Tucked away in the backcountry wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park is a hidden gem called Cary’s Castle. In 1935, at the tender age of twenty-four, a young man named Arthur L. Cary (often misspelled “Carey” and so the site is called Carey's Castle in many places) moved from Colorado to the Coachella Valley. Besides starting a small family, he and his father took up prospecting in the Eagle Mountains in their spare time. They staked multiple claims together but Cary owned this mine, the “Welcome Stranger”, mine alone. He spent much of his time out here from 1938 to 1941 developing the mine and enjoying the solitude of this remote country. He probably built the Castle as a primitive residence next to the mine at that time.
Even if you have seen photos of the Castle, it is still a pleasant surprise to finally find it. An unassuming wooden door and window, set in a well-built mortared rock wall, are tucked away under a massive granite boulder. Inside, a bed frame, table, and few simple furnishings remain. Interestingly, Cary wasn’t the first person to make a home under this boulder. Native Americans once thought the shelter was a good place to live and get out of the harsh desert sun as well. A handful of red, black, and white pictographs adorn the ceiling and stand testament to their presence. (Please don’t touch them.)
Outside the Castle, a few water barrels are scattered about. Cary’s mine is a few hundred feet west of the Castle on an old road. It is marked incorrectly on topo maps as “Carey’s Castle”. Look for it directly across from the castle. The shaft is gated.
Other interesting remnants of this remote prospector’s camp lurk among the boulders here. Spend some time and explore around. Please do your part to help and leave everything as you find it.