Ryan Ranch Homestead, CA 2022
Ryan Ranch Homestead, CA 2022

Ryan Ranch Homestead, CA 2022

Ryan Ranch Homestead, CA 2022

Ryan Ranch embodies the nexus of ranching and mining in a desert landscape while highlighting the key role of water. Join us in Joshua Tree to help rebuild the foundation of this timeless homestead!

PROJECT PARTNER: Joshua Tree National Park

SESSION DATES: May 22-27, May 29 – June 3


CREW LEADER: Cathy Cooke

Project Site Description & History

Ryan Ranch is a historic homestead associated with the Lost Horse Mine and Mill. Human activity in Joshua Tree National Park dates back millennia. Among the land’s traditional custodians are both the Western Shoshone and Serrano peoples. Lost Horse Mine and Mill are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places and were major hubs of activity within the Lost Horse Historic Mining District. The Ryan Ranch Site was connected to the Lost Horse Mine and Mill Site by a water pipeline that brought water from a natural spring at the ranch to holding tanks at the mill, and by a loop road that historically connected the two locations. Ryan Ranch embodies the nexus of ranching and mining in a desert landscape and the key role of water. The ranch served as an essential component of the Lost Horse mining operation, since it was the site of a two-stamp mill that processed ore from the mine starting in 1894, and it was the source of the water that ran through a pipeline to the mine and operated a ten-stamp mill at the mine itself by 1897. The ranch also served as the base for the Ryans’ ranching operations from the 1890s into the 1920s. The family continued use of their home and property into the 1960s when it was transferred to NPS. The main house was built in about 1895 and burned in 1978; NPS continues to preserve the adobe ruin and other features within the cultural landscape.

Location and Logistics


May 22-27 and May 29 – June 3. Please plan to arrive at the campsite no earlier than 5pm and no later than 7pm on the first day of your session. Volunteers will meet at the Ryan Campground via the West Entrance of the park. The project location is a short hike away, approximately 1/2 mile through easy terrain.

LOCATION:  We will camp in Joshua Tree National Park at the Ryan Campground.

·       MAP to CAMPSITE (same as project site)

ACCESS:    Tent camping only Site is RV/trailer accessible

Access to our campground will require vehicles with high-clearance. There are trailer and RV spaces (35′ max) available but no hookups.  There will be restrooms at both the Ryan Ranch trailhead and Ryan Campground, however, there will not be potable water onsite. HistoriCorps will provide water, but please come prepared with extra water if you desire. Dogs are not permitted at this location.

WEATHER:  Anticipate highs in the mid 80s and lows in the 50s. Weather conditions may be rainy, cloudy, or sunny. Volunteers are responsible for checking weather conditions before their session begins, and packing appropriately. We recommend bringing sunblock since you will be exposed to the sun throughout the course of the project. Please bring a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, sunglasses, and sunblock to protect against sun exposure.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work gloves, clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

Scope of Work


HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers and applying the traditional skills necessary to restore the foundation of the Ryan Ranch Homestead.

  • Clean, rebuild, and repoint two stone retaining walls – 80%
  • Clean and repair a stone spring box and wooden cover – 20%

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer! Choose your session and register below:

You will know your registration was successful when you receive a confirmation email. Contact volunteer@historicorps.org for assistance.

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies:

  • HistoriCorps is committed to keeping our volunteers, staff, and project communities safe. All volunteers will be required to affirm that they will be fully vaccinated from the Covid-19 virus by the time their project begins. Read our Covid protocols here (updated October 2021).
  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, work gloves, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places.
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email volunteer@historicorps.org for help.
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day.
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work.
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you.
  • Hard hats, eye protection, ear protection, gloves are standard personal protection equipment (PPE) required on all projects. Hard hats must be worn at all times on the project site, unless working in a designated safe space. Field staff will train volunteers on correct use of PPE.
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.