Keys Ranch Guided Walking Tour

Ranch house and well
Ranch house and well

David Glasglow

In the high desert country that was to become Joshua Tree National Park, rugged individuals tried their luck at cattle ranching, mining, and homesteading. William F. Keys and his family are 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.

Tour Schedule From June 1, 2016 through September 30, 2016, tours will be offered on:

  • Saturday afternoons at 6:00 pm

Cost Keys Ranch tours cost $10 per person aged 12 and over and $5 for children 6 to 11. Children under six are admitted free. Senior and Access Pass (Golden Age and Golden Access passport) holders pay $5. These tour fees do not include the park entrance fee of $20 per car, good for a seven-day visit. Entrance fees are payable at park entrance stations.

Reservations Are Required Reservations are first-come, first-served on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased until 4:00 pm and must be purchased in person at Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms. Tickets are not sold at any other visitor center and cannot be purchased before the day of the tour. Space will not be reserved until payment is received; credit cards are accepted. We recommend purchasing tickets early in the day as tours are popular and may sell out. Tickets are no longer sold at the ranch gate. For questions regarding tours call 760-367-5522.

Directions 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.)

Take a Virtual Tour Watch a three-part video series that offers an alternative tour of the ranch.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Dr.
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


(760) 367-5500

Contact Us