Skull Quarry Stardew Valley: Tips and Strategies for Exploring the Depths

Hello, friends! In this article, we’ve gathered some knowledge and tips about the Skull Cavern and mining strategies for those interested in exploring the depths of Stardew Valley.

Accessing the Skull Cavern

The entrance to the Skull Cavern in Stardew Valley
The entrance to the Skull Cavern

First, let’s talk about some basic information about the Skull Cavern. It’s located in the northwest part of the desert and is initially locked, requiring a Skull Key to enter. So, how can we access the desert?

Well, for players following the community center route, you need to complete the Vault bundles. For those on the Joja route, you need to pay 40,000 gold for the Joja Community Development Form. Afterward, Pam will begin working as a bus driver from 10:10 AM to 5:00 PM, and you can only purchase desert bus tickets when she’s present. Each trip to the desert costs 500 gold, but the return trip is free. To enter the Skull Cavern, you need the Skull Key, which can be obtained at level 120 of the mines. Once you have it, you can unlock the door to the Skull Cavern and find the key in your wallet in the character menu.

Mr. Qi, a character in Stardew Valley
Mr. Qi appears on level 100 of the Skull Cavern

On the day after your first visit to the Skull Cavern, you’ll receive a challenge from Mr. Qi – reaching level 25 of the desert mine will reward you with 10,000 gold. After reading Secret Note #10, Mr. Qi will appear on level 100 of the Skull Cavern. Once you reach that level, he will give you an Iridium Snake Milk, permanently increasing your maximum health by 25 points.

Purpose of the Skull Cavern

The Skull Cavern is the primary source of Iridium Ore, with resources becoming denser as you delve deeper. Cave monsters may also drop ores, Iridium Bars, and some unique items. The Skull Cavern is similar to the mines, but it doesn’t have an elevator and its floors are endless. Unless you have an elevator mod, you’ll start from the first floor each time you visit. As you mine, you can advance by breaking rocks, defeating monsters, or using ladders to move to the next floor. The Skull Cavern features staircases and shafts, also known as vertical shafts, which allow you to skip between 3 and 15 floors. Jumping down these shafts will reduce your health slightly, but you won’t die. This can help you explore more quickly.

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Treasure and Prehistoric Floors

Keep in mind that if you pass out in the Skull Cavern after 2:00 AM, you’ll lose gold. Dying will also result in losing valuable items. The Skull Cavern has treasure levels and Prehistoric Floors. Treasure levels, similar to reward levels in the mines, appear randomly after level 10. Higher luck increases the chances of finding treasure levels, which contain valuable items like Prismatic Shards, Crystalarium, and Auto-Petters (only available in the Joja route). There is always a treasure chest on level 100 of the Skull Cavern, apart from the first time you visit and drink Iridium Snake Milk after reading the Secret Note.

Prehistoric Floors are infested floors featuring Pepper Rexes, Mutant Flies, and Iridium Bats. You can find Ferns and Dinosaur Eggs on these levels, and cutting leaves has a chance to drop Ancient Seeds. As the monsters in the Skull Cavern are quite strong, players often grab a Dinosaur Egg and use a ladder to escape. If it’s your first time obtaining a Dinosaur Egg, don’t donate it – hatch it in a coop first and donate it once your dinosaur lays another egg.

Preparations for the Skull Cavern

Now, let’s discuss preparations for visiting the Skull Cavern. Your equipment should ideally include the Galaxy Sword, the strongest early-game weapon. If you obtain a Prismatic Shard early on, don’t donate it. Instead, head to the desert’s three pillars and exchange it for the Galaxy Sword (just hold the shard and approach the pillars). However, many players won’t have a Prismatic Shard before entering the Skull Cavern. In that case, it’s best to purchase a Lava Katana from Marlon for 25,000 gold. This powerful weapon is especially helpful for newer players or those who struggle in combat.


For rings, we recommend the Burglar’s Ring and the Magnet Ring. The Magnet Ring can be found in mine crates or dropped by monsters on levels 40 or 80, and it increases the pickup range for items. The Burglar’s Ring increases the chance of monsters dropping loot and can be obtained from Gil at the Adventurer’s Guild after defeating 500 Dust Sprites (coal sprites).


A collection of supplies for mining in Stardew Valley
Supplies for mining in the Skull Cavern

As for supplies, you should focus on four types of items: staircases, bombs, food, and warp totems. Staircases help you quickly descend floors, bombs are useful for clearing large areas of rocks, food replenishes health and energy, and warp totems provide a quick escape or return to the farm. With the right equipment and supplies, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenges and reap the rewards of the Skull Cavern.

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A collection of staircases in Stardew Valley
Staircases are an important supply for mining in the Skull Cavern

Well, first and foremost, the most important supplies are staircases. Generally, I would bring around 50 to 60, but to be on the safe side, 80 to 100 or even more is better. In the Skull Cavern, the deeper you go, the more concentrated the resources are. There are fewer iridium ores before the 100th floor, and our time is precious, so it’s not worth wasting too much time in the earlier floors. Hence, our priority is to accumulate a large number of Jade using the Crystalarium, and then trade them for staircases at the Desert Trader on Sundays. You can also use stones, but it’s more laborious.


There are three sources for the Crystalarium: by donating 50 minerals to the museum, completing the 25,000 gold bundle at the Community Center, and crafting it yourself after reaching Mining Level 9. The sooner you obtain the Crystalarium, the better.


A character named Dwarf in Stardew Valley
The Dwarf in the mines sells bombs

For bombs, you can bring around 100 to 200. Bombs can be purchased from the Dwarf in the mines, either regular bombs or mega bombs. To unlock the Dwarf’s shop and increase friendship, you need to find all four Dwarf Scrolls and donate them to the museum to obtain the Dwarvish Translation Guide. Be careful not to accidentally detonate bombs while running around your farm, as it might damage your crops and plants.


As for food, you have various options like Spicy Eel, Crab Cakes, Coffee, Cactus Fruit, and Cheese. Don’t be stingy with food and bring plenty. Spicy Eel can be traded with the Desert Trader for rubies or obtained by fishing Eel in a pond. Crab Cakes can be crafted using crab meat dropped by Iridium Crabs in the Skull Cavern or caught from Crab Pots or fish ponds. Coffee can be purchased from Gus and brewed into Triple Shot Espresso. Cactus Fruit can be foraged in the desert or grown from seeds bought from Sandy. Cheese can be made using a Cheese Press with milk from cows or goats.

Warp Totems

Lastly, Warp Totems can save a lot of time. Desert Warp Totems can be purchased from the Desert Trader for 3 Omni Geodes each, while Farm Warp Totems can be crafted after reaching Foraging Level 8.

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Mining Strategies

A player mining iridium ores in Stardew Valley
Mining for iridium ores in the Skull Cavern

When mining, don’t waste time on the first 100 floors if you don’t see iridium ores; use staircases instead. Sneak through Prehistoric and Monster-infested floors or use staircases if you can’t. When you reach floors with more iridium ores, use bombs to mine efficiently. Jump into shafts whenever possible to descend quickly.

Don’t wait until your health is critically low to eat food; don’t worry about wasting it, as you’ll have plenty later on. If you die and lose important items, you might have to reload your save, which is frustrating. The more you practice mining, the more familiar you’ll become with the process.

Additional tip

Additional tip: If you don’t have a Magnet Ring, you can craft a Glowstone Ring (also known as a mini Iridium Ring) at Mining Level 4. This early-mid game item is a great alternative, although it doesn’t provide the damage bonus.

Another tip: If you don’t want to spend 25,000 gold on a weapon, you can use the sword found on the 110th floor of the mines as a temporary option. The damage is weaker, but it’s acceptable. During the first year, investing 25,000 gold in crops like Starfruit or Pumpkins for wine production is more profitable. By winter, your financial pressure will be significantly reduced. If you buy the sword, your finances might be tight in winter and even in the second year.


To summarize, when preparing for the Skull Cavern, make sure you have enough staircases, a Crystalarium for Jade production, plenty of bombs, and an assortment of food. Acquire the Warp Totems to save time and efficiently descend through the cavern. Practice your mining skills to get more familiar with the process and prioritize resource gathering over combat when possible.

Remember, investing your gold wisely in the first year can lead to significant financial gains and help alleviate financial pressure in the following seasons. It’s crucial to strike a balance between acquiring necessary equipment and making smart investments in your farm to ensure long-term success.

By following these tips and strategies, you’ll be well-prepared for the challenges of the Skull Cavern and on your way to becoming an expert miner in Stardew Valley.

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