In the high desert country that was to become Joshua Tree National Park, rugged individuals tried their luck at cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading. The story of William F. Keys and his family is particularly representative of the hard work and ingenuity it took to settle and prosper in the Mojave Desert.
The ranger-guided tour of the ranch includes the colorful story of the 60 years Bill and Frances spent working 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.
Visiting the Ranch
Listed as a National Historic Register Site, the property is located in a remote, rocky canyon in Joshua Tree National Park. To preserve its historic character, admission to the ranch is restricted to guided walking tours. The tours are a half-mile in length and last 90 minutes. Group size is limited to 25 people.
Tours are typically held from October - May and are not available during the hot summer months. For current program schedule visit our Calendar page.
Tickets are required and can be reserved ahead of time on Recreation.gov.
These tour fees do not include the park entrance fee.
To find the ranch, pass the entrance to Hidden Valley Campground, turn left at the Y-intersection, follow the road approximately two miles to the locked gate. Your guide will meet you there. (See map.) Please arrive at the ranch gate 15 minutes prior to your tour.
Safety & Comfort
Sturdy walking shoes, drinking water, sunscreen, and a hat will add to your comfort. Dress in layers to be prepared for changing weather conditions.
Smoking and eating are not allowed during the tour. Camcorders and cameras are permitted but camera tripods are not. (You may inquire about special tours for photographers and other artists.)
Last updated: September 12, 2019