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Ryan Ranch Trail Hike

Joshua Tree National Park

Western Sonoran + Colorado Desert, California

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Ryan Ranch Trail Hike

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  • Vault toilet facilities at the Ryan Ranch Trailhead.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Ryan Ranch Trail.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) along the Ryan Ranch Trail.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Chuckwalla Cholla (Cylindropuntia chuckwallensis) along the Ryan Ranch Trail.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Wallace's woolly daisy (Eriophyllum wallacei) along the Ryan Ranch Trail.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Wallace's woolly daisy (Eriophyllum wallacei) along the Ryan Ranch Trail.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Birstly fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellata) along the Ryan Ranch Trail.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Hikers on the Ryan Ranch Trail.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • View of the Headstone Rock, adjacent to Ryan Campground.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris).- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • View of the Ryan Ranch adobe ruin.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Desert paintbrush (Castilleja chromosa).- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • Adobe ruins at Ryan Ranch.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • View of the Ryan Ranch adobe ruin.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
  • View of the Ryan Ranch adobe ruin.- Ryan Ranch Trail Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Historic ranch house ruin. Easy, kid-friendly. Central location in park.
Cons: 
Limited parking. Sun exposure.
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Region:
Western Sonoran + Colorado Desert, CA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
50.00 ft (15.24 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Fall
Total Distance: 
0.80 mi (1.29 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
4,270.00 ft (1,301.50 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Brothers Tom and Jepp Ryan homesteaded this plot of land situated in the northwest corner of Joshua Tree National Park in the late 1800s when nearby Lost Horse Mine—the most successful gold mine in the area—was just about to enter its prime. The two brothers owned the mine with their third brother Matt and an additional prospector, Johnny Lang.

The just over 2-mile hike from the trailhead to the historic grounds is very family friendly and gains a mere 80 feet, making this trail one of the most popular in the park. The trailhead is accessible from Park Boulevard and is immediately accessible to those staying at Ryan Campground. Though the trail through black bush, creostone, yucca, and twisted Joshua trees isn’t super inspiring, the ranch ruins most definitely are.

The remarkably well-preserved ruins (which were inhabited until cattle grazing ceased and Joshua Tree became a national monument in 1936) are interesting for kids and adults alike and offer insight into life for the two rich bachelors that once inhabited the two buildings. The beauty of the old buildings is striking: the adobe bricks used to construct the house were mixed with the standard clay, sand, and water, but the Ryans also added tailings, the refuse left over from extracting gold from ore. The result? A discovery upon completion of the building that it gives off a distinct sheen thanks to the gold dust. For the best experience, visit the site at dusk and watch “the gold brick house” shine. 

The grounds are peppered with historical gems for those whose interest is piqued. Purportedly there are eight grave sites in addition to may old artifacts strewn about the premises. Look hard enough and you’ll stumble upon some Native American rock art. It’s imperative to keep in mind that touching or disturbing these ruins or artifacts disrupts them for future generations.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(11 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(37 within a 30 mile radius)

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