Carl's Guide to Stardew Valley

Gameplay Strategy and Farm Management

Stardew Valley: The Desert

Unlocking the Bus, Casino, and Skull Cavern Mine

How to get to the Desert in Stardew Valley The top-left corner of the Stardew Valley map contains Calico Desert, location of coconuts, cactus fruit, the Oasis store and the Skull Cavern

The Desert is a mystery early in your adventures in Stardew Valley. You'll only see '???' when you hover over it on the map. This area is actually Calico Desert, a place that contains a few unique features that help you as a player. There's a new shop (Oasis), forage items that help with bundles, new types of fish, and the Skull Cavern along with other secrets. This guide will elaborate on some of these features and how they are beneficial to your farm.

Get to the Desert: Ride the Bus

The vault in Stardew Valley's Community Center Finishing the Vault Bundle at the Community Center rewards you with bus repair, allowing you to access the desert.

Bundles and Money Required
In order to get to the desert, you must first repair the bus. This is accomplished by finishing off one of the easiest types of bundles - The Vault. This room in the community center appears after you've already completed about 4 bundles. You'll find the Vault in the top right corner of the community center. The Vault bundle is all about money. You'll need about 42,500G on hand to finish all of them. There is one for 2500, 5000, another for 10,000 and lastly a final bundle for 25,000. Once you have purchased all of these, the bus will be repaired.

Get to the Desert: Ride the Bus

Pam arrives shortly after 10 each day to drive the bus. It is 500G to get to Calico Desert.

Riding the Bus
You must wait until 10AM on any day you want to ride. Pam will arrive at the bus stop to the east of your farm, and at that point you can buy a ticket from the metal stand for 500G. Despite its distance, no time is taken to get there and no matter the time of year, the desert is always the same. On any visit to the desert you'll need to return to the bus to go home. You can stay as late as 12:30 and still make it, though not without an energy penalty.

Desert Features

Oasis & Casino

Oasis shop selling seeds at calico desert in Stardew Valley The Oasis shop sells two great types of seeds, and a third that you'll want in order to grow and ship one of everything.

Oasis is where you'll find both Sandy selling seeds. The shop is easily accessibly and allows you to make some of that money from the vault bundle back. The following 3 types of seeds are always sold, and are among the best for each season:

Qi's Challenge & The Mysterious Qi

The Calico Desert Casino inside Oasis is blocked by a bouncer when you first visit. You must finish a line of quests that starts with entering the Skull Cavern in order to gain access to the casino. The main purpose of this is to be able to buy the unique items inside - mostly decorative - using Qi coins, a type of currency you can gamble with or buy outright. There is also a very expensive Statue of Endless Fortune sold by the guy at the top right for 1 million G. It makes a random item every day.

Once you've made it far enough in the Skull Cavern (to level 25) you'll need to come up with some other items in order to finish Qi's quest. The subsequent quests can be triggered by interacting with a couple of points of interest in the game world. A battery pack is required (from having a lightning rod in Summer) for the box in the bus tunnel. Also, a rainbow shell (also from summer at the beach) for the box at the train station. You may also want to save 10 beets for later (seeds bought from Oasis). It's worth knowing you need those items ahead of time so that you don't have to wait up to a year to access the casino.

Foraging and Fishing

Desert Fishing rewards you with the Sandfish, an item needed for a bundle.

Though the desert area isn't large, you can find two new types of foraged items lying around here: Cactus Fruit and Coconuts. Both are needed for bundles back at the community center. Additionally, if you bring your fishing pole you can find fish for bundles in the northwestern pool. Sandfish are notably used in one bundle, but you can also catch Scorpion Carp in the pond. Around the area are palm trees, though you will not get coconuts or anything special by chopping them down.

Desert Mine: The Skull Cavern

The Skull Cavern The Skull Cavern is found in the top left portion of the desert. You must fully explore the mines in order to get the Skull Key that is required to go inside the more challenging mine.

When you've reached the bottom of the mine, you'll be rewarded with the Skull Key necessary to enter the Skull Cavern. It's an endless, more challenging area that rewards risk-taking and planning. The deeper you go, the more likely you are to find Iridium. Monsters inside will also drop this rare metal, as well as the Prismatic Shard which is used to obtain Stardew Valley's strongest weapon.

Other Secrets

The dead dragon in the desert is used for one of Qi's quests. To the northeast you will see three pillars which are also of interest. Bringing a rare Prismatic Shard dropped by enemies in the Skull Cavern will reward you with a Galaxy Sword.

Stardew Valley 1.1 Changes

Stardew Valley is now version 1.1, which comes with some significant changes. I have some updating to do as a result. Certain fruits (such as blueberries/cranberries) have had their sell prices reduced significantly to give players more reason to grow other produce. This makes tables with sales values wrong. I will fix them as soon as possible. You can see the full list of change notes here.

Stardew Guide Progress

My Stardew Valley Guide coverage has just begun as of July 8, 2016. I plan to put out pages regularly until I've covered most topics. For now I've completed guides on:

Skills & Unlocks New
Cows & Milk New
Gifts for Villagers (Hearts)
Combat New
The Skull Cavern New
The Desert New
Trees & Tappers New
Foraging New
The Secret Woods
Beginner's Guide New
Stardew Valley Tips
Crops to Grow for Bundles