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Ranches - Joshua Tree National Park

Desert Queen Ranch

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desert queen ranch

This rock-enclosed canyon in Joshua Tree National Park has been a living site for early Native Americans, a cattle ranch, a mill site for gold ore, and the homestead ranch for Bill Keys and his family.

In the high desert country rugged individuals tried their luck at cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading. William F. Keys and his family are particularly representative of the hard work and ingenuity it took to settle and prosper in the Mojave Desert.

For 60 years Bill and Frances worked together to make a life and raise their five children in this remote location. The ranch house, school house, store, and workshop still stand; the orchard has been replanted; and the grounds are full of the cars, trucks, mining equipment, and spare parts that are a part of the Desert Queen Ranch story.

The ranch is accessible by Ranger-led tours only.

Historic Desert Queen Ranch photo - 1969 Desert Queen Ranch - 1969


Also see:

Desert Queen Photo Gallery

Desert Queen Ranch Aerial Photos (3)

Wall Street Mill

Desert Queen Mine

Bill Keys


The Desert Queen Ranch, also known as the Keys Ranch, is a historical site located within Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. This ranch holds a significant place in the park's history and offers visitors a glimpse into the past.

The ranch was established in the early 1900s by Bill and Frances Keys, who settled in this harsh desert environment with their five children. Despite the challenges of living in such an arid and isolated area, the Keys family managed to thrive and create a prosperous ranch.

The Desert Queen Ranch is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the Keys family. The ranch features various structures, including the main house, a schoolhouse, a store, and a workshop. These buildings were constructed using locally sourced materials and showcase the resourcefulness of the pioneers.

Visiting the Desert Queen Ranch provides a unique opportunity to explore the history of the region. Guided tours are available, allowing visitors to learn about the daily life of the Keys family and the challenges they faced. The tour guides share fascinating stories and anecdotes that bring the ranch's history to life.

As you explore the ranch, you'll discover remnants of the past, such as vintage cars, farm equipment, and the original water tank used to collect precious rainwater. These artifacts provide a tangible connection to the past and offer a glimpse into the hardships and triumphs of the Keys family.

In addition to its historical significance, the Desert Queen Ranch is also known for its stunning natural surroundings. Nestled among the rocky desert landscape, the ranch offers breathtaking views of Joshua Tree National Park. Visitors can take in the beauty of the desert, marvel at the unique Joshua trees, and perhaps even spot some wildlife.

Whether you're a history enthusiast or simply seeking a unique experience within Joshua Tree National Park, a visit to the Desert Queen Ranch is highly recommended. Immerse yourself in the rich history of this desert oasis and gain a deeper appreciation for the pioneers who called this place home.
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These items are historical in scope and are intended for educational purposes only; they are not meant as an aid for travel planning.
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