ghost towns along i 15

7 Utah Ghost Towns Close to I-15

ghost towns along i 15

A mournful whistle. Boarded up windows. Tumbleweed. Wind. Ghost towns follow a fairly standard formula in the movies. But have you ever actually been to one to confirm that these tropes are true? In Utah, you have multiple options to choose from.

With such an extensive history of pilgrimage coupled with its huge, expansive area, the Beehive State is a perfect landscape for abandoned settlements.

There are nearly 150 Utah ghost towns for you to visit. However, as may be expected, some of them aren’t as accessible as others. Some, on the other hand, you can basically see from the I-15. Perhaps you’ve even caught a glimpse of the fringes of one while taking the St. George Express. If you are looking for a good ghost town time (try saying that five times fast), these will be less out of your way.

Here are seven Utah ghost towns that are right off the I-15.

ghost towns along i 15

Old Iron Town

Resting in Iron County 15-20 miles west of Cedar City, Old Iron Town is not much of one anymore. With a few furnaces and a kiln remaining from its heyday as an iron operation, the town was settled by Mormon pioneers in 1868 and was abandoned by 1877. Why? The nationwide financial panic of 1874 plus a lack of viable northbound transportation sucked out its utility. Access is fairly easy in any size car, and you should be good going at any time of the year.

37°36′00″N 113°27′01″W

ghost towns along i 15

Twenty-four miles north of Beaver, and just northeast of where I-15 and I-70 intersect, lies historic Cove Fort. One of the few forts from this time period still standing, this owes much to its construction. The fort is built of volcanic rock and limestone and acted as a way station for settlers, as well as a pickup/delivery for the Pony Express. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leased the fort out in 1890, eventually selling it. In 1989, the Hinckley family bought it back and donated it to the Church. It is now a historic site with free guided tours.

38 ° 60’06 ” N 112 ° 58’21 ” W

ghost towns along i 15

You’ll want to visit this one before the snow comes! Mills, also known as Wellington while active, was a railroad town in Juab County. After being abandoned at some point in the mid-1800’s, there are reportedly a few homes there currently , as well as being semi-active for Union Pacific trains.

39°28′58″N 112°01′41″W

ghost towns along i 15

Rockwell Station

Located at the Point of the Mountain in Bluffdale, these days there isn’t much left of this brewery-turned-waystation. Orrin Porter Rockwell, a colorful character in Mormon history, took over the property and it became a station for the Overland Stage and the Pony Express.

40°29’09.7″N 111°54’01.6″W

ghost towns along i 15

While Mormon settlers were busy populating both future ghost towns and booming metropoles like Salt Lake and St. George, there were a few dissidents. The settlers of Corinne built the town on the Bear River in 1868 as a pointed escape from Mormon influence; members of the Church were not allowed to settle there. Founder Mark Gilmore and those that settled with him also wanted to create a railroad and steamboat center. Though the town flourished for many years, by 1903 the main road was rerouted around Corinne and the town began to dissipate. Today, there is still a lot to see in this once great ghost town.

41°33’05.5″N 112°06’43.7″W

ghost towns along i 15

Silver Reef

This town in Washington County, like Corinne, enjoyed a fairly long and celebrated duration. Formerly established as a town in 1876, it grew to be home to over 2,000 citizens, two newspapers, and several stores, hotels, saloons, restaurants, and dance halls. While the ore mines sustained the town, the people there enjoyed moderate success. However, the last mine closed down in 1891, and over the next several years the ore was shipped out of the area and with it, the people and life of the town. Now, there are gift shops and some historic restoration for the curious tourist.

37°15’10.9″N 113°22’04.8″W

ghost towns along i 15

Fort Harmony

This Utah ghost town at one time showed much promise. Constructed a short jog up from the village of Harmony, Fort Harmony was founded in 1854 by settler John D. Lee. As the only white settlement for miles, it was named county seat and headquarters for the Indian Mission, to provide benefits to neighboring Native Americans. It was even lauded by Mormon leader Brigham Young as “the best fort in the territory.” Its fame could not last, however, when a storm of historic and Biblical proportions tore through the area for 44 days in 1861-62. It brought rain, snow, more rain, and finally a hard wind that destroyed part of the fort and took some lives. Instead of rebuilding the fort, the settlers moved on to establish New Harmony, leaving Fort Harmony a ghost town. You can read more about its history here.

37°28’50.0″N 113°14’36.0″W

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Where to Find the Mojave's Greatest Ghost Towns


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ghost towns along i 15

California has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ghost towns, thanks to not only the Gold Rush but also to mining for other metals and materials, rockhounding , and prospecting for gemstones .

Those towns that didn’t have a mine provided a necessary stopover point for overland wagons and freight and passenger trains that traveled between the places that did. But as those mines stopped producing – or never produced at all – miners moved onto other mountain ranges and those waystations were no longer needed.

New towns subsequently popped up as cross-country automobiling came into fashion – thanks to the creation of the National Trails Highway and, eventually, Route 66 (which once ran continuously from Santa Monica, CA to Chicago, IL) – but they, too, became circumvented as faster freeways like the I-15 and the I-40 were better built for the “long haul” and ended up bypassing the businesses along the way.

Some of our Southern California ghost towns are buried so deeply in our national parks that you can only hike to them. Others are just a mere blip on the GPS, noted with a historical marker and maybe a shoetree or some other folk monument of its former life.

But here are six ghost towns in the Mojave Desert that you can easily visit by car, really see something and maybe even meet some people (though not many).

1. Zzyzx, CA

Zzyzx (1)

If you’ve ever found yourself driving along the I-15 at the northern border of the Mojave National Preserve , you’ve probably seen the exit sign for Zzyzx  and wondered what could possibly there. Trust me – next time, get off the freeway, and go explore this mesmerizing place. On your way down Zzyzx Road (which has recently been paved), keep an eye out for bighorn sheep as you approach the magical mineral springs of the former Soda Springs / Zzyzx Healing Center, past the salt flat of Soda Lake. Now, Zzyzx Road and Soda Lake are part of the Mojave Preserve, and the former healing center has been taken over by the Desert Studies Center , a field studies division of California State University Fullerton. But this place once housed a sham facility to heal elderly travelers passing through along the old Mojave Road (as well as those stopping over along the old T&T Railroad). Zzyzx was founded by a self-proclaimed "last of the old-time medicine men": Curtis Howe Springer a popular radio evangelist from the East who, like many, had come to conquer the west and capitalize on the mineral-rich land. He'd already built some successful resort-type spas in Pennsylvania, and then filed a mining claim on the land. But instead of mining the land, he and his wife built an encampment of tents and concrete buildings around a palm tree-lined oasis (known as Lake Tuendae, which lays claim to fish like the endangered Mohave tui chub ). Although the minerals were — and are — real at Zzyzx, the hot springs were not. (They were faked with the help of a boiler.) He had a good 30-year run before being evicted in 1976 for quackery (among other claims). This little community looks practically untouched since then, despite the students who still study there today. 

Note that Zzyzx has been transformed into an active educational campus. Please don't enter any structures without permission.

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2. amboy, ca.

Amboy (1)

Amboy is probably the most famous of the Route 66 ghost towns in the Mojave Desert, thanks to its appearances in various movies and fashion magazines. Now, it’s more or less just a set – a filming location for hire – with a population of 20, if you believe the sign. (It’s probably less.) Originally settled along the ever-expanding rail route, Amboy experienced a boom with the opening of Route 66 and once had enough local residents to warrant a school. But, as many of those towns did with the opening of the new 40 Freeway in the 1970s, Amboy fell out of favor. The town itself has been bought and sold, and the iconic Roy’s Café has alternated between open and closed. But the one consistent thing in Amboy is its crater – a volcanic cinder cone that’s also a national natural landmark, managed by the BLM . You can climb up a relatively easy trail to the rim, but do it early in the day and not in the dead of summer. There’s no shade to be had at Amboy Crater – and no one nearby to hear your screams if you find yourself in distress.

3. Nipton, CA

Nipton (2)

Located near the California / Nevada state line, this so-called “Gateway to the Mojave Desert” is a little off the beaten path to be a good rest stop on your way to or from Vegas, but it’s worth the detour. In the 19th century, Nipton was at the nexus of both silver and gold mining in the Ivanpah Valley and of two intersecting overland wagon trails (one running north-south and the other running east-west). Officially founded in 1905, it became a 20th century railroad depot town. But now, it’s got less than 100 permanent residents, though it attracts packs of bikers and other desert visitors, who can stay at the Hotel Nipton (and hope for a chance encounter with the ghost of Clara Bow, the silent film star who apparently once owned a ranch nearby). The townsfolk – and its owner since the 1980s – have done their best to operate with renewable energy and get off the grid as much as possible, even installing a local power plant. That means the Trading Post accepts cash only (no credit cards) and you won’t find an ATM or a gas station in town, although you can stop at the Shell on Cima Road (west of Nipton, on the way south to another ghost town, Cima) for some modern amenities and an animatronic roadside mannequin display that’s not to be missed. If you’ve got big dreams for a small town, you can buy the entire town of Nipton — all 80,000 acres — for a mere $3 million. It’s for sale again.

4. Kelso, CA

Kelso (1)

In 1905, Kelso was built specifically as a depot along the railroad line that ran between L.A. and Utah and cut right through the middle of the Mojave Desert (in the area that’s now known as the Mojave National Preserve ). But business was so big that Kelso ended up becoming a real town, with a post office (now closed, but still standing) and, in the 1940s, a jail for drunkards (also vacant, but there). The original, simple train depot was replaced with a much larger one in 1925 that also functioned as a boarding house for railroad employees and a restaurant. The depot officially closed in 1962 after mining dwindled and freight trains switched from steam to diesel, although the housing and dining facilities for crewmembers remained open until 1985. Now, Kelso Depot has been preserved as a visitor’s center where you can explore historical exhibits in the former dormitory rooms, baggage room, and ticket office. Grab some spare water and a hiking guide or a map in the bookstore before heading out to Kelso Dunes or any number of the cinder cones and lava flows accessible off of Kelbaker Road (the thoroughfare that connects Kelso to Baker, CA). Tell a ranger at the visitor’s center where you’re headed, and be sure to ask if your car (especially if it’s a low-clearance passenger car with 2WD) can make it. And even if the ranger says it can, be extra careful when you’re parking on uneven terrain with possibly deep sand.

5. Calico, CA

Calico (1)

Nestled in the Calico Mountains, Calico is both a ghost town and an amusement park – but don’t let its overt commercialism keep you from visiting, because there’s plenty of history there, too. It was originally part of the largest silver strike in California, but now only five original buildings remain -- the rest having perished in fire. There's the park office and the Lane House & Museum, restored in 1979 and named after Lucy Bell Lane, Calico's most distinguished and long-term resident. There’s also the Lane grocery store, the saloon, and the Zenda Mining Company -- all original structures are distinguishable by their "rammed earth" architectural style, which is much more fireproof than wooden structures. The Zenda Mining Company was the last owner of Calico as a mining town, until they sold it to Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farm fame. Some historical ruins like those of the Chinese mining camps have been preserved, but Knott rebuilt other iconic structures, supposedly to their original specifications. Ironically, one of them is a garage that houses a historic fire truck. The theme park attractions are in full force here, too – like the bottle house, Mystery Shack, and Maggie Mine. Once a working mine in the 1880s, Maggie Mine is now the only mine at Calico that's safe for guests to enter. After your walk-through mine tour, climb atop the rock formations above the mine and look down upon the surreal town below, as you listen to the epic booms of training exercises occurring at Fort Irwin next door.

6. Daggett, CA

Daggett (1)

Located east of Barstow, Daggett has fared only slightly better than its fellow Mojave Desert ghost towns, despite being located right off of the 40 Freeway and not having had any traffic circumvented away from it. With a population now of around 200 locals (though more in surrounding areas like Yermo), it’s been the site of two large-scale but failed solar projects. It was also the site of a stamp mill for the silver mining rush that was happening across the way in the Calico Mountains, as well as borax production (after Harmony Borax Works in Death Valley closed, but before the town of Boron’s supply was discovered). Drive around these days, and you might recognize some of the buildings as seen in the movie version of "The Grapes of Wrath." Stop by the Daggett Pioneer Cemetery to peruse the gravestones of early settlers dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Stock up on some supplies at the funky Desert Market, or stay a little longer at the Desert Springs RV Park on Daggett-Yermo Road, just north of the center of town.

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8 Spookiest Ghost Towns in California

ghost towns along i 15

Betsy Malloy

A California ghost town might be the kind you think of, an abandoned mining camp with tumbleweeds blowing down a deserted main street, past a long-disused saloon or general store, toward the old cemetery. You can find those in the Golden State, but there’s more: Abandoned reminders of a grand social experiment, the remains of internment camps, and what’s left of a medicine man’s so-called “health resort.” Some of them may even be spooky, with stories of hauntings and restless spirits.

Know this before you go: Some ghost towns are at high elevations. Others in the desert are hot in the summer, with no shade. They often don’t have water and other amenities. The terrain in a ghost town may be uneven, and you might encounter snakes and other animals. Take sturdy shoes, water, a hat, sunscreen, and snacks. And be sure your vehicle is up to the drive. 

If you only see one ghost town in California, Bodie is the one to visit.

Bodie was a gold-mining town the started in 1876. At its peak, more than 10,000 gold-seekers lived there. The wild, wide-open mining town was so wicked that some people thought even God had forsaken it.

Today, Bodie is a pilgrimage site for people who love ghost towns. It has almost 200 structures still standing, kept in a state of "arrested decay." The large site with so many things to see is unparalleled among California ghost towns.

Bodie is also said to be not spooky or haunted but cursed. Legend has it that any visitor who dares to take anything—even a rock—from this Gold Rush ghost town, isolated beyond the eastern Sierra, will be punished. But in fact, the curse was invented by park rangers, who wanted to keep people from stealing things.

Bodie is a California state park, located east of the Sierras, 13 miles east of US Highway 395 between Lee Vining and Bridgeport at 8,500 feet elevation. The paved section of the road to it takes about 15 minutes to drive. The last three miles of rough dirt road will take you 10 minutes or more to cross. In the winter, the road becomes impassable, except by snowmobile.

Cerro Gordo

GeoStock/The Image Bank / Getty Images Plus

Some people say Cerro Gordo is a better ghost town than Bodie because it's less crowded with sightseers. To offset that, it has far fewer buildings, and it's harder to get to.

Cerro Gordo is privately owned, and the only way to get a look around is to take a guided tour. You can get tour tickets at the Cerro Gordo Mines website . Structures still standing include a hotel, bunkhouse, the 1877 Hoist Works, a private residence, and other buildings. The old general store doubles as a museum.

Cerro Gordo's silver mining history began in 1865, but it was almost as hard to get to then as it is now. Mule-drawn wagons had to haul the ore 275 miles to Los Angeles, an expensive process. Only high-grade ore could make a profit. By 1868, the richest veins played out, silver prices fell, and mining ceased.

Over the next 50 years, the mines produced silver, lead, and zinc. By 1938, Cerro Gordo was abandoned. But today's caretakers say they may have left a few stray spirits behind . Don't worry about it being spooky; they are only seen at night.

It's just outside the boundary of Death Valley National Park at 8,500 feet elevation and eight miles east of Keeler off California Highway 136. The road is steep in places and not for vehicles with low ground clearance. 

GeoStock/The Image Bank / Getty Images Plus 

Purists might complain that Rhyolite is technically in Nevada, but it's only 10 miles from the state line and well worth a stop if you're touring California ghost towns.

In its heyday, Rhyolite had three train lines, three newspapers, three swimming pools, three hospitals, two undertakers, an opera, and symphony and 53 saloons. It lasted from 1905 through 1910.

The thing that makes Rhyolite unique are its buildings made from permanent materials rather than canvas and wood. Also worth a look is the nearby  Goldwell Open Air Museum  and its collection of sculptures.

Rhyolite is between Beatty, Nevada, and Death Valley National Park off Nevada Highway 374, which becomes California Highway 190 at the border. It is open to the public with no admission free.

wsfurlan/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Calico is one of the easiest California ghost towns to get to, just off Interstate Highway 15 between Barstow and Las Vegas.

Calico's 1881 silver strike was the largest in California history. The price of silver declined in 1896, and by 1904, it was abandoned.

Walter Knott, who also started Knott's Berry Farm , purchased Calico in the 1950s. He restored all but five original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s. Today, Calico is part-authentic ghost town, part-regional park, and part tourist attraction. Don't turn up your nose and let its overt commercialism keep you from visiting. There's plenty of history if you take the time to look for it.

North Bloomfield


Gold mining at the Malakoff Diggins near North Bloomfield started in 1851. During the town's heyday, it had nearly 1,500 inhabitants and more than 200 buildings. 

By the 1860s, the easy-to-reach gold was depleted. MIners depended on hydraulic mining techniques to get to the gold ore, washing away entire mountains in the process. That was what led to the town’s final demise. When hydraulic mining was declared illegal in 1883, the town went into a slow decline.

Today North Bloomfield is in Malakoff Diggins State Park . You can see the former mining sites and original historic buildings along North Bloomfield Road, including a church, school, barbershop, and fire department.

North Bloomfield is in California’s Gold Country, northeast of Sacramento off California Highway 20 near Grass Valley and Nevada City.


Stephen Saks/Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus

Allensworth holds a unique place in California history. Founded by former slave Colonel Allen Allensworth in 1908, it was to be a place where African Americans could live and thrive without oppression.

The all-Black town’s success was featured in many national newspaper articles around the turn of the twentieth century. By 1914, it had more than 200 inhabitants. Soon afterward, the town water supply started drying up, and the Great Depression came in the early 1930s.

Public services shut down, and residents moved to the cities to look for work. The Post Office closed in 1931. By 1972, the population was down to 90, and it later dropped to almost zero.

Today, Allensworth is a California state park where you can see then restored buildings, including a library, church, schoolhouse, and hotel.

Allensworth is in the Central Valley, north of Bakersfield and west of California Highway 99.

R. Litewriter/iStock / Getty Images Plus 

In 1944, radio evangelist Curtis Howe Springer got title to a piece of the Mojave Desert as a mining claim. He named it Zzyzx, which he said was the last word in the English language.

Instead of digging for minerals, Springer created a small camp around a palm-lined, natural spring. He bottled the water and sold it to travelers. He also operated a health resort (or so he called it).

In 1976, the U.S. government reclaimed the land. Today, it is home to the Desert Studies Center of the California State University system. You can see the springs and a few abandoned buildings.

Zzyzx is a few miles southeast of Interstate 15 at the Zzyzx exit, near the town of Baker.

Rick Gerharter/Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus 

If you think of a ghost town as a place that was busy in the past but is now empty or nearly empty, the former internment camp at Manzanar

More than 10,000 Japanese Americans lived at Manazar from 1942 until the end of World War II in 1945. Unlike the people who flocked to the other ghost towns in this guide, Manzanar's residents were more likely to try to get out (or so some people thought). Military police with submachine guns stood watch in eight guard towers around the perimeter of the camp.

Today, you can learn more about Manzanar's history in the visitor center and visit Block 14, where you will find two reconstructed barracks and a mess hall. You can also take the self-guided loop drive and see the cemetery. Even if Manzanar doesn't have ghosts, it can give you a spooky feeling to think of its former internees.

Manzanar National Historic Site is nine miles north of Lone Pine off US Highway 395. There is no admission charge.

If you loved these ghost towns, you might also want to visit:

  • Silver City , near Lake Isabella, which is more like a museum of ghost towns, created from more than 20 historic buildings moved there from mining camps.
  • The Lost Horse Mine at Joshua Tree National Park is known for its well-preserved stamp mill.
  • For a rare look at the mercury mines that supported California's gold rush, visit New Almaden , near San Jose.

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These are the 12 best ghost towns to see in Montana

ghost towns along i 15

Adventure, mystery and history await visitors to Montana's ghost towns.

But with summer weekends a limited (and precious) commodity, one has to be choosy. Here's our picks for the best ghost towns to visit. 

 12. Castle Town

• The story:  Once home to 2,000 residents, Castle Town was founded in 1891. The town had a school, a jail, shops, seven brothels and 14 saloons. The town is on private land. The town never recovered from the Silver Panic of 1893. You can see a lot from the road and need landowner permission before exploring the rest.

• What's so special:  Former home of Western legend Calamity Jane. Many buildings remain in a picturesque gulch.

⇒ How to find it:  Learn about Castle Town at the Castle Museum in White Sulphur Springs (which is a house museum with a display on the ghost town). Then take Montana Highway 294 to Lennep, itself a neat ghost town. Follow NF-581 west into the Castle Mountains for about 7 miles. 

More: Castle’s tragic decline

More: Montana Album: "The Castle" to become a museum; two coaches break away from train

More: Diamond City ghost town where there's Confederates in the gulch

• The story:  Comet sprouted up in the mountains south of Helena in 1883 and grew to a town of 300, centered around activity in the Comet Mine, with ore smelted in nearby Wickes. It produced more than $13 million in silver, copper, gold, lead and zinc but was nearly empty by the end of World War I.

• What's so special:  Comet is ranked the third-best ghost town in Montana after Bannack and Garnet by Philip Varney in his guide, “Ghost Towns of the Mountain West.” One of the most significant structures of the ghost town is the unique tin-sided mill.

⇒ How to find it:  Comet is nearly 30 miles south of Helena. Between Boulder and Basin take the Interstate 15 exit 160 for High Ore Road and travel north for about 4.5 miles. The road is dirt/gravel for most of the way. The buildings are on private land. Learn more about the town at the Heritage Center, 210 Main Street, Boulder.

More: You: Burly angel. Me: Idiot motorist on the road to Comet.

More: Mining history found in Comet

10.  Granite 

• The story:  The richest silver mine on earth — it yielded $40 million in silver — supported the town of Granite, home to 3,000 miners. • What's so special:  The drive is awesome and so is Philipsburg. The Granite Mine superintendent's house and miners' Union Hall are a state park.

⇒ How to find it:  Granite is only three miles east of Philipsburg but it's a steep climb, gaining 1,280 feet in elevation. The road is narrow, steep and winding. Don't try it unless it's clear and dry (about 2 months in the summer). From Philipsburg, take W. Broadway Street to Brewery Road to Granite Road.

More:  Philipsburg a winter destination, too

Montana Moment: Nearly a third of Montana workers lose job

9.  Virgelle

• The story: Miners weren't the only ones who left ghost towns. Virgelle was settled by homesteaders in 1912 along a spur of the Great Northern Railroad. The boom was bust by the 1930s.

• What's so special:  Virgelle has homesteader cabins to rent, a neat historic mercantile antique store/bed and breakfast and a population of maybe two. Nearby Coal Banks Landing has a popular campground. See the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument and ride one of Montana's three ferries over the Missouri River.

⇒ How to find it:  Virgelle is 74 miles northeast of Great Falls. Take US Highway 87 for about 65 miles and turn right onto County Road for 2 miles, then Gardiner Road for 4.5 miles to Virgelle Ferry Road.

More: Ferry tales: Crossing the Missouri River injects adventure

More:   Virgelle antiques draw thousands to Chouteau County

8.  Elkhorn

• The story:  The town peaked in the late 1800s, as a bustling mining town with hotels, bowling lanes, a post office, hundreds of homes, a school, a church, a blacksmith and shops. 

• What's so special:  The Fraternity Hall and Gillian Hall make up Montana's smallest state park. They're excellent buildings. Don't miss the cemetery, which tells moving stories of difficult conditions.

⇒ How to find it:  Elkhorn is 18 miles from Boulder. Follow Montana Highway 69 southeast for 11.6 miles. Turn left onto White Bridge Road, take a slight right onto Lower Valley Road for two miles and then follow Elkhorn Road into the Elkhorn Mountains. The cemetery is uphill from the town.

More:  Elkhorn State Park rich with wildfire, history

More:  Mining camp dangers for children

• The story:  Garnet boomed in 1895 when a mill to process ore was built nearby. The town was originally named Mitchell, after Dr. Armistead Mitchell, who held many of the claims. Eventually, it was renamed Garnet, likely after the mountain range. Miners found a rich vein of ore and poured into the high-mountain community, resulting in a haphazard layout. When the town went bust, miners left so fast the town became a time capsule.

• What's so special:  More than 20 historic buildings still stand in Garnet Ghost Town. In the summer, many are open, and visitors are allowed to wander inside.  

⇒ How to find it:  Approach from Montana Highway 200 or I-90. Coming from the West on Montana 200 at Mile Marker 22 turn south at the Garnet sign and continue 11 miles on a gravel road. From the east, take Exit 154 for Dummond and follow the frontage road from the west end of town for 10 miles to the Bear Gulch Road. Follow the sign to Garnet and continue 11 miles. In the winter you have to either cross-country ski, snowshoe or snowmobile to reach the town.

Related:   Growing up in Garnet ;  Garnet’s transition into ghost town status , Ghost town ad goes viral

The feel of a true ghost town: Garnet turns from summer tourist destination to remote winter solitude

6.  Marysville

• The story: Irishman Thomas Cruse twice struck it rich in Marysville, which he name for the first woman in the town, Mary Ralston. His Drumlummon Mine produced more than $50 million and may yet have riches to discover. Cruse got out of mining, but when his wife died, he founded the Bald Mountain Mine, which also was rich in gold, silver, copper and lead. The town had 4,000 people at its peak.

• What's so special: Several buildings are well preserved. There are lots of ghost stories .   The  Marysville House is known for its T-Bone steaks.

⇒ How to find it:  Marysville is 20 miles from Helena. Take the Lincoln Road exit off Interstate 15 north of Helena. Head west on Lincoln Road to Silver City. Turn left onto Marysville Road. Just up the dirt road is Great Divide Ski Area.

5.  Giltedge 

• The story:  In 1883, W.E. "Limerock" Wilson found gold on the east slopes of the Judith Mountains and 10 years later, the town of Giltedge was born. The first (maybe second) to use cyanide processing, the Giltedge mine started using the chemical in 1892. Mining ended in 1991 after the area produced about three tons of gold.

• What's so special:  Calamity Jane was here, too (she got around). It's easy to reach and scenic. Visitors can see cuts and tailings northwest

⇒ How to find it:  Giltedge is just a couple miles north of U.S. Highway 87, east of Lewistown. Make a loop through the Judith Mountains to Fort Maginnis and Maiden.

More: Come and take a tour of the ghost towns of Fergus County

4.  Kendall

• The story: In the North Moccasin Mountains, Kendall was a mining boomtown in the first decade of the 1900s, peaking at 1,500 people. Hilger came along in 1911 and had the advantage of being on the rail line so people moved. 

• What's so special:  Kendall has great interpretive signs and high-quality ruins.

⇒ How to find it:  North of Lewistown, turn west at the town of Hilger (after checking out the school, once Kendall's) onto North Kendall Road. Go north along Last Chance Creek about 7 miles to the town.

3. Fort Assiniboine

• The story:  Established in 1879, Fort Assinniboine encompassed 704,000 acres and 104 buildings. It was one of the most important forts in the U.S., with 10 companies of infantry and cavalry used the fort as their headquarters, with a bakery, laundry, blacksmith, general store, chapel, post office, hotel, library, hospital and a school at the fort, which predates nearby Havre. Fort Assinniboine closed in 1911.

• What's so special:  Of the 104 buildings that made up the fort, 14 remain — more than at any fort of the Old Forts Trail. 

⇒ How to find it:  Find the fort six miles southwest of Havre off U.S. Highway 87 at the Montana State University's Northern Agricultural Research Station. Tours are available in the summer. 

Related: Saving Fort Assinniboine is Havre man's mission ,  Havre historian leaves unique legacy

More:  Newly unearthed historic papers a window into Montana Territory

2.  Nevada City

• The story:  Charles Bovey started collecting buildings from all over Montana in 1959 and added them to some original Nevada City buildings. It's a good way to learn about the Alder Gulch gold rush, the founding of Virginia City and other stories of the wild early days of the Montana Territory.

• What's so special: Ride the railroad to Virginia City, pan for gold and especially go to a living history event (each weekend in the summer) for reenactors among the buildings of the Nevada City Museum . The museum has 100 buildings from early Montana history and a huge artifacts collection.

⇒ How to find it:  Turn off Interstate 90 at Whitehall and follow Highway 55 south. It becomes Highway 41. At Twin Bridges turn onto Highway 287 and follow it to Nevada City. Virginia City is about a mile beyond it.

More: The discovery at Alder Gulch

1.  Bannack

• The story:  Bannack was founded in 1862 when John White discovered gold on Grasshopper Creek. Two years later, the boomtown became the first capital of the new Montana Territory. This is where the Montana Vigilantes hanged blackhearted Sheriff Henry Plummer. • What's so special: More than 60 structures remain standing in this state park. Bannack Days are July 21-22. Ghost walks are in October.

⇒ How to find it:  Bannack is 25 miles west of Dillon. Take Interstate-15 exit 59 to Montana Highway 278. Turn south at Bannack Bench Road.

More: Bannack State Park won't be taken by another flood anytime soon

More:   History comes alive in Montana's territorial capital

Protect Your Trip »

America's 15 coolest ghost towns to visit.

From Kentucky to California, the U.S. is filled with eerie abandoned cities.

Ghost towns

(Courtesy of Travel South Dakota) |

Take a step back in time while visiting these historic – and slightly spooky – ghost towns.

Ghost towns

(Courtesy of Scott Peterson) |

St. Elmo, Colorado

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(Courtesy of Visit Montana) |

Nevada City, Montana

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Spokane, South Dakota

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Sydney Martinez | Courtesy of Travel Nevada

Goodsprings, Nevada

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(Getty Images) |

Goldfield, Arizona

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Blue Heron, Kentucky

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South Pass City, Wyoming

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Independence, Colorado

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Calico, California

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(Courtesy of Utah Office of Tourism) |

Frisco, Utah

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White Oaks, New Mexico

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(Courtesy of Aspen Historical Society) |

Ashcroft, Colorado

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(Courtesy of The Arizona Office of Tourism) |

Ruby, Arizona

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Bodie, California

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Grafton, Utah

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  • Things To Do
  • Culture & History

Ghost Towns in Utah

Every ghost town has a story to tell. They are often reminders of long forgotten dreams, hopes, struggles and gradual decline. Sometimes left behind are abandoned homes and buildings. Other times, there's just a hole in the ground and a few scattered boards. But every one of these dusty towns pays homage to the memories of those who lived and died there.

Many ghost towns require maneuvering backroads with unreliable cell service and terrain, so be sure to do your research and ask locals before setting out. Remember the lives who once lived here and visit with respect. 

Mormon Heritage National Historic Trails

Southern Utah Ghost Towns

Ghost towns like Old Irontown, Stateline and Sego existed in tough desert conditions. First timers should start with Grafton and Silver Creek.

The ghost town of Grafton , located south of Zion National Park , was originally settled by Mormon pioneers, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who answered the calling of their prophet and church president Brigham Young to establish towns throughout Utah. It’s unique because it was established for less than a decade before settlers were forced out due to tensions with Native Americans. Only the graveyard and a renovated schoolhouse remain.

While you can’t go into the schoolhouse, it’s one of the most pristine abandoned buildings left in all of Utah’s ghost towns and makes for a great photo opportunity. Some say that Grafton is the most photographed ghost town in the West. It was even one of the  filming locations for parts of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," among other Hollywood movies.

Silver Reef

This fading ghost town is located north of  St. George , close to Leeds. A mining town, Silver Reef was the first sandstone location to hold silver and was named for the lode of it that was discovered there. Dhuring the late 1870s and early 1880s, the height of the town’s silver boom, Silver Reef was the most populous place in southern Utah. 

Today, little remains of the once-bustling mining town, but you can spot foundation remnants, the old Wells Fargo building and the graveyard (where many miners lay, purportedly the outcome of settling their disputes the Western way). A nearby building has some replicas and historical information about Silver Reef.

ghost towns along i 15

Grafton ghost town outside of Zion National Park.

Photo: Eric Erlenbusch

ghost towns along i 15

The cemetery at Grafton.

Photo: Rosie Serago

"Every ghost town has a story to tell. They are often reminders of long forgotten dreams, hopes, struggles and gradual decline."

Northern utah ghost towns.

Utah's northern ghost towns dot the upper half of the state, including across the Great Basin Desert west of Salt Lake City and along the Carbon Corridor between Price and Moab. 

Russian Settlement

"Russian Settlement" is a placeholder for a town that didn't actually have a formal name. The village in northwestern Utah near the Park Valley area was an outlier, both in location and for the fact it wasn't a Mormon settlement. The founding residents were Russian Christians lured to the area by the promise of cheap land, which turned out to be uninhabitable. About 125 people called the place home after migrating east from Los Angeles in 1914. 

The ambitious settlers managed to establish a town center, a school and a modest downtown area. Repeated crop failures led to the abandonment of the settlement in 1917 after three miserable years. A few home foundations, gravestones and a distinct white picket fence remain today. 

Terrace's fate was tied to the formation of the Transcontinental Railroad. At its peak, Terrace reached nearly 1,000 residents, many of whom were likely Chinese, excluded from the census. The railroad town and its population attracted a chain store, imported trees, library, opera house, pleasure garden, a couple of hotels, a school, a public bath and even a justice of the peace who, according to the shot-up interpretive signage at the site, also ran the saloon.

Terrace all but vanished after the shorter line was completed across Great Salt Lake. Travel to this area requires remote navigating on the Transcontinental Railroad Backcountry Byway (Read: A View from The Past ).  

Unlike many ghost towns in Utah, Thistle wasn't a mining hub nor was it abandoned due to its veins of ore being tapped out. It was designed as a railroad town in the late 1800s and served as a waypoint between Denver and points west. Thistle survived well into modern times until it was dealt its death blow in 1983 when a landslide triggered a massive flood that effectively washed away the entire town. To be fair, the town's population had peaked at 600 in 1917 and was reduced to less than 50 when the flood wiped out what was left — meaning it was well on its way to ghost town status even without the natural disaster. 

Some structures still stand, imprisoned by silt. This includes water-ravaged homes and railroad archway entrances to buildings long since destroyed. There are even a few rusting cars within the remaining debris. Thistle is unique in that it is a town that fell into ruin in recent memory and was still functional — although barely — into the 80s. 

Continue driving about an hour toward Helper and you can also find Latuda, a ghost town formed after the mine closed in 1967. 

Frisco & Newhouse

About 15 miles west of the small town of Milford, Utah, exists the remnants of a once wild — and wildly profitable — mining town called Frisco , named for the nearby San Francisco Mountains. The site includes stone kilns and a cemetary. 

Also neartby is the ghost town of Newhouse. Although this area was inhabited as early as 1870 the town never amounted to much until 1900 when Samuel Newhouse purchased the Cactus Mine. Newhouse had a dream to establish a model city for his miners and their families.

The small town consisted of stucco homes, a dancehall, restaurant and one bar located one mile out of town. In the center of town was a clubhouse. This clubhouse contained a well-stocked library and pool tables. Samuel Newhouse died before the completion of his dream, but his brother Matt Newhouse continued on and completed the town and keep it up and running until 1910, when the ore in the Cactus Mine ran dry.

Not much remains of the old colony that existed here for nearly 50 years. Mormon missionaries found eager converts in the Hawaiian Islands in the 1850s and 1860s, and church leaders decided to settle a community of about 100 converts in the desolate Skull Valley.  A minor leprosy outbreak in 1896 gave Iosepa the distinction of having one of the few leper colonies on American soil.

You see the site of Iosepa a long time before reaching it, with the last remaining old shade trees clearly visible for several miles. The town site is a private ranch today, but you may still access the old cemetery, where there is an especially fine memorial and historical marker describing the settlement of the area. Drive about half a mile up the dirt road between two farmhouses (keep in mind you are on private property) and head toward the large pavilion visible from the road. Built by the Iosepa Historical Association, it is now the site of commemorative events every Memorial Day.

ghost towns along i 15

Aerial terrain maps of the region show a hand-drawn re-creation of the former Terrace town site.

Photo: Andrew Dash Gillman

ghost towns along i 15

A landslide in 1983 triggered a massive flood that effectively washed away the entire town of Thistle. Some structures still stand, imprisoned by silt.

Photo: Jenny Bauman, Flickr

ghost towns along i 15

A charcoal kiln at Frisco ghost town.

ghost towns along i 15

A momument and memorial at Iosepa Cemetery.

ghost towns along i 15

Frisco, a ghost town about 15 miles west of Milford, had been one of the wildest mining towns in the West. 

Exploring Other Ghost Towns

Utah's extensive ghost towns make for excellent day adventures, especially for history buffs and photographers. The earliest ghosts towns date back to the mid-1800s. When you're ready to delve into the days of yore in the wild west, there is no shortage of ghost towns to explore. As for spotting actual ghosts —  you'll have to see for yourself.

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10 famous Utah ghost towns and where to find them

May 22, 2021, 10:28 AM | Updated: May 28, 2021, 8:33 am

utah ghost towns grafton...

Cactus grows in the red dirt of Grafton, Utah, which features prominently in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." The old schoolhouse appears in the background. Photo: Becky Bruce

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Becky Bruce, KSL NewsRadio

When you think of famous ghost towns, you might think of places in Texas, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona or California – but it turns out Utah has its fair share, too. 

And most are within a short drive of the major metropolitan areas in the state. 

Here are the top 10 most famous Utah ghost towns and how to find them (with a few honorable mentions for good measure). 

1. Grafton, one of the most famous ghost towns in Utah

Located just outside of Zion National Park, you probably know Grafton already, even if you don’t realize it. It tops our list of 10 famous Utah ghost towns because it got some major screen time in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Some claim Grafton is the most photographed ghost town in the West. We can’t prove that, but it appeared in at least one other movie, 1929’s “In Old Arizona,” one of the first “talkies.”

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first settled in the area in 1859, on a mission from Brigham Young to grow cotton in southern Utah. They established a growing community on the banks of the Virgin River known as Wheeler. But flooding washed away most of the town in 1862, so they moved about a mile upriver to a place they named New Grafton. Over time, they dropped the word ‘new’ from the name. 

Flooding continued to plague Grafton’s residents. Rising waters not only threatened its structures but also filled irrigation canals with silt. Residents had to dredge the canals weekly. The outbreak of the Black Hawk War meant the town had to evacuate in 1866, but continued flooding prompted residents to resettle elsewhere. Most historians consider the town’s official demise to have come in 1921, when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pulled out its local presence. But technically, three people still live in Grafton.

Several buildings remain on the site of Grafton, Utah, including homes like this one that still have glass windows. Photo: Becky Bruce

Roots run deep, though, and some of the orchards those early settlers planted still exist today. You can wander through the main street (really just a dirt path) and even into some of the buildings. Pay your respects to early residents at the town cemetery a short distance away. 

Getting there

Take Interstate 15 to exit 27 for Utah S.R. 17, toward Toquerville and Hurricane. Stay on S.R. 17 for about 6 miles until you reach the town of La Verkin. There, turn left on 500 North/S.R. 9 East. Drive 15 miles on S.R. 9 East to the town of Rockville. Turn right on Bridge Road. Drive 0.3 miles, crossing over the Virgin River, then turn right on 250 South/Grafton Road. Continue roughly 3 miles. The road changes from paved to gravel to dirt, then ends at the ghost town. 

2. Silver Reef, former mining boomtown

Like many ghost towns of the Old West, Silver Reef got its start as a mining settlement. A man named John Kemple discovered silver there in 1866. He returned in 1874, hoping to find the source of the vein of silver, staking several more claims, but without locating the source. 

Then, in 1875, word got out about Kemple’s discovery. A pair of Salt Lake bankers known as the Walker brothers hired a prospector to check it out on their behalf. The prospector, William T. Barbee, staked nearly two dozen claims and established a town he called “Bonanza City.” But miners drawn to the area by reports of silver preferred to set up camp outside of town, which they called “Rockpile.” 

That same year, after the mines closed in Pioche, Nev., some of its miners relocated to Rockpile, renaming it “Silver Reef.” At its peak, the town hosted 2,500 residents, nine grocery stores, six saloons and even a newspaper, which made it the largest town in southern Utah at the time. 

But it wouldn’t last. A downturn in the silver market dealt one major blow, and decreasing wages for miners dealt another. While the mines generated millions of dollars of silver ore, the last mine closed up in 1891. 

Today, much of the town has been overtaken by new development, making it therefore off-limits to explorers, but you can still visit the old Wells Fargo Express Office, which was turned into a museum, and the bank, now a gift shop. Feel like stretching your legs? A short trail will take you to one of the kilns once used to process silver. 

Getting there 

From the north, take southbound I-15 to exit 23 for Leeds/Silver Reef. Turn right at the “T” on Silver Reef Road, driving west about 1.5 miles. Turn left at the “Y” in the road, which becomes Silver Reef Drive. The museum is on the right at the corner of Silver Reef Drive and Wells Fargo Drive. 

From the south, drive northbound on I-15 to exit 22 for Leeds/Silver Reef. Turn north on Main Street through Leeds, about 1.3 miles. Next, turn left on Silver Reef Road, passing under the freeway toward the red cliffs, for about 1.5 miles. Turn left at the “Y” in the road, which becomes Silver Reef Drive. The museum is on the right at the corner of Silver Reef Drive and Wells Fargo Drive. 

3. Old Irontown, one of the first Utah ghost towns

Just about 20 miles outside of Cedar City lies Old Irontown, one of the Utah ghost towns with the most structures left behind to explore.

old irontown coke oven

Remains of a coke oven in Irontown. Old Irontown was settled in the 1850s for the purpose of mining iron ore, however, the venture quickly proved unsuccessful and Old Irontown became Utah’s first ghost town. Photo: Deseret News Archives

Founded in 1868, Old Irontown was originally known as Iron City. In a way, it came about because of the establishment of Cedar City, more than a decade before. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled Cedar City in the 1850s, with the express goal of establishing an iron works. The mining operation there eventually failed and closed down, though settlers remained. However, that led to Peter Shirts’ discovery of the Iron City site in 1868, and the subsequent organization of the Union Iron Company by Ebenezer Hanks that same year. 

Iron City grew quickly, filling with 97 residents within two years. The town boasted not just the foundry, furnaces and blacksmith you would expect, but even a schoolhouse. However, by 1876, it was abandoned. A money panic in 1874 proved too difficult to overcome. 

Today, you can still check out ruins of Old Irontown that tell the story of iron mining and processing. The most recognizable structure is an old beehive-shaped charcoal oven, but you can also find the brick chimney that once served as part of the foundry, and an “Arastra,” a type of mill used to grind the iron ore so it could be used to charge the furnace. 

Be polite if you visit — there are nearby residents who call the area home. 

Take I-15 to Cedar City, exiting at Utah State Route 56, also known as 200 North. Head west on UT-56, continuing 19.5 miles, then turn left on Old Iron Town Road, which is gravel. Follow roughly 3 miles to the historic site. 

For extra credit, stop by the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum in Cedar City on your way to see artifacts from the site and learn more about the area’s early settlers. 

4. Welcome to Stateline, born in a Utah gold rush

Someone discovered gold around 1894 in them thar hills — or at least in Stateline Canyon near the Nevada state line in Iron County, Utah. 

The discovery of gold and silver in the area prompted a bit of a rush, followed by the establishment of the Ophir mine in Stateline Canyon in 1896. Two more mines, the Johnny and the Creole, soon followed.

At one point, 300 people called Stateline home. It included everything you would expect of an Old West town: saloons, a couple of general stores, a daily stagecoach to the nearest town with a railroad stop and even its own newspaper. 

But before long, the mines had given up all they could; the town slowly faded away; its last residents gone by the end of 1918. 

Sadly, much of what remained of Stateline burned with widespread wildfires in 2020. However, the cemetery is well-kept and worth paying your respects. 

Need more adventure? Stateline Canyon and the surrounding area feature plenty of trails for ATVs and dirt bikes. You’ll also pass through Modena to get to Stateline — and with its fewer than 20 residents, it practically qualifies as a ghost town, too. 

Take I-15 to Cedar City, exiting at Utah State Route 56, also known as 200 North. Much like the road to Old Irontown, your next move is to head west on UT-56, but this time, you’re going to drive 51.6 miles to the town of Modena. Turn right on Modena Canyon/Hamblin Valley Road. Continue 12.9 miles, then turn left at Hall’s Road. After 1.1 miles, the road curves to the right and becomes 13600 West. Continue another 0.1 miles, then make the first left you can make, followed by the next right. Continue roughly 2 miles – the road ends at the Stateline cemetery. 

5. Sego, Utah – a coal ghost town

If you’re already planning a trip to the red rock country around Moab, Utah, you might as well check out one of the easiest to reach ghost towns on this list: Sego. In fact, if you’ve ever needed to make a pit stop at the Thompson Springs rest area between Moab and the Colorado state line, you were almost within reach of Sego without knowing it. 

Sego got its start as a coal town. Henry Ballard, one of Thompson Springs’ founding fathers, found a seam of coal near Sego in 1908 and established a camp, calling it — what else? Ballard. 

Ballard eventually sold his camp to B. F. Bauer and his American Fuel Company, which resulted in fast expansion, a spur railroad line and the renaming of the town to Neslen, after the mine’s new general manager, Richard Neslen. A company store, a boarding house and a post office soon followed. 

But it’s hard to keep a town functioning and growing without water, and soon after its founding, Neslen’s creeks and springs started to dry up. In perhaps an ironic twist, too much water, in the form of flash floods, proved problematic for the trains — washing out bridges and trestles needed for the railroad spur to reach the coal mine. The coal company struggled to make a profit, miners went on strike when they weren’t paid for months at a time, and the company went through a restructuring in 1916. That move, which also replaced the mine’s general manager, eventually resulted in a name change for the town, in 1918, to Sego, for the Utah state flower, the sego lily.

But the financial struggles didn’t go away with the restructuring. Corporate coal moved out of the area in 1947, and while the remaining miners bought what was left and established a company of their own, it didn’t last. Flash floods wiped out the last vestiges of town life in the 1950s and forced any remaining miners to leave.

Not much remains, because a number of the buildings were moved to Thompson after the town petered out. But you can still see dugouts and foundations of a number of structures, plus the old Sego hotel’s red rock walls still stand. 

Take I-70 to exit 187, toward Thompson Springs. Turn left on UT-94 North, crossing under the interstate and driving 1.4 miles until the road merges with Sego Canyon Road and curves to the right. Drive 3.4 miles on this road, passing through the town, until you see Bureau of Land Management signs for the Sego Canyon Rock Art Interpretive Site. Turn right, then right again to stay with Sego Canyon Road. If you want, park at the BLM site to explore petroglyphs before continuing past to find the ghost town, another 1.7 miles down the road. 

Note: The road turns to gravel in places, and dirt in others, and crosses through a dry wash at several points. Check the forecast before you go and do NOT attempt when meteorologists predict rain, as the road becomes impassible. 

6. Thistle, a rare non-mining example among Utah ghost towns

One of the few Utah ghost towns on the list not to have ties to gold, silver, iron or coal mining, Thistle stands out from the rest. Its origins stem not from early Latter-day Saints settlements but from the arrival of the railroad. 

thistle railroad depot utah ghost towns

The railroad depot at Thistle. Photo: Deseret News Archives/Utah State Historical Society

Designed to accommodate the trains chugging through Spanish Fork Canyon in the late 1800s, Thistle became an important stop between Denver and the Salt Lake Valley. The Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad rebuilt an existing narrow-gauge track there to standard-gauge, then connected it with its line from Denver, providing a connection to Salt Lake City to the north. As a result, the railroad added facilities at Thistle to service trains and prepare them for the grades and curves ahead, for example by adding an extra engine before a steep climb. Before the era of dining cars on trains, Thistle also served as a meal stop. 

Thistle’s decline began long before natural disaster took its toll. When railroads switched from steam to diesel locomotives, the town’s maintenance services became less and less important over time. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, the population shrank. Crews tore down the passenger depot in 1972 and the post office two years later. 

Heavier than normal rain and snow in the autumn and winter of 1982, followed by more moisture and a faster than expected snowmelt in spring 1983, created a perfect storm for Thistle. 

On April 13, 1983, railroad maintenance crews started to notice the track had shifted. A highway patrol trooper hit a buckle on US 6, the road through the canyon, that pitched him up against his car’s roof. Crews immediately went to work to try to keep the highway and the rail line open, but to no avail. On April 14, they closed the road and the tracks to all traffic. Another two days later, the landslide had completely buried the tracks. Another day after that, the evacuation order became mandatory, as the landslide’s impact damming the nearby river would undoubtedly flood the town. 

Residents evacuated to the town of Birdseye, 5 miles away, with whatever they could grab on short notice. By the next day, the water reached the rooftops of their former homes. The day after that, 50 feet of soil covered the former route of US-6. By the time it was done, the landslide created a lake held in by an earthen dam. 

You can still see partially flooded homes and other structures left behind by the Thistle landslide and flood . 

From I-15, drive east on US 6 from Spanish Fork. Drive roughly 11 miles away from I-15, then turn right on Spanish Fork River Park Road to view the landslide from the “downstream” side. If you prefer, get back on US 6 and continue another 1.7 miles. Turn right into the large pullout just before the massive double road cut. You’ll find a sign with an overview of the disaster and a viewpoint. Travel another 1.5 miles past the pullout and turn right on US 89, then follow another 1.5 miles to find the remains of Thistle. 

7. Castle Gate, site of a coal mining disaster 

Once a thriving mining town, and like Thistle, an important stop on the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad’s line from Denver to Salt Lake City, not much remains of Castle Gate. But we included it on our list of ghost towns because if you drive US 6 from Spanish Fork toward Price (or vice versa), you can’t miss it. And it’s the site of two major historical events in Utah.

Castle Gate gained a measure of notoriety during its heyday, as the site of one of Butch Cassidy’s most daring heists. 

The town wouldn’t get its name for a number of years, but activity in the area started to ramp up in 1886, as the Pleasant Valley Coal Company set up shop and began mining. PVCC set up a company town, naming it after the unique rock formations near the mine. 

On April 21, 1897, a train from Salt Lake City rolled into Castle Gate with PVCC’s payroll — around $8,800 in three bags. Two cowboys approached the company paymaster and the two guards with him, intercepting their plan to carry the money the 75 or so yards from the train to the PVCC office. Later identified as Butch Cassidy and Elza Lay, the two cowboys made off with around $7,000 of the cash. No one ever recovered the money. 

March 8, 1924 goes down in infamy in Castle Gate history. On that date, a series of explosions destroyed the Utah Fuel Company’s Castle Gate Mine #2. And 172 miners perished, many of them immigrants. To this day, it remains the tenth deadliest mine disaster in United States history . One of the three explosions resulted in the mine’s collapse. But historians believe lighting a gas lamp near improperly dampened coal dust caused the first blast. 

The only visible remains of Castle Gate itself are the rock formations that gave it its name, and a power plant, no longer in operation, that sits at the base of the canyon. However, travelers can learn more about the mine disaster through interpretive signs at a pullout near the rock formations. The town cemetery is well-preserved and easily accessed. 

From Spanish Fork, take US 6 east through Spanish Fork Canyon. The pull-off to view the Castle Gate rock formation and learn more about the mine disaster will be on your left after about 55 miles. To reach the cemetery,  proceed south past the pull-out and make the next possible left turn, on US 191. The cemetery sits just a short distance to the east, on your left. 

8. Frisco, one of the more notorious ghost towns in Utah

The town of Frisco got its start as a post office for the San Francisco Mining Company after the discovery of silver in the area in 1875. Miners established the post office just two years later, and within two years, the site boasted two smelters. In 1880, the completion of a rail spur to Milford, 15 miles away, fueled Frisco’s population boom to more than 6,000 residents.

beehive kiln in frisco, utah

These iconic beehive kilns are in the ghost town of Frisco. Photo: Deseret News Archives

The population boom and the attraction of precious metals also brought some less than savory elements. Frisco earned a reputation as a wild, rough and violent town. Several accounts tell of the town’s 23 saloons and, at one point, an average of one murder per day. 

Frisco became more respectable with the arrival of a sheriff. He made quick work of putting a stop to the lawlessness. But its demise came from the collapse of the silver mine in 1885. The collapse forced the mine to close for a year, and when it reopened, it produced ore much more slowly than before. Residents slowly drifted away; by the 1920s, most had departed.

The most recognizable remnants of Frisco include charcoal kilns, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But visitors will also enjoy exploring the town cemetery and remaining abandoned structures and equipment. 

Follow I-15 to exit 228 in Nephi, toward I-15 Business/North Main Street. Turn right onto Utah State Route 41/UT-28 South. Drive 2.7 miles, then turn right onto UT-132 West/West 100 North. Continue 33 miles, then turn left on US 6 West. Travel 15.9 miles. Turn right on East Main Street in Delta, which is also US 50 West and US 6 West. Continue 5.5 miles, then turn left on UT-257 South. Drive 69.5 miles. Turn right on West Center Street in Milford, which is also UT-21 West. Drive 14.7 miles to the town of Frisco. 

9. Welcome to Promontory, home of the Golden Spike

golden spike ceremony transcontinental railroad

A scene at the Golden Spike ceremony photographed May 10, 1869 at Promontory Summit in Box Elder County. Southern Pacific photo X1071 from an original photograph owned by the Iowa Historical and Art Department. Photo: Deseret News Archives

Not much remains of Promontory, the town that sprang up practically overnight as crews raced to connect the railroad from East to West on the north end of the Great Salt Lake. 

Sometimes confused with Promontory Point, the name of a “cape” of land that juts into the Great Salt Lake, the city of Promontory grew quickly before the railroad arrived there, as the agreed-upon location for the railroads to join. Meetings in Washington, D.C., in April 1869 resulted in the choosing of Promontory Summit as that site. Originally, the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads planned to lay the final tracks at that location on May 8. But bad weather and a labor dispute resulted in a two-day delay; instead, we mark the anniversary of the completion of the intercontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. 

promontory summit celebration utah 1869

FILE – In this May 10, 1869, file photo, provided by the Union Pacific, railroad officials and employees celebrate the completion of the first railroad transcontinental link in Promontory, Utah. The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad was a pivotal moment in the United States, ushering in a period of progress and expansion nationwide. The Union Pacific’s Locomotive No. 119, right, and Central Pacific’s Jupiter edged forward over the golden spike that marked the joining of the nation by rail. (Andrew Russell/Union Pacific via AP, File)

A crew of Chinese and Irish immigrants laid the final 10 miles of track in just 12 hours. 

The tent city that sprang up around the event thrived, with some “tents” sporting wooden facades. But it soon earned a reputation as a rough and tumble place. Saloons and card rooms in particular attracted unsavory elements. After con artists took everything from a family of German immigrants, Promontory’s workers put up notices warning those who would do harm to others to leave town or face hanging. They did so, without further violence, by sunset on Sunday, Nov. 21, 1869. 

Promontory City lived just a short time later. By December of 1869, most of the traders and merchants who set up shop had moved on, as the railroads changed the transfer point for trains from Promontory to nearby Ogden. A hotel and restaurant remained a little longer, but by the next summer, just 120 people, mostly railroad employees, remained at Promontory. 

Eventually, a more direct route across the Great Salt Lake finished off what remained of Promontory City. Southern Pacific built a wooden trestle that crossed the salty lake, bypassing Promontory altogether. During World War II, the area marked the “unspiking” of the historic site, removing the last rail from Promontory Summit to repurpose the old steel for the war. 

You can’t really visit structures leftover from the Promontory City days of Promontory Summit. But the location itself still offers a lot to visitors. Now set aside as Golden Spike National Historic Park , a museum on the site offers photos of what the town once looked like, plus two replica locomotives that regularly re-enact the events of May 10, 1869. If you want to stretch your legs, walking trails offer a close look at some of the railway cuts and grades. 

From Salt Lake City or Ogden, head north on I-15 and take exit 365 toward UT-13/Promontory Road. Merge onto UT-13 to head west. Continue 2.7 miles as UT-13 becomes UT-83. Drive 17.4 miles, then turn left on 7200 North. Continue another 2 miles, then make a slight right on 18400 West. After another 4.6 miles, turn left on 22000 West/Golden Spike Road. You will see the historic park on your right after about a mile. 

10. Russian Settlement, one of the Utah ghost towns with no real name 

Last but not least on our list of Utah ghost towns is Russian Settlement, which lasted just three years in Box Elder County, northwest of the Great Salt Lake. 

We don’t know what its residents called Russian Settlement. What we do know is that it was founded, much like the state of Utah itself, on faith. 

The Russian people, Spiritual Christians , who purchased 4 square miles of Park Valley land in Box Elder County in March 1914, hoped to shield their children from worldly influences and to raise them in their own traditions and culture . In Los Angeles, where they had lived for roughly 10 years before that, they worried about urban influences on some of their practices, such as arranged marriages. Advertisements from Pacific Land and Water promised rich farming land, some of the best in Utah. 

Arriving in April 1914 at their new town site, they put in the work to build a village. Town founders laid out an east-to-west main street with 200 feet of frontage for each lot. They bought farm animals from nearby ranchers, planted crops in the dusty soil and built houses, barns and wells to support their new life. Promised irrigation wells and pumps from Pacific Land and Water never materialized. So instead, most families used their smaller wells to water what they could. 

The failure of the land to support crops eventually led residents to abandon Russian Settlement, starting just a year after they arrived. In fact, the decline was so swift, Box Elder County decided school-age children should attend class in Rosette just a year after first establishing a one-room schoolhouse at Russian Settlement. 

By 1917, everyone was gone, and while Box Elder County residents removed buildings and materials from the site, no one ever tried to make the area a home again. Today, all that remains is a tiny cemetery with two graves, surrounded by a picket fence.  

Take I-15 toward Idaho, splitting with I-84 and heading west toward Boise. From I-84, take exit 5 toward Park Valley/Elko. Head west on UT-30. Travel 15.8 miles on UT-30, then turn left to stay with UT-30. Drive another 19.8 miles. Turn left on 54000 West. After 1 mile, turn right on 16800 North. After about a tenth of a mile, the road curves and becomes Board Ranch Road. Keep driving 6 miles. At the next available right, turn right, then continue 2.6 miles. 

Honorable mentions for Utah ghost towns and beyond

Picking just 10 Utah ghost towns to highlight meant leaving out so many others. Some estimates suggest Utah includes over 100 ghost towns . Here, we list just a few others that you may want to check out. 

No longer exactly a ghost town, a woman named Eileen Muza purchased Cisco in 2015, making improvements and leaving her mark on the landscape ever since. But prior to that, the town was featured as the location of Thelma and Louise’s famed police chase  and also gave a Johnny Cash song its name. 

Spring Canyon/Storrs 

Jesse Knight purchased the land to develop a coal mine and company town he named Storrs, after the mine superintendent, in 1912. The name changed to Spring Canyon in 1924. It slowly declined as demand for coal decreased after World War II; by the late sixties, no one called it home anymore. 


Not exactly a true ghost town, Topaz deserves a place on the list because it once housed a number of people who do not live there today. Topaz was the site of a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Today, a museum educates visitors about what happened there. Visitors can also tour the nearby camp site. 


Notom, just outside of Capitol Reef National Park , doesn’t include buildings or even foundations to explore (that we know of!). But it made our list because of the accessibility to fun trails and outdoor activities. If you find yourself at the national park already, you probably also spotted the remains of Fruita, an early settlement. Notom just gives you more to explore, either by vehicle or on foot. 

Bannack, Montana 

This honorable mention isn’t in Utah, but Bannack State Park is worth a trip if you find yourself in Montana. One of the state’s original territorial capitals is restored with buildings you can explore, plus a museum and gift shop. Unlike most ghost towns, it includes dozens of structures. It’s one of the more “complete” ghost towns available to tour. 

Silt, Colorado 

Not only is Silt not in Utah, it’s also not technically a ghost town. But if you drive I-70 between Moab and Denver, you might as well stop at Silt. The town restored a number of historic buildings that visitors can explore, right in the heart of Silt, at Silt Historical Park . 

Which Utah ghost towns did we miss? Send us an email at [email protected] , and we’ll add it.

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ghost towns along i 15

California's Epic 395: Hidden Gems Along the Way

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Created by Knansea - July 10th 2016

Our family has traveled on I395 for over 50 years and we are off again to revisit favorites and discover new treasures. Highway 395 is most often used to travel from Los Angeles to Mammoth or on the way to Reno in a day. However the entire route is filled with enough natural and human history to warrant a multi-day trip. You pass through desert, by lakes, below soaring peaks, and past ancient volcanoes. Whether traveling 395 on the way to ski in the winter, hike in the spring or summer, or to watch the leaves turn in the fall, we always something new to explore along the way. We've been known to head up and back on the 395 a few times a year!

Most people start this route heading north on the I15 that is accessed by many roads in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties. Anyone from out of the area can even fly into Ontario International Airport (instead of LAX) and rent a car. There are actually 2 Holiday Inns next to the airport and another nearby at Ontario Mills Shopping Center! Even locals may want to stay here to get an early start and miss the LA traffic!

From here, follow the I15 north to Victorville, CA and the start of your journey after you go through the Cajon Pass.

There are obviously many good camping options along the way, but there are more civilized choices like the Holiday Inns in Bishop, Carson City, and Reno! We have learned to make reservations ahead of time on weekends. Lots of ideas on Roadtrippers. You can make this trip last as long as you want to with so much to do!

Victorville, California, United States

Photo of Victorville Fire Department Museum

15620 8th St, Victorville, CA, US

Victorville Fire Department Museum

A quick stop for little kids and those who love shiny red fire engines!

Photo of California Route 66 Museum

16825 D St, Victorville, CA, US

California Route 66 Museum

Victorville is not only the beginning of I395, it's also part of Route 66! The CA Route 66 Museum is a good place to inspire a future trip. It's full of vehicles and signs and maps and photos.

Photo of Buddhist Meditation Center

20635 Hwy 395, Adelanto, CA, US

Buddhist Meditation Center

As you drive through the high desert, you'll suddenly see an interesting assortment of statues and buildings. One is a 60 ton marble statue of this center's patron saint Quan Yin. This is a Buddhist Meditation Center that has classes on meditation and the fundamentals of Buddhism. Not exactly what you expect to find in Adelanto but at least good for a drive-by photo!

Kramer Junction, California, United States

Kramer Junction is the big crossroads of this area. It's got gas stations, a couple restaurants, and some great funky shops. You'll pass fields of solar panels outside of town.

Photo of Borax Visitor Center

14486 Borax Rd, Boron, CA, US

Borax Visitor Center

Take a quick detour for a fascinating look into the history of the area. Borax has been mined in this desert for over a century and is still a thriving operation. This free Visitor Center museum has exhibits on the history, uses, and current extraction of boron. Kids and adults both enjoy it. It's impressive when to see the mining operation from the air conditioned comfort of the museum.

Randsburg, California, United States

There's a certain kind of mystery to the "living" ghost towns of Red Mountain, Johannesburg, and Randsburg. You see mine trailings on the hills and abandoned ghost town buildings, but it's obvious that people still live and even mine here. Just off 395 is the tiny town of Randsburg and it's worth a stop.

Photo of Randsburg General Store

142 Butte Ave, Randsburg, CA, US

Randsburg General Store

Randsburg has a historic General Store with an old fashioned soda parlor that makes a great pit stop in the desert. There are also artists who call this little town home. It's a unique little community.

Photo of Randsburg Desert Museum

161 Butte Ave, Randsburg, CA, US

Randsburg Desert Museum

Only open on weekends, this small museum is a great resource in the history of the local Rand District mining areas, including Johannesburg, Red Mountain, and Garlock. You can also visit the cemetery in nearby Johannesburg.

"BLM Wild Horses and Burros" — Photo Credit: Animals' Angels

Ridgecrest, California, United States

Ridgecrest is just off the I395 and has many services. It's easy to zip past, but then you'd miss some interesting museums. There are also gas stations and grocery stores here.

Photo of Maturango Museum

100 E Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest, CA, US

Maturango Museum

The Maturango Museum has displays on the natural and cultural history of the Upper Mojave Desert. This area is rich in human history and here are excellent exhibits on the Coso Petroglyphs and the people who made them. In the Spring and Fall the museum leads tours to the otherwise inaccessible rock art.

Photo of U.S. Naval Museum of Armament & Technology

130 East Las Flores, Ridgecrest, CA, US

U.S. Naval Museum of Armament & Technology

Ridgecrest is next to China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station. To visit the museum you need to be cleared by security, which can be done at the Visitor's Center at the entrance to the base.

Photo of Indian Wells Brewing Co.

2565 California 14, Inyokern, CA, US

Indian Wells Brewing Co.

Another short detour takes you to a historic spot where the 20 mule teams from Death Valley would stop to water their horses at an artisanal spring on the way to deliver Boron. Now, there's an acclaimed tasting room for the Indian Wells Brewing Co. and the adjoining restaurant.

Photo of Fossil Falls Scenic Area

Cinder Rd, Inyokern, CA, US

Fossil Falls Scenic Area

Time to stretch your legs and find out more about the changing desert landscape outside. Fossil Falls isn't a fossilized waterfall, and there aren't any fossils, but it is the remains of an enormous basalt lava flow that was carved and shaped by later river flow. Stop here and then start paying attention to the cinder cone hills you'll see along the way later.

Photo of Ranch House Cafe

US 395, Olancha, CA, US

Ranch House Cafe

This is one of the few places to eat in this area if you don't want to wait until Lone Pine.

Olancha, California, United States

Olancha and Cartago were important places during the Coso mining days of the late 1800's. The Coso mines were across Owens Lake to the east. Now it's just a dry saline flat. There are still remnants of stamp mills and charcoal kilns. Look for historical markers. Look for metal sculptures and a giant lemon house! Also, you'll pass the factory that bottles the Crystal Geyser water from local springs.

Photo of Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center

US 395 & SR136, Lone Pine, CA, US

Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center

The Eastern Sierra Interagency Center is an essential stop for anyone visiting the area. There are displays, free guides, and a book store with all of the local information you need. The rangers are on hand to answer questions about the local area, Mount Whitney, Death Valley, and the Bristlecone Pines (the highest and the lowest and the oldest!). The weather and current conditions of roads and trails is available. They also have nice rest rooms and you get your first full view of Mount Whitney here.

Photo of Lone Pine Film Museum

701 S Main St, Lone Pine, CA, US

Lone Pine Film Museum

Welcome to Lone Pine! The movie capitol of the Eastern Sierras. You're not as far from Hollywood here as you may think! Here, under the shadow of Mount Whitney, countless films have been made in the area. The Alabama Hills were the setting from such classics as Gunga Din, Hopalong Cassidy, John Wayne Westerns, and even Iron Man. The Lone Pine Film Museum many displays and a self guided driving tour to help you visit the sites of your favorite scenes!

You can continue on to the Holiday Inn in Carson City or the one in Reno! The I395 goes back into California much farther to the North. But that's another epic trip! You'll find plenty to keep you busy. We already have plans for new adventures on this route!

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The Atlas Heart


17 Best Ghost Towns in California, from Spooky Old Gold Rush Towns to Abandoned Cities

ghost towns in california

We’ve compiled the best ghost towns in California for those who love eerie old gold rush history.

If you love ghost towns, you’ll love exploring California . The region’s gold rush history gives the Golden State a uniquely high number of ghost towns. 

These towns sprung up quickly to support the mining industry but promptly fell to ruins as soon as the mines dried up.

Getting to these ghost towns isn’t as hard as you might think. Many of them are just off the highway, and four of them exist today as state parks. 

I love ghost towns because I enjoy digging into California history (pardon the pun), and there are actually a bunch of California ghost towns within driving distance of where I live. 

In this article, I’ve brought you the best ghost towns in California. Plus, how to get to each one and where to stay nearby.

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

California ghost towns

Table of Contents

Map of Ghost Towns in California

#1 Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s one of California’s most famous ghost towns. Address : Highway 270, Bridgeport, CA 93517 How to get there: Turn east onto Bodie Road off Highway 395, seven miles south of Bridgeport, CA. Bodie State Historic Park is 13 miles down the road.  Nearby accommodation: Lundy Canyon Campground (28 mi), Lake View Lodge (32 mi)

Bodie State Historic Park may be one of California’s most famous mining towns. Bodie ghost town is situated south of Bridgeport, CA and north of Lee Vining, CA. 

William (Waterman) S. Bodey founded Bodie in 1859 after discovering a modest amount of gold in the hills around the town. By 1880, the city had grown to almost 10,000 and was famously lawless.

During the town’s heyday, there were a reported 65 saloons, not to mention several brothels and gambling halls. 

Today the Wild West town is preserved in a state of “arrested decay” as a state park. 

You can take a guided tour of Bodie Ghost Town or meander on your own with a self-guided walking tour among the 200 remaining buildings. 

One of the neat things about Bodie Ghost Town is that some old buildings still have furniture and supplies. 

For instance, the general store remains stocked the way it was in 1964 when Bodie became a state historical landmark.

Looking to visit more state parks? Reference our complete list of California state parks .

#2 Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site

Why it’s worth visiting : Learn the US’s history of Japanese internment camps. Address : Manzanar National Historic Site, 5001 Highway 395, Independence, CA 93526 How to get there : Go nine miles north of Lone Pine, CA or six miles south of Independence, CA. The historic site is on the west side of Highway 395. Nearby accommodation : Independence Creek Campground (6.7 mi), Mt. Williamson Motel and Basecamp (5.8 mi)

Manzanar National Historic Site isn’t your typical California ghost town because it isn’t related to the gold rush. 

During World War II, the United States Government interned over 100,000 Japanese immigrants and American citizens of Japanese descent at war relocation centers around the country. Manzanar National Historic Site was one of 10 camps. 

Up to 10,000 people lived in internment at Manzanar during the war in long barracks with a mess hall and a community building. 

While the residents were more or less free to walk around the compound, armed guards patrolled the entire exterior. 

I’ve visited Manzanar National Historic Site, which is well worth the stop. The park rangers have converted the old community hall into a visitor center. 

The interpretive panels do a fantastic job of paying homage to this horrible chapter in American history. 

You can also walk inside some of the original living quarters, check out the cemetery, or make the self-guided driving loop.

#3 Empire Mine State Historic Park

Empire Mine State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s one of the “oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in California.” Address : 10791 East Empire Street, Grass Valley, CA 95945 How to get there : Take Highway 49 24 miles north of Auburn, CA.  Nearby accommodation :  Inn Town Campground (4.1 mi), Flume’s End (4.6 mi)

Empire Mine State Historic Park might be my favorite of the ghost towns in Northern California. 

Empire Mine State Park is one of California’s most famous ghost towns because it preserves an enormous old mining operation: the Empire Mine. 

This old mine was operational from 1850-1956 and extracted 5.8 million ounces of gold.

The most mind-blowing fact about the Empire Mine was that it had 367 miles of tunnels in its heyday. That’s about the same driving distance between San Francisco and Los Angeles!

Today, the mines are closed and flooded, but you can still peer down the old mine shaft to the high water mark. 

The mine’s original owner, William Bourne Jr., was one of the wealthiest men in the United States at the time, and his lavish estate remains immaculately preserved.

If you visit, take a guided tour of the estate, the gardens, and the mineyard. 

The blacksmith shop is still on display and features six modern blacksmiths demonstrating early 1900s metalworking techniques.

Fun fact : Empire Mine had a “Secret Room” underground where the foremen kept a working model of the mine to help them manage the digging. Today you can see the model in the visitor center.

#4 Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : Witness the legacy of hydraulic mining and learn about the first environmental lawsuit in the US. Address : 23579 North Bloomfield Rd, Nevada City, CA 95959  How to get there : Take Highway 40 for 11 miles toward Downieville. Turn right onto Tyler Foote Road and follow the signs for the park. Nearby accommodation : Chute Hill Campground (in the park), North Bloomfield Cabins (in the park)

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park preserves a unique moment in environmental history in the United States. 

The Diggins site employed hydraulic mining, which uses blasts of water to wash away an entire mountain. 

The resulting hillside looks slightly like the sandstone hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park (albeit smaller). 

The disastrous environmental consequences of hydraulic mining eventually led to the first environmental lawsuit in the United States. 

Today, you can explore 20 miles of trails around Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park or stop in at the visitor center or the museum, both of which are open seven days a week. 

Malakoff Diggins State Park is northwest of Lake Tahoe and northeast of Nevada City, CA. It’s also very close to Empire Mine State Historic Park in Grass Valley. 

While Malakoff Diggins preserves the remains of the mining site, the ghost town where those miners lived was North Bloomfield. 

Founded in 1851, North Bloomfield was previously called Humbug, a slang term for a place where miners had struck out. 

You can walk around the remaining buildings of North Bloomfield and also spend the night in a few of the cabins.

Note : Don’t follow your GPS to get here if you want to stay on a paved road. See the park website or follow my instructions above.

#5 Shasta State Historic Park

Shasta State Historic Park

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s an easy stop off the highway! Address : 15312 Highway 299 West, Shasta, CA 96087 How to get there : Take Highway 299, six miles west of Redding, CA. Nearby accommodation : Sheep Camp Primitive Campground (2.5 mi), Americana Modern Hotel (10.4 mi)

If you’re visiting Redding, CA, you should stop at Shasta State Historic Park . 

Just six miles from nearby Redding, Shasta State Historic Park preserves the former “Queen City” of northern mining towns. 

Shasta, or “Old Shasta,” hit its boom shortly aft 1848, when pioneers discovered gold. 

The gold mining town was an important transportation hub for coach and train travel until 1873 when the new Central Pacific Railroad bypassed the town.  

Shasta State Park is one of the most accessible California ghost towns because it’s so close to a major city (Redding) and right off the highway.

In addition to the state park, take time to explore the restored Courthouse Museum (open Thurs-Sun), have a picnic next to the Pioneer Barn , or visit the Blumb Bakery for 1870’s style baking demonstrations.

#6 Cerro Gordo, CA

Cerro Gordo, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s the silver mine that built Los Angeles Address : Cerro Gordo Rd, Keeler, CA 93530 How to get there : From CA State Rt 136, turn east onto Cerro Gordo Rd. Nearby accommodation :  Diaz Lake Campground (22.6 mi), Dow Villa Motel (22.4 mi)

The Cerro Gordo silver mining town is north of Death Valley National Park and southeast of Lone Pine, CA. 

“Cerro Gordo” means “fat hill” in Spanish, and that’s precisely what it was in its heyday. In fact, this authentic silver mine helped create Los Angeles. 

An 1872 edition of the Los Angeles News reported, “… Cerro Gordo trade is invaluable. What Los Angeles is now is mainly due to it. It is the silver cord that binds our present existence. ”

However, like all mining operations, the Cerro Gordo mines eventually dried up. 

Today Cerro Gordo is privately owned, with a dozen buildings and scattered mining equipment. You can visit this abandoned town in California by booking a tour on their website.

#7 Keeler, CA

Keeler, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : See the remains of the Cerro Gordo tramway GPS coordinates : 36.488986657100895, -117.87394902392703 How to get there : Go 15 miles south of Lone Pine, CA, on Ste Rte 136 Nearby accommodation : Dow Villa Motel (14.6 mi), Panamint Springs Resort (35.8 mi)

Keeler ghost town, formerly known as Hawley, is another quasi-ghost town in California with around 60 remaining residents. 

Keeler’s development was due to the nearby Cerro Gordo mine, and its success tracked with the mine and Owens Lake. Sadly, both the mine and the lake have seen better times. 

Owens Lake once covered 100 square miles but diminished significantly after they diverted its main feeder river to provide water for Los Angeles. 

At its peak, Keeler had a population of about 2,500. It was the southern terminus for the Carson and Colorado Railroad service, and the abandoned train depot is a popular fixture. 

Keeler also had a bustling public pool, which is drained and abandoned today.

One of Keeler’s most unique ghost town features is the Cerro Gordo tramway, built to move ore from the Cerro Gordo mines. The tramway is broken off mid-air in an almost theatrical way.

#8 Ballarat, CA

Ballarat, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : See the gravesite of famous prospectors “Shorty” Harris and “Seldom Seen Slim.” GPS coordinates : Ballarat Rd, Trona, CA 93592 How to get there : Turn east on Trona-Wildrose Rd (CA-178). Ballarat is 3.6 miles from the turnoff. Nearby accommodation : Panamint Springs Resort (29.5 mi, has tent camping and hotel accommodations)

If you’re looking for a lonely, dusty California ghost town with a spooky feeling, check out Ballarat. 

Located south of the Panamint Springs Entrance to Death Valley National Park, Ballarat sprang up in 1896. But by 1917, it had fallen into disrepair. 

The town’s most famous residents were Shorty Harris and Seldom Seen Slim. These men were the last of the Rainbow Seekers, prospectors from the Mojave. 

When Seldom Seen Slim died in 1968, they broadcasted his eulogy nationwide. The epitaph on his gravestone reads, “Me lonely? Hell no! I’m half coyote and half wild burro.”

More infamous short-time residents of Ballarat were Charles Manson and his family. Today you can see an abandoned truck that belonged to Manson. 

Ballarat isn’t entirely abandoned today–there’s one resident and his dog who run a small general store.

Fun fact : An Australian immigrant gave Ballarat its name after a town of the same name in Australia’s gold mining country.

#9 Darwin, CA

Darwin, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : Hit up Ballarat, Darwin, and Keeler on the same road trip! GPS coordinates : 36.267976126691615, -117.59186346193034 How to get there : From Hwy 190 into Death Valley National Park, turn right onto Darwin Rd. The town is just a few miles down the road.  Nearby accommodation : Dow Villa Motel (37.8 mi), Panamint Springs Resort (23.6 mi)

Named after Darwin French, the ghost town of Darwin was an early miner/pioneer who discovered lead and silver deposits in the area in 1874. 

As the story goes, French was part of an expedition from the east. By the time his party reached eastern California, they were desperately hungry and without a working gun. A Native American man saved them when he fixed it with a silver gunsight. 

French returned to the area years later in search of the “Gunsight Mine.” While he never found the exact mine he was looking for, he still discovered enough to make the settlement prosper. 

Darwin had two ore smelters within just a few years, 20 mining operations, a post office, a drug store, and 200 houses.

Darwin had around 3,500 residents at its peak, making it the largest town in Inyo County until 1878 when smallpox decimated the community. 

Today, there are still around 35 residents of Darwin, making it more of a quasi-ghost town. If you visit Darwin, please be respectful of any private property or keep out signs.

#10 Panamint City, CA

Panamint City, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s a well-preserved ghost town if you can reach it. GPS coordinates : 36.11755413766455, -117.09524686931712 How to get there : Strenuous (15 miles, 3,600 ft elevation gain) hike up Surprise Canyon in Death Valley National Park. Start the hike at Chris Wicht’s Camp, six miles north of Ballarat. Nearby accommodation : ( Panamint Springs Resort (30.5 mi from Chris Wicht Camp Parking)

Panamint City is one of the California ghost towns inside Death Valley National Park . As the story goes, outlaws discovered silver there while using Surprise Canyon as a hiding place. 

Regardless of who found the silver, then-senator William Steward invested in the project, and the town was born in 1873. 

The silver mines in Panamint City once employed 2,000 people for the short boom period of 1873-1875. 

Like many ghost towns from the California gold rush , the city was exceptionally lawless. The Death Valley website calls it “the toughest, rawest, most hard-boiled little hellhole that ever passed for a civilized town.” 

In 1876, a flash flood destroyed much of the town and residents moved away.

Today Panamint City is accessible via a hot and strenuous hike (See OutdoorProject’s hiking description ). Once there, you’ll see the remains of the mile-long Main Street, which included saloons and a red-light district. 

Due to the remoteness of the hike, the historic buildings and mining equipment are well-preserved.

#11 Rhyolite, NV

Rhyolite, NV

Why it’s worth visiting : It was the biggest mining town in the Death Valley area. GPS coordinates : 36.90183679549815, -116.82811700014577 How to get there : Go four miles west of Beatty, NV Nearby accommodation : Spicer Ranch (informal camping, 13.2 mi), Death Valley Inn and RV Park (6 mi)

Ok, I know this article is supposed to be the best ghost towns in *California*, but I had to include Rhyolite. It was one of the most significant mining settlements of its day and it’s a stone’s throw from the California border. 

Plus, it’s a neat stop if you’re making a road trip from Las Vegas. I just drove through Beatty, NV, and I wish I’d known to stop in Rhyolite! It’s a lovely yet stark area. 

Rhyolite’s heyday was 1905-1911. It had fifty saloons, nineteen hotels, two churches, a stock exchange, and even an opera house. 

Today, one of the most popular original buildings is the Bottle House, made of beer bottles (donated from the 50 saloons in town). 

Another popular excursion near this ghost town is the Goldwell Museum , which features outdoor modern art installations.

#12 Calico Ghost Town Regional Park

Calico ghost town regional park

Why it’s worth visiting : See one of the biggest silver strikes in California and enjoy the developed amenities. Address : 36600 Ghost Town Road, Yermo, CA 92398 How to get there : Look for the signs just off I-15 in Yermo, CA Nearby accommodation : Calico Ghost Town Campground (on site), Travelodge by Wyndham Yermo (4.1 mi)

San Bernardino County runs Calico Ghost Town Regional Park , which is all that remains of this old west mining town. 

Originally named “Calico” for the multi-colored hills that resemble calico fabric, this site was established for silver ore but abandoned in the 1890s after the price of silver crashed. 

In the 1950s, Walter Knott purchased Calico Ghost Town and moved many of the buildings to his private attraction back east, Knott’s Berry Farm. The remaining buildings in Calico were restored to their original 1881 appearance. 

Perhaps because of Walter Knott, Calico has a touristy feel and many more amenities than most ghost towns in California. 

In Calico, you can tour the ghost town , eat at the restaurant, explore the Mystery Shack and the Lucy Lane Museum, and camp on site. 

The Calico Odessa Railroad also still runs through the town. You can even explore the Maggie Mine, one of the few old mines safe for visitors.

This ghost town in the Mojave Desert is right off I-15 and is the perfect place to stretch your legs on a road trip between Las Vegas and Los Angeles .

#13 Bombay Beach, CA

Bombay Beach, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : You can check out the edgy emerging art scene. GPS coordinates : 33.35090548856989, -115.72929835827749 How to get there : From Palm Springs , take Highway 111 South. Bombay Beach is off the highway east of the Salton Sea. Nearby accommodation : Mojo’s Slab Camp (22.2 mi), Glamis North Hot Springs Resort (7.2 mi)

Bombay Beach was a thriving resort town on the shores of the Salton Sea in the 50s and 60s but morphed into a ghost town in the 80s after the Salton Sea became toxic. 

Well, pseudo-ghost town, I should say. 

There are still around 200 residents of the dried-up little town, most of whom live in the area farthest from the water.

Unlike other ghost towns in Southern California, which are mainly mining communities, Bombay Beach is mostly old trailers and relatively modern homes. 

The vibe around Bombay Beach is very “Mad Max,” and one of the biggest attractions in the area is the budding art scene, which utilizes the stark landscape and old junk as a canvas.

The Bombay Beach Biennale is a three-month season from January to March that celebrates art and community in Bombay Beach.

#14 Silver City, CA

Silver City, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s one of the most haunted ghost towns in California. Address : 3829 Lake Isabella Boulevard, Bodfish, CA 93205 How to get there : Go 41 miles east on Highway 178 from Bakersfield, CA Nearby accommodation : Hobo Campground (4.3 mi), Barewood Inn and Suites (9.6 mi)

While many ghost towns in California have eerie vibes, Silver City is the only one listed in the National Directory of Haunted Places. 

The ghost town owner reported seeing a historic lunch pail fly across the room (admittedly, though, he has a good reason to stir up intrigue). Visitors have also reported floating bottles and mysterious music. 

Silver City has around 20 abandoned buildings from other ghost towns that came to Silver City to save them from demolition. These include a post office, general store, church, and private cabin. 

The owners of the ghost town have elected to allow the buildings to exist in their dilapidated state, choosing to do minimal restoration. 

That said, Silver City has been the site of film shoots for A&E, the History Channel, and even Nissan.

#15 Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park

Colonal Allensworth State Historic park

Why it’s worth visiting : Learn about a Utopian experiment led by African Americans. Address : Highway 43, Earlimart, CA 93219 How to get there : Take Hwy 43 and go 30 miles north of Bakersfield, CA Nearby accommodation : John L. Whitehead Jr. Campground (in the park), Hyatt Place Delano (16.3 mi)

Colonel Allen Allensworth founded the town of Allensworth in 1908. 

Allensworth was born enslaved, and his vision was to create a community honoring the “dignity of the human spirit.” He was the highest-ranking African American servicemember at the time. 

The old 1912 schoolhouse remained in use until 1972. The town also included a library and a Baptist church. 

Colonel Allensworth’s death in 1914 and a lowering water table made it difficult for the town to thrive. Nonetheless, several residents hung on for many years. 

Today you can see the home of Colonel Allensworth and his wife Josephine, preserved in its 1912 condition as Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park . 

Every year Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park hosts a rededication ceremony to honor the ideals of Allensworth on the second Saturday in October.

#16 Drawbridge, CA

Drawbridge, CA

Why it’s worth visiting : You can go bird-watching as you watch Drawbridge sink into the marsh. Address : Don Edwards Environmental Education Center, 1751 Grand Blvd, Alviso, CA 95002 How to get there : You can view the ghost town from a trail near the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Center. Nearby accommodation : DoubleTree by Hilton Newark-Fremont (5.6 mi). There isn’t much camping nearby. 

None of the ghost towns that I’ve mentioned on this list are decaying as quickly as Drawbridge.

Drawbridge is in south San Francisco Bay near San Jose and was originally just one home for the drawbridge operator on Station Island in 1876. 

Over the next few decades, more residents accrued. By the 1880s, a thousand visitors came every weekend. People went hunting, fishing, and swimming; during Prohibition, the town featured a few speakeasies. 

At its peak, there were around 90 buildings in Drawbridge. By the 1930s, the water table changed and the town began to sink into the estuary. 

Today Drawbridge ghost town is closed to visitors for safety reasons. 

You can see the remaining buildings from the Environmental Education Center in Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge or you can watch the video below.

#17 Eagle Mountain

Eagle Mountain

Why it’s worth visiting : It’s the largest ghost town in California GPS coordinates : 33.85566000380587, -115.48686417726853 How to get there : Turn north at the junction of Hwy 10 and Rice Rd (you can’t get too close to the town, though) Nearby accommodation : Cottonwood Campground (44 mi), Hampton Inn and Suites Blythe (61.5 mi)

A few ghost towns in California aren’t open to the public, and Eagle Mountain is one of them. 

But because it’s the biggest ghost town in California, I couldn’t leave it out. Plus, you can check out the drone footage at the end to get a good sense of the place. 

Henry Kaiser opened the Eagle Mountain iron mine in 1948, and it quickly became the most significant iron mine in Southern California. 

They soon built a town with 400 homes to better accommodate the workers in this extreme remote environment (let’s just say Eagle Mountain is on the “butt end” of Joshua Tree National Park ). 

At its zenith, Eagle Mountain had 4,000 residents. The town had a school, post office, gas station, and shopping center. 

The iron mining operation dried up in the 80s and the town quickly followed suit. Today, there’s a fence around the town’s perimeter, but the school is still in use.

This video has excellent footage of the ghost town. It hypes up the mystery factor of the city, but the reason for Eagle Mountain’s abandonment is that the mine dried up–plain and simple.

FAQs About California Ghost Towns

FAQs about California ghost towns

What constitutes a ghost town?

A ghost town is an abandoned settlement. To be considered a ghost town, there must be at least a few original structures. Often ghost towns come to be after residents exhaust natural resources.

Is it safe to visit ghost towns?

It is generally safe to visit most ghost towns so long as you stay out of the abandoned buildings and mine shafts. 

Mine shafts not only have physical hazards but can also accumulate toxic gases or be home to bats. 

As there are many endangered bat species, it’s essential not to throw anything into mine shafts or shout into them to avoid disturbing roosting bats with babies.

Are there many abandoned cities in California? How many ghost towns are in California?

Because of California’s Gold Rush history, there are as many as 300 ghost towns in the state. Miners abandoned many of them after the mines became unprofitable.

Why are there ghost towns in California?

First, California has a rich history of silver and gold mining. Many Gold Rush era towns sprung up quickly, only to be abandoned after the mines dried up. 

Second, much of California is dry and hot, which has helped preserve historic buildings and mining equipment.

What is the largest ghost town in California?

The largest ghost town in California is Eagle Mountain. The Eagle Mountain iron mine opened in 1948, but by 1983 the last businesses and the old post office had closed.

What’s the most popular ghost town to visit in California?

One of the best ghost towns in California is Bodie, located in Northern California. Bodie State Historic Park is known for its extensive collection of buildings preserved in a state of arrested decay.

What is the oldest California ghost town?

Many people list Bodie as California’s oldest ghost town, but the truth is that record keeping wasn’t excellent during the 1850s, and there may be older towns than Bodie.


author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!

Looking for more unique California travel recommendations? Check out these related articles below!

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Montana Road Trip: Small Towns and Ghost Towns

Dig into Montana ’s rich mining heritage, soak in hot springs, and wander through authentic 1800s ghost towns on an approximately 300-mile loop through the state’s southwestern corner. This rambling route leads over mountains, across the Continental Divide, through forests, and along blue-ribbon trout streams, including the world-renowned Madison River. Once known as the “richest hill on Earth” thanks to a multibillion-dollar mining industry, Butte (population 33,854) is the “big city” on the drive. Most of the towns you’ll visit are much smaller. Some have a hundred residents or less, and according to local legend, a few just might be home to some gold rush–era ghosts.

Butte > I-15 to exit 102 > MT-43 to Wise River > Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway (fully open May 16 to November 30) > MT-278 to Jackson > backtrack on MT-278 to Dillon > MT-41 > MT-287 through Virginia City to Ennis > U.S. 287 > MT-2 through Cardwell to Butte.

Shortcut: Take I-90 rather than MT-2 from Cardwell to Butte for a faster drive.

Note: Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway is closed from December 1 to May 15 between the Pettingill campground parking lot to the north (ten miles south of MT-43) and Elkhorn Hot Springs to the south (13 miles north of MT-278). If you're traveling at that time of year, either head west on MT-43 to MT-278 and Jackson, or stay east and continue on I-15 to Dillon.

Bert Mooney Airport , Butte

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park in Whitehall offers guided tours of one of the most impressive caves in the United States (May 1 to September 30). Buy tickets when you arrive (no advance sales available), and be prepared to hike about two miles. Best Bet: Cave tour traffic is lightest in September. If you're planning a December visit to the park, purchase tickets in advance for a Holiday Candlelight Tour of the caverns.

In Butte , take an underground tour at the World Museum of Mining , located at the former site of the Orphan Girl silver and zinc mine. Continue the Orphan Girl theme at Headframe Spirits , makers of Orphan Girl Bourbon Cream Liqueur. In the distillery’s tasting room, try one of the Orphan Girl specialty cocktails: Dirty Girl (mixed with root beer), Chocolate Drift (mixed with vodka and chocolate syrup), or Copper City Bulldog (mixed with all of the above plus half and half).

Go rockhounding at Crystal Park , located on the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, about 60 miles southwest of Butte. For a five-dollar (per car) day-use fee you can dig for quartz crystals in the sandy, decomposed granite soil and keep any treasures you find. Bring gloves, a gardening shovel, and a screen (for sifting). Open from May 15 to October 15, weather permitting. Inside Tip: Sift through the sand slowly and carefully to avoid damaging the crystals.

Explore the route’s multiple ghost towns—Quartz Hill, Glendale, Coolidge, Rochester, Farlin, Pony, Bannack State Park , Nevada City, and Virginia City, which remains a living town with about 190 full-time residents. The last three are the best preserved and regularly host tours and other events. Virginia City and Nevada City alone house an extraordinary collection of 19th-century buildings and Americana, including more than a hundred arcade and music machines such as coin pianos, orchestrions, and band organs. Inside Tip: Download the Southwest Montana Ghost Towns map .

In summer, plan ahead and make reservations to take part in two Virginia City traditions. The first is Brewery Follies (May to September), a bawdy, often wacky, and definitely adults-only comedy revue. The second is an hour-long Ghost Walk (summer, by appointment) through the town’s darkened streets and alleys. Ghost sightings have been reported (particularly at Hang Man’s Building, named for five men hanged there in 1864). The walking tours originate at Bale of Hay Saloon , and participants regularly carry adult beverages. Inside Tip: If you're traveling with kids, opt for the family-friendly shows performed by the Virginia City Players (May 22 to September 20).

The tiny town of Ennis is living proof that big things come in small packages. Main Street includes the old-school Madison Theatre , showing first-run movies Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. There also are multiple fly-fishing outfitters, including the Tackle Shop , Madison River Fishing Company , and Trout Stalkers . Visit a few to buy or rent outdoor gear, book a guided fly-fishing trip (April to November 1), or get friendly, expert angling advice on anything from casting and flies to where the rainbows are biting.

From Ennis, make a quick detour south on MT-249 to the Ennis National Fish Hatchery (Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). This is the country's largest federal rainbow trout broodstock hatchery, meaning fish are grown here specifically to harvest the eggs. Walk inside the hatchery building and around the display pond, where the resident rainbow, blue, and albino trout can tip the scales at up to 15 pounds. Best Bet: Walk down the creek to see the large wild trout living in Blaine Springs and, sometimes, foraging osprey and bald eagles.

Soak in a hot spring–fed pool at Norris Hot Springs in Norris. The bubbling spring, known locally as “water of the gods,” flows into a wooden pool that’s emptied nightly. Enhancing the water’s natural restorative effects are the unobstructed views: miles of green hills and wetlands. Frequent wildlife sightings include sandhill cranes, deer, and antelope. Inside Tip: Visit in summer, when there are fewer people in the pool and when there's more shade around it (for napping or reading).

Hodgens Ryan Mansion in Butte is a homey, historic inn with a rich mining history. Built at the end of the 19th century, the mansion was once home to industrial tycoon John D. Ryan of Anaconda Copper and Montana Power Co. Ask for a room with a private bath. Use the house kitchen to make meals, or walk to Uptown microbreweries and distilleries. Inside Tip: If the Hodgens Ryan is booked solid, try the equally historic Copper King Mansion or Toad Hall Manor .

Finlen Hotel and Motor Inn is conveniently located near locally owned restaurants and shops in Butte’s historic district. The property has two separate buildings: a 24-room hotel built in 1923 and a 32-room motor inn. Book a corner suite in the hotel for the best views and most space. Fun Fact: Before they were U.S. presidents, Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy stayed here.

Cabin rates at the comfortably rustic Jackson Hot Springs Lodge include free use of the thermal spring–fed pool. The scalding hot (about 155°F) waters are naturally cooled to a safe and comfortable 94 to 103°F. Book a two-bedroom cabin outfitted with Montana-made log beds. Note: The pool is closed for cleaning on Wednesdays.

Check off two Montana must-dos in one stop by staying in the ghost town tepee at Bannack State Park. Chief Snag , named for the Lemhi Shoshoni chief who was killed here, is a teepee located in the Vigilante campground and sleeps eight. Book the site several months in advance, and bring camping gear. Note: Tepee rental at Bannack State Park is available May-October.

Alder Gulch Accommodations handles the ghost town lodging in Nevada City and Virginia City. The no-frills guest rooms are in 1860s buildings primarily, and intentionally, frozen in time to maintain the gold mining–era vibe. Options include the 14-room Fairweather Inn in Virginia City (ask for a private bath), and the Nevada City Hotel and Cabins. Best Bet: Stay in one of the two Victorian Suites in the Nevada City Hotel and Cabins (there are also ten hotel rooms) or in one of the two sod-roofed pioneer cabins.

Butte’s signature comfort fare is the “pasty” (PASS-tee), a piping-hot pastry turnover stuffed with meat, potatoes, and onions. The traditional miner’s meal can be eaten dry, but go for the gravy on top. Best Bets: Joe’s Pasty Shop , Nancy’s Pasty Shop and Catering , and Gamer’s Cafe .

Bale of Hay Saloon is a restored 1863 watering hole and Old West–themed tourist favorite in Virginia City. Owners and twin sisters Kay and Gay Rossow serve up local specialties (including meat pasties and microbrews) and host monthly hijinks such as bed races and beer fests. Open May to September.

Virginia City Creamery makes ice cream the old-fashioned way: slowly, with salt, ice, milk, and sugar, and using antique equipment from the early 1900s. Eat a scoop of one of the 20 daily flavors (look for huckleberry and double chocolate orange) while you watch the machines run. Inside Tip: Ask Creamery owner Mark Weber for his old-fashioned ice cream recipe and for the expert scoop on making your own at home. Eat local at Norris Hot Springs'  50-Mile Grill , where the menu items (including beef, bison, lamb, and trout) are raised or produced within a 50-mile radius of the restaurant. Most vegetables served are actually grown on-site in the organic Garden of the Gods. Inside Tip: After dinner any Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night, listen to acoustic performances by local and touring musicians.

Arguably Madison County’s most creative Tex-Mex dishes are served at Banditos at the Gravel Bar in Ennis. Entrees include salmon wrapped in corn husk, Swiss chard enchiladas, and carne asada made with grilled Montana Wagyu flank steak. Open for breakfast and dinner, May 28 to mid-September. Closed Mondays.

For fine dining (such as beef tenderloin medallions with blueberry red wine compote), make reservations at the Old Hotel in Twin Bridges. Open from May to September for dinner Tuesday to Saturday and for Saturday and Sunday brunch. Open from October to April for dinner Thursday to Sunday and for Sunday brunch.

Buy a custom-fitted cowboy hat at Buffalo Gal Hat Company and Gallery in Jackson or at Montana Mad Hatter in Twin Bridges.

Check out the latest Montana-made boron, bamboo, and graphite fly rods at the legendary R.L. Winston Rod Company in Twin Bridges. Best Bet: If you’re shopping for a rod, try it out on the casting lawn outside the store.

Hook and Horn wears a number of hats in Wisdom, a tiny ranching community that’s home to about a hundred people. The store stocks hunting, fishing, camping, and horseback-riding gear, plus veterinarian supplies, regional artwork and gifts, clothing, fresh bakery items, locally roasted coffee, and more. Inside Tip: On Sunday evenings, owners Jane and Ken Wigen clear space in the store for a potluck dinner open to all.

Watch live music performances on multiple stages at the outdoor Montana Folk Festival , held each July in Butte. The free celebration of Montana heritage and culture includes folklife demonstrations, regional foods, and a First Peoples’ Market selling authentic Native American arts and crafts, such as hide paintings, star quilts, and antler carvings.

Dip a candle, pan for gold, and watch the Old West “shootouts” in front of Skinner’s Saloon at Bannack Days . Held the third weekend in July at Bannack State Park, the festival commemorates Bannack’s pioneer and gold mining past.

The Friday and Saturday before Halloween, grab a flashlight and take a spooky Bannack Ghost Walks to “meet” some of the ghost town’s roguish former residents. Reservations required.

Throughout the summer, Nevada City hosts Living History weekends. Interact with the period reenactors to learn what life was like here in the 1860s.

Virginia City’s Grand Victorian Balls recall the more genteel side of the mining town’s history. Rent a costume and join the dance in June or August.

Evel Knievel Days is a weekend-long adrenaline rush named for Butte’s bad boy native son and world famous motorcycle daredevil. Held in Uptown Butte in late July, the free event features extreme motocross sports, a demolition derby, live music, and more.

No hunting is required to feast your way around downtown Ennis at the Ennis Hunters Feed , held each October on the Friday before the first day of rifle hunting season.

If you’ve ever wanted to try fly-fishing, a spot along this road trip is the place. This driving route passes a number of premier blue-ribbon trout streams, including the Madison, Jefferson, Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby Rivers. Plan ahead to book a daylong or multiday fly-fishing tour with an experienced local guide service such as Stonefly Inn and Outfitters in Twin Bridges or Madison River Fishing Company in Ennis.

The 49-mile-long Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway cuts north-to-south through the heart of Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest between Wise River and Polaris. The mainly two-lane paved road is named for the spectacular Pioneer Mountain Range views. In summer, stop to camp overnight, go trout fishing or hiking, or visit the ghost town of Coolidge.

At Wise River, continue west on MT-43 past Wisdom to Big Hole National Battlefield , a sacred site to the Nez Perce people and part of the multistate Nez Perce National Historical Park . Walk the ground consecrated by the Nez Perce warriors, U.S. soldiers, and Bitterroot civilian volunteers who fought and died here in 1877. Free and open year-round except for major holidays.

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From Virginia City, take a side trip south on MT-287 to discover two “hidden” lakes: Cliff and Wade . Both bodies of water are home to abundant wildlife, including bald eagles, ospreys, beavers, river otters, elk, and moose. Forest Road 8381 leads to both lakes. Look for the turnoff just before the MT-287/87 junction.

Arrive with a fishing license so you’re ready to drop your hook in a stream or lake along this road trip. Apply for and buy a license online , or pick one up at a local sporting goods store. You'll need a Conservation License, along with designated fishing increments of two days, ten days, or a season. Inside Tip: Print a few copies: one to keep in your wallet and one to hand to any guides.

In winter, go downhill skiing or snowboarding with the locals at two old-school ski areas: Maverick Mountain near Polaris (about 30 miles northeast of Jackson via the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway) and Lost Trail (26 miles west of Wisdom on MT-43 near Sula). Check website for ski conditions and opening/closing dates.

The Helsinki Bar on Butte’s East Side is the last remnant of the city’s predominantly Finnish “Finntown” neighborhood. Built by Finnish immigrants in the late 1800s, the building used to include a traditional Finnish sauna. The sauna is long gone, but the bar harkens back to the days of the once thriving Finntown and offers frosty bottles of beer.

Day 1: Butte

  • World Museum of Mining
  • Headframe Spirits
  • Helsinki Bar
  • Joe’s Pasty Shop
  • Nancy’s Pasty Shop and Catering
  • Gamer’s Cafe
  • Hodgens Ryan Mansion
  • Copper King Mansion
  • Toad Hall Manor
  • Finlen Hotel and Motor Inn

Day 2: Butte to Jackson Hot Springs

  • Optional detour to Big Hole National Battlefield
  • Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway
  • Crystal Park
  • Hook and Horn
  • Buffalo Gal Hat Company and Gallery
  • Jackson Hot Springs Lodge

Day 3: Jackson Hot Springs to Nevada City-Virginia City

  • Bannack State Park
  • R.L. Winston Rod Company
  • Montana Mad Hatter
  • The Old Hotel
  • Virginia City and Nevada City
  • Brewery Follies
  • Bale of Hay Saloon
  • Virginia City Players
  • Virginia City Creamery
  • Alder Gulch Accommodations

Day 4: Virginia City to Butte

  • Madison Theatre
  • The Tackle Shop
  • Madison River Fishing Company
  • Trout Stalkers
  • Stonefly Inn and Outfitters
  • Madison River Outfitters
  • Ennis National Fish Hatchery
  • Norris Hot Springs
  • 50-Mile Grill
  • Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Read This Next

25 essential drives for a u.s. road trip, 10 best things to do in alaska, where to travel in the u.s. this september, wine tourism makes a big splash in tiny uruguay.

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An old sleigh workshop in Bodie State Historic Park

Pro Tip The ghost town is officially part of Bodie State Historic Park, so book a guided tour if you want the inside scoop and all the spooky legends.

Calico Ghost Town, Yermo, California

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Building ruins in Nevada

Pro Tip Visit the Old Town Living History Museum & Music Hall to see one of the largest collections of old west items outside of the Smithsonian.

A train in Kentucky's coal mining mountains

Pro Tip Cahawba is a short drive from Selma, where you can spend an afternoon learning at the National Voting Rights Museum.

An abandoned schoolhouse in South Dakota

Pro Tip You’ll have to walk about half a mile from the road to get to Spokane, so wear comfortable shoes!

St. Elmo, Colorado

Pro Tip St. Elmo is one of the few ghost towns that’s accessible year round. Visit in the fall to see beautiful foliage or in the winter to experience the town by snowshoe.

South Pass City, Wyoming

Pro Tip Hit the 1890s dance hall where you can take a walking tour of the historic site.

An abandoned general store in Colorado

Ruby, Arizona

A boarded up Arizona mine

Pro Tip Bring everything you need, including a full tank of gas, because there’s nowhere to shop or fill up in the town.

Goldfield, Arizona

Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona

Pro Tip Take a 25-minute tour of an underground gold mine to learn about the history, equipment, and processes.

Santa Claus, Arizona

Pro Tip If you choose to explore, be wary of rotting wood and rattlesnakes—both of which are plentiful in Santa Claus.
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Bodie, CA

16 eerie ghost towns in America you can actually visit

You might actually see a spirit at these long-forgotten, abandoned ghost towns in America

America is home to hundreds of ghost towns and abandoned settlements. While they’re dotted across the county, they are ubiquitous in regions like California, Nevada and Colorado that experienced the boom and then bust of industries like mining.

Visiting ghost towns in America is a chance to step back in time, taking in life as it once was. Picture tumbleweeds rolling down Main Street, once-bustling stores now sitting in eerie silence, and faded signs that hint at lives lived long ago. You can wander through old homes, buildings and streets to get a snapshot of the past, taking in stories of pioneers, prospectors, and dreamers. Like the name suggests, you may even spot a ghost along the way.

If you're interested in a glimpse into the past, we've rounded up the most fascinating ghost towns in the US to discover America’s hidden history. If spooky travel is your thing, don’t forget to visit the scariest real-life haunted houses , take yourself on a ghost tour or pay your respects at the most hauntingly beautiful graveyards .

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Ghost towns in America

Centralia, PA

1.  Centralia, PA

An underground mine fire gone seriously wrong led to this modern ghost town northwest of Philadelphia. In 1962, a fire accidentally spread to the town's old, underground mines, creating sinkholes that spewed smoke and toxic fumes across the community. In 1983, most of the town was evacuated, and in 1992, its real estate was claimed under eminent domain and condemned by the state (delivering the final blow, the ZIP code was officially recalled in 2002). Even though Centralia's fire is still burning today—and expected to burn for another 250 years—four residents still live in the doomed town as of 2020 (sounds like they’re playing with fire, if you ask us). Only five homes remain standing in this town. 

Custer, ID

2.  Custer, ID

The population of this gold mining town, located deep inside Idaho's Challis National Forest, peaked in 1896. Home to a massive stamp mill, it had eight saloons and a tiny Chinatown complete with laundry services, a shoe store, and a joss house (a Chinese place of worship). But just 15 years after its boom, Custer's mills shut down and its residents had no choice but to leave their remote mountain home; by 1911, just two families remained. However, most of the town still stands, and in 1981 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Its buildings are open seasonally for visitors and the original school now serves as a museum.

Bodie, CA

3.  Bodie, CA

This Gold Rush-era town near Yosemite has stood eerily untouched for almost 100 years. Although it already showed signs of decline with dwindling numbers at the start of the 20th century, a series of fires forced the remaining residents to flee the town, leaving it almost exactly as it was in the early 1900s. Dinner tables are still set, shops are still stocked with supplies, and the schoolhouse still has lessons on the chalkboard. Be warned: bad luck is said to befall anyone who steals anything from the site while visiting. 

Kennecott, AK

4.  Kennecott, AK

This preserved-in-time copper mining town is located at the end of a 60-mile-long dirt road in the middle of Alaska's Wrangell–St. Elias National Park (the largest national park in the USA). In its heyday, from around 1910 to 1940, Kennecott processed nearly $200,000,000 worth of copper. By 1938, however, the mine was empty and the Kennecott Copper Corporation abruptly abandoned the operation, leaving everything behind. Today, with St. Elias Alpine Guides, you can take a two-hour guided tour (the only official way to get into the town with its 14-story mill). Make sure also to visit the Root and Kennecott glaciers, too.

Rhyolite, NV

5.  Rhyolite, NV

This ghost town near Death Valley National Park was once a bustling ore mining community. In 1904, gold was found within its quartz (rhyolite is a silica-rich volcanic rock that contains quartz, hence the town name), and the game was on with 2,000 claims in a 30-mile area. Soon, Rhyolite boasted a hospital, an opera house, and a stock exchange. In 1906, Charles M. Schwab spent several million on its Montgomery Shoshone mine. Unfortunately, following the 1907 financial panic, businesses were shuttered and residents began to move out. In 1916, light and power were turned off, and the town went ghost. Today, Rhyolite is perhaps best recognized as the set for ScarJo's 2005 sci-fi thriller The Island .

Cahawba, AL

6.  Cahawba, AL

Cahawba was the state's first capital from 1820 to 1825, situated at the junction of two rivers. After the war, the legislature was moved to Selma and the town lost business and population—and periodic flooding wreaked havoc. Today, it's visitable as Old Cahawba Archeological Park, which honors the history of the Native American presence there and the years when many freedmen and women lived there. You can see abandoned streets, cemeteries and building ruins—just make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the ghostly 'orb' that's been known to appear in the garden maze at the home of C.C. Pegues.

Glenrio, NM/TX

7.  Glenrio, NM/TX

Straddling the border between New Mexico and Texas, Glenrio was an action-packed stop on Route 66 for decades. From the 1940s until the 1960s, the tiny town's gas stations, diners, bars and motels were packed with road-trippers passing through the Southwest. But when I-40 was built in the 1970s, drivers no longer stopped in Glenrio, and the town fell into disrepair. Not all is lost, however: the Glenrio Historic District includes 17 abandoned buildings.

St Elmo, CO

8.  St Elmo, CO

Like many ghost towns in the US, St. Elmo (originally called Forrest City) was once a thriving gold and silver mining community. When the gold and silver ran out and disease stalked the town, the population dwindled. The nail in the coffin ended the train service to Chalk Creek Canyon in the '20s. Surprisingly, a general store and Ghost Town Guest House are still operating, which means visitors can spend the night in this ghost town even if the scene is a little  unlively .

Nelson, NV

9.  Nelson, NV

Early Spanish settlers found silver in Nelson (then Eldorado) in the 1700s. It took another hundred years for other prospectors—many of them Civil War deserters—to find gold, creating the largest booms Nevada had ever seen. All hell broke loose when they did: disputes over the Techatticup Mine, the town's most notorious site, frequently led to murder. Nelson's mines remained active through the 1940s. An infamous 1974 flash flood destroyed the town of Nelson's Landing, five miles away. Nelson's buildings remain today—the ghost town is now a popular location for photo, film, and music video shoots.

Bannack, MT

10.  Bannack, MT

Paranormal enthusiasts may already know about this desolate former mining town in Montana—it’s featured in the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures . The Gold Rush-era city was known in its time for being a little rough (holdups, robberies, and murders were well documented on the route to nearby Virginia City) and the sheriff of Bannack was a rumored outlaw. The town was abandoned by the 1950s, but more than 50 of its original 1800s structures still stand and can be explored now that it's a state park.

Santa Claus, AZ

11.  Santa Claus, AZ

Sure, the middle of the Mojave Desert isn’t the first place you’d look for jolly old Saint Nick—and yet that didn’t stop this now-abandoned town in Arizona from dedicating itself to all things Christmas. Realtor Nina Talbot founded the town in 1937 to attract buyers to the desert, and while Santa Claus was popular with tourists for a bit, all the Christmas spirit wasn't enough to convince enough folks to move in. The decline of Route 66 sounded a death knell for the playing of Jingle Bells. You can still see rundown red-and-white buildings and forlorn tinsel for yourself (it’s not maintained, but you’re free to visit).

Thurmond, WV

12.  Thurmond, WV

In the early 1900s, the railroad kept this West Virginia town humming as a thriving depot for coal. Thurmond had it all as a major stop on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway—hotels, banks, a post office, and more. Sadly, the Great Depression, followed by the invention of the diesel train in the 1950s, ended Thurmond's prosperity. Today, the National Park Service has restored the depot, and the town is on the National Register of Historic Places; you can take a self-guided tour of the now quiet town. Reach it by driving seven miles down a narrow, winding road.

Calico, CA

13.  Calico, CA

Calico once thrived with its busy silver mines, beginning auspiciously in 1881. But in the mid-1890s silver lost its value and the inhabitants skedaddled. Walter Knott purchased some of Calico’s buildings to disassemble and move them to Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park near Disneyland. He returned to buy and restore Calico itself, which he later deeded back to the county; it’s now a county regional park that’s an accurate-looking ghost town if not wholly literal. There were once 500 mines here and now you can tour the Maggie Mine and 30 structures—shops, saloons, schoolhouse—and stay in a tent, bunkhouse or cabin overnight. In late October, watch for the “Ghost Haunt” weekend events.

Goldfield, NV

14.  Goldfield, NV

This was your authentic Gold Rush mining camp, established in 1902, which was once the largest city in Nevada. The mines went bust and a flash flood spelled the town’s decline ten years before a fire put things to a conclusive end. Yet, about 250 people still live here among the remnants of the town with saloons, slanting homes, deserted hotel and shacks. It’s worth a visit to poke around this “living ghost town;” we especially recommend the said-to-be-haunted Mozart Tavern, where locals treat visitors with special kindness. Paranormal ghost tours take place here regularly, and the Goldfield Days in August temporarily fill the town back up to its boomtown population.

Goldfield, AZ

15.  Goldfield, AZ

There’s more than one Goldfield Ghost Town in the U.S., and this one in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains may provide less of that quiet contemplation of ruin and abandon than a ghost town usually provides; things are hopping here and the latest addition is a zipline. But there are tours of a legitimate century-old mine, a narrow gauge railroad, a walking ghost tour at night, seasonal historic gunfights over the contents of a Wells Fargo box, the typical gold-panning, and the not -typical chance to talk with a ‘floozy’ at Lu Lu’s Bordello. Bring the kids?

Castle Dome, AZ

16.  Castle Dome, AZ

This place is enormous, with 80 buildings and 300 mines (not all are safe to enter). It represents a salvaging of the once-booming mid-1800s settlement (only seven buildings are original), with reconstructions harking to the gold and silver mining claims enacted here. The tales here are impressive, with an 1863 mine owner attacked by 180 Apaches and left in an arroyo to be half-eaten by coyotes, and the wild chain of events that followed, including an opium overdose, a stagecoach robbery and a fellow being shot trying to stop a lynching. There’s much more: an $800 million fluorescent minerals wall and a doomsday cult that wintered here, but we’ll just say it’s worth the visit.

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Visit Idaho logo

Explore Idaho’s Ghost Towns

Land of the Yankee Fork State Park has it all. Frontier mining history, ghost towns, an interactive interpretive center, and miles of OHV trails to explore.

Abandoned by the rise and fall of the gold rush, Bonanza, Bayhorse, and Custer are now under the care of Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Forest Service. Together, the land nestled between Challis and Stanley has been transformed into an area for ATV-riding, hiking, photography, and history, all the while, preserving the ecosystem, the buildings, and the lands.

Bayhorse Ghost Town, Near Challis. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Bonanza and Custer

Located in central Idaho , the sister cities of Bonanza and Custer were tightly aligned in the 1870s—surviving and thriving off one another as the quest for gold drove people to this area. In the 1880s, these towns saw rapid growth as miners found abundant ore. But the gold eventually dried up, and by 1911 these towns were vacated. Visitors to these sites today will find restored buildings, secluded cemeteries, and a history of the miners who flourished here.

Around 1864, Bayhorse was established as a gold mining camp after a few gold veins were found in the area. Nearly a decade later, Bayhorse really began to attract a following when an abundant silver vein was found. The Beardsley and Ramshorn Mines took off in popularity as more and more veins were found. Over time, Bayhorse became the longest-running silver producer in Idaho, but eventually was abandoned in 1915.

Bayhorse Ghost Town

Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

Make a trip to check out the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge while visiting the park. This 988-ton monster barge worked the gravel in Yankee Fork in the search for gold as recently as 1952. Over its time in use, the dredge recovered an estimated $1,000,000 in gold and silver.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trails

man with atv

It is uncommon to find OHV trails on state park lands, but Land of the Yankee Fork in an exception.  During the time this area was an active mining site, pre-cut trails crisscrossed the land, spreading for hundreds of miles in all directions making it easier to develop OHV trails for the park visitors.

Meaning there are literally hundreds of miles of trails for you to explore. Whether you’re on a motorbike or a four-wheeler, Land of the Yankee Fork is worth the trip.

To learn more about everything Idaho’s state parks have to offer, click here .

Feature image credited to Idaho Tourism.

Published on May 21, 2019

Related Tips

wild flowers at Farragut State Park

6 Must-Visit Idaho State Parks with Swoon-Worthy Hiking Trails

Redfish Lake, Stanley. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

6 Amazing Adventures In Idaho’s Most Mountainous Region

Related adventures.

Custer Historic Mining Town

Custer Historic Mining Town

Bayhorse Ghost Town

Bayhorse Ghost Town and Trails System

Ghost towns: once thriving communities that have dwindled over the decades. Some vanished entirely or were absorbed into newer settlements, but many of these towns still stand, at least in part, allowing us glimpses of what these now-abandoned places once were.

Where are America’s ghost towns, and how do they look today? Scroll down to find out.

We’ve researched over 3,800 ghost towns to show their spread across the country and within each state.

Photo of Peter Ling

Professor of American Studies

Photo of Berlin

Nearest city

Hawthorne, NV

Nearby ghost towns

Ione, NV Broken Hills, NV

Map showing the location of Berlin

McCarthy, AK

Map showing the location of Kennicott

Key West, FL

Map showing the location of Fort Jefferson

Missoula, MT

Coloma, MT Bearmouth, MT Pioneer, MT

Map showing the location of Garnet

Bridgeport, CA

Aurora, NV Dogtown, CA Masonic, CA

Map showing the location of Bodie

Buena Vista, CO

Tincup, CO Turret, CO

Map showing the location of St. Elmo

Picacho, CA Jaeger City, CA Tumco, CA

Map showing the location of Castle Dome

St. George, UT

Adventure, UT Duncan's Retreat, UT Grafton, UT

Map showing the location of Harrisburg

Lion City, MT Pioneer, MT Trapper City, MT

Map showing the location of Bannack

Lordsburg, NM

Shakespeare, NM

Map showing the location of Steins

55 ghost towns Talladega County contains the most, with 6. There are 11 ghost towns within 50 miles of Hoover.

A photo of a ghost town in Alabama

Arcola, Hale County

32 ghost towns Nome contains the most, with 7. There are 4 ghost towns within 50 miles of Anchorage.

A photo of a ghost town in Alaska

Kennicott, Valdez-Cordova

131 ghost towns Yavapai County contains the most, with 24. There are 24 ghost towns within 25 miles of Prescott Valley.

A photo of a ghost town in Arizona

Fairbank, Cochise County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0

20 ghost towns Marion County contains the most, with 3. There are 15 ghost towns within 50 miles of Fort Smith.

A photo of a ghost town in Arkansas

Rush, Marion County

346 ghost towns Kern County contains the most, with 113. There are 71 ghost towns within 25 miles of Bakersfield.

A photo of a ghost town in California

Bodie, Mono County

99 ghost towns El Paso County contains the most, with 14. There are 14 ghost towns within 25 miles of Colorado Springs.

A photo of a ghost town in Colorado

St. Elmo, Chaffee County


4 ghost towns

6 ghost towns Sussex County contains the most, with 5. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Wilmington.

257 ghost towns Polk County contains the most, with 17. There are 20 ghost towns within 25 miles of Saint Petersburg.

A photo of a ghost town in Florida

Fort Jefferson, Monroe County

16 ghost towns There are 9 ghost towns within 50 miles of Augusta.

A photo of a ghost town in Georgia

Auraria, Lumpkin County Hellohowareyoudoing / CC BY-SA 3.0

21 ghost towns Honolulu County contains the most, with 6. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Honolulu.

A photo of a ghost town in Hawaii

Kapoho, East Puna Bob Linsdell / CC BY-SA 3.0

26 ghost towns Lemhi County contains the most, with 4. There are 7 ghost towns within 50 miles of Boise City.

A photo of a ghost town in Idaho

Rocky Bar, Elmore County J.Day Photography / CC BY-SA 3.0

82 ghost towns Macoupin County contains the most, with 12. There are 11 ghost towns within 25 miles of Waukegan.

A photo of a ghost town in Illinois

Benjaminville, McLean County A McMurray / CC BY-SA 3.0

42 ghost towns Warren County contains the most, with 11. There are 12 ghost towns within 25 miles of West Lafayette.

A photo of a ghost town in Indiana

Corwin, Tippecanoe County

26 ghost towns Buchanan County and Clayton County each contain 3. There are 22 ghost towns within 50 miles of Dubuque.

A photo of a ghost town in Iowa

Donnan, Fayette County Firsfron / CC BY-SA 3.0

308 ghost towns Shawnee County contains the most, with 10. There are 20 ghost towns within 25 miles of Lawrence.

A photo of a ghost town in Kansas

Dunlap, Morris County Patrick Emerson / CC BY-ND 2.0

13 ghost towns There are 9 ghost towns within 50 miles of Covington.

A photo of a ghost town in Kentucky

Creelsboro, Russell County

17 ghost towns Pointe Coupee Parish contains the most, with 9. There are 13 ghost towns within 50 miles of Baton Rouge.

A photo of a ghost town in Louisiana

La Balize, Plaquemines Parish

5 ghost towns Somerset County contains the most, with 3.

A photo of a ghost town in Maine

Perkins Township (Swan Island), Lincoln County Timothy Krause / CC BY 2.0

15 ghost towns Garrett County contains the most, with 9. There are 10 ghost towns within 50 miles of Gaithersburg.

A photo of a ghost town in Maryland

Daniels, Baltimore County Timothy Krause / CC BY 2.0


11 ghost towns Worcester contains the most, with 3. There are 5 ghost towns within 25 miles of Holyoke.

A photo of a ghost town in Massachusetts

Whitewash Village, Barnstable County Zachary Cava / CC BY 2.0

128 ghost towns Grand Traverse County contains the most, with 12. There are 16 ghost towns within 50 miles of Novi.

A photo of a ghost town in Michigan

Harrietta, Wexford County Roman Kahler / CC BY-SA 4.0

55 ghost towns Winona County contains the most, with 5. There are 14 ghost towns within 50 miles of Rochester.

A photo of a ghost town in Minnesota

Forestville, Fillmore County Tony Webster / CC BY-SA 2.0


27 ghost towns There are 4 ghost towns within 50 miles of Biloxi.

A photo of a ghost town in Mississippi

Rodney, Jefferson County Michael McCarthy / CC BY-ND 2.0

21 ghost towns St. Charles County contains the most, with 4. There are 10 ghost towns within 25 miles of Kansas City.

A photo of a ghost town in Missouri

Phenix, Greene County Diedrichb / CC BY-SA 4.0

106 ghost towns Carbon County contains the most, with 9. There are 19 ghost towns within 50 miles of Bozeman.

A photo of a ghost town in Montana

Bannack, Beaverhead County

31 ghost towns Pawnee County contains the most, with 13. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Lincoln.

A photo of a ghost town in Nebraska

Dobytown, Kearney County

106 ghost towns Nye County contains the most, with 15. There are 13 ghost towns within 50 miles of Henderson.

A photo of a ghost town in Nevada

Ione, Nye County

New Hampshire

8 ghost towns Grafton County contains the most, with 4. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Nashua.

A photo of a ghost town in New Hampshire

Monson, Hillsborough County John Phelan / CC BY-SA 4.0

11 ghost towns Burlington County contains the most, with 3. There are 3 ghost towns within 25 miles of Newark.

A photo of a ghost town in New Jersey

Batso Village, Burlington County mullica / CC BY 2.0

39 ghost towns Sandoval County and Grant County each contain 5. There are 6 ghost towns within 50 miles of Albuquerque.

A photo of a ghost town in New Mexico

Lake Valley, Sierra County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0

14 ghost towns Cattaraugus County contains the most, with 5. There are 7 ghost towns within 50 miles of Troy.

A photo of a ghost town in New York

Tahawus, Essex County

North Carolina

16 ghost towns Carteret County contains the most, with 3. There are 5 ghost towns within 50 miles of Asheville.

A photo of a ghost town in North Carolina

Brunswick Town, Brunswick County Rob Friesel / CC BY-SA 2.0

North Dakota

23 ghost towns Ward County, Grant County and Williams County each contain 3. There are 5 ghost towns within 50 miles of Bismarck.

A photo of a ghost town in North Dakota

Petrel, Adams County Andrew Filer / CC BY-SA 2.0

26 ghost towns Clermont County contains the most, with 4. There are 10 ghost towns within 50 miles of Lancaster.

A photo of a ghost town in Ohio

Moonville, Vinton County ChristopherM / CC BY 2.0

236 ghost towns Pushmataha County contains the most, with 13. There are 11 ghost towns within 25 miles of Norman.

68 ghost towns Baker County contains the most, with 9. There are 13 ghost towns within 50 miles of Keizer.

A photo of a ghost town in Oregon

Shaniko, Wasco County


105 ghost towns Indiana County contains the most, with 36. There are 71 ghost towns within 50 miles of Pittsburgh.

A photo of a ghost town in Pennsylvania

Frick's Lock, Chester County

Rhode Island

1 ghost town

A photo of a ghost town in Rhode Island

Hanton City, Providence PristineLibertine / CC BY-SA 3.0

South Carolina

11 ghost towns Barnwell County contains the most, with 5. There are 3 ghost towns within 50 miles of Greenville.

A photo of a ghost town in South Carolina

Dunbarton, Barnwell County

South Dakota

238 ghost towns Lawrence County contains the most, with 93. There are 51 ghost towns within 25 miles of Rapid City.

A photo of a ghost town in South Dakota

Burdock, Fall River County Runner1928 / CC BY-SA 3.0

12 ghost towns There are 10 ghost towns within 50 miles of Knoxville.

A photo of a ghost town in Tennessee

Loyston, Union County

511 ghost towns Wilson County contains the most, with 31. There are 25 ghost towns within 25 miles of New Braunfels.

A photo of a ghost town in Texas

Heckville, Lubbock County Leaflet / CC BY-SA 3.0

136 ghost towns Carbon County contains the most, with 18. There are 13 ghost towns within 25 miles of Lehi.

A photo of a ghost town in Utah

Harrisburg, Washington County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0

5 ghost towns

A photo of a ghost town in Vermont

Somerset, Windham County Andy Arthur / CC BY 2.0

19 ghost towns York County, Henrico County and Prince William County each contain 3. There are 11 ghost towns within 50 miles of Richmond.

A photo of a ghost town in Virginia

Jamestown, James City County Sarah Stierch / CC BY-SA 2.0

116 ghost towns King County contains the most, with 16. There are 14 ghost towns within 25 miles of Auburn.

A photo of a ghost town in Washington

Lester, King County BryonDavis / CC BY-SA 2.0

West Virginia

21 ghost towns Fayette County contains the most, with 9. There are 11 ghost towns within 50 miles of Charleston.

A photo of a ghost town in West Virginia

Thurmond, Thurmond Mike / CC BY-ND 2.0

155 ghost towns Adams County and Milwaukee County each contain 10. There are 20 ghost towns within 25 miles of Racine.

A photo of a ghost town in Wisconsin

Muskego Settlement, Racine County McGhiever / CC BY-SA 3.0

33 ghost towns Fremont County contains the most, with 6. There are 5 ghost towns within 50 miles of Cheyenne.

A photo of a ghost town in Wyoming

Miner's Delight, Fremont County The Bureau of Land Management / CC BY 2.0


  1. 10 famous Utah ghost towns and where to find them

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  5. 12 Creepy Ghost Towns in the USA You Can Actually Visit

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  1. 7 Utah Ghost Towns Close to I-15

    Here are seven Utah ghost towns that are right off the I-15. There isn't much left of Old Iron Town. Old Iron Town Resting in Iron County 15-20 miles west of Cedar City, Old Iron Town is not much of one anymore.

  2. The best attractions along I-15, from California to Montana

    A few notable states I-15 passes through include California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. I-15 will also take you through some major (and majorly awesome) cities like San Diego, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Butte.

  3. Harrisburg

    COMMENTS: Right off I-15. REMAINS: Many ruins. ... By around 1895 the last people had moved away and Harrisburg became a ghost town. Today Interstate 15 runs right through the middle of the old town. The town sight left on east side of I15 is now a RV Camp. There are several old stone houses and walls left standing at this sight.

  4. Use These Maps to Find Ghost Towns in Your Area

    The bad news: It only provides that information for ghost towns across nine states in the western part of the U.S. (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon,...

  5. Where to Find the Mojave's Greatest Ghost Towns

    1. Zzyzx, CA Photo: Courtesy of Sandi Hemmerlein Photo: Courtesy of Sandi Hemmerlein If you've ever found yourself driving along the I-15 at the northern border of the Mojave National Preserve, you've probably seen the exit sign for Zzyzx and wondered what could possibly there.

  6. California's 8 Best Ghost Towns to Visit

    A California ghost town might be the kind you think of, an abandoned mining camp with tumbleweeds blowing down a deserted main street, past a long-disused saloon or general store, toward the old cemetery.

  7. These are the 12 best ghost towns to see in Montana

    8. Elkhorn. • The story: The town peaked in the late 1800s, as a bustling mining town with hotels, bowling lanes, a post office, hundreds of homes, a school, a church, a blacksmith and shops ...

  8. America's 15 Coolest Ghost Towns to Visit

    Aug. 22, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. Table of Contents 1 / 17 Credit View as article Take a step back in time while visiting these historic - and slightly spooky - ghost towns. While the term "ghost...

  9. Famous Wild West Ghost Towns in Utah

    Frisco & Newhouse. About 15 miles west of the small town of Milford, Utah, exists the remnants of a once wild — and wildly profitable — mining town called Frisco, named for the nearby San Francisco Mountains. The site includes stone kilns and a cemetary. Also neartby is the ghost town of Newhouse.

  10. 10 famous Utah ghost towns and where to find them

    The museum is on the right at the corner of Silver Reef Drive and Wells Fargo Drive. 3. Old Irontown, one of the first Utah ghost towns. Just about 20 miles outside of Cedar City lies Old Irontown, one of the Utah ghost towns with the most structures left behind to explore. Remains of a coke oven in Irontown.

  11. 15 Ghost Towns on Route 66 + MAP

    15 Ghost Towns on Route 66 + MAP By Veronica 25 October, 2023 You will find several ghost towns in almost 4,000 kilometers of Route 66. Some are actually abandoned ghost towns, others have very few inhabitants, and others have transformed into tourist attractions.

  12. California's Epic 395: Hidden Gems Along the Way

    Most people start this route heading north on the I15 that is accessed by many roads in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties. Anyone from out of the area can even fly into Ontario International Airport (instead of LAX) and rent a car. There are actually 2 Holiday Inns next to the airport and another nearby at Ontario Mills Shopping Center!

  13. 17 BEST Ghost Towns in California [Spooky, Abandoned Cities]

    Why it's worth visiting: It's one of California's most famous ghost towns. Address: Highway 270, Bridgeport, CA 93517 How to get there: Turn east onto Bodie Road off Highway 395, seven miles south of Bridgeport, CA. Bodie State Historic Park is 13 miles down the road. Nearby accommodation: Lundy Canyon Campground (28 mi), Lake View Lodge (32 mi) Bodie State Historic Park may be one of ...

  14. Montana Road Trip: Small Towns and Ghost Towns

    Montana Road Trip: Small Towns and Ghost Towns. Published October 9, 2015. • 15 min read. Dig into Montana 's rich mining heritage, soak in hot springs, and wander through authentic 1800s ...

  15. 16 Best Ghost Towns to Visit on Your Road Trip

    Bodie, California, is the most famous ghost town in the country. It was a huge mining community in its heyday but was abandoned in the 1940s. Today, it has hundreds of old buildings that are open to the public for exploring.

  16. Take a road trip on California's Highway 395

    Day two: Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes. Two hours south of Tahoe, on a side, not fully paved road off the 395, you'll find Bodie, a mining ghost town with (allegedly) real ghosts. Take a self-guided tour with the map from the small museum, peering into homes eerily still filled with their last owner's belongings. Or go on a guided tour to gain ...

  17. 15 Best Sites Along Scenic Highway 395 California

    Stretching between California's Sierra Nevada mountains and the Nevada State line, Highway 395 road wanders past old mining towns, premium ski resorts, legit ghost towns, and famous film locations. Here are the 15 best sights to visit as you drive Highway 395 California.

  18. 10 Hikes That Will Lead You To Ghost Towns Throughout The U.S.

    Some of the best ghost towns in the US are hiding far off the beaten path, requiring a hike through national parks, dense forests, and barren deserts. Photo by Matteo Di Iorio on Unsplash The old caboose in Rhyolite, an abandoned town in Nevada, USA

  19. 16 Creepy Ghost Towns in America You Can Still Visit

    Clara Hogan & Erika Mailman Tuesday September 12 2023 America is home to hundreds of ghost towns and abandoned settlements. While they're dotted across the county, they are ubiquitous in...

  20. The Creepiest, Coolest Ghost Town in Every State

    As far as ghost towns go, this one has been incredibly well-preserved, with rickety, ... Just 15 miles from Charleston along the Ashley River, it's now part of a 325-acre park with a church bell ...

  21. Explore Idaho's Ghost Towns

    Bonanza and Custer. Located in central Idaho, the sister cities of Bonanza and Custer were tightly aligned in the 1870s—surviving and thriving off one another as the quest for gold drove people to this area. In the 1880s, these towns saw rapid growth as miners found abundant ore. But the gold eventually dried up, and by 1911 these towns were ...

  22. 12 Spooky Ghost Towns in Idaho

    12 Spooky Ghost Towns in Idaho - The Traveling Spud There are a surprising number of documented ghost towns in Idaho waiting to be explored. Check out my list here!

  23. Ghost Towns of America

    There are 11 ghost towns within 50 miles of Hoover. Arcola, Hale County. 32 ghost towns Nome contains the most, with 7. There are 4 ghost towns within 50 miles of Anchorage. Kennicott, Valdez-Cordova. 131 ghost towns Yavapai County contains the most, with 24. There are 24 ghost towns within 25 miles of Prescott Valley.

  24. Many cities across the United States could become ghost towns by ...

    Jan. 14 (UPI) --Many cities across the United States could become ghost towns by 2100, according to new research published Thursday. "Close to half of the nearly 30,000 cities in the United States ...

  25. Texas has until the end of today to stop blocking federal access to

    The Biden administration has given Texas until the end of Wednesday to stop blocking the US Border Patrol's access to 2.5 miles along the US-Mexico border that includes the area where a woman ...