Located in the Jacumba Mountains in southwestern Imperial County, the Elliot Mine Area contains a diverse natural and cultural history. The piles and towers of boulders catch the eye of many visitors. These rocks were formed several miles beneath the surface of the earth, by the gradual cooling of molten rock material.
Originally, a solid mass of granite rock was formed extending for many miles. As overlying rock gradually eroded away, this granite mass slowly came closer to the surface. Even before the granite rock was exposed, the release of great pressure caused it to fracture. On the surface, the blocks were rounded into great boulders by weathering and erosion.
A natural hollow in one of the boulders is known as Smugglers Cave. Many tales have been told about the cave. The earliest account ties the cave to the December 1875 holdup at the old Campo Store. According to this story, one of the bandits was wounded and chased by a posse to Smugglers Cave, where he was flushed out and finished off.
Other accounts involve the smuggling of Chinese laborers and contraband across the Mexican border to the cave at the turn of the century.
Elliot Mine is located adjacent to the Jacumba Mountains Wilderness. No motorized or mechanized vehicles are allowed in the wilderness. This includes bicycles.
Opportunities for hiking and equestrian use exist throughout the area and in the wilderness. Journeys into Valley of the Moon, Myers, Davies, and Skull Valleys offer scenic views of the granitic landscape. No formal hiking trails exist to access the Myers, Davies, and Skull Valleys. Rugged cross-country travel is required to reach these valleys from the Elliot Mine area.
Entering mines or mine shafts is dangerous. Poison air and cave-ins can and do occur. Camping in the area is permitted, except near wildlife waters. Please do not camp or remain longer than 30 minutes within 300 feet of any water source. Campfires are permitted in existing rings, but no firewood is available in the area. Please practice minimum impact camping techniques. Pack out your trash and any that was left behind. Target shooting and the use of fireworks are prohibited.