Thursday, May 22, 2014

Iron Door Cave - Joshua Tree National Park

Not only is it a great place on its own, the legend (or legends) of the Iron Door cave are just as amazing. It's not on any map, it's not in any brochure and no one who does know, will tell you where it is. As a kid, I spent a lot of time in the immediate area and I never even heard about it.  We will get to the legend in just a bit.

I had spent many hours looking for it, to no avail. On my last attempt, I invited my granddaughter to go with me. I admit that it was a bit self-serving, because that girl flies around the rocks like a spider monkey flies through the trees. 


you might want to embiggen this one to see how jumbled this area is
I had it narrowed down to a fairly manageable area that looked pretty much like this, only larger.


 Once we got there, I turned her loose.

She climbs up

She climbs down

She disappears into the cracks like a reptile. Then she yells out my name.

This is where she was standing. Do you see the door? No wonder nobody can find this place. It's not only hidden, it is also hidden in the shadows. 

A very narrow entrance to get to a hidden iron door that opens into exactly what?

 Tay is already in there with her flashlight. 

Okay, now to the legend.  As you can see the iron door locks from the outside by sliding a length of wood through it when the door is closed. There is no way of opening it from the inside. The room is about 8 by 10 feet in size and has no windows. There is one small opening built into it though. Just big enough to pass small things in and out. 

The LEGEND is that this cave was used by the local rancher/miner big-shot (William Keys) to keep his schizophrenic son imprisoned. Others say that it was used to store dynamite. Others still, claim that it was used for both purposes at the same time. Either way, it is darn creepy. Not quite to an "oh shite" level, but, but still plenty creepy. The thought of his already impaired son, being isolated in this creepy little cave, getting more and more insane as time passes, is enough to freak anybody out. Truth or fiction? I have no idea, but I do know the cave exists and I also know that it looks more like a holding cell, than a place to store TNT. 

 Lots of graffiti in here and maybe even some petroglyphs. I haven't examined the place (or my photos) enough to find any yet.






 Tay




This thing looks like it is about to eat whoever walks by.

These guys were bouldering (as in free-climbing boulders) and had no clue that they were close to cave. We didn't tell them either.

Pretty creepy, yeah?


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46 comments:

  1. That is creepy. Anyone would go nuts in that tiny cave.
    I guess the butterfly painted on the door is an iron butterfly...

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  2. That place IS creepy! Some people have a nose for finding places like that. Obviously your granddaughter has that "nose"! :-) Good for her! Tell her to keep it up!
    ~Cheryl Ann~

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  3. Creepy indeed. I spent 3 days in Joshua a couple years ago, and had no idea such places were there.

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  4. This is so much better than crawling through abandoned buildings. I agree, its more logical as a holding cell, very, very creepy and disturbing. I wonder if Allene and Andrew are still together, LOL.

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  5. Creepy legend- I hope he didn't keep his son there, but back then, things were so different. Way interesting, and beautiful pics!

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  6. That is a creepy place, Pat, creepy, but fascinating at the same time!! A sad, rather frightening history to think of his son being locked up there! Great captures as always!! Have a great weekend!!

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  7. gosh, yes! i sure hope the legend part about the son is not true. and i love your spider monkey explorer! glad she found it for you!

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  8. Oh. What a beauty she is! I love that you go together! It makes me miss our Grandlittles. This is exactly something we would do.

    I am soooo intriqued with that door. I love the legends even though they make me sad AND creeped out at the same time!

    It's so neat you found this Pat!

    Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I hope it's filled with adventure and fun!

    PS. How is your wife feeling?

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  9. Your granddaughter is so brave! Over the rocks, no fear of meeting an unfriendly snake, and going right into the cave with her flashlight! Good for her!

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  10. Fantastic rocks with great shapes and textures. Nice job. Greetings.

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  11. I agree Pat, it really is creepy cool!

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  12. That is plenty creepy, but extraordinarily cool. It's the kind of story you hope isn't true in real life, but would make for a great horror story.

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  13. Beautiful pictures, but, yes, creepy legend. Shiver.

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  14. Wow! This beautiful girl is really a wonderful explorer!

    Rocks are fabulous! They stole my heart. The places are unique. Actually every your hiking trip is unique!

    Beautiful photos!

    I like this expression creepy cool! Yes, I also agree that this is creepy cool!!!

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  15. A very creepy story, Pat, and a beautiful area.

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  16. Looks like a cool place and looks like you had a perfect day there.

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  17. Fascinating place! Good on you for finding it. Definitely hidden away and creepy. The thought of being trapped in there is pretty horrific.
    I'm certainly no fan of caves, especially tiny ones. Bigger ones are ok.. lol

    Great shots as always.
    Thanks for sharing them and the story.

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  18. Creep factor 101.. I love how Tay is a chip of the ole block, exploring and such.. Looks like someone else has found the "secret cave" as I doubt Metallica was popular back then..
    This is a cool find, Pat!

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  19. Gosh Tay is a brave one Pat, no way I would have gone in until you had at least caught up! Fascinating find, I guess we'll never know for sure, but I'd say by the look of all the graffiti you might not be the first to find the cave?

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  20. OK, this one IS creepy. Definitely. How horrible, what a story. But I bet that version is true (about the poor boy). Great pictures, great find. Too bad about the graffiti. Whats wrong with people anyway?

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  21. Alex - Inagadadivida Alex! I would go nuts also.

    trav4adventures - Yes it is! She does have the nose and so does my wife. I'm pretty good in my own right, but I have to give them credit.

    Should Fish More - The attractions that the park service includes in their tour guides, maps and brochures are fantastic in their own right. However, there is so much more to this amazing place.

    Wayne - I know, but I enjoy doing that also. Maybe they were both locked in there.....

    Shelly - Yep! I also hope he didn't, but it makes for a good legend. Thanks Shelly!

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  22. Alex - Inagadadivida Alex! I would go nuts also.

    trav4adventures - Yes it is! She does have the nose and so does my wife. I'm pretty good in my own right, but I have to give them credit.

    Should Fish More - The attractions that the park service includes in their tour guides, maps and brochures are fantastic in their own right. However, there is so much more to this amazing place.

    Wayne - I know, but I enjoy doing that also. Maybe they were both locked in there.....

    Shelly - Yep! I also hope he didn't, but it makes for a good legend. Thanks Shelly!

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  23. Sylvia K - I agree! I hope the legend isn't true. Thanks Sylvia!

    TexWisGirl - She is a keeper! I'm sure I would have found it also, but it would have taken me a lot longer.

    Jenny - Hi Jenny! We have a lot of fun together. I'm right there with you about the legends. I hope you also have a great holiday. Thanks Jenny! Paula is doing pretty good at the moment. We are thinking the medication she takes, is making thinks worse.

    marlu - She is pretty fearless. We love taking her places. She really gets it...

    Japy - Thanks Japy! It is a spectacular place.

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  24. Brian - Creepy cool! That's a good description.

    TS Hendrik - Plenty creepy! I agree, a sad story, but a great legend.

    Bossy Betty - Thanks Betty! I'm sure the legend is far more interesting than the reality.

    Kaya - Yes, she is! I also like "creepy cool." Thanks so much Kaya!

    William Kendall - I couldn't agree more. I could easily live there. Not actually in the cave, but in the area.

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  25. Kay - It was a perfect day. In fact, I've had a ton of perfect days there. Can't wait to go back.

    Anthony - Thanks Anthony! Being so hidden, makes the legend even better. There are a lot of fascinating places and stories there. I should really post some background info.

    sixdegreesphotography - At least 101! A lot of people have found the cave over the years. Even some of the graffiti is historical. Thanks Lynne!

    PerthDailyPhoto - She sure is! I was just outside when she went in. I wasn't anywhere close to being the first person to find this place. It isn't anywhere close to the touristy areas.

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  26. Sallie FTL - Thanks Sallie! It is pretty creepy. I agree with about the graffiti. Last week, my 4 year old grandson were hiking around our local lake. He spotted a yogurt container floating in the water. He said "Damn stupid people!" He didn't say it to, me just said. After I told him that I agreed, I had a little talk about vocabulary. He is so funny...

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  27. What a great place to find - you're lucky you had your granddaughter with you. It all makes for great photos!

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  28. okay. i can't look at your blog and take it anymore. i'm too jealous of the places you've been going. it's time for me to say screw how broke i am and plan a vacation. it certainly doesn't seem like the most responsible thing i could be saving up money for, but damn it, my spirit needs some play time.
    (it can't be somewhere this awesome, though, because i don't have a car and can't think of a single person i know who'd want to spend days crawling through rocks with me. someday, though, someday.)

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  29. Tay is quite the acrobatic detective.

    The first legend is truly disturbing. I sure hope it's not true.

    And that rock that looks like it's about to eat someone also looks like Pac Man.

    As always, I love your narrated photographs, Pat. Thank you.

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  30. I spent many years rock climbing JTree. The Iron Door Cave has hosted more that a few hot box sessions,especially during those cold, windy evenings. There used to be a climbing bolt in the roof we'd hang a candle lantern from. Got quite cozy in there after a bit.
    BTW: The bouldering boulders being bouldered are called the "Flintstone Boulders". -DS

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  31. I would enjoy going to the Iron Door Cave myself. Half the fun would be looking for it myself once I was in the general area.

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  32. Al - It is a very photogenic place! On this day, I knew where the cave was, but I only told her the vicinity. I just followed her around in amazement. She has good instincts. I'm serious, even if a person was told where it was, they would still have trouble finding it, because it is tucked away in a niche and hidden in shadows.

    Esther Montgomery - I sure do try to. Some are easy, some are hard and some I'm still looking for.

    Lovkyne - I'm happy that I got you interested, but sorry that you can't just up and go there. Since we met, you've lived in a few different states I believe. So I already know that you don't shy away from an adventure.

    Robyn - She is those things for sure. Some time, I 'm going to set her up with some bouldering/climbing lessons while we're there. Maybe this summer. She seems to have some natural talent in that area. Thanks for the nice words Robyn.

    David Stillman - I've seen some of your posts and photos of your times in JTree. I have no doubt that most of the people who know about this spot (and I don't think there are very many) are primarily climbers.

    "The bouldering boulders being bouldered..." That's funny!
    Had I know about this spot much earlier, it might have hosted one more of those sessions. Thanks so much for signing on here and I really appreciate your comment.

    Dan the Mountain Man - I totally agree with you. The harder you have to work to find something, the more you appreciate when you do. Thanks for following and commenting Dan...

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  33. Tay is a brave girl, well done! That legend is really a bit creep :) I love your images, the stones are beautiful, but also huge and I'm sure it's complicated to walk there!
    Hugs
    Leia

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  34. Tay will be a great explorer like her granddad :-) and the cave's legend is quite creepy, but beautiful still!

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  35. I am so impressed. Nest stop: Lost Dutchman's Mine.

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  36. Yikes. I'm claustrophobic, so I think I'll just enjoy it through your pictures!

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  37. Wow! What a find and what a legend! Well done to your grand daughter and thank you for truly creeping me out.

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  38. Definitely creepy but the cool factor outweighs it. Thanks for sharing this. :-)

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  39. Cezar and Leia - It is a bit creepy!
    You are correct, hiking there can sometimes be complicated because of the many obstacles.

    Icy BC - Thanks for saying that, but I'm not much of an explorer these days.

    altadenahiker - She'll go anywhere!

    Stephanie Faris - I'm not usually claustrophobic, but if I was locked in there, I'm sure I would be in a big way.

    Mandy Southgate - It is a cool spot. You are most welcome for creeping you out! My granddaughter loves this stuff.

    Sally in WA - I totally agree with you Sally. thanks!

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  40. That. Is. Creepy. And so not cool. Pretty scenery around it though.

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  41. Baby Sister - Yes.it.is! The thought of it back-in-the-day, with no tourists around makes it seem even creepier.

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  42. LadyFi - It's a great place and a mysterious spot.

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  43. I dont think it was all that creepy as it was exciting .. pretty clever how you didnt shoot much of the landscaping around the place lol i was trying to figure out the landscaping so i might find it. maybe youd like to drop me a hint? :) lol so i take it there is no history on this place only stories nothing in writing that says.. i find that strange in it self .. hum . thank you for sharing this unknown part of history i found it really cool and I am hoping with some of the stuff you talked about i can find it and if i do i wont tell no one its location shhhhhhhh lol

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  44. On April 29, 2017 was "3rd Time's a Charm" My 9yr old daughter found it. Yes I'm the one who posted comment above. took us 2hrs, we would have missed it if it wasn't for her. She was stoked! after we went to Barker Dam and the Petroglyphs. We will be looking for the Chasm of Doom next. So much to see. We went to Wonderland Ranch and posed next to a rusted truck. Yep, you'll find it on the trail to Wall Street Mill.

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