Eureka Mine is a tiny dot on the grand Death Valley map. It’s located off Emigrant Canyon Road, a small, in-and-out road whose primary purpose is to take hikers to the trail to the highest point in the park, Telescope Peak, and to take tourists to the charcoal kilns. What the dot doesn’t tell you is that Eureka Mine is also the site of a sweet little ghost camp (it’s not really big enough to qualify as a town) where a few people lived and mined gold long after the rush was over.
You’ve got to bump-bump-bump two miles down a “graded” dirt road to get to the mine and camp area. At one point, the washboard was so bad we almost turned around. Don’t do it! When you finally arrive, in a cloud of dust, it feels like you’re discovering the area for the first time. Spend plenty of time wandering around and exploring the many mine shafts and artifacts scattered over the valley. Imagine how hard it must have been to haul equipment and supplies in here, not to mention water. Imagine how quiet and lonely it would have been at night. For the last few decades this area was in operation, it was mined by just one man, alone in the vast desert.
The mine shafts are all barred with thick metal grates to prevent entry. One of the interpretive signs informed us that: “at times the mine is closed for the protection of bats [the mine is a winter home for an endangered species of bat]. When the mine is open, use caution while exploring. Take two flashlights, one for use and one for backup.” I think I’d take a backpack full of flashlights.