Why I Don't Share GPS Coordinates Online

I’m vague about locations for a reason.

One of the great things about exploring remote desert locations is that they’re seldom visited by others. And the fewer people who visit an interesting destination, the fewer people have the opportunity to vandalize it.

I’ve seen the results of vandalism firsthand.

  • A huge masonry house overlooking Lake Pleasant was abandoned in the late 1970s or early 1980s when only 75% done. It had windows once, but vandals took care of that and left their shotgun shells and beer cans behind.
  • A pair of cabins dating from the early 1900s in the Weaver Mountains had apple trees growing out front, but campers decided to cut them down for firewood.
  • A rock with petroglyphs carved into it in the mountains near Congress has more modern graffiti than ancient indian drawings.
  • Entire ghost towns in the Weaver, Bradshaw, and Wickenburg Mountains have been wiped off the map by souvenir hunters.

These are only a few of the things I’ve seen destroyed, lost forever. I don’t want to be responsible — even indirectly — for the loss of any others.

Many times when I write about places that are hidden away in the desert, I’m vague about their whereabouts. I know that I won’t damage them. And I know that the people I bring there won’t damage them. But who’s to say what people who get directions or GPS coordinates on the Web will do?

Just today, my friend Ray and I were talking about ATVers exploring all the old mine sites. They come up from Phoenix with their fancy quads, following directions they’ve found on the Web to places like Anderson Mill and Gold Bar Mine. Most of them are respectful of these remnants of our past. But it only takes one with a bad attitude to destroy fragile ruins.

And sadly, there are more than one of these people out there.

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