The Charcoal Kilns
Wildrose Peak , Death Valley National Park California , USA
The Charcoal Kilns Death Valley National Park California Reviews
off the beaten path...interesting... Jan 04, 2015
Located in the Panamint Springs Area of Death Valley National Park that is so remote and far from the popular attractions is The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns.
To find your way here, you truly have the desire to see these well preserved kilns. Otherwise, it is easy to give up and say; “forget about it!” Anyone who is planning to hike the Telescope Peak that towers 11, 050 feet above Badwater will inevitably stumble on these gems. In other words, once you figured out where the trailhead for Telescope Peak, there the Charcoal Kilns, too. I will write a detailed step by step driving directions, but I still suggest visiting the park’s visitor center for guidance before you head up into that direction.
What exactly are these kilns and why are they there?
The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns were constructed in 1875 for burning forests of pinyon trees and converting the logs into charcoal. Chinese workers usually did the work, took them two weeks before a finished product and then charcoals were hauled to mining towns west of Panamint Valley, about 25 miles distance from the kilns. At that time, coals were used as a source of fuel for silver smelters. Can you imagine a booming mining industry in that area so long ago?
Unfortunately, the charcoal production in these kilns did not last long. In 1879, the charcoal kilns were non-operational. One possible reason could be the difficulty of hauling from the kilns to the mining towns! I will not wonder why. We traveled through the same paths to get to these charcoal kilns! Traveling via a modern vehicle is already quite a task how much more for wagons hauled by mules? Of course, that is just my assumption.
The one good turnout of that though is the charcoal kilns were not overused. Built for over a hundred years only two times had it been restored. Today, these cone-shaped kilns are in very good shape; seemingly awaiting for those who are interested to pay them a visit. As I mentioned, it is not easy to reach this area, and not much people want to make their way. In a sense, it is also good to maintain Charcoal Kilns’ status as one of the off the beaten path destination in the park.
The kilns do look like giant beehives. They look very photogenic in pictures, and that is why I was smitten and made sure we visit this well-preserved attraction in Death Valley National Park. Each of the ten cone-shaped structure is about 25 feet tall, 30 feet in diameter, and made of stones.
Follow Highway 190 past Stovepipe Wells until; you see an arrow pointing towards left onto Emigrant Canyon Road.
Follow Emigrant Canyon Road for twenty miles. Now, twenty miles sounds short distance but bear in mind because you will be in one of the outback areas within Death Valley National Park, it looks and feels very isolated. Emigrant Road is a long, narrow road. The drive here is well worth it though; not just to see the kilns but, the corkscrew road, the elevation, and you will be treated to many amazing volcanic mountains as well as vast landscapes.
Along the way, you will come to a crossroad. There are few abandoned buildings or houses here. Just follow the pointing arrow to the Charcoal Kilns. Keep driving for another three miles from this point until the paved road ends.
From the end of the paved road, continue driving (onto dirt road) for another six miles. Then finally, you'll be greeted by your first sight of these "giant beehives!"
Right at the space where we parked were two interpretive displays that give a little information about the standing structures across the road. The kilns entry way are open which allowed us to enter and examine its interior. Except for the strong smell of smoke coated inside the kilns, there isn’t much in there. It is interesting though of how dominant the smoke odor considering it had been over a century since last used.
The kilns are surrounded by pines, so this area is much cooler making it a respite from the heat of the desert below. We wanted to hike from the kilns to the Telescope Peak to get a top view of Badwater, but that might not be a good idea since, it was time to for us to head back home.
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