15 Ghost Towns Near Las Vegas [MAP]
If you’re searching for ghost towns near Las Vegas, we’ve got you covered! Below are 15 different ghost towns you can explore near Vegas along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.
Since you’re probably staying in Vegas, we’ve included drive times for each location to help you plan your trip.
We rate ghost towns near Las Vegas based on their status. Here’s how our system works:
- Abandoned: Is abandoned with ruins and structures in a decayed state. Great for urban explorers .
- Historic: Preservation efforts have been made and sometimes plaques installed. Great for everyone .
- Barren: Almost nothing remains of the town. Ideal for metal detectorists.
- Commercial: Is commercially owned with amenities, restaurants, and stores. Great for families .
- Semi-Abandoned : Abandoned areas with a small population in the area.
- Privately Owned: Tours might be available but not open to the general public.
2. goodsprings, 3. death valley junction, 4. panamint city, 5. ballarat, 11. st. thomas, 13. silver reef, 14. grafton, 15. gold point, the anarchist’s guide to exploration.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into the world of urban exploration, this book is for you. Learn how to uncover more abandoned places and the techniques used to capture their beauty.
36.90321, -116.82811 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 2 hr 4 min
Rhyolite was a mining town that sprang up during the Gold Rush, about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Its gold discoveries convinced many people to settle in this remote area. The town also had two electric plants, ice plants, and even a hospital. Unfortunately, by 1916, all the power was gone, so the town was left to decay.
The best time to visit the rhyolite ghost town is during autumn and spring. Visitors should avoid the blazing desert sun during these times of the year, which can reach 97 degrees. If you are traveling in the middle of the day, avoid the high heat of midday, and be aware of rattlesnake warnings. This area is not fenced off, so it can be dangerous to walk around.
35.83247, -115.43416 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 38 min
This small, desert community was settled in 1886 by a mining promoter from Calico, California. The town’s original name was Goodsprings Junction, but it was later renamed Jean after its first wife.
Fayle opened a tent store to serve the miners and ore haulers, and in 1912 he bought an interest in his uncle’s store in Goodsprings. This store became known as Yount and Fayle Store. He then moved his family to Goodsprings, expanding his business and putting up a fence to keep the building from falling down.
There are some unique features of Goodsprings, including a cemetery, east of the water tower. Goodsprings isn’t completely abandoned and has a number of long term residents who hang out at the local saloons and general stores.
36.302, -116.41416 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 1 hr 39 min
Death Valley Junction was originally a water stop on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad, which operated from 1907 to 1940. In 1914, a 20-mile side spur was built between Death Valley Junction and the Ryan mines, which was operated until 1928. The Amargosa Cafe and Hotel are still operational today, but they’re in a dismal state.
This small, historic town is a perfect day trip from the city. You can explore Salt Creek and find rare pupfish, or visit the Harmony Borax Works for a glimpse of the past. And if you’re in town for the night, you can enjoy the amazing sky over Death Valley. You can easily take a day trip from Las Vegas to Death Valley. If you’re on a tight schedule, make sure you start early!
36.11828, -117.09533 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 3 hr 31 min
This abandoned town is surrounded by small hills and has many interesting features. There is a lone surviving resident who enjoys sharing the history of this place. The town features old-style houses with rusty materials inside, as well as an abandoned soda shop. It is located in the mountains, so very few people know about it.
Visitors should be prepared with water, four-wheel drive, and expect to spend the day in the area. The first mile of the hike involves rushing water and bedrock falls. The rest of the hike is along an old vehicle route. There is a dependable water supply at Thompson Camp, an old cabin above Panamint City. While visiting Panamint City, don’t forget to bring enough water for the entire day. It’s an adventure that will take you several hours.
36.04641, -117.22673 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 3 hr 37 min
Ballarat is a ghost town about 200 miles outside of Vegas. The small town was inhabited for a few years, but has since been abandoned due to its limited natural resources. In the past, this tiny town had three hotels, seven saloons, a school, jail, morgue, post office, and Wells Fargo station. Whether you want to experience the true ghost town, or simply appreciate its unique history, Ballarat has it all.
While there are no full-time residents, the small store is open most weekends and the town’s trailer park serves as campground headquarters for 4-wheelers. If you love camping and the outdoors, Ballarat is one of the best ghost towns in near Las Vegas to explore.
37.45718, -114.77008 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 2 hr 22 min
If you’re looking for a unique ghost town near Las Vegas, consider visiting Delamar. This Nevada ghost town is a great place to explore mine shafts, watch the sunset, or even spot UFOs. (yes seriously) It’s a real piece of Americana, and a reminder of the Wild West’s past.
The ghost town was once a bustling mining town. Sadly, most of the mining operations were ceased by the turn of the century. The town produced $13.5 million worth of gold between 1895 and 1900. By the 1930s, it was a ghost town that had a population of just under 3,000. However, a recent study revealed that gold production in the town had declined dramatically.
The trail to Delamar is relatively easy. The trail begins about an hour north of Las Vegas along US 93. It crosses varying terrain and rewards you with scenic views of a deserted town. There are sections where you’ll be rewarded with views of a dry lake bed. You’ll also cross the Ella Mountain, which is windy and narrow, but offers some flat spots to speed up your pace.
34.72453, -116.16254 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 3 hr 15 min
Driving through the Mojave Desert on Route 40 to get to the big city, you might be surprised to discover that there are still a few people living in towns like Ludlow. This small town is located approximately halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but most people only stop for gas or food. A visit to this desert town is worth it.
Not a whole lot is left behind, making it one of the least exciting ghost towns near Las Vegas. However, if you’re already traveling along 40 or Route 66 its worth pulling off to check the area out.
34.91898, -115.062 Status: Historic Distance From Vegas:1 hr 40 min
Goffs was founded in the early 1900s as a railroad town. When the railway rerouted residents in Goffs relied on traffic from Route 66. When 66 was replaced by Route 40, the town rapidly declined.
Today there are tons to explore in Goffs, like the old rail building and numerous abandoned businesses scattered around the area. Goffs is a great ghost town in Las Vegas due to its easy access close proximity.
37.00527, -116.78388 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 2 hr 9 min
Pioneer started out as a modest mining camp and quickly evolved into a small settlement in 1908. Sadly a fire swept through town and destroyed much of the town just a year later. The population peaked at 2500 and then crashed to close to zero by 1941.
Pioneer is one of the most isolated ghost towns near Las Vegas and isn’t for a casual afternoon outing. While many of the buildings have been destroyed there are plenty of wild places to camp and a few decent ruins left to explore. Its unknown if the mines are still accessible.
35.70984, -114.80295 Status: Commerical Distance From Vegas: 40 min
The area was settled by Spaniards as far back as 1775, making this one of the oldest ghost towns near Las Vegas. Like many ghost towns near Las Vegas Nelson was settled when gold and silver was discovered in the area. The town was known for its lawlessness and saw violence throughout the Civil War and between locals.
Eldorado Canyon and Nelson Ghost Town are located just a forty-minute drive outside of Las Vegas. While these towns were built during the gold rush era, they have been restored by landowners since 1994.
In addition to mining history, Nelson is home to a historic mine and several abandoned buildings. While visiting these towns, don’t forget to pack your camera for some good photo opportunities. Nelson is one of the closest ghost towns near Las Vegas, making it easy to check out in a single afternoon!
36.46697, -114.37152 Status: Historic Distance From Vegas: 1 hr 24 min
St. Thomas was settled in the late 1800s, but unlike other ghost towns near Las Vegas, was completely submerged by Lake Mead in 1930. Due to historically low water levels the ghostly remains of St. Thomas are now visible for the first time in over 50 years.
This former mining town is a mile and a half hike from the lake’s shoreline, and is managed by the National Park Service. A day trip from Las Vegas allows you to visit the relics of the town without a long drive or a heavy backpack. Located in the Lake Mead Recreational Area, St. Thomas can be reached by car or on foot, and is worth visiting.
34.94556, -116.86534 Status: Commerical Distance From Vegas: 2 hr 30 min
Located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the ghost town of Calico is a must-see. During its heyday, the town boasted more than 500 mines and made millions of dollars. However, when the price of silver plummeted, the area became dormant and the mines closed.
Calico, which was once a ghost town, was purchased in the 1950s by Walter Knott. Today, five of its original buildings still stand and are used for various fee-based activities. You can even take a gold panning trip if you’re feeling nostalgic.
37.25333, -113.36673 Status: Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 2 hr 19 min
f you’re in the mood for a little history, Silver Reef is the place for you. The town was a silver miner’s paradise in the early nineteenth century, when over $10 million in silver was discovered in the local area. The town of Rockpile, later renamed Silver Reef, had more than 2000 residents by 1879, but the local mill and railhead were over 100 miles away. Eventually, the Walker Brothers and William Barbee founded a mill to process the silver and crush the rock.
While many of the other ghost towns near Las Vegas have a touristy feel, Silver Reef is truly a unique place to visit. This small town is located fifteen miles northeast of St. George, Utah. There are various ruins as well as preserved structures and a museum to explore.
37.16746, -113.08094 Status: Semi-Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 2 hr 56 min
The town was established in the 1850s and featured crops of cotton, wheat, alfalfa, and corn. However, the town was ravaged by floods in the 1860s and 1870s, and residents were forced to relocate to higher ground, about a mile upstream. However, the early settlers did not abandon Grafton entirely; in fact, they rebuilt it, though they were forced to relocate because cotton production had taken a back seat to other food crops.
he Dixie region of Utah was settled by Mormons following Brigham Young. Many of these people fled persecution in their native countries and sought a place of peace and safety. Grafton was the home of five Mormon families, headed by Nathan Tenney. The last residents left the town in 1944. The town’s ruins are a testament to its history. The story of its early settlers makes Grafton a fascinating ghost town near Las Vegas.
The Ghost Town of Grafton is located just 20 miles from Zion National Park. You can reach Grafton by taking Hwy 9 from Rockville and cross the Virgin River on the historic iron bridge. This single-track iron bridge was built in 1924. The town lies at the base of low red cliffs of Moenkopi sandstone that separate the river valley from the arid rocky land.
37.35465, -117.36507 Status: Semi-Abandoned Distance From Vegas: 2 hr 40 min
When Herb Robbins won the lottery, he bought homes in Gold Point. He renovated the town and acted as sheriff and fire chief. The post office, which served as a fourth-class post office for many years, eventually shut down. Robbins and his wife, Ora Mae, died in the year 1956 and 1980, respectively. During the late 1950s, the town was the site of several films that starred Herb Robbins and Sandy Johnson, including a remake of “Twin Peaks”.
A visit to Gold Point is like stepping back in time. While there is no living population, the town’s historic buildings have been lovingly restored over the years by locals. The townsite includes a saloon, the old post office, and many historic miners’ cabins. Located about three hours north of Las Vegas, Gold Point is a great place to spend the night or even the whole weekend!
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of ghost towns near Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.
If you’re having trouble finding ghost towns be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Finding Abandoned Places , or explore other ghost towns across the country.
12 Ghost Towns In Georgia [MAP]
If you’re searching for ghost towns in Georgia, we’ve got you covered! Below are 12 different ghost towns you can explore across Illinois along with their status and exact GPS coordinates. We rate ghost towns in Georgia based on their status. Here’s how our system works: Abandoned: Is abandoned with ruins and structures in a…
6 Ghost Towns In Vermont [MAP]
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13 Ghost Towns In Kansas [MAP]
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Spooked Off The Strip: 10 Ghost Towns To Visit Near Las Vegas
Don't just go to Vegas for a grand party. Check out these 10 best ghost towns near Las Vegas that will spook your sleep away.
For all the horrors that haunted hotels and cemeteries command, they all pale in comparison to ghost towns. There is something deeply unsettling, yet alluring, about a once populated and bustling location, now turned deserted with piercing silence and hollow infrastructures.
Over the years, many ghost towns in Nevada, in particular, have become an object of intrigue, attracting flocks of tourists to revel in their eeriness. One doesn’t even have to wander off to the edges of civilization to spot a ghost town, though; as counterintuitive as it might feel, even the most lively areas, such as Las Vegas, have their share of seemingly abandoned towns. For those willing to explore these remote patches of abandonment, here are the top 10 ghost towns near Las Vegas that curious travelers in Nevada should add to their wanderlust list.
10 Rhyolite Ghost Town
About 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, the ghost town of Rhyolite has a fascinating history and is a testament to the flimsy and fragile nature of human societies. Founded in 1904, Rhyolite bloomed during the gold rush era that swept across Nevada. Soon, Rhyolite became a thriving mining town filled with hospitals, railroads, churches, stock exchange, saloons, and brothels, housing about 10,000 people.
However, after the quality and quantity of gold ores declined, so did its population. And by the 1910s, Rhyolite was almost entirely empty. Today, visitors can glimpse into Rhyolite’s past glory by wandering through its collection of ruins and abandoned buildings, including the famous "Bottle House" made of 50,000 bottles.
RELATED: Aurora: One Of Nevada's True Great Ghost Boomtowns (& It's Near Bodie)
9 Gold Point Ghost Town
Just 70 miles northwest of Rhyolite rests the Gold Point Ghost Town, engulfed by mountains and sagebrush. After the discovery of gold in 1927, the town flourished till the 1960s when the mine collapsed after dynamite went off. Today, visitors to Gold Point can explore the remains of the old saloons, general stores, and homes and get a glimpse of what life was like in the town's heyday.
One of the town's most notable landmarks includes the Gold Point Hotel, which was built in 1908 and is said to be haunted by the ghost of a former owner.
8 Nelson Ghost Town
The Nelson Ghost Town is a mere 45-minute drive from Las Vegas and is situated in the El Dorado Canyon. Nelson Ghost Town is notable for housing the famous Techatticup Mine , which is one of the oldest and richest mines in the gold rush’s history. Today, the town is one of the eeriest ghost towns in America, with abandoned buildings and rusted, decaying bodies of vehicles and aircraft inspiring a feeling of despair and lostness within its visitors.
7 St. Thomas Ghost Town
St. Thomas is one of the most unique ghost towns in Nevada (perhaps even in all of America). Located inside Clark County, St. Thomas was flooded and submerged up to 60 feet underwater after the completion of the Hoover Dam. It’s often recounted that the last resident was seen paddling away from his house.
The droughts in the 2000s, however, caused Lake Mead to shrink, and the town once again resurfaced. The town's well-preserved structures, including a schoolhouse, church, and several homes, provide a glimpse into life in the 1800s and early 1900s.
6 Goodsprings Ghost Town
The Goodsprings Ghost Town is a 40-minutes drive from Las Vegas and takes its visitors back to 1904 with its structures that are frozen in time. The century-old town is impressively well-preserved. Goodsprings is home to one of the oldest surviving bars in the country, Pioneer Saloon.
Eagle-eyed visitors will be able to spot bullet holes in the bar’s walls, resulting from a quarrel over a game of cards. The town also has a century-old schoolhouse that educates kids to date.
RELATED: Bucket List Towns: These Are The 10 Best To Visit In Nevada Right Now
5 Pioche Ghost Town
As one of the best ghost towns near Vegas to visit, Pioche was the embodiment of the true wild west. In the 1800s, Pioche was total anarchy, and shootouts in broad daylight were nothing out of the ordinary. Deaths were frequent, and the bodies had to be buried in a great hurry in the local Boot Hill Cemetery. And sometimes, the bodies were buried so hurriedly that boots of cadavers would pop out of the dirt, ascribing the cemetery its peculiar name.
Currently, Picoche is one of the liveliest ghost towns in Nevada. While keeping its historical relics intact, the Pichoe Ghost Town has integrated modern attractions into its location.
4 Delamar Ghost Town
An hour of drive from Pioche will lead visitors to the Delamar Ghost Town. Delamar thrived towards the end of the 1800s after the discovery of gold, attracting people from all over and becoming one of the most populated towns in the area. But a disastrous combination of fire and declining level of gold caused the townsfolk to leave in search of more opportune areas.
Presently, Delamar is frequented by many history buffs and spook enthusiasts. One of its key attractions is its ruins, made up of colorful native rocks that look spectacular when they glow in the golden-hour sun.
3 Jarbidge Ghost Town
Located within a 100-acres of Jarbidge wilderness, this ghost town near Las Vegas inspires a haunting feeling of isolation within its visitors. Jarbridge shares a fate similar to most of the deserted mining towns on the list. But what makes Jarbidge so fascinating is its enduring collection of folktales and spooky stories that have been passed down for more than a century.
The name, Jarbidge itself means “devil” in the Shoshone language. The ghost town still inhabits a handful of residents, so the visitors would want to stop by the saloon and chat up with the locals to hear the tales of Jarbidge's hauntings.
Those who love haunts will enjoy checking out the spooky southern spots full of eerie ghost stories .
2 Seven Troughs Ghost Town
Named after the seven water troughs used to supply water to the town, Seven Troughs was an old mining town that thrived from 1906 to 1918. During this time, the town had hotels, a post office, a kindergarten, multiple saloons, and a mine that produced gold north of $2 million.
However, a devastating flash flood struck the Seven Troughs town in 1918, destroying the majority of infrastructures and causing the local inhabitants to move on to fresher mining towns. Visitors can access the town through the Cowboy Corridor, near Lovelock town, and catch a glimpse of Seven Troughs’ remaining cabins and vehicles. Today, it's one of the eeriest of the top ghost towns near Las Vegas to visit.
RELATED: This State Is Home To The Most Ghost Towns In The Country
A ghost town located in Nye County, Nevada, Belmont is easily worthy of its place among the best ghost towns in Nevada . It was established after a silver strike in 1865. The discovery of metals like copper, lead, and antimony alongside silver established Belmont as a prosperous town. At its peak, the town boasted saloons, restaurants, newspapers, banks, schools, and various stores.
Though the town was ghosted pretty soon, its 150-years old buildings still stand strong today. Visitors can tour through miners' cabins, mill sites, and an impressive Monitor-Belmont Mill, whose intact chimney was used as a target practice for air force pilots during World War 1.
8 Ghost Towns Near Las Vegas
Ghost towns take us back to a different period, providing secrets and clues to a life that existed long ago. Ghost towns aren’t spooky like the name might imply. Instead, they’re abandoned towns and cities, mostly mining towns, where buildings and other structures still remain. They’re great fun to explore, and the Las Vegas region of Nevada is full of them.
Take a day trip and enjoy a historical tour through the old west and visit one (or more) of these Nevada ghost towns.
Rhyolite Ghost Town
If you have the time to devote to a ghost town day trip in Nevada, Rhyolite should be at the top of your list. Famous for being the most photographed ghost town in the west, Rhyolite experienced a boom when gold ore was found there in the very early 1900s. Mining camps soon began popping up, and the region became known as the Bullfrog Mining District.
Within about six months, the population of Rhyolite had grown to about 5,000, which was very sizeable for the time. After a hard and heavy few years, the gold mining town of Rhyolite died about as fast as it was born. That wasn’t the end of its story, however. Rhyolite was used as the setting for the film Air Mail and is also home to the Tom Kelly Bottle House, the largest bottle house known in the United States.
It takes about 2 hours to get from Las Vegas to Rhyolite, which is located near Death Valley National Park. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit the outdoor art park featuring the Last Supper Sculpture, created in 1984 by artist Albert Szukalski.
For another southern Nevada ghost town experience, take the Valley of Fire Highway for a little over an hour until you come to St Thomas, a town whose residents were told they would have to leave as Lake Mead was being built. In the 1930s, when the lake’s waters began to rise, the town of St Thomas lost the battle and found itself underwater. At the lake’s highest point, St Thomas was about 60 feet underwater.
St Thomas ghost town is located within the boundaries of Lake Mead National Recreational Area, so there is also plenty of opportunity for hiking, biking, sightseeing, and photogra[hy.
Gold Point Ghost Town
Of the ghost towns on our list, Gold Point is a little further away from Las Vegas, at nearly a three-hour trip. That’s ok, though, because they also offer accommodations which we’ll get to in a minute.
Gold Point got its start in 1868 as a silver mining camp and was booming (at least considering how sparsely populated the old west was in general at that period of time) by the turn of the century. Mining came to an end in the 1960s when a dynamite mishap caused enough damage that it made more sense just to close down than put the money into repairs.
Today, you can visit Gold Point and get a taste of the authentic wild west roots of the old mining town. You can make reservations to stay in a guest house at this Nevada ghost town. A minimum; two-night stay is required and includes a family-style all-you-can-eat breakfast. Just remember that everything you can see and touch (well, except for cabin and guest house amenities) is part of the ghost town’s history and shouldn’t be removed from the area.
Eldorado Canyon / Nelson Ghost Town
If your guest for adventure has you craving a trip to Nevada’s liveliest ghost town, Eldorado Canyon and Nelson Ghost Town is definitely the destination you’re after. While things have definitely calmed down since the town’s gold mining days of the mid to late 1800s, what remains is either well preserved or has been restored as an act of love by the people who purchased the land in 1994.
At the height of the mining days, the Techatticup Mine in Eldorado Canyon was still desolate enough that lawlessness was the name of the game. With the nearest sheriff about a week’s trip away, it’s safe to say that this town embodied the wild west landscape that we think of today – complete with gunfights, bloodshed, and scandal.
Eldorado Canyon is just about an hour outside of Las Vegas, making for a perfect day trip for the afternoon while still leaving plenty of time to get back to the Las Vegas nightlife. Techatticup Mine was a location for the movie 3000 Miles to Graceland, so it’s not only a piece of wild-west history but something movie buffs will enjoy as well.
Goodsprings Ghost Town
The mine in Goodsprings, about 45 minutes from Las Vegas, is a great chance to sneak away from the city and experience one of the most famous Nevada ghost towns. Visit the ghost town to be transported back in time to around 1904, where the Keystone Mine was put on the map just a couple of years before. The mine ended up being a major producer of lead and zinc — about 85 million pounds worth.
All the buildings you would expect to find in a wild west town were erected shortly after, including post office, schoolhouse, general store, and saloon. The Pioneer Saloon, which is still in operation, is the oldest standing bar in southern Nevada. There are also plenty of rumors of paranormal activity at the Pioneer Saloon, so this is one bar where the spirits you end up with might not be the ones you ordered.
If you’re hungry, try the Food Network featured Killer Ghost Burger, then head out for either a walking tour or off-road tour of the area. This adventure is a favorite of ghost town aficionados everywhere.
Belmont – Manhattan Ghost Towns
Why take a trip to visit only one ghost town when you can experience two? The combined duo of Belmont and Manhattan ghost towns is definitely a drive from Las Vegas ( about 4 hours) but such incredible pieces of the history of the Silver State of Nevada that it’s worth it.
Structures and artifacts remain that tell such a vivid story of both of the mine’s glory days. At Belmont, you’ll find a 100 ft chimney that was used as target practice during World War II, complete with bullet holes. You can wander around on a self-guided walking tour, then quench your thirst at Dirty Dick’s – a storied watering hole where anything can happen.
Then, a mere 15 miles away, you can experience another one of the best ghost towns in Manhattan, Nevada. Rumor has it that when Belmont became too populated with miners seeking a bit of the fortune, that many of them headed down the road to Manhattan. It’s one thing to pack a bag and hope for the best as you build a new town. The new residents of Manhattan took it one step further by stealing the old church in Belmont…yes, the entire church.
With a story this good, you know the rest has to be just as entertaining. Ask any Las Vegas local about how they would plan an overnight trip to these ghost towns, and they’ll just straight up tell you that staying in Tonopah at one of the most haunted hotels in America is a must. This adventure isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is a fun way to travel Nevada.
Pioche Ghost Town
Pioche ghost town, about three hours from Las Vegas, is another that has a reputation of being Nevada’s liveliest ghost town. Really, there are a few in line for this title, so we’ll leave it up to you to decide who should be crowned the winner. Pioche is more of a living ghost town, as contradictory as that might sound, with beautiful state parks, museums, saloons, and more. Visiting some ghost towns leaves you feeling a little dusty and parched, but this isn’t one of them.
Like other towns of the old west during the time, Pioche was known as a wild and rowdy place. To see evidence of this, take the time to also visit Boot Hill Cemetery at Pioche. Shootouts were so common that they had to bury the bodies quickly. Boot Hill was where they were laid to rest. According to legend, the name comes from the fact that bodies were buried so quickly that their boots allegedly stuck outta the sand.
Of course, the boot tips aren’t visible any longer, but it is a neat little piece of trivia to take with you on your day trip excursion to Pioche.
Delamar Ghost Town
The last of the ghost towns on our list is Delamar. Delamar is only about an hour from Pioche, so if you’re traveling off the beaten path away from Las Vegas anyway, this is definitely worth the trip.
The beauty of Delamar is that so many of the structures are still standing, and the golden hour sun makes for a gorgeous sunrise and sunset. If you can, plan your trip so that you’re on-site to see the sunrise or fall. It’s truly beautiful.
The left behind evidence of the once lively ghost town includes the still-standing remnants of dozens of buildings, cabins that housed the miners, a brick archway created from beautifully colored stones, and many more ruins that tell a fascinating story.
Ghost Towns and the History of the Silver State
Nevada is home to many famous gold and silver mines that were once booming in the west. Today, you can still experience history through these preserved and restored ghost towns. Make a day of it, explore, and don’t forget to take lots of pictures of these ghost towns that are just a short drive from Las Vegas.
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M anifesting trave l
- Oct 29, 2021
Ghost towns near Las Vegas you'll have to see to believe
Updated: Jul 20
Driving through Nevada’s ghost towns is a lot like visiting Hollywood movie sets. It’s hard to believe places like these still exist. Imagine making a wrong turn and ending up in an alternate universe where time stopped more than a century ago; that’s pretty much how it feels.
These old mining towns are nestled in the bleached desert mountains and lined with rusted out cars and machinery in various states of corrosion. The cemeteries are decaying with crumbling headstones, there are signs warning of the dangers of abandoned mineshafts, there's an old general store and a local watering hole.
Best photos of the Strip: where to go and what to skip
But here’s the thing you have to remember about real ghost towns; they’re not tourist traps, they’re sites of unimaginable highs and lows. At the turn of the century, these towns were a whirlwind of tremendous wealth and prosperity, tragedy and violence, and every extreme human emotion you can think of in a very short period of time. Once the land was drained of its precious metals, the prospectors moved on to the next mine, leaving behind entire operations and sometimes loved ones who didn’t make it in the unforgiving desert.
Nevada’s historic boom towns are some of the best preserved in the country, and surprisingly, many of them are still inhabited. While most people will come to the region to see Las Vegas , right outside the glittering city limits are lonely stretches of highways that carve right through the heart of the great American West and ghost town experiences you can't get anywhere but Nevada. Keep reading for ghost towns near Las Vegas that you'll have to see to believe.
Nelson Nevada Ghost Town
43 miles southeast of las vegas, nelson's landing population: 34.
You’ll probably have a few eerie, “The Hills Have Eyes” feelings on your way out to Nelson’s Landing/Nelson Ghost Town (people use the names interchangeably). It is, after all, down a desolate, winding road and tucked into a canyon in the middle of nowhere. When it was first discovered by the Spaniards in the late 1700s, they called it El Dorado, likely a nod to the elusive, mythical city of gold. And honestly, it’s striking in a similar way.
Thinking of traveling to Spain? Read more about it.
The rustic little town is a treasure trove of original structures from its booming mining days, junkyard gems, obscure art pieces and movie props, all waiting to be discovered by the occasional passerby. The general store is home to a small museum with photos, info, and a precious stash of cold water (which in the blazing summer heat is worth more than gold). It’s also where you check in and let the good folks know you’re there because there are no other services nearby if you need help.
Fees to visit Nelson's Landing
If you’d like to take pictures, and you will, it’s a $10-$20 fee and well worth it because it helps the owners keep the place open. There’s a high likelihood you’ll see a photoshoot or two because it’s a beloved locale for photographers who know it’s there. There’s an old Texaco filling station, gas pumps, a multi-story barn, a number of out buildings, vintage cars and trucks, a few old planes and countless other cool and photogenic things to see.
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This place is definitely off-the-beaten-path, but it’s worth the trek. You can take a mine tour while you’re there too. It hasn’t been in operation since the 1940s, but it’s the site of a bloody history of rampant lawlessness and labor disputes because of the millions of dollars it produced in gold, silver and copper.
Good to know about Nelson NV:
You can also get to the Colorado River from Nelson, but much of the town as it is today is what’s left from a devastating flash flood, so use caution if you do go down to the river. Monsoon season is typically July to August, and you don’t want to be caught out there in a fast moving storm.
It’s also not safe to go wandering around Nelson without telling the owners you’re there. There are abandoned mine shafts, rattlesnakes, scorpions, vicious cacti (totally not a joke), old mining equipment and about a million other things that could hurt you if you’re not paying close attention. There are also no services like a gas station, restaurant or lodging so make sure you’re well prepared before you go out.
Rhyolite Nevada Ghost Town
123 miles northwest of las vegas, rhyolite population: 1 (unless he moved).
Rhyolite is a true ghost town because there’s virtually nothing and no one left. The town sits on the edge of Death Valley, just 7 minutes from the small town of Beatty, NV. At the height of its boom, Rhyolite had a stock exchange, an opera house, an ice cream parlor, a hospital, jail and even a red light district with women of varying moral elasticity. In 1906, the one and only Charles Schwab purchased the local mine for an estimated 2 to 6 million dollars.
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But by 1911, the mine was drained and shuttered, and the electricity turned off for the entire town just a few years later. In less than a year, the town was abandoned. Today, the walls of the 3-story bank, the jail, a train depot and a house made of 50,000 glass bottles remains. The Bottle House was originally built by a local miner, Tom Kelly, and was restored in 1925 by Paramount Pictures for a movie production.
The Goldwell Open Air Museum is also (interestingly enough) just down the road, and you can take in art installations from sculptors all over the world, including the 1984 permanent exhibit “The Last Supper,” created by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski.
Good to know about Rhyolite NV:
Rhyolite makes a good side trip if you’re touring through Death Valley National Park or taking a road trip from Las Vegas to Reno or Tahoe. It’s not much of a destination by itself and there are no services or places to eat. The good news is, Beatty is just six miles up the road and you’ll find everything you need there, including the Goldwell Museum’s manager, who’s quite the artist in his own right.
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Goldfield Nevada Mining Town
184 miles northwest of las vegas, goldfield population: 298.
Goldfield has a couple modern claims to fame; it’s home to what the Travel Channel deems to be one of the most haunted hotels in the United States , and a massive open-air art installation full of precariously leaning cars turned up on their ends.
But originally, Goldfield became the largest and wealthiest town in Nevada, with 20,000 residents who came from all over the country for the gold and silver ore found just below the surface of the desert mountainscapes. It was even home to Virgil and Wyatt Earp, with Virgil becoming sheriff in 1904.
At the height of its boom, Goldfield had the most luxurious hotel between San Francisco and Denver, a 150-room property that boasted private bathrooms, electricity, telephones, steam heating and an elevator.
The Goldfield Hotel hasn’t had any paying guests since the 1940s, but that doesn’t stop the rumors that there are some past guests who haunt the halls of the long-abandoned building. While it isn’t currently open to visitors, that may change in the future because it was open to the public for general and paranormal tours. At the very least, it’s worth peeking in the windows.
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On the other end of town, The International Car Forest sits just over a hill off the main interstate. It’s a one-of-a-kind art installation with 40 junked cars staged in multiple angles, including partially buried, and standing on end. It’s another extremely photogenic spot that’s worth a stop over.
Good to know about Goldfield NV:
There is only one place to spend the night, the Goldfield Stop Inn , and the Dinky Diner is the only place to stop for lunch, but we can attest it’s worth the visit. The restaurant is owned and operated by a brother and sister duo who are extremely friendly and know how to make some mean American diner favorites.
We’re talking perfectly golden-brown mozzarella sticks, crispy onion rings, juicy burgers and southwestern style goodies too. While it doesn’t sound impressive to be the only place to eat in town, or the highest rated restaurant in the area (because there aren’t many choices), it really is good food and you’ll be happy you stopped.
Tonopah Nevada Ghost Town
211 miles northwest of las vegas, tonopah population: 2,000.
You can’t mention Goldfield without including Tonopah, they’re only 30 minutes from each other and their histories are entwined. In 1900, a tipsy Jim Butler stumbled upon a hunk of silver while trying to wrangle his wayward burro in the middle of the night. What came after was a 20-year boom that yielded more than $120 million in today’s value, crowning the town the “Queen of the Silver Camps.”
Luckily, the town has been able to preserve much of its history, including the 100-acre Tonopah Historic Mining Park where Butler got his start. You can tour the mines and check out exhibits at the Central Nevada Museum , find the headstones of the 17 miners who were killed in a mineshaft fire at the old Tonopah Cemetery, visit the ghost town ruins in nearby Manhattan and Belmont, or one of our favorites, hang out at the stargazing park.
USA Today named Tonopah one of the best places in the United States for stargazing thanks to such minimal light pollution in the night sky. For being in the middle of nowhere, Tonopah has a surprising number of things to do. It’s also a great base to explore the region with several hotel options like the Mizpah and Belvada Hotels or the extra kitschy, World Famous Clown Motel . It’s also got its own brewery that serves up homemade BBQ, a 24/7 casino, lots of restaurants and a few shops to explore.
Good to know about Tonopah, NV:
We consider this a good location to use as a home base because of all the services the town offers. There’s a handful of gas stations, restaurants, mechanics, and places to stay. That’s really hard to come by in the middle of the Nevada desert. Because this town is the most populated, there are much more things to do than the other towns on the list.
This is the place for those who need a little more civilization and action after touring through Nevada’s sleepy ghost towns.
Goodsprings Nevada Ghost Town
34 miles southwest from las vegas, goodsprings population: 229*.
Goodsprings would be a blip on the radar if it weren’t for its “frozen in time” saloon and a brush with Hollywood royalty. The Pioneer Saloon is the oldest in Nevada, and likely the last of its kind in the entire country.
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The building still has all the original features like the 1913 Sears and Roebuck stamped tin walls, a Brunswick Company bar from the 1860s that was sent down from Rhyolite after the bust (remember that town?), the brass foot rail on the bar and an old wooden boardwalk outside that leads to the Goodsprings General Store. It is a whiff of the real Wild West like you’ve never had, complete with a pot-bellied stove and bullet holes in the walls from a gunfight that broke out over a poker cheat in 1915.
In 1942, the one and only Clark Gable bellied up to the bar, waiting three days for word on his Hollywood starlet wife, Carole Lombard’s plane. It had refueled in Las Vegas but never made it to California. Legend has it, the cigarette burns in the Pioneer’s bar are the result of Gable’s frazzled nerves, that culminated in the tragic news of the plane crashing on nearby Mt. Potosi. There were no survivors.
Today, the Pioneer Saloon has live music on the weekends, a full menu, souvenirs and has even been featured in an Xbox game. Goodsprings Elementary was built in 1913 and is one of the last one-room schools in the state that is still in operation, and it’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. There’s also a stone cabin that still stands. It was the first structure built in Goodsprings in 1886 and was home to the Campbell family until their matriarch’s death in 1980.
Good to know about Goodsprings NV:
Other than the landmarks we’ve pointed out, that’s pretty much all there is to Goodsprings from a “ghost town” perspective. There is an ATV tour company office there if you feel like ripping it up in the desert, but that’s about it as far as tourism goes.
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This is a great place to stop if you’re driving from California to Las Vegas and don’t want to have the typical casino experience you’d get in Jean. It’s also noteworthy that the Seven Magic Mountains are just across the interstate and another good place to stop for photos on your way to Vegas.
*As of the 2010 census, it’s hard to say what it is today but there are about 20 or so kids enrolled in the school.
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Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last nine years. Her work has been featured in Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, Vegas.com and LasVegas.com. She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.
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Nelson Ghost Town (Las Vegas Day Trip) With Photos
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If you’re visiting Las Vegas and interested in a true wild west adventure, then look no further than Nelson Ghost Town. The state of Nevada is home to over 600 ghost towns, and the ghost town of Nelson is one of the most popular. On top of that, Nelson is less than an hour’s drive from the Strip, making it a perfect day trip from Las Vegas!
You may be wondering to yourself, “What is there to do in Nelson Ghost Town? Why is it popular?”
Nelson Ghost Town is famous for many reasons, including its mine tour, violent history, preserved buildings, and beautiful Mojave Desert views. The ghost town of Nelson will provide any visitor who is fascinated with the old west an afternoon they will not soon forget.
Keep reading to discover everything you’ll need to know about planning your road trip to this western town. Plus, I’ve included numerous pictures from our recent trip to show you exactly what you can expect to see. So next time you’re in Las Vegas, make sure to plan a visit. It’s definitely worth the trip!
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History of Nelson Ghost Town
One of the things that makes Nelson so popular is the rich (and dark) history surrounding the old ghost town.
Nelson was first founded by Spaniards in 1775 when gold was found in the area. The town was consequently dubbed “Eldorado,” which translates to “City of Gold.”
Although gold was first discovered here in 1775, it took until 1859 for gold and silver to be consistently mined in the area. The mine in Nelson is named the Techatticup Mine , and it’s the oldest and most productive gold mine in southern Nevada’s history. Over the years, miners pulled millions of dollars in gold ore from this site. The early discoveries of gold and silver in Nelson led to a rush of opportunity seekers pouring into the boomtown.
The huge influx of people mixed with greed caused Nelson to become a nefarious town known for its high rate of violent crimes. The violence was brought on by ownership and land rights disputes common in gold rush towns of the era.
Nelson, however, was a special case in that the nearest sheriff was more than 150 miles away, so criminals were rarely apprehended or brought to justice. Nelson became known for murder and lawlessness and gained a reputation for being a mining town whose riches were earned through blood.
Despite these factors, prospectors continued to flock to Nelson in hopes of finding a treasure of their own.
The town also attracted many civil war deserters from both sides, hoping that the remote location would keep authorities from the Union and Confederate armies from finding them.
Eventually, the gold played out and the mine was closed in 1945, and the population began to drift away. Even so, Nelson probably would have continued in existence for a lot longer than it did, but a massive flash flood in 1974 wiped out everything and left the town abandoned.
At this time, the small remaining population of Nelson moved a couple of miles up the road to higher ground, and the original mine location is where you’ll find Nelson’s Ghost Town.
Things to Do When Visiting Nelson Ghost Town
Nelson Ghost Town is now widely visited as a tourist attraction due to its proximity to Las Vegas, and as such, there are a variety of activities and plenty of things to do and see.
Explore Nelson Ghost Town
The main event at Nelson Ghost Town is the town itself. Feel free to wander around and explore the grounds. The townsite has a dozen or more vintage and restored buildings to check out, and the area is covered with collectibles, old cars, vintage signs, and historic gas pumps.
It’ll take you around an hour to see everything in the town. Along the way, you’ll find groupings of interesting collectibles—everything from old bicycles and school buses to rusted-out Studebaker’s.
The owner’s daughter jokingly told us that her parents (the current owners) were hoarders. That may be true, but these are some of the most interesting “piles of junk” I’ve ever seen!
Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours of the Techatticup Mine
Gold found at the Techatticup Mine is what gave the town its start, so you’ll want to be sure to take one of the three daily tours inside the mine itself. I’ve been on several mine tours at other locations, and this one is interesting because the mine shaft is chiseled directly out of hard rock.
Because of this, the mine doesn’t have the wooden supports that normal mines dug out of the earth require. Not needing these supports enables the mine tunnel to be much smaller.
The walking tour takes about an hour, covers a 1/4 mile of the abandoned mine, and is flat (no steps). The temperature in the mine is about 65°F year-round, and it is a bit breezy in spots, so depending on the time of year, you may want to bring a jacket. If it’s a hot day outside, the cool mine feels really great!
- The mine tours are at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m.
- You’ll want to call ahead to make reservations tel: 702-291-0026
- Tours cost $15 for adults and $10 for children 5-12 (under 5 is free)
You can purchase a mine tour by reserving a spot through the general store or calling the number above. If you want to make sure that you can see the mine, it’s best to call ahead and give them your name and the time you want to come. You can pay when you arrive.
Visit The Nelson General Store
Also located within the town is the Nelson general store. The store contains an eclectic variety of collector items and old relics from the town. The walls are filled with historical knick-knacks and old photographs from the area. Most of these items are for display only, but there are some items for sale as well.
There is a lot to look at here, and it’s the perfect place to hang out and explore, especially if it’s hot outside. Inside the general store, you’ll be able to grab a drink or a snack but don’t expect to find any restaurants or gas stations nearby.
Nelson Ghost Town Photography
Nelson Ghost Town is a photographer’s paradise, and a shutterbug could spend hours photographing the buildings, antiques, and scenic offerings of the town. People come here for casual photoshoots, wedding photos, and full-on commercial shoots.
The town encourages this, but you do have to pay a $10 fee to take photos.
You won’t need to pay if you’re happy shooting a few photos or family snapshots with your phone, but you’ll need to pay the fee if you’re a serious photographer (professional or not) doing a full-on photo shoot.
Wedding or commercial photoshoots will need to be scheduled ahead of time through the office. These fees help with the upkeep of the town, and as the town hasn’t been turned into a major tourist trap, it’s well worth the small fee.
The photography fee will also give you access to a historic barn filled with photogenic antiques, memorabilia, and scenic backgrounds for your photos. The barn is only accessible by paying the photo fee and is the only building on the property that you can enter besides the general store.
Weddings at Nelson Ghost Town
Believe it or not, Nelson Ghost Town is a popular wedding spot, especially for those who love a vintage vibe. It’s a place couples can come for a truly unique Vegas wedding experience.
Nelson offers several different wedding venues that are available to rent. The most popular venues are the main historic barn and the cactus garden. There is also a little wedding chapel available complete with stained glass! I imagine a wedding here would be quite lovely.
If having your Las Vegas wedding in a ghost town sounds like a cool idea, you can find more information on a Nelson Ghost Town Wedding Ceremony here.
Scenic Eldorado Canyon
The rugged beauty of Eldorado Canyon surrounding the ghost town of Nelson deserves mention as well.
The mountainous region, Colorado river, and desert views create a picturesque landscape that is quite different from that of nearby Las Vegas. The spectacular scenery found in and around Eldorado Canyon will turn the drive to Nelson into a beautiful scenic tour worthy of the trip all by itself!
If you’d like to discover all of the natural beauty surrounding Las Vegas, be sure to visit our Best Las Vegas Day Trips page.
Nelson Ghost Town’s Movie History
Nelson Ghost Town provides the perfect Old West setting that many movie producers have used to their advantage. As a result, Nelson has been the setting of a variety of films and movies over the years.
Movies Filmed in Nelson, Nevada
Nelson ghost town has provided the backdrop to dozens of television shows, commercials, and blockbuster movies.
If you are a movie lover, you might recognize Nelson as the setting of 3,000 Miles to Graceland , Brain Games , Eye of the Beholder , and Breakdown . All of these movies were filmed in the historic ghost town or the surrounding property. Props and parts of the sets can still be visited on the property.
Plane Wreckage at Nelson
There are two wrecked airplanes on the property in Nelson, and many tourists wonder whether these planes crashed here? Blown up is more like it! These planes are actually movie props that were used during filming. The main plane was featured in the movie 3,000 Miles to Graceland .
(When you’re in the general store, you can see the scene from the movie where this plane explodes playing on a tv behind the counter).
If you’ve seen pictures of Nelson Ghost Town, these airplanes are probably the most immediately recognizable to you. Adults and children alike love seeing, posing, and taking photos with these movie set planes when visiting the property. Movie fans especially love seeing the place where the behind-the-scenes magic took place.
Is Nelson Ghost Town Free?
There is no cost to visit Nelson Ghost Town and explore the property or general store. However, if you wish to take the Eldorado Mine tour, the cost is $15 for adults and $10 for children. Also, serious photographers may want to pay $10 to take photos in the town and access the photogenic barns.
Parking at Nelson ghost town is free.
How Far is Nelson Ghost Town from Las Vegas?
Nelson Ghost Town is located 46 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. The drive will take you about 45 minutes. However, bear in mind that you are heading to a remote desert location, and there are no services, food, or gas stations to be found along much of the route to the town.
The best way to get to Nelson Ghost Town is to drive yourself there via your own vehicle or a rental car. If you are planning on renting a car , you should rent it in advance because Las Vegas car rentals can quickly get booked up.
Take a Tour to Nelson Ghost Town
If you’re without a car or just want to leave the driving to someone else, another way to get to Nelson is to take a guided Nelson Ghost Town Tour from Las Vegas. You’ll be picked up from your hotel and taken to Nelson, where you’ll visit the town and take the mine tour.
On the way back, the tour will take you by the Colorado River, where you’ll get a great view of nearby Lake Mead and Black Canyon.
Nelson Ghost Town Directions
Nelson Ghost Town is located southeast of the Las Vegas Strip and is an easy but remote drive. Click this google maps link from your phone to get turn-by-turn directions to the ghost town from your current location.
- Address: 16880 State Highway 165, Nelson, Nevada
- Phone: tel: 702-291-0026
- Website: Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours
Note : When looking at directions to Nelson, you may see reference to it being in the town of Searchlight, NV. The town of Searchlight is actually about 30 miles away. Nelson doesn’t have a post office, so its mailing address is in Searchlight.
You’ll find the ghost town two miles past the main town of Nelson (blink, and you’ll miss it!) at mile marker 13 on Highway 165.
Nelson Ghost Town Hours
Nelson Ghost Town is open every day of the week and almost every day of the year. Their hours are:
- Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m (7 days a week)
- Days: Open 362 days a year (Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter)
They close promptly at 6 p.m., so if you want to visit this historical site, make sure you schedule your visit early enough to have plenty of time to see everything.
Although Nelson is a ghost town, it’s not entirely abandoned as the family that owns it lives there. So you’ll need to stick to their scheduled hours when you visit.
Weather at Nelson Ghost Town
Nevada is known for its sweltering summer heat, so when planning a trip to Nelson, it is essential to take the weather into account. Weather is the hottest in Nevada from June through September, with temperatures frequently staying well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are planning on going during these months, it is best to avoid going during mid-day. Instead, go early in the morning or closer to the evening if you can. Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat either way.
If you want to avoid the sweltering heat while still seeing all the areas of interest, the best time to visit is between October and May.
A Couple of Other Points To Remember
When planning your trip, keep in mind that the ghost town of Nelson is a popular spot. You may encounter a lot of other visitors. Nelson is the busiest from noon to 2 p.m., especially on weekends.
I’d recommend getting out there before noon on a weekday if you can.
Snakes and Cacti
While it might look like you’re on the set of a movie, you should take extra care when walking around the ghost town. There is a lot of cholla cactus (the kind that falls off and is all over the ground). Wear close-toed, good walking shoes and watch your step, lest you get too close to any cholla cacti.
You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for rattlesnakes. It is very much rattlesnake territory, and I was told that they find and capture about twenty rattlesnakes a year on the property.
It’s not a major concern as, the snakes don’t present a significant problem for visitors. It’s just something to be aware of.
Who Owns Nelson Ghost Town?
Tony and Bobbie Werly own the ghost town of Nelson, Nevada. They purchased the town in 1994 after it sat abandoned for years. The family restored several of the old buildings and reopened part of the Techatticup Mine for tours.
The town is now a thriving tourist destination near Las Vegas.
Things to Do Near Nelson Ghost Town
Colorado River and Nelson’s Landing
About five miles down the road from the ghost town is Nelson’s Landing. It’s a section of the Colorado River that’s located between Lake Mead and Lake Mohave. You can get right down to the river and enjoy the scenic views of the Arizona desert on the other side of the river.
Many people pack a picnic lunch and take a swim. It’s a great way to cool off on a warm day. Nelson’s Landing is also where you’ll find Nelson’s Landing Cliff Jumping (the link takes you to our complete article about visiting Nelsons Landing). Here you can jump off a cliff right into the Colorado River (you can also choose to just watch if that’s more your style)
Eldorado Canyon ATV Tours:
If you are looking for a unique way to explore the Eldorado Canyon and mine, you might want to look into the Eldorado Canyon ATV and Gold Mine Tour . These tours start by picking you up from your Las Vegas hotel. Once you get to Eldorado Canyon and jump on an ATV, you’ll explore the back canyons, forgotten areas, and remote regions of Eldorado Canyon.
Exploring the canyon by ATV offers access to remote areas that the average visitor doesn’t get to see. This trip also includes a tour of the Techatticup gold mine.
The entire ATV tour takes around six and a half hours and includes a picnic lunch under a covered pavilion, and pick up and drop off from most Las Vegas Hotels. When you sign up for this tour, your package includes an ATV or UTV vehicle, gloves and goggles, lunch, and a water bottle.
Need a Vegas rental car? Find the best deals on car rentals in Las Vegas (Discover Cars )
Final Thoughts on Visiting Nelson Ghost Town
So many people visit Las Vegas and never make it off of the Strip. A short day trip to Nelson Ghost Town is an excellent way to get out of town for a bit and see some beautiful desert scenery while experiencing a proper wild west ghost town.
You can expect the trip to Nelson Ghost Town to take up half a day, or you can make a full day of it by adding a picnic lunch and a swim down at the water’s edge of the Colorado River at Nelson’s Landing.
Either way, you’re sure to have a great day, and you’ll be back in Vegas in time for dinner and a fun night out on the town!
Bryan is a Las Vegas local who has spent years exploring the city's vibrant culture and entertainment scene. With his extensive knowledge of the best attractions and hidden gems, he has become an expert on all things Las Vegas. He regularly shares his insider tips with people looking to visit Las Vegas and make the most of their trip. More about Bryan.
Ghost Towns Near Las Vegas (with Videos)
Did you know that Las Vegas, is surrounded by old west ghost towns? Within a few hours drive or less from Las Vegas, you can find more than a dozen ghost towns. Due to the dry climate, Nevada has some of the most well-preserved ghost towns anywhere in the country and several of them make…
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Ghost Towns and Mining Camps near Las Vegas, Nevada
Are you looking for Ghost Towns near Las Vegas? Nevada is filled with historic sites and relics of the Old West, and many of the old ghost towns and mining camps that helped build this country can be found within a couple of hours or so of Las Vegas.
List of Ghost Towns Near Las Vegas
Here is a list of the Nevada ghost towns that are within a couple of hours driving distance from Las Vegas.
- Caliente, Nevada
- Delamar, Nevada
- Goldfield, Nevada
- Good Springs, Nevada
- Pioche, Nevada
- Pioneer, Nevada
- Potosi, Nevada
- Rhyolite, Nevada
Bull Frog Ghost Town
- Techatticup Mining Town
Ghost Town in Caliente, Nevada
Around 25 miles south of the infamous Outlaw town of Pioche, is the city of Caliente, Nevada. About 1,000 people still live in the city, but to this day many of the original buildings still stand. Caliente was primarily a ranching town, but many of the local families worked in the nearby mines in Pioche and Delamar.
In 1923, the Caliente Train Depot was built. Within a couple of years, the town was booming and grew to around 5,000 residents. For more than four decades, Caliente was one of the major division points on the railroad line. But that all ended when Las Vegas became the main branch point when steam engines were replaced by diesel locomotives. After the train depot closed, most of the people moved away from the town.
Caliente is about 2 ½ hours from Vegas. Take the I-15 N to US-93 N/Great Basin Hwy to Market St in Caliente. If you make the drive out, make sure to check out the nearby ghost towns of Pioche and Delamar.
Ghost Town in Delamar, Nevada
About 16 miles west of Caliente is the ghost town site of Delamar. Today the town is largely made up of ruins; more wild horses are roaming the area than people. But for those who love the Wild West, this is a blast from the past that you shouldn’t miss.
Some of the ruins are on private mining land, so you need to be careful about where you go. From Caliente, NV Head southeast on Market St toward Front St. Turn right onto US-93 S/Front St and then turn left onto S Poleline Rd. Keep left and head about 5.8 miles to Delmar.
Ghost Town in Goldfield, Nevada
Founded in 1902, Goldfield’s real claim to fame comes from the Earp brothers. Shortly after the famous gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona both Wyatt Earp and Virgil Earp called Goldfield home. Nevada legend says that Virgil actually served as the town’s deputy sheriff, and Wyatt was a pit boss in Tex Rickard’s gambling casino.
Goldfield is also home to an infamously haunted hotel called the Goldfield Hotel. Ghosts of children playing in the lobby have been reported, in addition to a ghost that people claim randomly stabs hotel guests.
From Vegas take US-95 N for about three hours.
Ghost Town in Good Springs, Nevada
The Goodsprings Mining and ranching community was first mined back in 1856. The town is still home to a couple of hundred people and features some old miners cabins and relics from the past. The town is also home to the famous Pioneer Saloon, which has been featured in numerous Hollywood movies and T.V. Shows.
To get there from the city of Las Vegas take I-15 S to NV-161 W/Goodsprings Rd. Take exit 12 from I-15 S and drive about 8 miles NV-161 in Goodsprings
Ghost Town in Pioche, Nevada
Most people have heard of Wild West towns like Tombstone and Dodge City, but one long forgotten ghost town makes both of those cities look a walk through Disneyland. Pioche, Nevada was an outlaws den of thieves, scoundrels, degenerates, and murderers. The town was so bad that 72 people were killed in gunfights before the town experienced a single natural death.
Today the town is home to about one-thousand people, but many of the early relics still exist. In fact, one of these early spots shows you just how bad this town was.
The town’s cemetery houses “Murderer’s Row,” a section set apart from the other graves, containing the graves of over 100 murderers. Some people refer to Old West cemeteries as Boot Hill, a common name for the burial grounds of Western gunfighters, or those who “died with their boots on.”
Pioche is a three-hour drive from Las Vegas. Take the I-15N to US-93 N/Great Basin Hwy to NV-322 W in Pioche.
Ghost Town in Pioneer, Nevada
Pioneer, Nevada is a Ghost Town that began as a mining camp in 1908. While there isn’t a whole lot left, it is situated in between the ghost towns of Rhyolite and Bullfrog, making it worth a stop if you’re in the area exploring other long-forgotten towns.
The old town is around 7 miles north of Beatty, Nevada, and 8 miles northeast of the ghost towns of Rhyolite and Bullfrog. Pioneer is 130 northwest of Las Vegas, along Pioneer Road, a gravel road off U.S. Route 95.
Potosi, Nevada Mining Town
Just outside of Las Vegas is the historic mining ghost town in Potosi, Nevada.
Originally named Potosi Nix Cum Rouscht in 1861, it was later changed to Crystal City in the 1870s by the Silver State Mining Company. The Potosi mine is the oldest Lead ore mine in Nevada. Potosi produced over $4,500,000 in lead, silver and zinc.
Rhyolite, Nevada Ghost Town
About 120 miles North of Las Vegas is the ghost town of Rhyolite, a town that sprung up in 1904 as a result of the Gold Rush. Rhyolite is one of the larger Ghost Towns, which at one time had over 10,000 people living in the city.
By 1907, the town was one of the few mining towns that had electricity. There were hotels, stores, a school, an ice plant, two electric plants, foundries, a hospital, and machine shops. Unfortunately for the town, the 1907 financial crisis was the beginning of the end for the city. In 1916 the town’s power was cut, and it’s now one of the many lost towns of the Old West.
To get to Rhyolite and the Bullfrog District from Las Vegas take the US-95 N for about 120 miles to Airport Rd in Beatty.
One mile South of Rhyolite is the old town of Bullfrog. Gold was first discovered in the Bullfrog District by Frank “Shorty” Harris and Eddie Cross in August 1904. Shortly after, towns sprang up throughout the area including Beatty, Pioneer, Gold Center, and Rhyolite which all became known together as the Bullfrog District.
The Bullfrog Mining District includes the area of Beatty west of US Highway 95 and the areas near the old towns of Rhyolite and Pioneer. It covers all of the Bullfrog Hills and properties in the adjoining part of the Grapevine Mountains.
Royal City: The Jack Rabbit Mine
This is another one of those Old Western towns where you don’t know where the legend begins or where the truth even starts. According to Nevada lore, the mine got its name when an old prospector threw a rock at a jackrabbit, missed, and instead found himself with a fist full of silver.
Within a couple of months, the town of Royal City was born. $6,000,000 in silver later, mining production fell off, and today we are left with nothing but ruins and a hint that there was once a railroad. The town is about 20 minutes North of Pioche
From Las Vegas take US-93 N/Great Basin Hwy to Lincoln County. It’s about a three hours’ drive from Vegas. If you are coming from the Ghost Town of Pioche, Travel North U.S. Highway 93, and turn west on a graded road about 14 miles from town. Continue for about a mile to Jackrabbit.
Techatticup Mining Town at Eldorado Canyon in Nelson, Nevada
About 45 minutes from Las Vegas, just South of Boulder city lies the rugged former mine town of Eldorado. The ghost town has a checkered past, with a long history of violence, killings, and disputes over the land and the mines. It’s one of the oldest mines in Nevada and is extremely popular with photographers and outdoorsmen.
You can visit the ghost town, check out the old country store, explore the Techatticup Mines or go just down the road where you will find kayaking, hiking, and horseback riding along the Colorado River at Nelson’s Landing.
To get there from Las Vegas take the I-215 E and US-93 S/US-95 S to NV-165 E in Boulder City. Turn left onto NV-165 E and take that for about 14 miles.
Exploring Ghost Towns near Las Vegas
A word of warning for anyone who is heading out to explore these ancient relics of the past: Some of these areas can be very dangerous. Bring plenty of water, watch out for rattlesnakes, and stay away from any old mine shafts or building that look like they could collapse.
If you’re really into exploring these old Nevada Ghost Towns, I suggest the following books which detail historical towns and mining camps throughout the state of Nevada.
- Nevada Ghost Town Trails by Mickey Broman
- Nevada Ghost Towns and Mining Camp by Stanley W. Paher
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Las Vegas Ghost Towns
Ghost Towns near Las Vegas? You bet there are! As a matter of fact, The Silver State has more ghost towns than actual inhabited ones! From dusty old mining camps to once-thriving towns with remnants of boom times long gone, your home base in Las Vegas is the perfect starting point for numerous ghost town adventures. Here is information about some of the best ghost towns that are within driving distance of Las Vegas. So pack up the car and head out for an adventure back in time to these ghost towns near Las Vegas!
Calico Ghost Town 36600 Ghost Town Road Yermo, CA 92398 (800) 862-2542 Located 160 miles south of Las Vegas. Take I-15 to Ghost Town Road exit. 10 miles north of Barstow. Open daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm except for Christmas Day
1881 Marked the beginning of one of the largest silver strikes in California history and the birth of Calico. This authentic silver mining town lives on as one of the few original mining camps of the Old West. Admission is $8.00 for adults, $5.00 for youth (6-15), and free for children 5 & under.
Eldorado Canyon Ghost Town Located near Nelson, NV. From Las Vegas travel Southeast on I-515 for 20 miles to US 93. Turn South on US 93/95 for 13 miles to SR 165. Turn Southeast on SR 165 (Nelson Road) for 11.2 miles to Nelson, Nevada.
In 1839 gold and silver were discovered in Eldorado Canyon and almost $5 million was removed in the 40 years of operations. During its heyday, it achieved a reputation as one of the most notorious towns in the West.
Goodsprings, NV Located 37 miles south of Las Vegas via I-15 to Jean and State Route 161.
Founded in the 1860s, Goodsprings became a large silver and lead producer in the 1890s. It is home to the Pioneer Saloon, which is reportedly home to numerous and frequent ghost sightings.
Johnnie, NV Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas just east of State Route 160.
Johnnie produced more than $1 million in gold from 1904 until it was shut down at the beginning of World War II.
Mojave Desert Ghost Towns North of I-15 between the Nevada state line and Baker, California are many former mining towns all within a short drive of Las Vegas.
Oatman, AZ (502) 768-9907 Located about 135 miles from Las Vegas on old route 66 in Arizona.
Born as a tent camp for miners in 1906, Oatman was a gold-mining center. Shootouts are held along the many false-front buildings on Main Street which house shops, saloons, and restaurants. Wild burros roam the streets.
Pioche, NV Located 175 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Take I-15 to the turnoff at US 93, turn north for 85 miles to Ash Springs, continue on US 93 east to Caliente. Pioche is about 25 miles from Caliente.
One of the most dangerous and lawless mining towns, Pioche boasts a legend that 75 men died violently before the town’s first death by natural causes. It gained further notoriety through the scandal surrounding its “Million Dollar Courthouse.”
Potosi Ghost Town Located 25 miles southwest of Las Vegas via I-15 south to the Arden exit, US 160 West.
The site of Nevada’s oldest lode mine, with the discovery of lead deposits by Mormons from the Las Vegas Mission in 1856, the Potosi mine was a producer of lead, zinc, and silver well into the 20th century.
Rhyolite Ghost Town Located 114 miles northwest of Las Vegas via US 95 north to Beatty, State Route 374, 4 miles west of Beatty.
Rhyolite sprung up in 1905 after the discovery of gold in the area. The population rose to an estimated 10,000 to become one of the largest cities in Nevada, but by 1919 it was a ghost town.
Sandy & Sandy Valley, NV Located 36 miles southwest of Las Vegas. I-15 to Jean and State Route 161.
A small milling community that sprang up in the 1890s to service the Keystone Mine in the nearby Spring Mountains.
Searchlight, NV Located 57 miles south of Las Vegas on US 95.
This mining town began around 1879 and in 1907 was the most important community in southern Nevada. However, by 1910 depletion of high-grade ore soon reduced the population of Searchlight greatly, and those remaining made a living from ranching or catering to the highway traffic.
St. Thomas Ghost Town Located 67 miles Northeast of Las Vegas in the Moapa Valley near Overton, off of the I-15
Founded in January 1865 by Mormon settlers sent by Brigham Young to the confluence of the Muddy and Virgin Rivers, St. Thomas had fewer than 500 residents, but was a popular stop along the Arrowhead Trail. The town and surrounding land were purchased by the Federal government in the 1930s to make way for Lake Mead. Most residents moved to nearby Overton. After the completion of Hoover Dam (then called Boulder Dam), the waters rose to cover the foundations of the town’s buildings. Today, when the lake is low, the remnants of St. Thomas are visible.
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Thanks a lot for your help !
We were not thrilled with Oatman. Very touristy, don't be lured by the burros that roam free, they are full and lethargic from everyone feeding them carrots and gather at one end of the street. We did enjoy seeing Clark Gable and Carol Lombard's honeymoon suite but that was about it. The crafts sold there are not homemade or unique. Have a great time what ever you decide.
Bodie is a great ghost town (just there a few weeks ago for Bodie days)but a heck of a long way from Vegas. Aurora, near Bodie was thought to be in California for a long time until someone surveyed it.Its in NV.Graveyards of senators are there.
If you go to Utah check out Silver Reef or Grafton near Zion where the bike scene from Butch Cassidy was filmed.
Try this site for more info.
http://www.ghosttowns.com Pick the state and county. Vegas is Clark County.
One that is not on your list is Calico Ghost town off of I-15 going towards CA , about an hours drive (?).
Haven't been there in many years (sorry) but it was an old silver mining town and had a pretty cool little tourist section with shops, an old saloon and actual mines you could look into.
I think they made it into an actual town now?
It used to be marked by a big "C" in the side of a hill.
Sounds very interesting wherever you end up! Love that kind of stuff!
I enjoyed the arty aspect of Rhyolite but was really disappointed in it as a ghost town as it felt too modern - no tumbleweed or bar with doors blowing open in the wind. Just an oldish bank but the bottle building was cool. I was expecting something much older and historic. I have to admit that I wouldn't return but would love to see a more traditional ghost town.
For Non US citizens ,
I had to google it to make sure but a burro is a kind of donkey not beans folded in flat bread.
I was trying to work out what a wild burrito is and how you would feed it carrots.
Thanks everyone !!!!
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9 of the Coolest Nevada Ghost Towns to Explore
Looking to get spooked? These Nevada ghost towns are the coolest in the state. Learn where to go & what to do with these Nevada Ghost Town travel tips.
Did you know there are more ghost towns in Nevada than actual towns occupied by the living? Nevada is home to more than 600 ghost towns – by that count, it would take you years, if not a lifetime, to explore all the ghost towns in the state. During the 19th century, Nevada’s population boomed under the mineral rush out West, earning the state title of the “Silver State”. Unfortunately, most of the desert towns that popped up during the rush were later abandoned as business dried up and miners moved out of town. Buildings such as schools, houses, post offices, saloons, and mines were left behind. Luckily, some of those buildings survived, and now offer a unique travel experience for those willing to get off the beaten path.
From abandoned mines to quirky art installations to dusty saloons, Nevada is the perfect place to explore these abandoned towns with rich history and spooky undertones. Nevada is already full of hidden hot springs and cute small towns – why not add a few ghost towns to your Nevada road trip itinerary ?
Looking for the best spooky ghost towns to explore in Nevada? Check out our top picks below!
Map of the Coolest Nevada Ghost Towns
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Nelson (Southern Nevada)
Located just 45 minutes away from the Las Vegas strip, this is a great day trip spot to explore one the best ghost towns in Nevada. Originally called Eldorado by the Spanish inhibitors in 1775, gold was found and Eldorado Canyon became a hub for mining. A hundred years later, the town was populated by Civil War deserters and renamed Nelson, leading to an interesting (and scandalous) population full of wild characters. The Techatticup Mine was established during the mineral rush with gold, silver, copper – this area had one of the biggest booms in the entire state! Unfortunately the drama of the townspeople, including land disputes and fights that ended in murder, lead to its early demise and abandonment.
Now, this ghost town is home to an abandoned Texaco station, gift shop, mine tours, and old cars scattered throughout the property. You can book a mine tour over the phone by calling 702-291-0026 – these tours are $15/person and a minimum of 4 people are needed. Even if you don’t take a tour, Nelson is a must-visit just to walk around the abandoned buildings. The town has been a backdrop for many photoshoots, music videos, and even movies (you’ll notice a seemingly crashed small plane in Nelson – this is leftover from the movie set for 3000 Miles to Graceland ).
Find it: 10 miles down NV 95, look for turnoff at road marker #165
Berlin (Central Nevada)
The remote town of Berlin has more than one type of resident ghost. Long before it was occupied by miners in the late 1800s, Berlin was home to a sharp-toothed carnivorous marine reptile who roamed the warm ocean waters inundating Nevada 225 million years ago. Berlin’s first ichthyosaur fossils were discovered in the 1950s, and excavations revealed giant remains of these ancient animals that reached lengths of 50 feet. Since the initial findings, approximately 40 ichthyosaurs have been uncovered in the hills above Berlin.
And the town itself? In 1897, in the post-dinosaur era, Berlin was founded as a small mining camp with a peak population of 300. A couple of local watering holes, a stagecoach station, a stamp mill, a school, and two blacksmith shops helped make up the 20-building town. Its downfall began shortly after, in 1907, when the miners demanded higher wages and were refused. Today, 13 old wooden buildings still stand and have been incorporated into Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, which has an extensive trail system and hosts guided tours to see ichthyosaur fossils.
The park also has camping spots and, since Berlin is a Nevada ghost town in the truest sense, these are the coziest accommodations you’re going to find. There are no restaurants, lodging, or services of any kind.
*Note: Berlins’ Ichthyosaur State Park is slated to be closed in Spring and Summer of 2021 for road repairs. Check for updated information before heading out.
Find it : 23 miles east of Gabbs, off NV-844.
Rhyolite (Southwest Nevada)
Rhyolite, located just outside Death Valley National Park, experienced an incredibly short-lived boom. Established in 1905 as a silver and gold town, its population quickly grew to 6,000 residents, but unfortunately for investors the value of Rhyolite’s ore was grossly miscalculated. During the initial frenzy three railroad lines were built, along with a handful of banks, a red-light district, and a stock exchange — all at a cost that far exceeded the value that was extracted from the ground over the town’s lifetime. In less than five years, Rhyolite was nearly abandoned with just a few hundred residents left.
In its heyday, there were over 53 saloons to choose from across the few blocks of town, and this sparked local resident Tom Kelly’s creative genius: Rather than chuck all those empty beer bottles into a landfill, why not use them to build a house? Over five and a half months, it’s estimated Kelly collected over 30,000 Adolphus Busch (now known as Budweiser) bottles and plastered them together with adobe mud. The result was the foundation of a three-bedroom house that Kelly eventually raffled off.
In 1925, Paramount Pictures took over the town, featuring the bottle house in two flicks — The Air Mail and Wanderers of the Wasteland. Following that, the house was lived in for many decades, but eventually fell into disrepair until it was acquired by the Bureau of Land Management and restored in 2005. While you can’t go inside the bottle house today, a visit to the site provides a glimpse into Rhyolite’s quirky past.
These days, though, Rhyolite is most famous for the Goldwell Open Air Museum, where art and history meet. In the 1980s, a group of artists led by Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski traveled to the Amargosa Desert and created what could be considered one of the spookiest art installations in the American West. “The Last Supper,” Szukalski’s centerpiece, consists of a series of eerie ghost-like plaster figures draped in flowing white robes. The Goldwell Open Air Museum now hosts a diverse outdoor sculpture garden, which is free and open to the public 24 hours a day; for some freaky starlit photography opportunities, visit in the wee hours of the night.
Find it : 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, near the intersection of US-95 and NV-374.
Jarbidge (Northeast Nevada)
Set in a canyon that the Shoshone Indians believed to be patronized by an evil man-eating giant, this remote Nevada ghost town along the Idaho border is located over 20 miles from the nearest paved road. Founded by prospectors around 1910, Jarbidge drew in over 1,500 residents over the course of a 30-year boom that saw the town produce over $10 million in gold. Its growth wasn’t without hardship, though. In 1919, a basement whiskey distilling operation erupted in flames, burning 20 businesses and homes to the ground.
When you roll up to the main drag today, look out for the bar, trading post, and a B&B among the wooden shopfronts. You can also see the remnants of the jail, former brothels, and an old hotel. For an authentic look at modern-day Jarbidge, visit for the Halloween pig roast or for Jarbidge Days — the town’s largest annual celebration takes place every August, and features a parade, live music, local food, and a cowboy church service.
Sitting 8,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by the peaks of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the Jarbidge area offers everything from horseback riding and fishing in the summer to snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter. There are also five riverside campgrounds near town for those who want to sleep under the stars.
Find it : 18 miles north of Jackpot on Highway 93.
Belmont (South Central Nevada)
Back in the 1870s, Belmont’s Cosmopolitan Saloon — a two-story watering hole and dance hall — was the place to be after a hard day’s work. Frequented by miners and controversial female entertainers known as hurdy gurdy girls, the bar stayed in operation through the 1930s before falling into disrepair as the mines closed and the town’s 2,000 residents moved on. Destroyed by vandals in the late 1980s, these days the Cosmopolitan is hardly recognizable.
However, there’s a new place to mingle in town — Dirty Dick’s Saloon. One of the few businesses in operation in Belmont, this Old Western bar is known for its strong Bloody Marys — recipe courtesy of Dirty Dick himself — and its 4th of July celebration that sees hundreds of bikers cruise into town.
Home to less than a few dozen residents, Belmont today is completely off the grid, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to see. Once the Nye County seat, the town has an impressive courthouse that was recently renovated, along with the 150-year-old remains of mill sites, a school, cemetery, and a church that’s an exact replica of the original from 1872. It’s also said that murderer Charles Manson once hid out in the courthouse — look closely and you’ll see his name etched into one of the door frames.
Find it : 46 miles northeast of Tonopah off State Route 376.
Metropolis (Northeast Nevada)
Most Nevada ghost towns experienced their boom and bust through mining, but not so in Metropolis. In 1910, the Pacific Reclamation Company had a vision for a utopian 40,000-acre farming community in the middle of the vast Nevada desert. Over the next two years, a Salt Lake City contractor was hired to build a 100-foot-tall dam, and Mormons from nearby Utah flocked to this visionary town. Soon after, Metropolis was a flourishing commercial center with a hotel, a school, and even an amusement park.
The glory didn’t last long, however. First, the town faced a serious drought thanks to a water rights lawsuit with the downstream town of Lovelock. Jackrabbits destroyed crops, Mormon crickets invaded by the millions, and a devastating fire raged through town. Then there was a little thing called typhoid. By 1950, Metropolis was completely abandoned.
All that remains today are the mysterious remnants of the Lincoln School, the foundation of the Hotel Metropolis, and a cemetery where many of the pioneer settlers are buried. Driving through Wells, where the nearest services are located, make sure to stop by Bella’s Restaurant & Espresso and order up a hearty plate of her famous chicken fried steak.
Find it : 14 miles northwest of Wells along County Road 754.
Goodsprings (Southern Nevada)
When you get to the 200-person town of Goodsprings, go straight to the Pioneer Saloon, the longest-standing bar in Clark County. Order a beverage, chat up the bartender, and get to know the local watering hole. Built in 1913, it’s the social hub of this desert town, and rife with history and ghost tales. This is the perfect spot to stop after a day of hiking or climbing at Red Rock Canyon!
The saloon’s most famous event took place in 1915, when a dealer caught a miner with a cheating hand. The dealer pulled out his gun and shot the miner three times, and those bullet holes are still visible in the wall. Some bar patrons even report seeing the miner’s ghost hanging out in the back of the bar, but we won’t comment on whether those tales have anything to do with imbibing one too many… The ghoulish stories have given rise to something beautiful: the secret spicy sauce slathered over Pioneer’s Ghost Burger, which has been featured on the Food Network.
Named after Joseph Good, a cattle rancher whose livestock once roamed the foothills of the Spring Mountains that sit above town, Goodsprings was a hub for zinc and lead mining and produced a total of $24 million in ore in the early 1900s. The mines continued production well into the 1960s, and thus the town was never completely abandoned. In addition to the saloon, other walkable sites include the Good Springs School, which is still in use today, the Mercantile Store, and the remnants of the Fayle Hotel, which burned down in 1966.
Find it : 34 miles southwest of the Las Vegas Strip along I-15.
Gold Point (Western Nevada)
Gold Point (also known as Lime Point and Hornsilver throughout history) is a history buff’s dream spot as a silver mining town originally settled in the 1860s, which successfully ran through the Great Depression until World War II. Mining operations then shut down due to a government order that stated all businesses non-essential to the war could no longer operate. From this point, the town cleared out and became abandoned.
The town had a second chance to come back to life after Herb Robbins, a Las Vegas local, decided to buy up homes in Gold Point in the late 1970s after winning the jackpot gambling. He and his friend purchased almost every building and overhauled the town, all while simultaneously acting as fire chief and sheriff.
Today, Gold Point includes buildings along Main St, a saloon, and even a functioning bed & breakfast (you can stay in an original miner’s cabin!). Located on the Nevada/California border, this ghost town is also one of the darkest sky areas in the state.
Find it: 175 miles north of Las Vegas on NV 95, off SR 266/774
Pine Grove (West Central Nevada)
The smallest ghost town on our list (and the most remote!) is Pine Grove – this abandoned mining town was established in 1866 by William Wilson. The area included 2 mills and was mined for gold and silver, although not much silver was ever found here. By the 1870s, the town population was close to 600 residents and included three hotels, a general store, several saloons, and a dance hall. Unfortunately after the passing of the Sherman Silver Act in in 1893 and the financial uncertainty that followed, the mines became unprofitable and shuttered. There was a small resurgence in the early 1900s, but by 1918 the town was once again abandoned.
Not many buildings remain in Pine Grove – a partial stamp mill, remnants of a hotel, and crumbling stone walls – but the real draw to visit Pine Grove is to be able to camp on the nearby public lands. How cool would it be to say you’ve camped at a real ghost town? There is stream-side camping available at the nearby Wilson Canyon Rest Area or you can stay on BLM land on Pine Grove Road. The road leading to this ghost town is dirt and requires a vehicle with decent clearance. Be sure to pack the car camping essentials and leave no trace if camping here.
Find it: 11 miles south of Yerington, on SR 208
Which of these ghost towns would you like to visit? Have you ever visited a ghost town? Leave us a comment below!
In 2014, I quit my Washington DC job to start Bearfoot Theory, and for the past 9 years I’ve been sharing my experiences here on this blog. I’m a hiking obsessed, half-time van lifer who is happiest in the mountains. My team and I are here to show you it’s never too late to get your start and accomplish your goals in the outdoors.
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Can’t wait to visit these ghost towns! Awesome article and pictures!
We would be interested in visiting these Nevada Ghost Towns. Although some at quite a distance from our home in Hurricane, Ut
Thank you for this great post. I am planning a Southern California road trip for next late September-early October 2019. We will definitely get by Rhyolite. Also on the itinerary: Death Valley National Park (2 nights); Palm Desert (7 nights) and Joshua Tree National Park one full day; 1 night Las Vegas area. Thanks again for the interesting post.
Hi Mel, hopefully, you saw that we have blog posts on Death Valley & Joshua Tree! Feel free to reach out to us if you have any additional questions. We look forward to hearing about your trip, sounds incredible!
Wonder few of us are trying to see how or where to start on 6 days paranormal ghost towns trip. Don’t know to start in Vegas go up towards North or start Reno and go South. 5 of us going 2 Oregon, 3 California (Sacramento/Fresno). Trying find info. Thank you for information n pics. Toni Rafter
Hi Toni – starting in either Reno or Las Vegas are great options since many of the ghost towns lie in between. If you want to end your trip closer to Oregon and northern California, then starting in Las Vegas would make the most sense.
The Rhyolite Mercantile building is gone, struck by lightning several years back caught fire and burned to the ground since Beatty is about 20 minutes away it was too far to get fire crews in there in time to save the building
Hi Larry, thanks for letting us know!
Many thanks for your blog Kristen! The three of us, my husband Jan, myself, and our dog Reba recently took a drive from Henderson to Rhyolite, a fantastic ghost town worth a visit! I am a professional photographer who is planning to coer a good portion of these ghost towns in Nevada. I am also intending to take a look at some more of them, especially in Utah. We’ve also been to Nelson’s Landing, a very funky ghost town full of great buildings, abandoned cars, trailers, and airplanes! However, there is an admission fee, so check whether they are open in advance. These once booming ghost town can teach us much about our history and culture!
We were becoming seriously indecisive on what we wanted to do this summer, except we knew “road trip.” I found your website and decided to basically follow your footsteps for our two-week trek across Nevada. Wish us luck. I’ll keep you posted.
That sounds amazing, good luck! You’ll have a blast 🙂
I have been to Jarbidge and Metropolis many times. Jarbidge has a small cafe where they make homemade ice cream. Coming in from the Idaho side you will see some of the most beautiful rock formations. For me Metropolis has a spiritual feeling. As the winds blow across the landscape you can almost feel and hear Metropolis come alive again.
Rhyolite was pretty amazing, surreal. Yet beautiful. Just crazy to see old homesteads and settlements from back in the day. Part of history. And gives my heart a tug to see a part of what these humans before us went through.
Hi Stefidawn, glad to hear you enjoyed it! Rhyolite is a pretty surreal place.
thank you for these very informative pages. what i need to know though, can any or all of the ghost towns and hot spring pools be reached by a paved road ? our car rental company does not allow driving on unpaved roads.
Hi Erika, it’s been several years since we’ve done this roadtrip so unfortunately my memory isn’t the best on road conditions. None of them required 4×4 or high clearance (I could make it in a sedan/SUV), however most natural hot springs are going to be found on unpaved roads, unfortunately. Nelson, Rhyolite, and Goodsprings towns are paved. Enjoy your trip!
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[email protected], international, +1 (702) 451-8005, ghost towns near las vegas august 31, 2020.
Treasure hunters, gold miners, saloon keepers, farmers, and outlaws all came to the desert for the same reason people do today – to strike it rich or seek solitude in the mountains and canyons we now call Las Vegas. Leave the glittering lights behind and hop in your air-conditioned car to discover the fascinating history of nearby boom-and-bust ghost towns near Las Vegas .
Once the busiest gold rush town in Nevada, Nelson is one of the easiest to visit – and most photogenic – ghost towns near Las Vegas. Located just 45 miles from The Strip down Eldorado Canyon, this former site of the Techatticup Mine – the first major gold strike in the state – is littered with the ruins of buildings and vehicles, plus the odd site of movie props, like a plane that was used in the movie 3,000 Miles to Graceland. Take a mine tour and keep an eye out for the occasional movie or photo shoot.
St. Thomas, Nevada
The story of St. Thomas is an eerie one. Originally populated by the Anasazi people, Mormons moved in believing they were in Utah. Then they discovered that they had actually settled in Nevada. Nevada officials demanded five years back taxes which the Mormons refused to pay. So after a vote they decided to abandon the town. The Mormons burned down their homes and abandoned their crops and moved to Salt Lake City. Following that, St. Thomas spent decades at the bottom of Lake Mead after the lake filled up. As a result of drought, the town is visible again, and can be toured on foot. Drive 61 miles to the northern reaches of Valley of Fire State Park and stroll around.
Just 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, it’s easy to see why Rhyolite is popular. The historic town, maintained by the Bureau of Land Management is one of the most photographed ghost towns in the West. The ghost town itself is large and well preserved, and still features crumbling old structures including a bank building, railroad depot, store, and school. Rhyolite also has the distinction of being the site of the Goldwell Open Air Museum, a mecca for fans of offbeat art installations. Check out the ghostly sculptures of the Last Supper and the Greek myth of Icarus.
Reserve your stay at pet-friendly, adults only (over 18 please), affordable Las Vegas RV Resort. We offer Good Sam and military discounts too. Or just call us at (702) 451-8005
Our swimming pool is now open! Our spa is currently closed for renovation, but we hope to reopen by Fall 2023.
Calico Ghost Town | Perfect Stop Between Las Vegas & LA
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Calico Ghost Town is perfectly located in the middle of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, making it a great stop over point for a break on the long boring drive. I will warn you though, it probably isn’t quite what you imagine a ghost town to be like, or at least it wasn’t what I thought it would look like. It is super touristy but also provides a real sense for what life might have been like back in the day.
Over time, the dessert took it’s toll on the original ghost town, and not much of it is left. In the 1950s, Walter Knott (of Knott’s Berry fame) purchased Calico. Apart from five original buildings that have remained the same, much of the original town was rebuilt to what it might have looked like in the old West.
Adults might find it kitschy and boring, but kids will be all over it! There are mine tunnels to be explored, a train ride taking you to areas you cannot see on foot, squashed penny machines and even shoot-outs between the staff!
Address: 36600 Ghost Town Road, Yermo, CA 92398 (Exit I-15 at Ghost Town Road)
Hours: Open daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. except Christmas Day
Cost: $8 per adult ($5 for kids under 15, free for kids under 5). Three of the attractions – Maggie Mine, gold panning, and Mystery Shack – charge $2 each for entry. In addition, the train ride is $4 per person.
What to Bring: Sunblock, water and wear a hat to protect against the heat.
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This post is part of Weekend Wanderlust at A Brit and A Southerner and The Weekly Postcard at Travel Notes and Beyond .
5 thoughts on “Calico Ghost Town | Perfect Stop Between Las Vegas & LA”
Looks like a great place to entertain the kids for a while. My husband would probably like it too, as he still loves cowboys – a hangover from all those movies he watched when he was a kid! 🙂
I think that’s pretty cool! I love Ghost Towns although but possibly because I haven’t been in one yet. :p
I love a good ghost town!
What a cool and authentic place! It really carries the wild west vibe! I love it and I will surely stop there if I have to go this direction. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
This is my first time of hearing about Calico. How close/far away is it from Death Valley? I have been there a couple of times in the past, and have checked out Scotty’s Castle a couple of times. Totally worthwhile visit if you are looking for some “ghost towns” in California.
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- October 16, 2021
7 Ghost Towns Near Las Vegas
Did you know that one of the many ghost towns near Las Vegas is home to the largest known remains of Ichthyosaur?
Located in the little town of Berlin, the remains of this prehistoric marine reptile are a popular attraction for many road trippers; however, there are more to ghost towns than just dinosaurs.
What is a ghost town? Ghost towns are abandoned towns, villages, and cities that often contain a substantial amount of infrastructure including buildings, roads, water towers…etc.
Many of these towns still have operating saloons, mine tours, and other attractions to fill up your “ghost town road trip” itinerary.
Whether you’re planning a quick day trip or an in-depth journey through Nevada, these 7 ghost towns are sure to bring memories that you’ll cherish forever. Read on to learn more about some of Nevada’s most popular ghost towns and how to prep for the Nevada road trip.
Previously known as El Dorado, the small town of Nelson was one of the largest boomtowns during the gold rush. Now it is a popular tourist destination and filming location for many movies including 3000 Miles to Graceland.
Inside, visitors can take tours through the notorious Techatticup mine, pose for pictures in front of old buildings, and even explore the remains of the city.
2. Virginia City
Virginia City was developed after the discovery of Comstock Lode, a major hub for silver ore that was mined and used to produce coinage in the United States.
Today, it’s a popular town for recreational ghost hunting, sightseeing, and shopping. With many boutiques positioned on its wooden walkways, visitors can easily grab gifts and memorabilia to take home.
3. St. Thomas
Originally mistaken by Mormon settlers to be a part of Utah, St. Thomas was a settlement that was completely flooded by Lake Mead after the finalization of the Hoover Dam.
This abandoned farming town once hosted 500 people that enjoyed the simple things in life like church, school, and soda pop. Today, visitors can travel the roads and trails that once made up this wild west town.
4. Gold Point
Originally settled by ranchers in the 1880s, the town didn’t become a major mining destination until the 1920s when gold was discovered by J.W. Dunfee. These days, the town hosts a few dozen people except during their Memorial Day Weekend Chili Cook-Off where the population will grow to around 400.
Apart from delicious chili, the town offers an authentic night out in a wild west tavern known as The Horn Silver Saloon. Here you can play pool, drink bourbon, and chat with the owners to learn more about its rich history.
5. Seven Troughs
Seven Troughs is a mining town that became flooded with people looking to “strike it rich” after gold was discovered in 1905. From 1908 to 1918, the area produced $2,000,000 in gold. Unfortunately, the luck ran out when a flash flood wiped out most of the town causing its inhabitants to abandon the mines.
Although most of the town was destroyed in the flood, visitors of the town can still view the ruins, old automobiles, and cabins that remain.
Home to the largest known remains of the Ichthyosaur, Berlin is an old mining town known for its silver and gold production in the early 1900s. Visitors of Berlin can tour through the historically preserved mines or visit the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park for camping, picnicking, and hiking.
Originally established from a silver strike in 1865, Belmont grew after the discovery of other minerals like copper, antimony, and iron. However, by 1887, most of the mines had shut down.
These days, visitors can admire historic sites like the Monitor-Belmont Mill, whose chimney was used as target practice by pilots from the Tonopah Air Force Base during World War II. On top of historic site-seeing, tourists can stop to buy antiques and jewelry from the local shops or pop in for a drink at Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon.
Prepping for the Trip
Before embarking on your trip through Nevada’s ghost towns, it’s important to take to into consideration the variety of terrain you will drive through. Many of these locations are susceptible to snowfall, so it is important to read up on how to drive safely in the snow before venturing out to avoid disaster.
Another important safety precaution before taking off is to make sure you have good maintenance on your tires. Sometimes the excitement of a road trip will prevent you from remembering to have them serviced. Using an app subscription service like Treads will gently remind you to come in for maintenance, upkeep services, and other essential actions with your tires.
Additionally, you’ll want to verify that you have completed a checklist of essential tire safety steps . One of the worst things that can happen on a road trip is blowing a tire in the middle of nowhere, but by taking these precautions, you will have no problem getting to your destination.
Visiting Ghost Towns Near Las Vegas
When you’re traveling and looking for things to do, visiting some of the ghost towns near Las Vegas can be a great way to explore the rich history of the Silver State. Whether you’re interested in historical mining tours, seeing the fossils of an ancient marine reptile, or looking to wet your whistle at a true wild west watering hole, it is important to make sure your car is serviced and ready to go.
Always check your tire pressure, brakes, and oil before take off. If you want to always be travel-ready, signing up for a tire subscription service will allow you to make sure your car is always prepped for departure and can even help you with roadside assistance when things get tricky. For more information, contact one of our reps today.
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26 Must-See Nevada Ghost Towns & How to Find ‘Em
From abandoned boomtowns-gone-bust to old relic-strewn mining camps to “living ghost towns” with charming old-school B&Bs and real-deal, still-servin’ saloons, Nevada’s 600-odd ghost towns ( that’s more than actual populated ones )—make Nevada an unbeatable destination for those looking to literally walk through history.
Find out where to go, what to make sure you see, when to venture out, and how to get there.
Paradise Valley Nelson Blair Austin Fish Lake Valley Fort Churchill Aurora Belmont
Tybo Unionville Candelaria Berlin Gold Mountain Midas Delamar Sand Springs Gold Point Ione
Pioche Jarbidge Goodsprings Manhattan Goldfield Metropolis Rhyolite Nivloc
1. Ghostly street scenes in Paradise Valley
1 hour north of winnemucca.
With mountains on three sides, ensconcing multiple rivers and creeks that nourish verdant farms and ranch lands, Paradise Valley is aptly named. It’s also a classic example of what Nevadans call a “living ghost town,” as around 100 people call the surrounding area home—just not in any of “downtown’s” buildings… except the saloon.
Although it truly looks and feels like a movie set, this building pictured above was once the Micca House—a historic home built in 1885 that went on to be a department store, post office, and government office. At one point, a horse broke into the building and got stuck for multiple days; its happy and healthy condition when it was rescued is attributed to the care it received from a long-gone former employee, who was said to still reside there in spectral form.
But seriously, hit up the Paradise Valley Saloon & Bar G . If you like (or haven’t yet experienced) Basque chorizo burgers washed down with ice-cold domestic beers, this is your jam.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Reno: 205 MILES or about 3.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: WINNEMUCCA
2. Techatticup’s Modern Day Prop City
45 mins south of boulder city.
During the mid-1880s, the Techatticup gold mine in Eldorado Canyon was movin’ and shakin’ in biggest of ways. In addition to pumping out actual millions of dollars in gold, silver, and copper—in values that made it the richest and most famous gold mine in southern Nevada—this mining camp was known for lawlessness of the kind Hollywood couldn’t even come close to depicting on-screen.
The town itself—now known as Nelson Ghost Town—was founded by deserters of the Civil War, who assumed this isolated location would be the last place military would come searching for them. In true boomtown fashion, the mine dried up, and a flash flood wiped the area out. Some of the buildings remain, in ways that have attracted the eyes of countless cinematographers. Today, you can tour the Techatticup Mine , as well as what has grown into a leftover grounds of movie, TV, and magazine shoots—with props like the plane crash above, a permanent souvenir from the cult film 3,000 Miles to Graceland.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 45 MILES, OR 50 MINUTES Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL, SUMMER MAY BE A BIT TOASTY Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: BOULDER CITY
3. A super saucy triple window effect in Blair
1 hour south of tonopah.
Blair got its shot at being a boomtown, attracting gold-hungry prospectors from near and far, but hers was a bit more short-lived. Mining took serious root in nearby Tonopah and spread throughout the region as a result… to places like Blair and Silver Peak. A giant 100-stamp mill was built in 1907, which just so happened to be the largest of its kind in the whole state. By the year 1920 rolled around, the mine had dried up and Blair’s 700 residents moved on to bigger and better things. Today, a few eroded buildings still stand, like the stamp mill pictured, with a Nevada view that’s dang near impossible to rival.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Reno: 223 MILES, OR 3.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
4. A desert castle sure to instigate a little travel stoke in Austin
Towering over the Reese River Valley at Austin’s western edge, Stokes Castle was modeled after a real Roman tower for well-heeled railroad magnate, Anson Phelps Stokes, in the late 1890s.
Today it stands as a solid monument to the town’s mining-era grandeur. More than 10,000 people were living in Austin , chasing a serious silver vein, but by the time this tower was completed, the mine had dried up and everyone was off to the next place. He and his family lived in his castle for less than a year, and it has been unoccupied since.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 173 MILES, OR 3 HOURS DOOR TO DOOR Roads : PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: AUSTIN , BUT RELY ON REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS ONLY
5. Fish Lake Valley’s fully intact 1881 Post Office Building
This California-Nevada-straddling White Mountains boast Boundary Peak —Nevada’s highest summit at 13,146 feet. Just below it, on the Nevada side, is the quiet community of Dyer and nearby Fish Lake Valley. There are amenities, like a gas station, store, restaurant, and a couple bars, plus, a pretty sweet little B&B .
When the community realized that original settlement— Fish Lake Valley —was falling victim to time and weather, they scrambled to save many of the original buildings and relocated all of them to one handy spot for you to check out. That place is the Fish Lake Valley Heritage Center . Like a beautifully curated, mini ghost town, everything here is nothing short of sensational, particularly the town’s original switchboard, the fueling station itself, and the post office you see pictured above.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 229 MILES, OR 3.5 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities : DYER
6. An old army fort’s picture-perfect adobe brick ruins
45 mins south of fallon.
By the time Nevada State Parks stepped in to manage this property, the ruins were in a perfect state of what ghost town aficionados call “a state of arrested decay.” Not overly eroded to the point of being unable to appreciate them… but not flawlessly preserved either. The whole feeling of this old military fort exudes a Wild West vibe, allowing the rough-and-tumble qualities of Nevada’s past come to life before you.
The long and short of it is this: Fort Churchill was built to “protect” early settlers, explorers, and Pony Express riders from “hostile” American Indians. As with most places in Nevada, that proved virtually unnecessary, and the fort was totally abandoned in 1869—a mere eight years after it was built. Supposedly, Fort Churchill is an active paranormal hot spot, but the most out-of-this-world vision we can always guarantee is summertime visages of the Milky Way.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 57 MILES, OR 1 HOUR Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: LATE SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON
7. Aurora’s well-heeled historic cemetery and intact 1860s furnace
1 hour southwest of hawthorne.
The Nevada ghost town of Aurora isn’t much today, but it certainly wasn’t always that way. Ever heard of California’s totally impressive Bodie Ghost Town? Aurora was basically its “sister ghost town”—just a dozen or so miles across the border. If you’ve ever spent any time in Bodie, you’ll know that it looks like its occupants picked up and moved on only days before. Everything is in complete pristine condition beyond your wildest imagination—the day’s lesson plan written on the chalkboard, beds made, pantries stocked, you name it.
Aurora was just like that, until the 1950s when someone illegally dozed it to steal the locally hewn bricks the buildings were made of. Luckily, it’s still home to one of the coolest historical cemeteries in the state—a permanent home to senators and famed prospectors of the time—as well as one of the most intriguing furnace and stack structures in the entire state. A slew of noteworthy prospectors were drawn to Aurora, including Mark Twain , but that’s another tale, and not just of the tall variety.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 160 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: 30ISH MILES OF DIRT ROAD DRIVIN’. 2WD IN SUMMER OR FALL, 4WD IN WINTER MONTHS Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: HAWTHORNE
8. A legendary courthouse, structures galore, and one helluva Sagebrush Saloon in Belmont
1 hour northeast of tonopah.
Of all the ghost towns clinging to Nevada’s 300+ mountain ranges, Belmont is one of our favorites. As with many bygone boomtowns, Belmont was at one point a county seat—in this case, of Nye County—during its mining heyday. Thanks to plentiful silver in the surrounding hills, Belmont once boasted a population of 15,000 residents. Hence a whole lot of amazing ruins, including a bank, miner’s cabins, the storied Belmont Courthouse , mine shafts, 100-foot-tall brick chimneys, and the picture-perfect combination stamp mill ruins shown above. The best part? Belmont is positioned in such a way that standing in the very threshold of the stamp mill’s ruins affords 60-mile vantage points of the valley below.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 271 MILES, OR 5 HOURS Roads: SERIOUS DIRT ROAD DRIVING. 2WD IN SUMMER OR FALL, 4WD IN WINTER MONTHS. BE SURE YOU’VE GOT GOOD TREAD ON THAT TIRE… Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL AFTER SNOW HAS MELTED Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH , BUT RELY ON REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS ONLY
9. Intact head frames and a hoise house in Tybo
Tybo has one of the best-preserved head frames in the state. The mine shaft went into the earth, and the “head frame” towered above it, hoisting ore (and people) out of the earth. From there, the miners transported the big, raw chunks of rock to stamp mills in order to break them down and extract the precious minerals they sought.
Luckily, Tybo’s boasts a solid structure and many remaining features, including some you don’t always still get to see, like the original ladder, the winch wheel crank mechanism pictured here, and even the entire hoist house itself—the control room that helped control and guide the head frame’s power.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 305 MILES, OR 5 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
10. Mark Twain’s Unionville cabin
1.5 hours northeast of lovelock.
In 1861, a young Missourian named Samuel Langhorne Clemens tagged along with his older brother to Nevada Territory. It was here that Clemens would discover his distaste of office work, become “allergic” to shovels and gold mining, adopt the pen name “ Mark Twain ,” and train his ears on the colorful language, fanciful yarns, and bombastic characters that would later inform a life of writing—one that would shape American literature and humor forever.
Twain visited and wrote about many places throughout the Silver State, but it is here in Unionville where he first learned the hard way, as he observes in Roughing It , that “all that glitters is not gold.” Fortunately for lovers of history and Twain’s literature alike, it is also here in Unionville that the cabin where that episode unfolds still stands. You’d enjoy sleeping in it about as much as he did; but luckily, just down the dirt road, you’ll find the charming Old Pioneer Garden , where you can add a lovely, idyllic overnight stay to your pilgrimage.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Reno: 155 MILES, OR 2.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED UNTIL LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: LOVELOCK
11. Candelaria’s very picturesque original mercantile building
45 mins south of hawthorne.
If you’re looking for a great place to stretch your legs and take in some history on the road between Reno and Vegas , ease off the gas and point those tires towards Candelaria. Silver was noticed here by Spaniards in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the 1880s that its wild potential was discovered. Despite its lucrative prospects, the mining camp was incredibly far from any kind of water. Many Candelarians also suffered from “miner’s consumption”—AKA too much dust in the lungs. Then, on top of it all, the far-from-water mine “dried up” in an even more damning way. And that was that.
Although Candelaria is just about ten minutes off of modern-day US-95 , its relatively off-the-beaten-path location helped it remain mostly undisturbed for decades. By the 1980s, a mining company swooped in to test out the old mine tailings here, which, thanks modern-day sophisticated mining techniques, turned out to still be profitable. The mine’s tight security led to even further preservation of the area. Today, not much mining is still taking place, which means you can roll right up to this sweet little mercantile building in its splendid state of decay. Keep an eye out for the original metal storm windows; you don’t see many of those anymore.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Reno: 190 MILES, OR 3.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: HAWTHORNE OR TONOPAH DEPENDING ON DIRECTION
12. 60-Mile views from Berlin’s machine shop
1.5 hours from fallon.
The combination of crowdless highways and solid dirt road ramblin’ it takes to get to Berlin—part of Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park —is an iconic Nevada haul that delivers serious bang for your buck. Perched on a high mountainside overlooking a sweeping valley below, Berlin’s buildings remain some of the most plentiful and best-preserved in the entire state—thanks to Nevada’s climate and the painstaking protective efforts of Nevada State Parks staff. There are buildings, mining structures, and relics galore, as well as one of the most immersive and authentic mine tunnel experiences, at the Diana Mine. Highlights include a camera-hogging Model T, genuine Westinghouse winch, homes filled with belongings of the original 1890s owners, and one of the best surviving examples of a 30-stamp mill in the West. As you make your self-guided walking tour around the townsite, wander into the machine shop and gaze out for that incredible 60-mile vista.
And then there’s the paleontological bonus: despite hundreds of people helping pull nearly a million dollars worth of gold out of the ground, what they didn’t dig up was the most abundant concentration and largest-known ever discovered fossils of ichthyosaurs —massive Paleozoic swimming dinosaur-esque marine reptiles. Yep, at 6,700 feet of elevation, thanks to the fact that these mountainsides were once the banks of ancient seas. You can catch a glimpse of the dig site through the windows of the Fossil House, pose next to a massive to-scale mural, and camp, before you say auf wiedersehen to Berlin.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 158 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads : PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON, OR AUSTIN . DEPEND ON REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS ONLY
13. Gold Mountain’s magnificent masonry
1 hour south of goldfield.
Turns out, prospectors could really build stuff. Imagine traveling 2,000 miles across the nation through all manner of unforgiving landscapes, showing up at a mining camp, knocking out 15 hours of manual labor… then building a house out of rocks—a good one, too. Because that’s what they did out here. As well as stores, social halls, saloons, you name it—and with whatever materials they could find.
When you spot an old miner’s cabin that still stands, like the ones here do, pay attention to the fireplaces; these things are so airtight that you’ll expect to see a modern day construction crew around the next turn, but most are over 150 years old. What you’ll rarely notice is a roof; most were made of what scarce lumber there was around (especially after the railroad came through these regions), which was the first thing miners would take with them when a mine went bust and they set off for the next big boomtown. However, even roofless, many of these buildings have withstood the test of time and harsh Nevada elements all these years.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 190 MILES, OR 3 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST 25 MILES OR SO, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
14. A 100+ year old Sarsaparilla sign, proclaiming its blood purifying prowess in Midas
1 hour east of winnemucca.
If you’re wondering how many Nevada ghost towns have the word “gold” in their name, the answer is… well, a lot. But not this one, thanks to a—shall we say—more linguistically inclined postmaster. This northern Nevada locale boomed in the early 1900s and, although the resident ore was in fact gold, and, although the townsfolk did in fact want to call it Gold-something, the postmaster declared that enough was enough. So in order to stand out from all the Gold-everythings—and, likely, to sprinkle in a little inspiration—they named the town Midas, after the famous king in Greek mythology whose touch turned everything to gold.
The miners who had that Midas touch inevitably took their ore to be tested for purity at the local assay office, which still stands in all its glory, along with the Benneson’s Drug Store, where one of our favorite old signs still hangs, advertising the apparent miracle drink that was sarsaparilla. If you think we struggle with truth in advertising today, read that thing. You be the judge. Then head into the Midas Saloon for a cold brew and a delicious, honest meal.
A re we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Reno: 227 MILES, OR 3.75 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL, DO NOT ATTEMPT DURING WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: WINNEMUCCA
15. The entire town of Delamar, because there are too many spectacular finds to choose just one
45 mins from caliente.
We’re generally in the business of pointing out “must-sees,” but the entire ghost town of Delamar is just so mesmerizing that it’s an impossible task to highlight just one building or thing. Remarkably, the still-standing structures are almost too many to count—dozens of buildings, milling remains, two graveyards, miner’s cabins, a brick archway, and several mine shafts can be found here—and are all built out of a kaleidoscopic range of colored stone.
Luckily, eyes are the the only way to “take in” Delamar today. The gold discovered here was a bit more complicated than that of other mines, due to the quartzite embedded in it, which, when crushed up and processed, created fine dust that snuck into miners’ lungs, often with lethal consequences. In fact, before long, Delamar earned itself a nickname: the “widow maker” camp, as many of its prospectors contracted silicosis and “bit the dust.” If you’re into the paranormal thing (and want to meet some permanent residents), we’d recommend combining your otherworldly interests with some out-of-this-world fun, by cruising down the nearby, legendary ET Highway .
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Las Vegas: 145 MILES, OR 2.5 HOURS Roads: 4WD ONLY—PLAN TO NAVIGATE ROUGH, ONE LANE ROADS Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: CALIENTE
16. A Pony Express Station at the base of a 6-Story Mountain Of Sand
20 mins from fallon.
Westernophiles know that anything Pony Express packs some serious horsepower. Despite the fact that this ambitious operation—of young, strapping, orphaned bachelors racing mail across the western United States on mustang-back—lasted less than two years (thanks to implementation of the telegraph), it sure left an impression. Out of 157 stations from California to Missouri, Nevada was home to 30 Pony Express Stations, like the one pictured above. These stations, positioned between five and 20 miles apart, were places where weary riders could take a breather and exchange their ran-out horses for a more re-energized steed.
This particular one, located at Sand Springs, was completely hidden for over 100 years… buried in sand, like that of nearby off-road mecca Sand Mountain Recreation Area . The remaining foundation was literally uncovered by a team of archaeologists in 1977 and is now a pretty nifty spot to literally step into this short but fascinating chapter in American history.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 90 MILES, OR 1.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL, SUMMER MAY BE A BIT TOASTY Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON
17. A Real-deal Old-school Wild West Saloon At Gold Point
30 mins south of goldfield.
After gold and silver was discovered in Tonopah and Goldfield in the early 1900s, prospectors flooded in to try for their piece of the pie. While those two towns drew the largest influx, many other mining camps sprang up around the region, including Gold Point , where (somewhat ironically) a boom was sparked by Silver. However, while plenty of people never struck it rich in Nevada, the oh-so-Nevadan story of Gold Point features a man who did, in a much different way.
During the 1970s, Herb Robbins, not yet a Nevadan, came to the Silver State to explore ghost towns whenever he could. He eventually moved to Las Vegas, professionally installing wallpaper in all the big casinos, but not for long. One night, while playing slots, he hit the jackpot and immediately used his newfound fortune to BUY AN ENTIRE GHOST TOWN: this one. There, he started Gold Point Ghost Town Bed & Breakfast , with rooms converted from original miner’s cabins, a gallows-turned-matrimonial-pulpit, and delicious steak meals. The picturesque, relic-packed town spans multiple blocks, but its centerpiece, hands down, is the working saloon. When you go, check out that whiskey selection.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 184 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST FEW MILES, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
18. The welcome sign declaring Ione’s staunch refusal to “Die”
1.5 hours southeast of fallon.
By now, we would be willing to bet you’re starting to figure out that each of these towns earned their own importance by generating millions and millions of dollars in gold and silver profit…scoring their own opp as county seat. Ione was no different; this community’s shot at county seat went down in 1863, and experienced not only one but TWO major booms. Belmont would eventually steal Ione’s thunder, luring its occupants over the hill… but Ione refused to die then, and it still hasn’t totally given up. A few ride-or-die residents pledged their allegiance to Ione over any other newer, more profitable boomtown, even after the post office closed for good… a sure kiss of death for any community. Today, a few hardy residents have managed to hang on, and made a pretty sweet sign to commemorate their audacious pride. Ione or bust, baby .
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 162 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED UP UNTIL THE LAST 20 OR SO MILES, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON
19. Murderer’s Row at Boot Hill Cemetery in Pioche
What’s the most rough-and-tumble Western town you can think of. Dodge City? Tombstone? Deadwood? We’re sure you see where this is going. Certainly, all of these boisterous spots exuded their own level of toughness. But a lesser-known little gunslinging Nevada town called Pioche swiftly beats out all the others by a country mile. A giant silver boom drew people to this southeastern Nevada spot, and a mind-numbing 72 of ’em were laid to rest before someone actually bit the big one from any natural causes. To put in perspective, Tombstone only had a couple murders each year, while Pioche found itself with dozens on its hands, not to mention plenty of literal shootouts in the street, on the regular.
Almost all of them are now permanent residents of Boot Hill Cemetery , which is photogenically positioned under the only lasting aerial tramway in the state. But why the name? Murderers were buried so quickly that the tips of their boots allegedly stuck out of the ground. Pay attention to the grave inscriptions; you’ll find stuff like “died in dispute over a dog” and “feared by some, detested by others… shot in the back five times from AMBUSH.”
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 176 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY SEASON IS PRIMETIME Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: PIOCHE
20. A 19th Century jail in at the last gold rush in the American West
Many places claim “firsts.” Well, the tiny, mega-remote “living ghost town” of Jarbidge claims two major “lasts.” Jarbidge prides itself on being the the site of the last legitimate gold rush in the American West, after the shiny stuff was discovered in this breathtakingly beautiful, modern-day wilderness area in 1909. Not entirely unrelatedly, it later hosted that last stagecoach robbery. The perp was eventually caught “red-handed” after his bloody handprint was discovered on the coach, which did mark a first: the use of fingerprinting technology to catch a criminal. As this would-be thief was far from the only nefarious individual to lurk about the canyon, the town had itself a jail—a pretty sturdy one, too. If only the rock-masoned walls of the storied Historic Jarbidge Jail could talk, you can bet they’d have some colorful tails to tell. Today you can walk right in off the main drag (and thankfully right back out) to its cold cell and check out its original prisoner cot, as well as thumb through old mining records.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Elko: 104 MILES, OR 3.25 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER ONLY. DO NOT ATTEMPT IN WINTER, SPRING OR FALL… ROADS ARE ASSUREDLY CLOSED Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: ELKO
21. Impressively intact Miner’s Cabins in Goodsprings
45 mins south of las vegas.
Heading into southern Nevada from LA? Do yourself a favor and shake things up a bit by taking the slight detour into Goodsprings, less than 15 minutes off of I-15 (at the Jean exit), take the historic walking tour, and slurp back one of the best Bloody Marys in the Silver State. This community might be quiet now, but when its early 1900s boom was enough to rival Nelson , the not-too-far-away spot that put southern Nevada on the mining map. While plenty of other mining towns produced more in actual dollars, Goodsprings was known for the unusually wide variety of precious minerals hiding down below, including lead, sivler, copper, zinc, and good ol’ gold. Self-guided touring maps and killer “Ghost Burgers” and knock-your-socks-off libations can all be found at one of our favorite southern Sagebrush Saloons, The Goodsprings Pioneer Saloon , possibly the last stamped-tin bars of its kind in existence. (We recommend taking your tour before you settle in… we have a habit of not wanting to leave.) And don’t miss the Cottonwood Cabin.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 38.5 MILES OR 40 MINUTES Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL, SUMMER MAY BE A BIT TOASTY Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: JEAN
22. Manhattan’s still-standing stone bank and original vault
1 hour north of tonopah.
When a town was pulling insurmountable wealth out of the ground, people needed a secure place to store it. In short, mining meant banks. So as you make your way around Nevada’s many ghost towns, you’re bound to encounter some pretty cool ones, still standing because, oftentimes, they were the strongest structures built. One of the best cases in point: Manhattan . (Yep! Manhattan, Nevada .)
When things started to slow down in Belmont, located just over the pass, thousands of fortune-seekers beelined it here to get a piece of the hot new boom. For a decade it was one of Nevada’s largest gold districts, necessitating this tough stone building—the only stone building in town. The building itself is a sight to behold, but venture inside for a glimpse of the original 1906 Nye & Ormsby County Bank vault, still anchoring things down in back, with its safe still doing its job. Keeping things locked down was definitely a priority for Nevada Manhattanites—because they knew themselves. Rumor has it that neighboring Belmont is still miffed at Manhattan for sneaking over that one night in 1908 and stealing its church—by dragging it 18 miles over the mountains. (Luckily, the thieves haven’t gone back for Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon … yet.)
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 254 MILES, OR 4 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
23. Oddball old-meets-new in Goldfield
You may be familiar with the whole boom-then-bust-and/or-devastating-fire routine that so many ghost towns got so good at. Well, Goldfield , never to be outdone, cranked up the heat with TWO giant fires and a freak flash flood. However, partially owing to its position on the main route between Reno and Las Vegas, “The World’s Greatest Gold Camp” has soldiered on as one of the Silver State’s more oddball “living ghost town” communities. If it’s mining-era action you’re after, check out the Goldfield Consolidated Mine Company’s photogenic relics, like train engines, old cars, and tiny cabins; the Goldfield Historic High School (allegedly one of the most haunted places in the U.S.); the Esmerelda County Courthouse , still adorned with original Tiffany lamps; the imposing (and also haunted) Goldfield Hotel ; and the Historic Goldfield Cemetery , home to some morbidly intriguing epitaphs, and the camera-hogging Brown-Parker Auto Co. Garage, shown above.
Be sure to take the edge off at the Santa Fe Saloon , one of Nevada’s oldest continually operating elixir emporiums (and home to the “Meanest Bartender in Nevada”), and the nearby Mozart Tavern , which, in an earlier iteration staffed Virgil Earp as a bouncer. Oh, and if you’re looking to get a little weird, peruse Rocket Bob’s art cars on the main drag, and then swing by the International Car Forest of the Last Church on your way out of town, an installation of vehicles stacked and sticking out of the ground, ever-changing with the paint jobs visitors tend to give it. For tasty homemade grub, hit up the Dinky Diner .
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 184 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY B est time of year to swing through: ANY SEASON IS PRIMETIME Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
24. The Iconic freestanding Metropolis arch
20 mins north of wells.
Historical markers tell of the “killer” jack rabbits and Mormon crickets that helped bring about the demise of this now-ironically named community . In reality, the ferocious bun-buns were really just the result of people killing off the entire coyote population, letting the critters procreate at rabbit-like speed and munch all the crops, predator-free; then, whatever agricultural remains they left on their plates, the crickets swarmed in and licked clean. Pair this with a shifty water rights scandal and a failed dam attempt and voila! We had ourselves a future ghost town. While the elements may not have been kind to these Metropolitans, they’ve left us with the bones of the old hotel, complete with one of the first elevator shafts in the region, and one of our favorite photogenic structures, the freestanding brick arch at the entrance to the local two-story school. We don’t recommend traipsing about the decrepit structure behind it, but if you peek in, you may spy the original chalkboard.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Elko: 60 MILES, OR 1.25 HOURS Roads: PAVED UNTIL LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: WELLS
25. Nevada’s Most Photographed Ghost Town
10 mins outside beatty.
Once home to 5,000 fortune-seekers, Rhyolite was abandoned more than 100 years ago, but its iconic buildings still dazzle film crews, more photographers than any other Nevada ghost town, and anyone craving one of the state’s best vestigial glimpses of the boomtown era. Its location at the edge of Death Valley certainly helps, but once you get there—especially at golden hour, you instantly get why. With so many fascinating buildings, some fully intact—like the train station… and brothel—others in a nearly perfect state of cracked and crumbling, like the iconic Cook Bank building, shown above.
Another stubborn remnant is the famed Tom Kelly Bottle House, constructed of nearly 50,000 medicine and booze bottles (there wasn’t much wood, but with all those saloons, there were plenty of those)—the oldest and largest of its kind in the nation. And then there’s the ghosts . Not of any haunted buildings (that we know of), but of the Goldwell Open Air Museum , a sculpture-filled installation started by Belgian artists in the 1970s, which is now home to a ghostly depiction of the Last Supper, a LEGO-esque woman, a 24-foot-tall miner (and his trusty penguin), and other surrealist visions rising from the desert, not to mention a free visitor center.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 120 MILES, OR 2 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY SEASON IS PRIMETIME Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: BEATTY
26. The last wooden train trestle standing
1 hour southwest of tonopah.
Nivloc, another boomtown in the 1900s heyday around Tonopah and Goldfield , emerged after a Shoshone Indian discovered gold here in 1907, swinging into full force by the 1930s. Like Midas, instead of establishing yet another Gold-Something, its founder, Colvin, named it after himself, except in reverse: N-I-V-L-O-C. While this ghost town’s mining exploits don’t rise high above the rest, what does is the last standing original wooden train trestle in Nevada. Two-ish stories tall, the thing was probably last traveled over around the 1940s—and that’s how it should be; do not climb or attempt to drive a steam train over that rickety old sucker. Instead, if you’re feeling rockhoundy, you can dig through core samples from some latter-day 1980s prospecting.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from RENO: 232 MILES, OR 4 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
BEYOND THE ASPHALT: 19 Ways To Live By The Dirt Road Code
The Metropolis That Wasn't
15 Sagebrush Saloons Worth Drinking In... And What To Order When You're There
Journey to Jarbidge
GOLDFIELD: 15 Ways the Past Remains Present
28 Excuses to Hightail it to Nevada's Most Photographed Ghost Town
History & Heritage
10 Reasons We're Stoked On Austin (And You Should Be Too)
Exploring Eldorado Canyon
Ghost Towns to Visit Near Las Vegas
Interested in Vegas, huh? This isn’t all our knowledge, in fact it isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Check out our app for tips, reviews and so much more…
A history of ghost towns.
There are a lot of towns that built the west, and Vegas is just one of ‘em. For every town that popped up in the desert and is still around today, there’s another one out in the middle of nowhere that has been left entirely abandoned for decades. The Las Vegas area may be a dazzling spectacle of lights, but it’s also home to an abundance of ghost towns scattered throughout the desert nearby—and many of them are still totally accessible, if you’re willing to get off the beaten path. We don’t list all of the ghost towns here (that would be a very, very long list) but we do have three of our favorite ghost towns that we visited, each with their own unique histories.
St. Thomas is a ghost town, one that has died more than once. The settlement was founded by Mormons in 1865 and at its peak had around 500 residents. But they abandoned the town only six years later . Why? Because when they built the town, it was in Arizona, but shortly after a land surveyor changed the state boundary, shifting it to the east, the Mormons suddenly found themselves residents of Nevada. The hungry territorial government wanted to tax them, payable only in gold. The settlers told the officials to go pound sand, refused to pay, and left for greener (and less taxed) pastures in Arizona and Utah. Other people eventually settled into their turnkey town and lived there along the Colorado River until… it stopped being a river. When Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s, Lake Mead started filling up and eventually swallowed up the town in 1938.
Today, the lake level is much lower, and the remains of the roads and foundations are visible from the end of the road overlooking the dried lakebed. It’s not necessarily worth the hike down into the remains, but the tale of St. Thomas is a story of one of the odder Nevada ghost towns. If you get a chance, go on Google Earth and look at Historical Imagery . You can see it high and dry now, then go back to 1984 when the town was swallowed by the lake.
Rhyolite is one of our favorite ghost towns that hovers in that sweet spot between theme park-adjacent and mostly-just-desert. This town rose as a gold mining camp in 1905, and at its peak had a population between 3,500 and 5,000. However, it was well on its way to ghost town status by 1911, right after the mine closed, and the electricity was shut off in 1916, making this a pretty short-lived place. (If you do much digging into the history of ghost towns, you’ll likely find that a lot of these towns are fairly short-lived—they boom while the mines are producing, and then bust when the mines dry up.)
Interestingly enough, Rhyolite’s 11-year lifespan saw a huge boom. At its peak, it had the Montgomery Shoshone mine and mill, electricity (including two electric plants), a miner’s union hospital and even a schoolhouse for up to 250 children. There was entertainment in the form of dances and live music, a variety of sporting events and even town socials. Rhyolite became so popular that people from San Francisco hopped on trains to move to Rhyolite (many to profit off of the town’s red light district), and eventually the town even had its own stock exchange.
Today, it’s hard to believe that this was once a bustling city. The current town showcases remnants of old buildings, including a few limestone foundations and some cracked walls as well as some metal frames and signage. Some of these fragmented buildings include the formerly three-story bank, the schoolhouse and the old jail, all of which have fallen into extreme disrepair. (These buildings are more old shells than anything else—there’s practically no interior, and the old walls don’t hold anything in them except rocks, dust and a bit of shade.) As you wander the gravel and dirt roads, you might see one building that appears to be both derelict and, somehow, surprisingly intact. It has a few high arched walls, a wooden deck and a ring of stones that separates the dirt roads from a few desert plants. This building is the old Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad Train Depot, where travelers would arrive and depart from Rhyolite in droves. Today, it’s a dusty fixture that’s surrounded by a chain-link fence. Oddly enough, you can tell from remaining structure that it used to be a very pretty building. Across the dirt road from the train depot is an old train caboose, which is fitting.
The town has a semi-famous building constructed from hundreds of Adolphus Busch (better known as Budweiser) bottles, which adds to the cowboyish charm. This building was originally made by a miner in 1906 and was later restored in 1925 by Paramount Pictures. You’ll also notice that this area has a smattering of odd art installations scattered throughout it. These are parts of the Goldwell Open Air Museum, an eclectic sculpture garden featuring cutout penguins, pixelated women and plaster sculptures of the angel of death. These sculptures are strange in the daytime and ominous at night, but the museum and its sculptures are both worth visiting if you’re stopping by Rhyolite.
Over the years, these fairly well-preserved remains have made the place a perfect backdrop for several movies, including some westerns. (We haven’t heard of any of the movies that were filmed here, but if you’re wondering why this ghost town feels so eerily familiar, a few older films might be the culprit.) Apart from being an interesting stop in the daytime, Rhyolite also has a phenomenal view of the stars at night, which we discuss in detail in the Adventures section, under Stargaze From a Ghost Town . Somewhat haunting and enigmatic, this is our quintessential ghost town.
Now this is a ghost town worth a stop. It has old buildings, wandering burro, a tribute to Hollywood stars, ghost stories, a cemetery, and there’s even a place you can grab a drink and some food.
Goodsprings isn’t your typical tourist-oriented wild west town. Some places across the United States will take what feels like a ghost town and commercialize it with cheap souvenirs and fast food stands—Goodsprings doesn’t. This is a place that has taken its old west town heritage and preserved the important sights, then built the rest of the community around it. What you get is an active community and century-old buildings right across the street from each other.
Most notable in this former mining town is The Pioneer Saloon . Built in 1913, this is one of the oldest saloons in Nevada. Inside, you’ll find a few options for food and drink, an old west atmosphere, and a memorial to actress Carole Lombard, who was killed in a plane crash nearby in 1942, and her husband, Clark Gable. After the plane went down, Gable came to the saloon to drink and await news of his wife, which is why the memorials are here. This saloon is also supposedly haunted by the ghost of a miner shot over a gambling dispute. We’d argue that the story seems like it was pulled right out of an old western movie, but the bullet holes are still in the wall. (Tough to argue with that kind of evidence.) As to whether or not it’s actually haunted, that’s still up for debate, but many employees over the years have reported bizarre incidents.
Apart from the saloon’s obvious draws, it’s also the place to go if you want to pick up their dedicated town history and tour pamphlet. These pamphlets tell you a lot about the town and the old buildings that started this place. In total they’ll tell you the locations and history of 23 buildings, most of which are over a century old. These historical sites include school buildings, abandoned hotels, post offices, the eponymous spring that Goodsprings was built on, a lot of houses and an assortment of other businesses and historic sites. There is a cemetery near the Pioneer Saloon that makes it onto the pamphlet. In case you were curious, the oldest marker there is from the late 1800s, if that helps you picture just how old this town is. Unfortunately many of these buildings (actually, all except the school) are private property, meaning you can’t really go up and see these sights. However, many are visible as you walk along the side streets.
All in all, Goodsprings makes for a nice stop. It isn’t hard to spend a few hours here, and after seeing the rugged beauty of these foothills, it isn’t difficult to see why so many residents stick around a ghost town like this.
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Nelson Ghost Town: Everything you need to know
Nelson ghost town.
Deep in the Mojave Desert sits Nelson Ghost Town, one of the most famous ghost towns near Las Vegas .
This historic landmark is considered to be one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas . It attracts plenty of photographers and filmmakers because it looks like it was taken straight from the Wild West 🤠
The ghost town is just a small piece of property located along the main road near Eldorado Canyon. Here, you can tour Eldorado Canyon to learn the history of mining in the area or spend time taking photos of vintage cars, rusted out gas pumps and old barns.
How to get to Nelson Ghost Town From Las Vegas?
Nelson Ghost Town is literally in the middle of nowhere, and it is not served by public transportation. To get here, you will have to rent a car .
Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. To avoid paying high fees on the spot, book your car in Las Vegas ahead of time.
One of the websites that I use for booking cars is Discover Cars . They have great inventory, affordable rates and no hidden fees. All you need to do is type in your travel dates and browse hundreds of available vehicles! It’s that easy 😉
Book Your Rental Car in Las Vegas here to save money and skip the hassle!
Check my complete guide to renting a car in Las Vegas to avoid mistakes and save money 😃
Nelson Ghost Town Photography
Many movies and commercials have been shot here over years, and it’s still a popular place for photo sessions of all sorts.
If you want to take photos, you are required to check in at the main office where you have to pay the minimum $10 an hour fee.
But if you plan a wedding photo session at Nelson Ghost Town or a large commercial photo shoot, contact the main office ahead of your visit!
The fees are the main source of income for the owners who live on property, so your money will hep them to stay in business. When you purchase a photo tour, you will get access to the three barns on property where you can take photos. Visitors who don’t purchase a photo shoot permit, have access only to a limited number of spaces within Nelson Ghost Town.
Nelson Ghost Town History
Nevada has a rich mining history and the state is literally peppered with abandoned old mines.
However, Nelson Ghost Town is different.
While there are plenty of no-name ghost towns throughout the state, the historical Techatticup Mine is the oldest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada.
The Spanish discovered gold in this area around 1775 and back then, they called it El Dorado Canyon. But it wasn’t until 1859 when prospectors that had come here from all over the country started finding gold and silver in the area. That’s when several mining camps including the Techatticup Mine had been set up. The area attracted plenty of outlaws and has seen many disputes, some of which even resulted in bloody disputes.
The dark side of Nelson Ghost Town
Soon, other minerals such as lead and copper were discovered in the area.
The place located in the middle of nowhere and cut off by miles of the harsh desert terrain often saw violent conflicts that were spurred by ownership and right disputes. Lawlessness was a normal thing at Nelson as the place attracted fortune seekers from all over the continent some of whom were deserters from the American Civil War.
Nelson was eventually abandoned when the area was hit by the flash flood and the torrents of gushing water flushed away the precious fossils that attracted so many people here.
What’s you see today are the remnants of the former Nelson that were sitting above the flood channel.
What you should know about visiting Nelson Ghost Town
Nelson Ghost Town is open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you arrive before or after hours, leave. Do NOT stay on property.
The owners do live on premises. Although they will not kick you out if you show up before the sunset, they will ask you to leave after dark.
When you arrive, stop at the front office to sign the waiver and ask any questions about what you can see here. You can also ask questions about fees and tours.
Nelson Ghost Town Fees
- $2 per person to walk around the area
- $10-20 per hour to take photos. The price depends on whether you are taking personal or professional shots.
If all you want to do is to check out the site quickly, you typically don’t need to pay anything. However, you are not allowed to take photos.
Techatticup Mine tours
Reservations are required ahead of your visit and can be made either online or by calling ahead of your visit. Call 702-291-0026 to make a reservation to avoid conflicts, as this place is popular for events and photo shoots.
A walking tour of the mine is approximately 1/4 mile long, and while most of it is on the flat surface, you should put on comfortable hiking shoes and not flip flops or sandals. Also, the mine tends to be a bit cool, especially during winter, so don’t forget to bring a jacket on a tour.
What to know about Nelson Ghost Town Tours
Techatticup tours are private and can be customized to fit travelers’ schedule. There may be other groups in the mine at the same time, but packages are created so you can explore without bumping into other travelers. Group tour can have maximum 20 people.
How much does the Nelson Ghost Town Tour cost?
The tour runs just over one hour, and require a minimum of four people. Tours take place at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m.
Prices are $15 for adults and $10 for Kids from 5-12. Kids under 5 get to enjoy the tour for free.
Taking photos at Nelson Ghost Town
This ghost town is extremely fascinating! Here you can find crumbling barns, an old Texaco station and an office of a local tour company that boasts a lot of cool artifacts.
Rusted out cars from the early 1900s are scattered across the property along with other abandoned pieces of equipment. You can even find an aircraft that appears to have nose dived into the side of the mound on the opposite side from the tour company’s office. But don’t worry, it’s completely staged!
Tips for visiting Nelson Ghost Town
- Bring plenty of water and some snacks – there are no stores or restaurants in the area
- Put on some sun screen – there’s a lot of sun here and no shade
- Take your camera – this place has so many beautiful corners
- Wear layers – the desert can get cold once the sun goes down. It’s especially true in winter
- Don’t rely on your cell phone service – the coverage in the area is spotty at best
- Arrive during business hours. You shouldn’t be on premises if you arrive before or after business hours
How far is Nelson Ghost Town from Las Vegas?
Nelson Ghost Town is about 45 minutes away from Las Vegas.
It’s located at Nelson Cutoff Rd, Searchlight, NV 89046
Nelson Ghost Town Directions
Nelson Ghost Town is one of best places to visit near Las Vegas. However, compared to some big state and national parks in the area, you don’t need to spend hours on driving.
Your trip should take no more than 3-4 hours, so you will have enough time for other things to do in Las Vegas.
How to get to Nelson Ghost Town
From Las Vegas, take Beltway 215 east toward Boulder City, and then merge onto I-11.
Take an exit at U.S.-95 and drive past the dry lake bed on the right side. Shortly after that you will see an exit for Nelson on the left side. Take that exit and drive straight for approximately 15 minutes before you get to the town of Nelson. Keep left at the fork and you will soon get to Nelson Ghost Town.
Nelson Ghost Town Hours
Nelson Ghost Town hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
I recommend brining a few snacks and water as there are no stores or restaurants nearby.
Although this historic ghost town has become commercialized, it’s still quite the experience!
Once you are done exploring Nelson Ghost Town, head east toward Nelson’s Landing at the end of Eldorado Canyon.
Unfortunately, Nelson’s Landing was destroyed during the 1974 flash flood. But you can still enjoy the scenic views from this spot. From here, you can either go toward Old Nelson’s Landing Road to the Colorado River or continue to Nelson’s Landing Cliff Jumping area where you can enjoy the views of the water.
Where to stay near Nelson Ghost Town
There are no hotels near Nelson Ghost Town. The closest hotels to Nelson Ghost Town are in Boulder City or Las Vegas. Here are a couple of options:
- Quality Inn in Boulder City
- Hoover Dam Lodge in Boulder City
- Excalibur in Las Vegas
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article.
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