Ironically, the onetime boom town of Mineral King (25 miles off Hwy. 198) never had a successful mining industry nearby. Silver was discovered here and mining began in 1873, but not many minerals moved out of the mountain. Instead, the road built in 1879 attracted loggers and the hydroelectric industry, and the town managed to flourish for a while.
Today, visitors drive up the long, winding road to enjoy the resurgence of nature in the area at the expense of human construction. Mineral King Valley draws both geology and botany buffs with its unique glacier-carved array of rocks and minerals, some overgrown with a variety of native plants.
The Atwell Mill that once cut first-growth sequoia timber has been reduced to a few relics—a steam engine, a wheel, miscellaneous junk—while all around young giant sequoias reclaim their territory.
High above the former town, Sawtooth Peak, at more than 12,000 feet, looms large and reminds many visitors and scientists of similar mountains in the Rockies. The peak is perfect for intrepid day hikers, and also allows multi-day treks with a backcountry permit.
Trying to drive your RV or trailer up Mineral King Road is hazardous to you, your vehicle, and other motorists. Also, marmots frequent the Mineral King area, and these furry critters won’t seem quite so cute after you discover they’ve chewed through your radiator hoses!
Check with the ranger station for current activity, and notify the rangers if your car has been disabled.