Wildrose Charcoal Kilns would probably be one of the most visited attractions in Death Valley if they were not in such a remote location. The charcoal kilns were built in 1877 to provide a reliable source of charcoal to mining operations at Lookout City in the Argus Mountain Range.
Due to the Charcoal Kilns remote location, the historic ovens have been spared by graffiti artists and vandals. The kilns are in remarkable condition and look much like they did back in 1887. Other than the kilns there is not too much to see at the site. But if you are history buff then this is a must do on your next visit to Death Valley National Park.
Tent Town Wildrose Charcoal Kilns
At its peak, the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns employed about 50 workers including woodcutters, charcoal-burners, cooks and mule-train packers. When in operation the kilns could hold 42 cords of wood that was slowly burned inside the kiln for two-weeks, producing about 2,000 bushels of charcoal.
From the Kilns, the charcoal was loaded onto mules and hauled down Wildrose Canyon, across Panamint Valley, and up to a steep pack trail to Lookout City. During its peak, Lookout City boasted a ten-stamp mill, two 60-ton furnaces, several saloons, a general store, and cabins for the workers.
Lookout City’s smelters were used to produce bars of silver from the ore produced at nearby mining operations. The furnaces used massive amounts of charcoal and were dependent on the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns to provide it. When more economical sources of charcoal were discovered the Wildrose Kilns were no longer needed.
Lookout City Ghost Town is located about 15 miles southeast of Panamint Springs and requires a 4WD vehicle and a short but strenuous hike to reach. The foundations of a few buildings along with a section the pack trail used to transport the ore and charcoal are still visible today.
Wildrose Peak Trail
If you decide to take the two-hour trek up from the floor of Death Valley to see the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns we recommend hiking, at least, part of the Wildrose Peak Trail. Even if you do not make it to the summit the trail features amazing views of the canyon and the Panamint Mountains.
Getting to Wildrose Charcoal Kilns
From Stovepipe Wells head West on highway 190 a little over 9 miles. Turn left on Emigrant Canyon Road. The drive up canyon is about twenty miles until you reach Wildrose Campground. Continue past the campground 8 miles to the Kilns. The last two miles are gravel but can be easily traveled by a passenger car. More info.
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