Monday, November 4, 2013

Ryan Ranch - Joshua Tree National Park

As some of you may already know, Joshua Tree is pure desert. Water of any type is very valuable. In the late 1800's Jepp and Tom Ryan homesteaded this site to obtain the rights to a natural spring that used to be located there. The water was used to support the Lost Horse Mine (subject of a future post), which was owned by Jepp, Tom, their brother Matt and a local prospector named Johnny Lang. Water was pumped from the spring to the mine, that was over 3 miles away. In addition to supporting mining activities, the Ryan family also raised cattle. At one time there was over 50 people living on the ranch. 

The main ranch house was very much intact until 1978. That year an arsonist set fire to it. The adobe walls and foundation are all that remains.

The ranch house commanded a fantastic view. 

See the rock formation to the left of the tree? The large rectangular stone jutting into the sky above the rest is called "Headstone." It's a very well known rock climbing site. Joshua Tree has hundreds, if not thousands of them...

The walls of the ranch house were made from bricks and adobe. Both of which were made from local materials, including tailings from the mine. Years later they discovered that the mine tailings still contained gold. From that point forward they referred to the place as the "gold brick house."

 Heading up the hill to the spring and pump house.

 The remains of the old windmill.

Looking past the spring and pump towards the ranch house. I was standing near the base of what is now called "Ryan Mountain."

The amazing rock formation behind the ranch house. There is a lot of evidence around there relating to a long period of Indian presence in the area. 

 The remains of the original ranch bunk house.

We just returned from two weeks in the Joshua Tree area. The first five days it was closed because of the federal government shutdown. I can probably do about 10 posts on this amazing place. I'll probably cut it down a bit, but I love it and there is so much to see and do. In addition, I have a lot of personal history in the area. I might even tell a true story about something amazing that happened to me and a friend there when we were about 12 years old. 



  1. We haven't been on the tour yet, so I am looking forward to your updates! Thank you for sharing this. We will have to get up there this winter.
    Cheryl Ann

  2. Shame someone had to burn down the house. Think I'd want a house made completely of adobe since it's the only thing that survived.
    That rock formation is stunning!

  3. i loved this. so sad that the home was burned down on purpose. really beautiful ruins and the land around it, too.

  4. Such an awesome and beautiful place, Pat!! And your captures are superb as always -- the next best thing to being there!! Hope you have a great week!

  5. I have never been in this national park. I only can say it's fascinating. And a desert as beautiful as it can be.

    Love the rock formation!

    Pat, I had a great time looking at these pictures and reading what you wrote.

  6. What drama! What sculpture in scenery and ruins! What a place! How wonderful it must be to be there in real life!

  7. They have so many photos like yours hanging in the halls of the hospital, I thought of you EVERY TIME I WALKED DOWN THE HALLS! (and that was A LOT)

  8. trav4adventures - Thanks! The weather was really nice. We'll also be going back at least a couple of times before it heats up again.

    Alex - I know! I don't understand what motivates people to do such things. Alex, there are thousands of or rock formations there.

    TexWisGirl - Thanks! It can get very hot there, but during winter the weather is beautiful

    Sylvia - Thanks so much Sylvia. I hope you also have a great week.

    Kaya - It is an amazing place. Very primitive when compared to many NP's. You have to bring your own water and food in, because there is no place to get. Talk about National Parks, your state has a bunch of them. They are all amazing!

    Esther - Because it's in a NP, for the most part nobody messes with the things there and they stay beautiful. Its desolate, rugged and beautiful.

    Ms. A - Thanks! I wish some of them were my photos! Unfortunately, you've had to spend way too much time in those halls lately.

  9. I am interested in hearing more about Joshua Tree National Park… First of all, how did it get its name? I assume the name is for the Yucca tree--which I assume is in that area…????

    Can you imagine living in the desert like that? Maybe you can since you know a lot about that area--but for me, I could never do it… I'd love to visit, but to live there????? Never.


  10. Amazing, fascinating, mesmerizing. How wonderful it would be to visit that place someday~

  11. Kinda like a Stonehenge :)
    Loved those stone formations!

  12. More great photos!

    You've whetted my yearning to go to Joshua Tree. I've always wanted to go, but have not been there yet in my 22 years in CA. My wife is not thrilled about going places like this and we don't take many trips of this nature. Maybe one day I'll talk her into it. In the meantime I'll have to settle for pictures or shows like Huell Howser's.

    Wrote By Rote

  13. That is some amazing landscape around that abandoned ranch. What wonderful color.

  14. I LOVE Joshua Tree. Someone there told us once "you either GET Joshua Tree NP or you don't". I'd like to think we do, but we sure don't get it as well as you do -- your pictures are amazing and capture the ranch wonderfully.

    Please do 10 posts, don't cut down. Love the memories and look forward to seeing this favorite place through your eyes.. (and I want to know the true story from your childhood!)

  15. You always share the beauty that so many of us will never see!m Thanks Pat!

  16. please don't cut down on the posts, this is fascinating! The old windmill is cool.

  17. It looks to me like our very own Stonehenge!

    I know what you mean about this special, can I say even spiritual place. Every time I enter the park, I get so emotional, I actually get tears in my eyes I'm so overcome by its beauty.

    So, don't cut down on those posts on my account!

  18. What a beautiful place - and water would make it valuable indeed. Great photos.

  19. Nice post! I've only been over to the Ryan Ranch ruins in the dark. I'll have to make a return trip during the daytime. Love the pics!

  20. I would love to have seen this when it was inhabited. Gorgeous place and pictures.

  21. This is a fabulous article!A very interesting place and I got wonderful pictures. If you don't mind, I'm sharing this post in our "Bonjour et Bon Voyage" facebook page! Merci beaucoup!
    Léia :)

  22. Another great location - how do you find them!!

    I think that once you have your trip to Australia organised you should visit the original Ballarat!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  23. Like DEZMOND says, it looks a lot like Stonehenge. At least it was the aliens' first go at it.
    "Wow, Znnntgff, that's looks terrific."
    "I know, Qwrjx, isn't the scenery here fantastic?"
    "For sure, for sure. Hey, I'm kinda thirsty. What's an alien gotta do to get a drink around here?"
    "You mean we built this NOWHERE near any water? What the eff is wrong with you, you idiot bug-eyed dope!!!???"
    "Hey, you know, there IS this area way over in that ocean east of here. I think the local local sun worshippers call it 'England.' Maybe we can go there...?"
    "Well...okay. But, I'M driving this time. Dumbass."

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. I have been wanting to visit Joshua Tree ever since we first moved to AZ in 1997. Now seeing your images, it will be high on my priority list when we move back.

    A beautiful series!


  26. The remains are a bit like a desert monolith don't you think Pat..hard to imagine someone causing so much damage way out here. Looking forward to your boyhood tale..

  27. simply beautifully captured shots....lovely!

  28. Betsy - Legend has it that when the Mormons came through this area looking for a home, they thought the tree looked like Joshua with his arms spread out.
    The Joshua Tree, although a member of the Yucca family, looks totally different than a Yucca Tree. Until recently, it was considered a giant member of the Lily family.

    I've spent so much time in the desert that I can imagine living there. That is as far as it goes though. Too hot during the summer.

    Shelly - Thank you, thank you and thank you! I hope you do get to visit there someday.

    DEZMOND - It does look Stonehenge. It's too bad that it doesn't still look like a house.

    Arlee - Thanks so much Lee! It doesn't take long to get to Joshua Tree from where you live. I'd be happy to give you some tips on how to turn it into just a day trip.

    M Pax - I agree Mary. In the morning or late afternoon light, it's even more amazing.

    Sallie - Me too! I've heard something like that also. Maybe it's a good thing that a lot of people "don't" get it. Thanks Sallie!

    Brian - I'm really glad you enjoy it all Brian!

  29. Wayne - I'll see how it all pans out. There is a lot of cool stuff there.

    Stickup Artist - You can say spiritual and I agree, but not in the way most people would use the word. The Cahuilla have considered it sacred for centuries. We were in JT for several days last two weeks. I spent one of the days there by myself looking for an obscure cave with some rock art in it. I didn't find what I was looking for but I did find a rock shelter high up in a formation. There was smoke from ancient camp fires in it. I was sitting there by myself looking out at the beauty of the place, with nobody within miles of me and I REALLY felt it all. Of course, if I'd broken my leg in that cave, I'd probably still be there...

    Al - I agree! There is so little water there, that the park service doesn't provide ANY inside the park. Thanks Al.

    Jim - Thanks Jim! Just the opposite for me. I've never been to the ranch house at night. I plan to though!

    Bouncin Barb - I saw it when it is inhabited, but from a distance. That was 40 years ago. Thanks for the nice words.

    Cezar and Leia - Thanks so much Leia! Please do share it! I take that as a compliment.

    Stewart - Thanks Stewart! Finding this place was easy. I probably spend 100 nights camping all over that place when I was younger. Ballarat it is!

  30. Al P - HA! That was funny Al. I love that Ancient Aliens show and I always think a little bit about it when I see rock art.

    thirtysevenandcounting - That's great to hear. It's a pretty small National Park, but there is so much to see and do there. Are you moving to the Southern part of the state?

    PerthDailyPhoto - I totally agree with you. They do look like a monolith. I guess I should sit down and write up something about what happened there.

    Kalyan - Thanks so much! I appreciate the comment and the compliment.

  31. When I consider ancient aliens, it always makes Native Americans come to mind. I imagine that these folks had a great sense of humor (I believe humor is part of the human condition).
    Anyway, can you see two Navajo:
    "What you doing, Cactus-With-Arms?"
    "That simple, Burning Crotch. I'm piling rock over here, then bigger rock over here. Look like sky canoe."
    "Why do that?"
    "You kidding? So people think outer space dudes come here. Love goofing with people."
    "Pretty funny, but we need walk a long way to get home."
    "Yeah. Can't wait until the Spanish show up with horse."

  32. What an amazing place, and so much to know, to learn, and to see. Can't wait for your true story :-)

  33. No matter how well I think I know a place, you always show me something new.

  34. You always find the most unique places to visit.. do you & your wife want to hire me as your driver :-)
    These are great shots Pat!!


  35. Al P - I've seen some strange looking rock art and I guess we'll never know.

    Icy BC - Thanks so much! I'll start on that post pretty soon.

    altadenahiker - If that is true, then I am happy to do so. I am also happy to learn things myself. I REALLY wish I could remember all the thing my granny taught me about this area. She knew more about the desert than anybody I've ever met.

    sixdegreesphotography - Thanks Lynne! We both usually want to drive, so we'd have to do some three way coin flipping to decide.

  36. There's something absolutely gorgeous about the color of the adobe walls. Like they've soaked in the sun and now reflect it out.

  37. That windmill on the ground looks big! Arson is something I don't understand:( Still this area is beautiful!
    Thanks for visiting me on my wordpress blog!

  38. Nice pictures and very spectacular this great place that reminds me of western movies, some excellent exquisite colors! Greetings!

  39. So fascinating to me as there is NOTHING like this place where I live. What a shame an arsonist torched the place. I look forward to hearing what happened to you when you were a twelve-year-old kid.

  40. Amazing photos, Patrick! I think the rock formation is my favorite. Yes! Pllllllleeeeeeeaaaaaaassssseee tell us the story! We love your stories.

  41. Looking forward to your personal story of this place. Just think...hundreds of years from now, people will likely think of those walls as Stonehenge of the West and speculate on what they were used for.

  42. This wonderful site existed from the 1800’s only to be destroyed by an arsonist. WHY? Why do people want to destroy thing especially by fire. It is heart breaking and so maddening for me. I do’t get it and will never accept it. This old ranch must have been quite the enterprise rambling all over the place. I am going to see if I can find a picture of it as it looked before being burned. Thanks for a grey post and I cannot wait to hear about your experience. genie

  43. Great photos as always. I'm with Genie on the "WHY's" of arson. Same with graffiti and theft. Sick minds, I guess. We drove thru that park once, very quickly. I did get a couple of shots of the funny cactus and the rock formations. Love that big, blue sky! Thanks for the memories, Pat.

  44. Hi Pat, thanks for your comment and link. The Sharon's Paws blog was really beautiful, and it was fun "visiting" the zoo again. I wanted to share my latest project - my first digital video. I think you will enjoy the tapir-hippie connection. I am not soliciting, just watch if you get the chance :-) As a fundraiser, i seem to have missed the mark, but as marvelous and weird tapir history . . . enjoy!

  45. AND, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post! The colors and shapes are absolutely delicious, especially those adobe walls in their setting.

  46. TS Hendrik - I totally agree! Next time I'm going to go very early or very late and see what they look like then.

    jeannettestgermain - It was pretty big! I agree about arson. I think it should be a capital offense.

    Leovi - Thanks Leovi! Many movies have been filmed in this area.

    EG CameraGirl - It's an amazing part of the planet. I better get started on that post.

    Bossy Betty - Thanks so much Betty! Okay, I'll get started on the story.

  47. Carol - I think you may be right. Even now, there is an amazing amount of Indian artifacts and rock art there. Some of it from thousands of years ago.

    genie - I'm with you! Like I said before, arson should be a capital offense. If you do find an old photo, please let me know. I was told that there aren't any, but I'm betting there is.

    Rosemary - Thanks Rosemary! A lot of people drive through the park. It's a beautiful drive. The rocks you see on the road tour, are but a fraction of what is not visible from the road.

    tapirgal - My pleasure! Thanks for the link, I'll be sure to check it out. Joshua Tree is an amazing place. I assumed that you have been there (you've been everywhere else!) Thanks for the nice word.

  48. There's something quite compelling about this place. I think I could out there for a while and just take it all in. ;-)

  49. Talei - Hi Talei! I agree with you. Maybe someday you will be able.

  50. All the photos are great. But the top one is so beautiful between the blue sky and adobe redness. You sure wander across some great finds.

  51. What a stunningly beautiful place to visit.
    Despite the sadness that an arsonist burnt down the original house, what remains seems as one with the surrounding landscape.
    Thank you for the gorgeous photographs

  52. Joshua Tree is really such a spectacular place, I had forgotten how beautiful until I saw these photos. Only went once, when my family first moved to California in 1970. Your photos make me want to go back. Please tell the story, and post as many posts that this beautiful place conjures.

  53. Sharon - Thanks Sharon! It was a beautiful spot, that's for sure.

    Mynx - I totally agree! What's left, certainly does seem to blend in. The photos are my pleasure and I'm so glad that you enjoyed them.

    Robin - Spectacular is a good word for it. I also want to go back and I want to do it today. Just too much going on at home. I used to go there before it was a National Park and as a kid spent more nights than I can remember sleeping on the ground there.

  54. Wow!! What an incredible place!

  55. Truly is a beautiful place and your images are awesome!

  56. Fascinating! The adobe walls are amazing and so are the surroundings.

  57. Liz - It really is incredible! Thanks Liz!

    Reena - Thanks Reena! I love it there.

    James - I agree with you! Did you ever go to Joshua Tree when you lived out here?

  58. Thanks for reminding me how much I love and miss the desert!

  59. Sage - My pleasure! I was just there 2 weeks ago and I miss it already. In a couple months we are planning to spend some time up in Death Valley. While we're in the area, Goler Gulch is a place that's on my list to go to and re-visit. Thanks to your great post about that place and your friends that once lived there, I'm going to see it in a totally different light. I can't wait to get there...

  60. I want to hear it all!!!!! I have some history in the area. Friends lived there and now half the art world who couldn't afford a home in LA have moved out there.

  61. Pasadena Adjacent - And so you will! Yep, the town of Joshua Tree is very much an artists community. We have a friend who lives there also.

  62. I love the stunning colors, especially the reds and rust.

  63. The beauty and history of the desert places you visit amazes me Pat. Now I can cross Joshua Tree off my bucket list.
    Next comes a 12 year old's true tale :)

  64. Well, it's been decades since I've been to Josh Tree. Back in the Tapir Era featured in that video :-)

  65. the desert places always amaze me...really beautiful ruins.
    fantastic place and pictures. you make me want to go there.


  66. Carly - I'm with you! I was so happy to see a few clouds also.

    Pam - It's all just out there waiting for us. It's kind of like the Grand Canyon though. Photos don't really do it justice.

    tapirgal - Well, as soon as you are feeling up to it, it will be time for you to go back!

    Betty M - Me too! Well, when you have the chance, do it!

  67. More great pictures. The Ancient Alien guys on History Channel would say that aliens built that house since we aren't smart enough to. Just an observation.

  68. N.R. Williams - Thanks Nancy! Every time I see petroglyphs or intaglios, I think about that show. It's kind of silly, but still somewhat educational. What I like BEST about it is the crazy looking guy with totally wild hair.

  69. This was posted 19 days ago?? I am so behind. LOVE the area. It has amazing scenery.

  70. Baby Sister - Yep! good thing I'm not posting much lately. I also love it there.


This blog is word verification free.
I love your comments and will do my best to respond to each and every one.