Moby Goes to the Turtle Mountains

The Turtle Mountains Wilderness is about 30 miles southeast of Needles, CA, near the Arizona border. Encompassing 177,209 acres, this wilderness area is on the small side. By comparison, the Frank Church wilderness in Idaho is nearly 2.4 million acres. Bolson Peak is the highest point in the Turtles, at 4231 feet.


We drove in on a scary road, the kind where I get out and walk. Larry and Moby loved it.


I’m not sure where these mountains got their name, but I doubt it’s because of their shape. They’re very jagged and look nothing like turtles.


Maybe they’re named the Turtles because they’re home to the desert tortoise.

dt_life_2 Desert tortoises have lived here for millions of years, even before this area was a desert. They can live up to 80 years, and spend as much as 95% of that time in underground burrows to escape cold winters and hot summers. Their huge bladders store more than 40% of their body weight in water, urea, and waste.

This area is frequented by rockhounders searching for chalcedony or Desert Rose. We took a hike to see what we could find.


We found a “trail” that was a mere suggestion, marked by cairns, but no Desert Roses.

Larry improves a cairn under Sombrero Rock.

We found weird rock formations.


We found cactus galore.

Beautiful desert scenery, but no Desert Roses.


We found a tarantula.


We found an old miners’ cabin complete with the legend of the Lost Arch Mine. Rumor is that there’s a rich gold mine lost nearby, marked by a natural rock arch. There’s a rock arch in the mountain just up from this cabin as well as many others in the hills nearby. Many have searched for the Lost Arch Mine, but none have found it. If you want to strike it rich, you’ll find tips on where to begin your search for the Lost Arch Mine here:

The Lost Arch Inn
Home of prospector Charley Brown (who lived here from 1922 until his death in 1948) and Jesse Craik. The men searched the Turtle Mountains for gold and silver, finding little. Their home was known as the Lost Arch Inn and attracted visitors who came to fill their pockets with Desert Roses.
The inside of Charley’s cabin looks like my daughter’s college apartment.

We found the gravesite of Baby Elizabeth Hammond, August 27, 1928.

Baby Elizabeth

We found weird rocks, but no Desert Roses.


But guess what we found by our picnic table in the campground, left by a previous camper?


The bottom ones, I think, are fragments of the Desert Rose.

5 thoughts

  1. Can you please tell me where the grave for Elizabeth is? Is it close to the old house? We found the house but it is now collapsed. We looked all over and couldn’t find the grave. I was there in 1975 or 1976 and saw it then but we can’t remember where it was. Thank you!

    1. Sorry, Michelle, Janene and I don’t recall the exact location. I went back into our digital photo files from that trip but I couldn’t get any clues from there that might pinpoint things. Bummer that the cabin has fallen down, but it certainly was leaning when we were there.

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