BICKEL CAMP CALIFORNIA
Historic 1930’s Mining Camp
Occupied Historic Site
Bickel Camp was founded in the early 1930’s by Walt Bickel, a heavy equipment mechanic and machinist in search of some solitude. Walt prospected the surrounding canyons which are heavily mineralized due to the Garlock Fault. He became versed in geology, mining, botany and Indian affairs in order to survive the long desert days and nights. During World War II, Walt invented tools to assist soldiers in battle, and received military decoration for his efforts. In the early 1980’s the BLM began a crackdown on squatters and drug labs that littered the Mojave Desert. Overwhelming public support was effective in saving Walt’s camp from demise, but Walt suffered a stroke that hospitalized him to nearby Ridgecrest until his death in 1996. Walt’s son in law assumed occupation of the camp, and became somewhat a success at mining himself, but he eventually returned to his family in Hesperia in 2004. Bickel Camp has since been protected and occupied by a handful of volunteer caretakers and the founding of “The Friends of Last Chance Canyon”.
Today, visitors are greeted by caretakers and offered a tour of the camp and cabin. Cash donations are much needed for repairs and upkeep and are accepted on site as well as any supply donations. There is a real need for canned food, fresh water and fuel to make life at the camp a bit easier for the volunteer caretakers who reside here, miles and miles from civilization. There is a hand full of adopt-a-cabins in the neighboring canyon for those who would like to remain near the camp for an extended period of time. BLM open land camping is also available throughout the area.
For more information: www.bickelcamp.org
A view of Bickel Camp from the South.
Although not a ghost town, Bickel Camp is very primitive.
We rode nearly 3 hours before arriving at Bickel Camp.
One of many possessions left at the historic camp.
Interior of Walt Bickels Cabin as he left it.
Photo of Walt Bickel in his later years.