Mineral King is a subalpine valley in southern Sequoia National Park, USA, carved out by the East Fork Kaweah River. It is also the name of the community of historic cabins in and near the valley, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Mineral King Road Cultural Landscape.
Mineral King is located 25 miles off of Highway 198 in Tulare County, California. The winding, mostly-paved road starts in Three Rivers and climbs to the end of the valley, which is feet above sea level. The road is usually open to public travel between Memorial Day and early to mid November.
The first explorer of European descent known to have visited Mineral King was Harry "Parole" O'Farrell, in 1862. While employed as a hunters for a trail crew building the Hockett toll trail from Visalia to Independence, O'Farrell and a Paiute companion found the valley from the south, over Farewell Gap. Attracted by the promise of mineral riches, O'Farrell returned to prospect and build a summer settlement on the East Fork of the Kaweah River, which came to be called Harry's Bend.
In the 1870s and 1880s, assays of precious metals in White Chief Canyon and on Empire Mountain led to the boomtown of Beulah. Today's Mineral King Road follows the route of the toll road built at the height of the mining period, in 1879. Over time, the minerals were found to be unprofitable to extract from their ore, but the valley kept its hopeful name: Mineral King.
One mile before reaching the Mineral King cabins is another grouping of 30 or so cabins in an area named Faculty Flat. The Faculty Flat cabins were mostly built in the 1920s and many are listed in the National Historic Register. The name Faculty Flat derives from a group of Los Angeles educators that originally populated the area. There are no commercial services available anywhere in the Mineral King Valley and visitors bring virtually all their food, camping supplies, firewood, and other essentials with them. None of the cabins have electricity and most utilize propane for lighting and cooking with fireplaces providing heating. There are a few public telephones scattered throughout the Mineral King Valley, notably at the Cold Springs campground, a trail head parking lot, and at the very end of the road. Cell phones do not work in the MK Valley because of the remoteness of the area and the steep terrain. There are at least two webcams that provide year-round visibility into the the Mineral King Valley.
Another group of about 50 cabins is about 4 miles down the road from Mineral King in a community called Silver City. Silver City has the only commercial services available anywhere in the region and is the site of the Silver City Resort. Whereas it is neither a city nor a resort there are cabin rentals available, a restaurant, and a small general store with camping and souvenir items for sale. However, no gasoline or fuel of any kind is available anywhere after leaving State Route 198, 25 miles down the winding Mineral King road (a 90 minute drive).
Just down the road from Silver City is an even smaller community of about a dozen cabins, called Cabin Cove. Nearby is the Atwell Mill public campground whose name relates to a sawmill facility dating back to one hundred or more years ago. The National Park Service charges fees for utilizing campsites both at Cold Springs and Atwell Mill. Bears, marmots and other wild animals abound so campers take precautions to protect their food and vehicles. Suggested precautions are posted by the Park Service at the public campgrounds. Camping is not permitted in any location along the road except in the public campgrounds.
The ski resort was never built though, due to environmental concerns raised by a coalition of preservationists, led by the Sierra Club. After years of legal battles between pro-development and preservationist groups, the Mineral King Valley was annexed into Sequoia National Park in 1978 by an act of Congress. That legislation effectively stopped the plan to ever develop the area into a ski resort.