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With the discovery of Silver ore (Silver Chloride)at the CHLORIDE CLIFFS in August,1871, Chloride City reportedly became the first mining venture on the east side of Death Valley in the Funeral Mountain Range. The Chloride Cliff Company was active on and off producing silver ore until finally closing down for good in June 1912.
On this 8 mile 4x4 drive in, one of the things you will not want to miss is the excellent viewpoint from the 5279 foot Chloride Cliffs highpoint. You will be looking down the length of Death Valley, more than 5000 feet below, a breathtaking panorama perhaps surpassed only by Dante's Viewpoint high above Badwater Basin.
The main attraction and focus of this hike description is the remote and scenic hike down from the TH/Parking Start location at way point N36.69947 W-116.87886 to the BIG BELL MINES COMPLEX located 2.75mls and -1408 feet below your TH Start (between the popular Keane Wonder Mine Complex and the Chloride Cliffs). This Big Bell Complex has a very interesting and educational Gold Mining History. The majority of its remains date back from the 1935-37 time period with tons of old surviving mining equipment to view and numerous, large audits you can carefully walk into. A well preserved mining site once fought over by a real western gunfight.
IF you enjoy:
..scenic 4x4ing to reach a remote destination;
..mining history with old structures, tons of old mining equipment, and numerous audits to explore;
..a scenic highpoint at 5279' to view the depths and length of Death Valley;
..and are a capable GPS user who can download and follow the attached GPS hiking "and" GPS driving route attached to this hike description;
..visiting this area of DV in only Dec-Jan-Feb-early March;
..hiking downhill -1408' in the beginning of the hike, then uphill coming back for a total of 1700'AEG;
THEN, this hike and exploration area is a "must do" when visiting Death Valley National Park;
Please Note: As of this writing, the more popular and easier driving route to access this hiking area via the Keane Wonder Mine Trail (off the Beatty Cutoff Road), is presently closed due to recent Mercury contamination finds at the Keane Wonder Mine, so this hike description is the present recommended route to access this most interesting area of Death Valley history.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.