the Joshua Tree Highway (Hwy 164) the sign to look for is Walking Box Ranch Road. This smooth dirt road runs across the California Border about 20 miles into the protected Castle Mountains desert environment and the majestic views are mesmerizing to see. As an added bonus, the old historic Walking Box Ranch can be toured along the way and the experience will provide a better understanding of this this region and some interesting insight into the lifestyle of Hollywood stars from back in the early days of big screen westerns can also be gained!
The Walking Box Ranch is most famous for being the home of the early Hollywood stars Rex Bell and Clara Bow. This famous couple purchased the property as a working ranch, which was like a dream come true for Rex Bell because he was a local cowpoke long before he became a star in western movies. The ranch property certainly was luxurious by standards and a very lengthy list of world famous Hollywood stars visited the property on a regular basis. The high times of this cozy ranch lasted till the 1940s, when the property was sold. The ranch then served as a retreat till the late 1950s, then the title changed hands several times before being recommended as a National Historic Site. After receiving protective status, the restoration projects commenced and the property was turned into a museum with interesting views of the past.
The Walking Box Ranch is a great destination for organized tours and it definitely is a place where fans of old Hollywood westerns will feel right at home. The dirt access road is well maintained, so an average passenger car can do the trip with ease. On the downside, closures have taken affect during Covid, so it is best to check the official BLM Walking Box Page when making plans. The grounds around the ranch are a conservation area set aside to protect Desert Gopher Tortoises, so information about this rare critter can be found here too. For this reason, when planning a tour of the Castle Mountains, the historic Walking Box Ranch should definitely be the first stop!
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