Oz Area

Pinto Wye Arrastra ♦ Mine Site #1


Pinto Wye Arrastra DSCF3295

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Munchkinland, eastern approach via Park Boulevard dirt lot

Munchkinland, eastern approach via Park Boulevard dirt lot (see map)


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  • Munchkinland
  • Pinto Wye Arrastra

See Also

Pinto Wye Mine Site #2

Trek date: 2016 Feb 24

Arrastra, downslope from mine tailings

Arrastra, downslope from mine tailings

Munchkinland, southern approach

Munchkinland, southern approach

PATTY FURBUSH IN HER “ON FOOT IN JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK” explains: “The Pinto Wye Arrastra is one of only two wagon wheel arrastras found on national park lands. It is relatively well preserved. Because it provides an example of 19th and early 20th century ore-milling techniques, it has been nominated for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Why ‘wye’? Despite not being in the daily newspaper headlines, the Wye at Joshua Tree National Park continues to be in a state of activity based on hundreds of thousands of tourists transiting the area each year. You are asking What is a ‘wye’? Google—that fount of formidable information—suggests two possibilities among others. (1) A triangle of railroad track, used for turning locomotives or trains, (2) (in plumbing) a short pipe with a branch joining it at an acute angle.Pinto Wye Arrastra Sign DSCF3301

Pinto Wye Arrastra DSCF3288We will go with #2, the acute plumbers, since Park Boulevard, where it ascends from Joshua Tree’s North Entrance, takes a sharp bend to the west at the ‘wye’ with Pinto Basin Road branching off to the south—acutely. See map above.

It is in this northwest quadrant that several hiking possibilities present themselves: some old gold diggings, a extensive rock-strewn hillside known collectively by the climbing community as the Land of Oz or more prosaically as the Oz Area, and finally, a nicely preserved 1930s’ era rock-grinder and crusher (arrastra)—the Pinto Wye Arrastra.

Ore-grinding stone

Ore-grinding stone

In other areas of Joshua Tree, rock crushing was usually done by stamp mills. There is even a convenient old tin bucket nearby this arrastra, probably used by Park Service tour guides when giving lectures to arrastra connoisseurs. Photographing the current unit in 3D was an immense treat for me. A splendid opportunity to freeze it in time from all angles for humanity to view, even if they are halfway around the world.

The arrastra was constructed above a wash (34° 1’43.58″N 116° 1’40.96″W). It can be seen from several hundred yards away as you approach. Further on up the hillside, miners dug a small shaft and dumped out the tailings below the shaft. We don’t know for sure, but we hope that the miner or miners dutifully dug and (conveniently) made money from their enterprise.

Crest this ridge to access Munchkinland

Crest this ridge to access Munchkinland beyond

The arrastra and Munchkinland are easily approached from the southern end. Park along Park Boulevard at one of several widenings in the road or at a paved turnout at the bend 0.4 mile west of the Wye (see map above). 34° 1’6.04″N 116° 1’34.39″W

From this point, walk north about 0.75 mile to an area within Oz known as Munchkinland. (They are so clever!). You do not see the climbing formations until you’ve descended into and cross a broad sandy wash, and then climb a modest 40ft compacted sandy ridge on the far side. It is then where the valley leading to Munchkinland and the Pinto Wye Arrastra reveal themselves.

My good friend E!—who occasionally uses his real name Elliot Koeppel when no one is looking—has provided descriptive descriptions of his visit to the arrastra area, which can be read HERE and HERE.

Lining the hillsides and deep valley in this northern area of Joshua Tree National Park are monzogranite rock piles that comprise the main formations drawing rock climbers. They have named this main group Munchkinland, referring to the Wizard of Oz stories by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919).

Note: Across Park Boulevard from the Arrastra and its mine is a second hilltop mine (see Google Earth view above). I am naming this one Pinto Wye Mine Site #2, which may have been worked around the same time period, and possibly had its ore transported here for crushing.


2D Munchkinland

Views North, West, to South


2D Pinto Wye Arrastra

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3D Arrastra Anaglyph Gallery

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3D Munchkinland Anaglyph Gallery


Munchkinland Joshua Tree NP 3DA 1080p DSCF3205


3D Half Side-by-Side Gallery

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Thank you for visiting Joshua Tree 3D and the Munchkinland-Arrastra area!

John Murbach

Temple City, CA


Posted 2016 Feb 27

Updated 2018 Apr 1