Reward Mine: a risky drive into an abandoned mine in CA

Located in Inyo County, in the US state of California, Reward Mine is a cluster of mines and structures from various eras. It’s so big that you can drive a 4WD through the main tunnel of this mine. Not recommended driving into the mine. The mine is full of areas where there is evidence of collapse.

Reward Mine

Where is Reward Mine located?

Reward Mine is located in Inyo County, on the desert region of eastern California, at the base of the Inyo Mountains, between Independence and Lone Pine, in the shadows of Mount Whitney.

What’s Reward Mine?

The abandoned mine, also known as Brown Monster Mine, has eight connected levels spanning over 500 feet from top to bottom. The huge central mine tunnel is large enough to drive a truck into and has dozens of large tunnels that go deep underground providing a unique opportunity to drive into the depths of a mine. The mine is located east of the Manzanar Historical Monument a Japanese internment camp from WWII, a worthy stop. Reward was one of many mining camps that began throughout the Inyo Mountains in the late 1800s. It was a very profitable mine and extracted significant gold and particularly lead ore. Mining continued at Reward until the 1970s.

Is Reward Mine in CA dangerous?

The mine is full of areas where there is evidence of collapse. Drivers not heeding out advice use extreme caution and have contingencies. This site is near an active earthquake area. A cave-in could happen at any time without warning.

How’s the drive to Reward Mine in California?

The drive inside the mine is extremely dangerous and risky. The trail leading to the mine is steep and rocky with embedded boulders — much more so than the earlier section of trail — and requires 4WD to reach it. If your 4X4 vehicle doesn't have excellent off-road tires and good ground clearance, don't try it. You can drive into the mine for more than a quarter mile. Once inside the mine, the trail is easy soft dirt. Highly recommended to do it with someone else, not alone. To find the mine you will need some patience and a 4WD because of driving uphill on gravel road. There are no signs how to get there. GPS location will take you to the remains of the equipment but this is not the entrance which is on other side of the hill. Once inside the mine you can park your car and do some exploration on foot. The main tunnel of this mine is large enough to fit several vehicles and provides a unique opportunity to drive into the depths of a mine.
Pic: Tonka Cruiser