Traces of the Forgotten
California and the Old Spanish Trail - Incorporating bits and pieces of routes used by Jedediah Smith and others, Armijo led a band of traders toward California. Navigating via streams and other landmarks, avoiding Death Valley, and eating some of their mules along the way, Armijo and his group eventually made it to California's San Gabriel Mission. Once in California, the group traded their wool blankets for horses and mules which were driven back to Santa Fe where they were sold.
Armijo's success heralded the beginning of a regular trade route between Santa Fe and Los Angeles. As a result, Santa Fe would be able to sell its products overseas through the coastal city of Los Angeles. More...
The Mystery of the Missing Sand - There is an extraordinary dune system in the Mojave National Preserve that has an unexpectedly mysterious history. Huge amounts of sand were needed to build Kelso Dune's delicate wind-created sculptures, but geologists studying the Preserve discovered that no new sand is moving in to replenish the dunes. Where did the sand originally come from? What made it stop accumulating? The Kelso Dune sands remained a mystery until very recently. More...
The Castle in the Desert - If you have an extra day to spend in Death Valley, consider yourself lucky and head for Scotty's Castle and Ubehebe Crater. From Furnace Creek head northward on Route 190, also known as Scotty's Castle Road. Along the way, while taking in the subtly changing scenery, keep an eye out for that lone coyote in search of his next meal.
The Castle is a popular destination, so it's wise to make it the first stop and, once there, get tickets immediately. Depending on the time available before your tour begins, there are a few decisions to make. If you have an hour or less, then explore the grounds; visit the gift shop and the snack bar. If you have longer, there will be time to drive to Ubehebe Crater. More...
"Me lonely? Hell no! I'm half coyote and half wild burro."
Ballarat - A Ghost Town - Ballarat was born in 1896 as a supply point for the mines in the canyons of the Panamints. A quarter mile to the south is Post Office Springs, a reliable water source used since the 1850s by prospectors and desert wanderers. George Riggins, a young immigrant from Australia, gave Ballarat its name when he proposed it should be named for the city in the heart of Australia's gold country. More...
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