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"Red Dead Redemption 2" Explorer Challenges

I started writing about "Red Dead Redemption 2" when I noticed how little info was available online.

The ecstasy of what's in the box.

The ecstasy of what's in the box.

Greed Is Good, but the Hunt Is Better

If you like to do a little detective work and/or make lots of money, these are the ones for you! These are essentially Red Dead Redemption’s Treasure Hunter Challenges, except they can be completed in any order. To view Treasure Maps, hold Right on the D-pad, cycle to Documents, and select “Treasure Maps." There are three Treasure Hunts (well four if you bought the Special or Deluxe Edition of the game, I bought Standard so . . .), two are available from the beginning of Chapter 2, the third is through a random encounter. I’ll list them in “order of appearance.”

This article will also cover a couple of other Treasure Hunts that are not associated with the Explorer Challenges. If there's a map, it's going to be in this article. Also, like the other challenges in this game, it's best to pace yourself throughout the story. I'll list when the best time to do the perspective prospecting.

Explorer Challenge #1: Find a Treasure Map

When You Can Do It: At the beginning of Chapter 2

The closest, and earliest, Treasure Map is the Jack Hall Gang Map, which is located near Flatneck Station, southwest of Valentine. There will be a man named Maximo who you can buy the map from for $10 (or $5 if you decline his FIRST offer).

The other you can get during the “The Noblest Men, and Woman” Stranger Quest, which you can begin in the smaller Saloon in Valentine. Go into your Satchel and select the Flaco Hernandez Photograph. Press A/X to flip it over, this will mark his location on the map (this also works for the other three Gunslingers, wish I knew THAT earlier . . .) Ride up to the West Grizzlies, take care of the gang, and loot his cabin to find the first part of The Poisonous Trail Map. (Note: You can go up here without doing the Stranger Quest, but it will save you a ride.) As you go to attack Flaco's men sneaking up to the camp can get you a Knife kill, or two, for Weapon Expert Challenge #1.

Thirdly, the High Stakes Treasure can be found, through a random encounter, as early as after the Chapter 2 mission "The First Shall Be Last." For some reason, a lot of YouTubers and other online sources say "not until after Chapter 3," but I can indubitably assure you that this is bull s***. You have a great chance of running into him, after "The First Shall Be Last" as you're riding back to Dutch's Camp. You can also trigger the encounter while heading to Strawberry, in Chapter 2, to do the mission "Blessed Are The Meek?" Anyhow, once you find him, use your Lasso to steal the High Stakes Treasure map from his person. You won't lose an Honor point unless you kill him, and once/if you cut him free, there won't be a confrontation.

High Stakes Map Possible Spawn Point

Explorer Challenge #2: Find a Treasure (Jack Hall Gang Map 1)

Once you reach the location in the second screenshot, dismount and run up the southwest side of the mountain. (Note: you COULD ride up this little trail but you run the risk of harming your horse. It's best to just go on foot.) You'll see a pathway that will take you to the top of Caliban's Seat. As you run along the top, you'll see a slope to the right, follow that down and go left. Follow the ledge and be prepared to do a running jump to pass the gap (or else you'll have to start this over again if you don't die that is . . .) Climb then drop down past the the rock wall ahead of you. Go to the end of the ledge and press+hold X/Square collect the next Treasure Map (see below screenshot).

To get back down, climb back over the rock wall, then carefully drop down to the ledge (that gap to ran and jumped earlier) to somewhat carefully get back down to ground level.

Explorer Challenge #3: Find a Treasure (Jack Hall Gang Map 2)

The next treasure map is up at Cotorra Springs (which by the way is also the location of the Legendary Wolf). There are three geysers here, but where you want to be is at the west end of these geysers. There will be a few rock piles at the "home base" part of the area (or would that be "home wicket" for you folks across the pond?). The treasure is in one of these piles, press+hold X/Square to search for it.

Explorer Challenge #4: Find a Treasure (Jack Hall Gang Map 3)

You visited O'Creagh's Run during the Chapter 2 mission "Exit Pursued By A Bruised Ego", so it should be on your map. From the peninsula, on the west side of the lake, use your horse to swim out to the small long island. There will be a little platform of land you can climb up onto. Press+hold X/Square (after dismounting or you'll hear a splash) to grab the treasure under a flat rock.

Video Walkthrough

Explorer Challenge #5: Find a Treasure (Poisonous Trail Map 1)

Just north of Rhodes is an interestingly shaped rock face (kind of like a mini Mount Rushmore) where there's a dead tree on the right side (coincidentally like the picture in the map). Ride up and around the right side of Face Rock, where you will find another dead tree with the next piece of the map (plus a small treasure) inside.

Explorer Challenge #6: Find a Treasure (Poisonous Trail Map 2)

Take a train to Annesberg then ride south to Van Horn Trading Company (shame you just can't take a stagecoach directly there without discovering it). Ride west, and a little bit south into the hills. You'll come across this strange land formation in the above second screenshot. The Serpent Mound has the next piece of the treasure in the "sculpture's" eye.

Explorer Challenge #7: Find a Treasure (Poisonous Trail Map 3)

Run through the waterfall and follow the tunnel until you find a dropoff on the right. Drop down and crouch to go through a small tunnel here (see first screenshot below, I'll give you this one). There will be a small camp on the right with a lockbox but obviously THIS isn't the treasure you seek.

FROM THAT CAMP, make a right and follow the tunnel. You will come to a large open room with a drop. Follow the ledge to the left and jump down to the platform below (if you go to the right you'll slide down to your death, thanks a lot physics engine . . .) Walk up the slope to the left (see second screenshot below) and you'll slide into the some water. The treasure is on the left behind some rocks.

To get back out of the cave, climb back up the slope and use the ledge on the right (also in the second screenshot) to get back up to where you were. From here follow the cave back the way you came (don't bother going to the left that's part of a Stranger Quest later in the game). This cave on the left is also a great place to do Survivalist Challenge #7 later.

Video Walkthrough

Explorer Challenge #8: Find a Treasure (High Stakes Treasure Map 1)

Cross the Dakota River and run along the right side (facing the waterfall). Before you go along the fallen tree, and walk through the waterfall, you might want to switch to first person. I typically play in third with the camera all the way out so the results might be different for you. Despite how much water is covering your screen, turn left and press X/Square to climb. Head along this ledge and you'll see an alcove on the right where you'll find the next map.

Explorer Challenge #9: Find a Treasure (High Stakes Treasure Map 2)

Ride up along the dotted trail, past the cabin and grave site of that figure skater dude, and dismount near the base of the ridge. You can climb up a small trail that will help you get to the top of the ridge. The map tells you the next map is on the actual island, but it's really inside the log that acts as a bridge to the island. Is there something of note on the island? I can't remember. Ironically, when I was looking for the final piece of the Jack Hall Gang Treasure, I thought it was here. There was a bit of trial-and-error while writing this article, hope you folks appreciate that.

Explorer Challenge #10: Find a Treasure (High Stakes Treasure Map 3)

Follow the directions as they are written on the map, until you get to the pathway (you're gonna need my help from here obviously . . .) Make a left and IGNORE that ledge below on the right, I've made that mistake a couple times. You'll come to a fork, a slope going up on the left, and one going down to the right. The slope on the right has a Rock Carving, but the path to the treasure is on the left slope heading up (see first screenshot below). Crouch walk along the ledge carefully since sometimes Arthur will slide unexpectedly off the cliff face (because physics engine, that's why).

Keep following the ledge until you come to the spot in the second screenshot below. Don't make my mistake and try to sprint+jump that gap on the lower right, that's actually your path back up to where you started. Instead continue following the ledge to the left, crouching under the low cliff, and the treasure will be tucked away in a crevice. Hold X/Square to Search and you'll be three Gold Bars richer.

You have now completed all 10 Explorer Challenges.

Video Walkthrough

Landmarks of Riches

The Landmark of Riches Treasure Hunt is the first of two previously PC exclusive Treasure Maps that were added to consoles with the 1.15 Update. You can start this Treasure Hunt as early as the beginning of Chapter 2. I personally recommend waiting until after the Chapter 2 mission “Blessed Are The Meek?” for two reasons. Firstly, it will “unlock” this section of the map, and secondly, it will help the pacing of the game’s story if you’re multi-tasking with the other Challenges. (Note: This map will count toward the Explorer Challenges.)

Facing east there will a plaque with the map inside.

Facing east there will a plaque with the map inside.

The location west of Owanjila where you can find the Obelisk.

The location west of Owanjila where you can find the Obelisk.

Ride west from Strawberry toward lake Owanjila. Rather than following the road, ride west across the water and follow the ridge (the edge of the game’s map) north. You’ll see a grey tower-like structure at the top of a hill. In this Obliesk is the first treasure map.

If you're interested in finding unique horses, you can find the Red Chestnut Arabian around this area.

See? Even God's pointing at the bell tower.

See? Even God's pointing at the bell tower.

The location of the "Tiny Church" in Chapter 2.

The location of the "Tiny Church" in Chapter 2.

Landmarks of Riches Map 1

Take a train to Saint Denis Lemoyne and ride north out of town (the dotted line that show’s the city limit) ride west toward Lagras, cutting through the swamp. You will come across a Point of Interest called “Tiny Church." Climb on the roof, and to the mini bell tower, to find the second Landmarks of Riches map. (Note: It’s a little tricky to get the “Search” prompt to appear due to the slanted roof.)

Landmarks of Riches Map 2

This next one took a little bit for me to figure out before I wrote this part of the article. Despite the illustration, we won’t be looking for a giant turtle, but the next thing that comes close is the “Mysterious Hill Home." To get here, early in the game, take a train to Wallace station and follow the train tracks to Bacchus Station. Make a left at the road, head north, and make a right at the intersection. You’ll see the “Mysterious Hill Home” on the right. On the south end of this building is a broken window up above. Use the crates below to help you get up there to find the Landmarks of Riches Map #4.

Also, while you’re here, you can grab a free Poisonous Arrow Pamphlet if you’re interested in doing the Survivalist Challenges.

Landmarks of Riches Map 3

The only other clue harder to figure out than a giant damn turtle is a lone cannon, with a hole in a tree, in a field of cannons, with holes in trees. Regardless, I know the location of the exact one, so you don’t have to stress over it. Take a train to Rhodes (or stagecoach if you’ve already gone after Billy Midnight during “The Noblest Men and Woman” Stranger Quest), then ride south toward Bolder Gate. In this Civil War battlefield will be, past the trenches and to the right of the "Abandoned Church," some rocks with a lone tree above. The Landmarks of Riches Map #4 can be found here.

Landmarks of Riches Map 4

Take a stagecoach back to Strawberry and follow the road north out of town, make a left at the first dotted path and follow it to the top of Mount Shann. At the top, where all of the trails converge, you’ll find a sundial. Under the rock with the orange line, you’ll find six Gold Bars.

On a side note, if you're in the midst of doing Weapon Expert Challenge #3, you can find several birds of prey on the road down from the Sundial.

The sundial will be popping up like this from the path.

The sundial will be popping up like this from the path.

The treasure will be under the rock, on the left, marked with the orange line. No that wasn't me this time, it never looks that good.

The treasure will be under the rock, on the left, marked with the orange line. No that wasn't me this time, it never looks that good.

The Elemental Trail

The Elemental Trail Treasure Hunt is the second of two previously PC exclusive Treasure Maps that were added to consoles with the 1.15 Update. It will not be available until Epilogue Part 1, specifically after the mission “Motherhood” which gives John access to shops and the full weapon arsenal. You know freedom’s a useful thing in a FREE ROAM game? What makes this Treasure Hunt so neat is it actually makes going to New Austin worth it. God knows it was an anomaly before Red Dead Online came out . . .

Remember when there was the corpse of that Jesuit Missionary at the Sea of Coronado? And that was about all there was to discover in that area? Well now there will be a corpse hanging from a platform on the side of a cliff! More importantly that corpse will have the first map of The Elemental Trail on it’s person. You can’t miss it, just shoot the rope and loot the corpse. To get out to the Sea of Coronado ride west from Blackwater. Ride for a while . . . Hopefully you’re familiar with the original Red Dead Redemption map knowing just how far west you need to go.

The Elemental Trail Map 1

Ride along the San Luis River, heading east, until you come to a dilapidated structure on the shore. Search the chimney of this structure to find the second Elemental Trail map. You will also find a Horse Meal which makes me wonder how long it's been there, and more importantly, how healthy that would be to feed your steed . . .

Could this be in the middle of the chute!?

Could this be in the middle of the chute!?

You can find the next map at this point . . . Benedict Point that is.

You can find the next map at this point . . . Benedict Point that is.

The Elemental Trail Map 2

Ok now let’s ride BACK west this time to Benedict Point. What you’re going to want to do is head up onto the cliff at the east end of the area. Carefully walk down the water chute, and along the middle, you’ll get a Search prompt. Within the chute is the third Elemental Trail map and a Horse Reviver. A very horse friendly treasure hunt thus far!

The Elemental Trail Map 3

Ride north to Tumbleweed and take a stagecoach to Armadillo (unless you want to ride east again, Lord knows this treasure hunt is like a ping pong game.) Once you get to Armadillo head east toward Coot’s Chapel, it’s not far away. Head to the back of the church and to the grave (look up details later). Here you’ll find a Gold Bar and the Crow’s Beak Trinket, which increases looted ammo by 10%. One of the new Trinkets added with update 1.15.

The treasure is in the grave directly under the tree.

The treasure is in the grave directly under the tree.

Serial Killer Hunt

As you were riding around exploring, did you some times come across a severed body? (No? Well check the screenshots below). One of the many Stranger Quests in Red Dead Redemption 2 is only unlocked once you collect three pieces of a map. Each piece is in the mouth of the body's severed head. Yep, that's right. Now for the sake of sparing my readers graphic content I won't post screenshots of the murder scenes (not to mention I think I've overdone my screenshot quota as it is). However I will post screenshots to the locations and let you discover the rest for yourself!

Two Hermits, One Gold Plated Revolver

Another unofficial Treasure Hunt (and no not linked to the Explorer Challenges, but it's pertinent because I say so!). There are two hermits on opposite sides of the map; both very hostile, both have neat stuff to loot, and both would probably be a lot happier if they found each other on Tinder or something. Of course that never really worked for me, and I almost caught something because of a girl from Salisbury (see that's how you do "not pertinent" information).

Keep in mind you can visit them both at any point, but unfortunately you can't hunt for the treasure until during the Epilogue. (At least I think maybe you can find it early, I need to test that.) Not to spoil it for you, but the loot you get from the Hermits is actually more valuable than some gold plated Schofield, but if you're a thirsty 14-year-old you might like the other stuff in the treasure chest too. To each their own.

Sketched Map Treasure Hunt:

At a homestead, Reed Cottage, just North of Annesburg, you can find a Sketched [Treasure] Map hidden in the chimney on the left as you enter. You can easily ride past it on several occasions while riding North (following a Waypoint) from Saint Denis. It will have a well out front and a red trim. Go to the ridge (to the left of the waterfall associated with the Poisonous Trail Treasure Hunt) northwest of Elysian Pond where you'll find a tree with an "X" carved into it. From that tree follow the directions on the map to the letter. 20 steps North, then five steps East. Search the rock to find a Gold Bar.

Be Like Blade and Get a Cool Blade

Like the Otis Miller Revolver, this treasure hunt involves a unique weapon but not necessarily treasure. So for that I've probably just lost your attention, but this is a cool little Easter egg that involves some exploration.

Around Saint Denis are five graffiti poems etched into the side of buildings. When you find one (don't worry there are screenshots below) hold the Y/Triangle to Inspect it while standing nearby. Once you find all five, get a room at the big Saloon and sleep until night. The Vampire only appears between 12 and 1AM. That's two real-world minutes to rush out of the room (best if you just jump over the balcony) and head to the location southeast of the cathedral.

If you see an "X" indicating a corpse on the mini-map then the random encounter will trigger. Go into the alley and talk to the Vampire or you can just shoot him, but there's no fun in that. Once you do make sure to pick up the Ornate Dagger.

This is more money than you'll ever need in the game. Actually I wouldn't mind having $4,500 by modern standards . . . (Note: Some of these Gold Bars are apart of the Treasure Hunts listed above.)

This is more money than you'll ever need in the game. Actually I wouldn't mind having $4,500 by modern standards . . . (Note: Some of these Gold Bars are apart of the Treasure Hunts listed above.)

Where to Find Gold Bars

Apart from the Treasure Hunts, there are a few Gold Bars that can be picked up through exploration of secret areas. I'm gonna warn you right now, I'm going to be vague on purpose, but still point you in the general direction. I don't want to ruin the fun of your hunt for gold. Also because I'm sure it's going to frustrate someone, but hey I'm not a successful YouTuber that ruins everything for everybody.

Try to enjoy discovering this stuff for the first time, so that you know how lost I was . . . Don't worry though I'll walk you through that Strange Statues puzzle below.

Strange Statues Puzzle:

Up by Window Rock in Ambarino is a rock carving (that actually doesn't count toward the overall Rock Carving Collectible) that depicts a selection of Strange Statues. Finding this mural is not required to do the puzzle but the information is helpful. You need to press a button on the front of the statues with prime numbers. You can tell what number the statue is based on the amount of fingers it has; so that statue that looks like is flipping you double birds? That is a "two." Select two, three, five, and the statue with one arm to unlock a compartment in the center sculpture containing three Gold Bars.

If you're one of those modern folks who gets confused unnaturally easy I have a video below of what I just said . . .

  • One Gold Bar: In the burnt ghost town of Limpany (see first screenshot below). This Gold Bar is connected to some glitch/exploit that I do not know and do not want to know.
  • One Gold Bar: As apart of the above Sketched Map unmarked Treasure Hunt.
  • Two Gold Bars: At the site of a train crash North of Cumberland Forest, North-West of Fort Wallace (see second screenshot below).
  • Three Gold Bars: After solving the Strange Statues puzzle.
  • Six Gold Bars: As part of the above mentioned Explorer Challenges/Treasure Hunts.
  • One Gold Bar: Awarded at the end of the Chapter 2 finale mission "A Strange Kindness".
  • One Gold Bar: At the beginning of Chapter 4 return to Braithwaite Manor. There's a Lock Box to the left, on the other side of the wall, of Catherine Braithwaite's corpse.

Other "Red Dead Redemption 2" Guides

Questions & Answers

Question: I am playing Red Dead Redemption and I found all the gold bars and all the maps yet the Explorer Challenge is stuck at Challenge 8! What can I do?

Answer: Sometimes the game doesn’t register the High Stakes Treasure Hunt. Go back to each of those locations and see if you have the option to redo THAT Treasure Hunt.

© 2018 Eric Seidel