What is the Skull Key in Stardew Valley? How to find and where to use it

Stardew Valley Skull KeyConcernedApe

The Skull Key is a very mysterious item in Stardew Valley. Not only is it incredibly difficult to find, but once you get it, you might not even be able to figure out what it’s used for or how to use it.

Stardew Valley is an adorable farming simulator from ConcernedApe that allows players to create their own character, look after crops and animals, form relationships with other villagers, and complete a variety of quests.

Beyond the usual simulator features such as fishing, there’s also a seemingly endless amount of surprise content to discover, including some unlockables that a long time to earn. One of these is the Skull Key, which you’ll need to access a hidden area.

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Below, we’ve covered everything you need to know about finding the Skull Key, where to use it on the Stardew Valley map, and the challenges you can complete once you gain access to the Skull Cavern.


How to get the Skull Key in Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley MinesConcernedApe
The Mines are key to finding the Skull Key.

To get the Skull Key, you’ll need to reach the 120th level at the very bottom of The Mines and open the chest that contains the Skull Key.

Doing this won’t be easy, though, as you’ll have to make your way through plenty of strong monsters and break loads of rocks. Make sure you upgrade your pickaxe and bring food to restore your health and energy when needed.

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Another easy tip is to complete this quest during the winter months where you won’t have to worry about tending to crops. It’s easy to get distracted in the depths of The Mines and miss out on your daily chores in the other seasons.

When you finally get your hands on the Skull Key, you’ll be told: “You found a strange-looking key in the bottom of The Mines”. Now, it’s your job to figure out what it’s used for.

What is the Skull Key used for in Stardew Valley?

Calico Desert's Skull Cavern in Stardew ValleyConcernedApe
The Skull Key can unlock the Skull Cavern in Calico Desert.

Once you’ve got the Skull Key, you can use it to unlock the Skull Cavern. This high-difficulty Mine is located at the northern end of the Calico Desert and has an unlimited amount of levels to explore.

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To visit Calico Desert, you’ll need to either purchase all of the Vault Bundles at the Community Center or buy the Bus Development from JojaMart for 40,000 gold. Then, you’ll be able to take the bus for 500 gold.

The main reason to visit the Skull Cavern is to farm Iridium Ore, with the chances of finding it increasing the further down the mine you go. Enemies will also drop Iridium Bars, so it’s a great place to stock up on resources.

Be warned, though, that the monsters are a lot stronger in the Skull Cavern, and there are no fast-travel points using elevators. If you faint here, you’ll lose 1,000 gold and some items, so proceed with some caution.

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Fun fact: Collecting the Skull Key also unlocks the Junimo Kart arcade machine in The Stardrop Saloon. In this game, you control a Junimo spirit in a minecart and avoid obstacles by jumping at the right time.

How to complete Qi’s Challenge

Stardew Valley Mr QiConcernedApe
Mr Qi will be waiting for you on level 100 of the Skull Cavern.

After visiting the Skull Cavern for the first time, players will be sent a letter from the mysterious Mr Qi the next day. This letter unlocks Qi’s Challenge, which tasks players with reaching level 25 of Skull Cavern.

If you’re trying to descend the Skull Cavern faster to complete Qi’s Challenge or get rarer loot, try using a Mega Bomb to clear out rocks. Jumping through holes will speed the process up, but it’s risky as you can take fall damage.

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The reward for completing this challenge is 10,000 gold, which will be delivered to you the following day. If players reach level 100 of the Skull Cavern, Mr Qi will provide Iridium Snake Milk, which permanently gives a 25HP boost.

That’s everything you need to know about the Skull Key and Skull Cavern! For more guides like this one, check our other useful tips:

How to use Bait | How to fish | Best mods in Stardew Valley | Is Stardew Valley cross-platform?