New Idria is an abandoned mercury mine and accompanying ghost town located nearly 4 hours southeast of San Francisco.
sidebar: practical matters A on the map is Tres Pinos, which is about where you will start to lose cell service (at least Verizon), and Hollister is pretty much your last chance to get gas. B is the mine. from Tres Pinos, it’s pretty much a straight shot, but the road gets worse and worse in condition, so you will be dodging potholes left and right. and though it’s quite scenic, it also gets narrow and windy, so keep your speed in check as you’re navigating those potholes and sides of cliffs. there’s a sheltered picnic table and permanent portapotty along the way (Griswold Hills Recreation Access Area, shortly after you turn off Panoche Road) if you need to answer nature’s call. once you get to the site, you’re going to be going completely off-road over dirt/gravel/rock, sharing the space with ATVers and offroad (motor)bikers, who will likely look at you and your car with incredulity. well, at least they did me and my prius. i did give a biker whose motorcycle broke down a lift back to town saving him from a long ride as a motorcycle passenger. i think is the first time i’ve ever given a random person a ride, but long story short there were reasons why i felt safe in doing so.
it’s a shame i didn’t visit a couple years ago, since (according to the wikipedia article) there was a fire that destroyed many buildings (you can see some of the charred remains) and it’s a superfund site now (again). also, there are signs posted on the buildings that warn of hantavirus. yep.