Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tiny Desert Cabins in the Middle of Nowhere

So we took a quick trip out to 29 Palms last weekend (left Sat. afternoon and back home mid-day Sunday, so truly was a quick trip).  Going out to the desert has become one of my passions, so I want to share some of the fun!

One of the really interesting things you see out in the 29 Palms/Wonder Valley area are the "Jackrabbit Homestead" cabins that dot the landscape.  Most are totally out in the middle of nowhere, and they are just little boxy things about 12' x 12'.  Some are occupied; some are being refurbished and renovated to their original '50s glory; but many are abandoned and in varying stages of decay.  And virtually all are photogenic!  You can't help wondering who owns (or owned) them?  What was their story?  Why did they walk away from them?  There's an excellent book that tells the history of these desert boxes.  The author is Kim Stringfellow and the picture below is taken from the website where you can order this book if you're interested.  It's quite good.

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Another interesting website is at  I think these are paintings, or perhaps enhanced photos?  Whatever, they do a great job capturing the lonesome, high-desert beauty of these cabins.

The wife and I went for a walk last Saturday late in the afternoon.  We turned left out of our driveway and took the short walk up to the rocks.  It's such a pretty area that I am constantly looking up at the scenery (vs. where I am stepping) and I dang near stepped on a tarantula!  Never seen one in the wild before.  This guy was pretty feisty and would raise up on his hind legs when you would get close.  He also put his butt up in the air as he walked toward you, and he (she?) looked to have a pretty good size stinger.  Not something you would want to have in your sleeping bag with you!

I told the wife to put her shoe next to it so I could get some perspective in the photo (plus no way I'm putting my foot near that thing!).  Here's what he looked like:

That was our excitement for the weekend.  Cheap thrills!  As we're heading back down the road, the sun is setting, the shadows are long, and things are getting interesting.  I snapped a picture of this homestead cabin that's a short walk from our place... appears not to have been used in many years.

Here's another one a few hundred yards from the last one.  I've named it "The Pink Palace", and it appears to be well maintained.

Here's one to the north of our place on the other side of Hwy 62 that's not so lucky (from a maintenance point-of-view). However, great location with an unbelievable view!  I took this photo about 4-5 weeks ago.

I'll leave you with this interesting desert factoid.  There are some HUGE ant piles in this part of the desert.  A grown man could fall into one! (OK, maybe not... just my desert imagination getting away from me).  Not sure why they are so large, but they are, trust me.  Here's one on our property:

So I have a theory.  Back in the '50s, some film producer from LA probably came out to 29 or Joshua Tree to relax for the weekend.  Who knows, maybe he stayed in a jackrabbit homestead cabin!  He saw these giant ant piles, and his imagination went crazy.  Slowly a movie script started to form in his mind... some kind of radioactivity... yes, that's it, the radioactivity could cause genetic mutations resulting in giant ants that have the potential to destroy the world!!!  If you've not seen "THEM!", and you like kitchy '50s Sci Fi, have I got a movie for you!  Added bonus:  You get to see James Arness and a quick shot of Fess Parker when they were very young.  Enjoy!


  1. Awesome photos, spiders & ants are huge and desert folks are tiny living in 12 x 12's.:)
    You can really sense the peaceful quiet even from a picture - looks like a great weekend.

  2. What an interesting post--I would never have known about these little houses in the desert. My parents bought a lot on the Salton Sea in the 1950s. I don't even know whatever happened to it. I'm going back to the Jackrabbit Homestead website to learn some more. Thank you for this introduction!

  3. Once I thought about things like: why such information is for free here? Because when you write a book then at least on selling a book you get a percentage. Thank you and good luck on informing people more about it!
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