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Eagle Cliff Boulder House in Joshua Tree National Park


Cyrus and Marcia Gale established one of New Hampshire’s premier retreats during the 1800s; when their son Arthur took over management of their farm, he helped further solidify its national prominence by renovating nearly doubled its size.

Though not marked on park maps or listed in any official Joshua Tree guides, the cabin in the rocks can easily be located with knowledge. Please respect its historic value by adhering to leave-no-trace principles when exploring it.

What to Expect

Although not listed on official park maps, the Eagle Cliff Boulder House Trail remains one of Joshua Tree’s most beloved trails. Though challenging at times, it provides a rewarding journey full of history and intrigue to discover.

After beginning on the Split Rock Trail north over reasonably flat terrain, after passing a stream, it veers slightly northwest and begins to steepen, climbing up an unforgiving scree slope that may require scrambling. When reaching the summit of this initial ascent, the plateaus briefly before steadily ascending once more until finally arriving at a gully with an interesting pointed rock at its summit – from here, you can spot remnants of an old mine cabin hidden among the rocks.

This ‘cabin in the rocks’ stands as a testament to early-day prospectors and explorers of Joshua Tree and their creativity and ingenuity. Inside, you’ll find remnants of jars and jugs scattered throughout its three walls as well as wood-framed window spaces at both ends; its rear even boasts an underroom storage area supported by flattened tin cans!

Though it may be tempting to explore every corner of this hidden treasure, please follow leave no trace principles while here. This beautiful site belongs to everyone, so leave it exactly as it was found for others to appreciate as well. Additionally, as the ruins are located in an area that can get quite windy with dust being kicked up easily by solid gusts, make sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring along a windbreaker or light jacket just in case it becomes windy during your visit.

Hiking Conditions

Eagle Cliff Mine and Boulder House may not appear on any official park map, but this secluded spot in Joshua Tree National Park makes for a fantastic hiking experience. While not as accessible as some other popular routes in the park, its rewards make the effort worthwhile! As the hike is rather strenuous and involves climbing a relatively steep trail, it is recommended that this be completed during an off time – ideally a weekday – to avoid crowds, which can turn this into an insane mob scene (particularly during rock scrambling in Labyrinth), and to take your time exploring its rocks at your own pace and speed.

Hikers should begin their hike by following the Split Rock Trail north along flat terrain until it begins to turn slightly west and head onto steeper terrain, including an incline, which may prove challenging. Once at its top, however, a plateau appears before steadily climbing again.

After several minutes of steep climbing, the trail reaches a large gully featuring an unusual rock formation at its summit – complete with red trail markers to guide its ascent. Zig-zagging up this gully can be difficult at first, but eventually, you should see red tags clearly marked along its edge, which can help ensure an easy journey up it.

After some careful navigation, the trail leads into a crack in the rock where the mine and boulder house can be found. Though tight at first, this tight squeeze is far easier than anticipated. Inside is a charming cabin in excellent condition that serves as a time capsule from its past with fascinating artifacts to discover and admire. Definitely check it out, but please follow the leave-no-trace principles here and return everything as you found them if you are visiting this location.

Getting There

The attraction of Eagle Cliff Mine and Boulder House is an engaging yet lengthy hike, beginning from Split Rock trailhead. After passing over relatively flat terrain and crossing a small stream, the route veers off slightly northwest before starting its climb in elevation and ultimately summiting a scree slope; after that, it plateaus temporarily before once more steadily increasing in altitude.

After climbing a gully, the trail heads over two short ridges before arriving at Eagle Cliff Mine. Unfortunately, no park maps mark this hike, so having access to GPX tracks or directions would prove helpful in reaching Eagle Cliff Mine and Boulder House.

Once at the mine, take time to explore its ruins and look at some of the fascinating artifacts remaining here. Remember to respect its history while adhering to leave no trace principles – the journal in the cave shows that 15-20 visitors visit daily, so please be mindful and leave things as is to allow others to enjoy this particular spot.

Final Thoughts

Eagle Cliff Boulder House is an incredible and unique attraction you should definitely visit and explore. As this wild space has been left alone for too long, please respect its environment by leaving everything as you found it and avoiding writing on anything or taking items with you – keeping this area as unspoiled as possible for future visitors is essential to its preservation.

Eagle Cliff in Franconia Notch stands at 3,420′ and features cliffs and ledges covering its summit, offering the chance to get away from crowds climbing more giant White Mountain peaks.