My friends Nick, Albert, and I hiked to Carey's Castle in Joshua Tree National Park the first weekend of April 2011. There isn't a trail to this particular destination and the going is tough as you must find your way up remote rugged canyons and scramble up many rocks and dry falls. But it is definitely worth it as the destination is unique and beautiful. I won't divulge directions here on this website, but if you do a little bit of research you should be able to locate the castle and a route to it. Be prepared to navigate through rough desert terrain... suffice to say, this isn't a hike for beginners.
Carey was a miner who built his one room rock castle in about 1940 into a cave that was previously used by Native Americans. There are some faint pictographs on the ceiling of the cave and a mortero nearby. The castle was big enough for a double bed and a kitchen/living area. There are still many artifacts in and around the castle along with a register box. I had fun reading the register entries. Many people had tried to find the castle before but got lost. One guy had hiked there 22 times. One lonely gal had left what amounted to a personal ad and her email. Some guy who evidently had too much desert sun claimed he found a bunch of hot naked women in the cave with cold beer, lol. I simply signed "Wonderful." It is a special spot.
We spent the night near the cave. There is no water in this very remote area so we had to pack a bunch in. Saturday was a warm day and we took several breaks in the shade. Unfortunately that night I got a migraine, first ever on the trail, and about my 10th I've had in my life. So I got sick and drank more water than normal that night. So in the morning I had very little left so decided to pack up before the sun rose too high in the sky and headed back early.
What made this hike very memorable, beyond getting ill, was the many, many critters on the rugged way to and fro - 2 rattlesnakes (one I spotted within just a few minutes of starting to hike, it rattled and moved out of my way thankfully, but I was somewhat jumpy and nervous after that), 5 desert iguanas, 2 chuckwallas including one very colorful baby (first time I'd ever seen a chuckwalla), a ton of zebra-tailed lizards and side-blotch lizards, a baby wood rat, quail, hummingbirds, crazy big colorful beetles, ladybugs, butterflies, jackrabbits, squirrels, etc. We decided that Albert was a good luck charm when it came to animals, because whenever he came on our trips we saw many :)
The desert wildflowers were also at their peak including Canterbury bells, desert mallow, brittlebush, Mojave aster, bigelow monkeyflower, desert tobacco, barrel cactus, hedgehog cactus, and beavertail cactus.
This is a very special spot - if you go please respect the area. Leave any artifacts as you found them, and make sure others in your group do the same. Leave No Trace of your visit, other than signing the log. And please go prepared with plenty of water, maps, rock scrambling and route-finding capability, and maybe even with a friend who's already been that can show you the way.
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