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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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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11 Abandoned Ghost Towns in the U.S. You Can Still Visit
Get a taste of the past at these cool ghost towns in the U.S.
Stacey Leasca is an award-winning journalist and co-founder of Be a Travel Writer , an online course for the next generation of travel journalists. Her photos, videos, and words have appeared in print or online for Travel + Leisure , Time , Los Angeles Times , Glamour , and many more. You'll usually find her in an airport. If you do see her there, please say hello.
John Elk/Getty Images
The rapid expansion west helped U.S. towns blossom all over the United States. Be it for their fertile land or stellar trading, tiny townships once boomed across the nation — until one day, they didn’t. Abandoned because of illness, collapsing industry, or merely because their once lively citizens moved on, these communities became known as “ghost towns.” Perfectly (or near perfectly) preserved relics of our past can be found around the nation. As The New York Times reported , some 3,800 ghost towns exist in America, mostly abandoned between the 19th and 20th centuries for greener pastures and big city dreams. However, just because no one lives there doesn’t mean you can’t visit.
Here are 11 ghost towns in the U.S. you can still experience today.
Silver City, Bodfish California
Saving Silver City , located in California’s Kern River Valley, was a major labor of love. According to Sierra Nevada Geotourism , the 20-plus buildings that remain preserved to this day are thanks to the efforts of Dave and Arvilla Mills, who painstakingly worked to move the structures to a safe location as they were slated for demolition in the 1960s. Through their hard work, visitors today can see the buildings used in the mining camps around the area, as well as settler housing and even an old jail. The town now operates as a museum and is open seven days a week.
St. Elmo, Colorado
Steve Heap/Getty Images
Founded in 1880, St. Elmo was once a thriving gold and silver mining community. Some 2,000 people eventually moved here looking for their little piece of prosperity, but by the early 20th century, the mines ran dry. So, the townspeople “rode the last train out of town and never came back,” according to its website. You can see their almost perfectly preserved homes and storefronts by visiting the community during the summer months.
Loop Images/Getty Images
Terlingua is yet another mining town, only this one became one of the greats. By the 1930s, the community was the largest producer of quicksilver in the nation, according to Visit Big Bend . However, by the 1940s, the company leading the mining went broke, filed for bankruptcy, and many residents moved on. However, this place has had somewhat of a renaissance, with newcomers moving in, making the one-time abandoned spot a little more lively and more inviting to visitors, like you.
Education Images/Getty Images
Rhyolite, you guessed it, is yet another mining town that was eventually left abandoned. Here, miners came for the plentiful quartz. Some 30 camps were set up within a short span, the National Park Service noted on its website, and the town even became home to its own stock exchange for a while. However, when the mining went belly up, so did the town. But you can still come to see the old bank and town’s former jail and dream about what life was like for this thriving community at the turn of the 20th century.
Custer is one of the older ghost towns on this list. Founded in 1879, the community became a must-visit destination for gold speculators and eventually was the home of the Lucky Boy and Black mines, which employed many of the townspeople. The community, Visit Idaho explained , reached its peak in 1896 with 600 residents. However, by 1910, the town was left abandoned. Thankfully, many of its buildings were left intact, and in 1966, the Challis National Forest took ownership, and the community even landed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, visitors can come to explore the mining town during the summer months with free guided tours.
David González Rebollo/Getty Images
Head further north, all the way to Alaska, to see another pristine example of what life was like in early 20th century America (though this one wasn’t technically in America, as Alaska didn’t become an official U.S. state until 1959). Kennicott was a one-time thriving copper mining community, attracting many miners and their families. However, the region was mined out by the 1930s and became a ghost town in 1938. However, the National Park Service once again stepped in to preserve the town and even put together this handy map for a self-guided tour .
Peter Unger/Getty Images
California was a hotbed of activity for miners in the 1800s, due to the presence of gold and other minerals. Several made their way to Calico , a town in Bernardino County, for their shot at finding silver. They did — at least for a while, until the mid-1890s, when silver lost its value and those looking for their fortunes left as quickly as they came. But the town has stood the test of time thanks to Walter Knott, who purchased the place and its buildings in the 1950s and restored those that lost their luster. You can visit every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
South Pass City, Wyoming
South Pass City began as another gold mining town in the mid-1800s, but after an initial boom, the gold ran dry. Rather than abandon the town on first pass, however, many who came for the gold stayed for the fertile land, setting up farms and homesteads. That too went by the wayside, but the community center still stands as a testament to the preservation efforts by the state, which designated it a historic site in 1968, alongside a dedicated group of volunteers who maintain it to this day. Come for a tour throughout the summer season.
Faina Gurevich/Getty Images
Prospectors struck gold in Independence, Colorado , sometime in the late 1800s, causing others to quickly follow suit. According to the Aspen Historical Society, the Farwell Mining Company acquired most of the leading mines by 1881 and employed hundreds of people thereafter. The town peaked with about 1,500 residents, and local businesses flourished — that is, until workers moved out in search of other riches, leaving the town abandoned. However, in 1975, the Aspen Historical Society took on the work of restoring the town for all the world to see. You can visit during the summer months via a self-guided tour.
Nevada City, Montana
Teresa Otto/Getty Images
Nevada City could have just been another mining ghost town that languished in the annals of history. However, this one-time gold mining community was restored by the Bovey family, who worked on the project between 1945 and 1978. Today, many of the town’s original wooden structures remain. There are even a few intact music boxes and player pianos to check out inside. Admission is $10 for adults, and guests can visit over the summer months.
We bet you don’t have to guess what people were after in Goldfield, Arizona , in the mid-1800s. Prospectors made their way here to work in the Mammoth Gold Mine and quickly turned it into the kind of town that would later inspire Wild West movies. While here, visitors can still see its multiple saloons, general store, boarding house, and more. You can even watch a recreation of an old gun fight, thanks to the Goldfield Gunfighters. The town is open every day to visitors.
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30 of the Most Stunning Abandoned Towns Around the World
By Kristine Hansen
Whether the result of nuclear disaster, war or erosion, or maybe even an industry’s or empire’s downfall, several cities around the globe—from the Far East to North America—have become abandoned, some practically overnight. In a few cases, failed ventures to create a glossy real-estate development have resulted in a blank canvas with little to no population. But to know these former towns is to understand our global history. Some of them feature the shells of abandoned buildings; raw, unmanicured landscapes; and the absence of people. All, however, are a photographer’s dream. If any of these towns look or sound familiar, here’s why: Many were used as filming locations well after their demise. Below, AD surveys 30 of the most stunning abandoned towns around the world. If nothing else, these locales will make you appreciate the buzz of activity in the city you live in—however big or small it may be.
Hashima Island, Japan
This 16-acre Southern Japanese island—a former undersea coal-mining region nine miles off the coast of Nagasaki—experienced its prosperity from 1887 to 1974. And then, with the rise of petroleum usage, it evaporated. The buildings remain but the population has since moved on. With UNESCO World Heritage Historical Site status granted in 2015, however, could this island see its second chapter soon?
This Nazi-occupied village met its terrible fate on June 10, 1944, when a German-led massacre killed 642 of its residents. Despite a village being rebuilt nearby after the war, a decision was made by then president Charles de Gaulle to preserve Oradour-sur-Glane in its entirety, as a memorial.
The term “ghost town” is thrown around so often it’s hard to imagine there’s really one out there. But Bodie, near the Nevada state line in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, is the real deal. Bodie, with its nearly 8,500-foot elevation, was once a boom town during the Gold Rush. Thankfully it’s a California Historic Landmark now, and managed by the Bodie Foundation, which pledges to preserve it forever.
This village in the Matera province—that’s in the boot’s “arch”—has appeared in quite a few Italian and American films, including King David, starring Richard Gere, in 1985; and Passion of the Christ, starring Mel Gibson, in 2004. But a massive immigration to North America during the 1920s, followed by a landslide, a flood, and an earthquake later that century, meant that by 1980 there were zero residents left.
Located along America’s most famous route—Route 66—this town’s population has plummeted to 1,935. If you’re an American history buff, you might know Texola by its previous names (Texokla and Texoma, reflecting the change in state lines over the years). In 1930 there were 581 people living in Texola. But following a decline in cotton production, plus the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression, only 35 people live here now—near the Magnolia Service Station and a super-tiny stone-walled jail.
Seven years ago, this town achieved “ghost town” status after its residents were displaced as a result of the 2011 Libyan civil war. While 40,000 people used to call Tawergha home, that number fell to the occupants of only 250 tents, in a nearby town.
Copehill Down, Wiltshire, England
With its German-style architecture, this village already looks out of place in England, but it’s important to know that this village is totally faux on a whole other level. During the Cold War, Copehill Down was built from the ground up for British soldiers to practice warfare in an urban environment. The technical term for this type of village is Fighting in Built Up Areas, and this is not the only one out there.
By Kate Nateras
By Suleika Jaouad
By Yelena Moroz Alpert
Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, life in this Atacama Desert community that once had 3,500 residents came to a screeching halt when, in the middle of last century, mining for potassium nitrate (also called saltpeter, used to make gunpowder) ceased. Between the late 1880s and 1930, much of the world’s supply came from here and was considered a huge export.
Dating back to India’s Mughal Empire, once the second-largest empire in that part of the world, Mandu has not thrived within the last 400 years. It was founded in 1526. Although these structures remain unoccupied, one thing’s for sure: Their construction was very, very sturdy to have survived this long. Here you’ll find India’s oldest marble building, for instance.
Hugging the Mediterranean Sea in Cyprus, Varosha—a section of Famagusta—hasn’t been inhabited since 1974, when the Turkish invaded this region. Before that, it was the equivalent of Italy’s Cinque Terre, coaxing high numbers of tourists to its high-rises, hotels, and restaurants. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor even used to holiday here. But don’t even think about visiting here now: It’s forbidden by the Turkish government.
Glenrio, New Mexico
Glenrio—a former railroad town—sits on the New Mexico–Texas border along Route 66. Despite it being a ghost town, in 2007 its 31-acre historic district (consisting of 16 structures) was put on the National Register of Historic Places. The following year, the Glenrio Welcome Center debuted, with modern conveniences. But there are no residents left. Portions of the Grapes of Wrath movie were filmed here, and an abandoned service station’s design appears in the Cars film.
Built in 2007, this was supposed to be a luxury real-estate development near Hangzhou (in the Zhejiang province), complete with an Eiffel Tower replica, and home to 10,000 people. Only problem is that, so far, only 2,000 people have moved here, mostly attracted to the job market.
Another casualty of the mining decline—the number of residents in this town took a deep dive from around 1,000 in 1980 to just seven in 2013. That’s because of a coal mine fire that hasn’t stopped burning since 1962; its cause is hotly debated. Thirty years later, the state declared Centralia condemned, and now you can’t even get mail service here.
Despite its stunningly beautiful structures that are still standing, it would take a lot of cash to rebuild this Italian town 40 miles south of Genoa. It would also require tinkering with Mother Earth. The real reason only about 600 people live here is that everyone else fled during the 1950s—due to the serious threat of landslides and coastal erosion.
When Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s nuclear disaster occurred in 1986, it was the death of this Northern Ukraine community 65 miles from Kiev and near the Belarus border. Not everyone died (although around 150 did), but all 50,000 residents had to evacuate. Many suffered from acute radiation sickness as a result of exposure to high levels of radiation during the accident.
Cody, British Columbia
The prosperity of North American mining communities is pretty much over. Cody, in southern British Columbia, is no exception. This town used to have 250 residents—attracted to the handful of mines nearby beginning in the late 1800s—but now there are none. Most were employees of the Noble Five Mine, which shut down in the 1940s after a fire.
North Brother Island, New York
This 20-acre island in the Bronx—nestled between Rikers Island and the Bronx—is home to no one, just herons. Up until 1964, the island housed Riverside Hospital and its patients, particularly those who were highly contagious. And although the New York City Parks Department oversees the property, it’s not inhabited—yet. There have been proposals by architects and politicians for using the space, but nothing’s flown yet.
Ruby, which is 50 miles southwest of Tucson, thrived during the 1920s and 1930s as a mining camp—bolstered by activity at the Montana Mine and the Eagle-Picher Mining Company—but when that ended in 1941 so did the town. The post office quickly shuttered, followed by the few remaining residents relocating elsewhere. Today you can tour 25 abandoned buildings, for a $12 entry fee.
This Caribbean town—once the capital city of Montserrat—is difficult to find because it’s partially submerged as the result of a volcanic eruption during the summer of 1995. By that December, many of the 4,000 residents had evacuated. Some returned but were forced to leave again, in 1997, due to another eruption. Plymouth’s population is currently at zero.
Kolmanskop was a huge draw for those seeking diamonds during the early 1900s. Because the miners were mostly German, a village popped up with German architectural accents. Due to World War I, and that an even more prosperous diamond mine was discovered nearby, by the 1950s this mining town no longer prospered. De Beers currently runs the town as a tourist attraction. As for all that sand, it’s the result of a geological shift, making the potential to revive this town very unlikely.
Although not a total ghost town, there are definitely fewer people living in Seseña—a half-hour south of Madrid—than were expected. The plan to build 13,500 housing units here was led by a property developer who aimed to take advantage of the construction boom at the start of this century. Decimated by Spain’s economic recession in 2009, only about 3,000 units at that time had been sold. Today the population hovers just above 6,000.
Copper mining in the Last Frontier State used to be a big business. That includes the community of Kennecott, a mining camp established in 1911. Today the massive red mill remains—protected by the National Park Service as a National Historic Landmark District—but nobody lives here. All mining here ceased by 1938, at which point it was turned into a national park (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve).
Wittenoom, Western Australia
A former company mining town (from 1953-1966) in the outback, Wittenoom’s most vibrant time was during the 1950s and 1960s, until mining for asbestos abruptly stopped. Earlier this year, just five years after a decision to close the town, Wittenoom’s population was down to just three residents.
Built on a hillside, Kayaköy’s ruins were built in the Greek style, to accommodate the Greeks who once lived there. When the 2 million Greeks living in Turkey were forced to leave that country in 1922, during the Greco-Turkish War, the town whittled away to practically nothing. Now, all that remains are these stone structures. You may recognize the town from the 2014 Russell Crowe film “The Water Diviner.”
Kilamba New City, Angola
Built by the Chinese, just 17 miles outside of the capital city of Luanda, this brand-new development was destined to become a city that could comfortably house half a million people. But the developers failed to do their market research as many of the homes, shops and schools remain empty. The reason is simple: it costs too much for most people in Angola to move here. And while it’s not abandoned, only 80,000 people have moved here, a far cry from the expected numbers.
Al’Ula, Saudi Arabia
Constructed during the 13th Century, Al’Ula—450 miles north of Mecca—was emptied out during the 1980s when most of its residents relocated to a newer town nearby. At one time, this was the capital of the ancient Lihyanites.
As recently as 30 years ago, there were 28,000 people living here. But the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1993 forced them to flee. Many of the former homes are ruined, thanks to all that gun fighting, and the Agdam Mosque is a mere shell.
Created by prisoners during World War II, this community boasted two coal mines. But with the creation of Russia—out of the former Soviet Union—one of those mines closed in the early 1990s. Then, a 1996 explosion closed this town forever, destroying most of its buildings. As of 2010, the population is down to zero, quite a change from 10,270 in 1996.
Once Alabama’s capital city during the 1820s, and a major cotton-distribution area, Cahawba’s residents endured so many floods during the 1800s that living here suddenly became impossible. Visitors can check out the antebellum architecture and archeological sites in Old Cahawba, not far from Selma.
The roots in this Austrian village run deep: it reportedly dates back to 1143 A.D.. During the Nazi regime, residents were forced to evacuate Döllersheim, however, and the next chapter was as a military training area. After the war, this town was never inhabited again. Visitors can tour the church, square and graveyard.
By Ludovica Stevan
By Rachel Davies
By Michelle Duncan
26 Must-See Nevada Ghost Towns & How to Find ‘Em
From abandoned boomtowns-gone-bust to old relic-strewn mining camps to “living ghost towns” with charming old-school B&Bs and real-deal, still-servin’ saloons, Nevada’s 600-odd ghost towns ( that’s more than actual populated ones )—make Nevada an unbeatable destination for those looking to literally walk through history.
Find out where to go, what to make sure you see, when to venture out, and how to get there.
Paradise Valley Nelson Blair Austin Fish Lake Valley Fort Churchill Aurora Belmont
Tybo Unionville Candelaria Berlin Gold Mountain Midas Delamar Sand Springs Gold Point Ione
Pioche Jarbidge Goodsprings Manhattan Goldfield Metropolis Rhyolite Nivloc
1. Ghostly street scenes in Paradise Valley
1 hour north of winnemucca.
With mountains on three sides, ensconcing multiple rivers and creeks that nourish verdant farms and ranch lands, Paradise Valley is aptly named. It’s also a classic example of what Nevadans call a “living ghost town,” as around 100 people call the surrounding area home—just not in any of “downtown’s” buildings… except the saloon.
Although it truly looks and feels like a movie set, this building pictured above was once the Micca House—a historic home built in 1885 that went on to be a department store, post office, and government office. At one point, a horse broke into the building and got stuck for multiple days; its happy and healthy condition when it was rescued is attributed to the care it received from a long-gone former employee, who was said to still reside there in spectral form.
But seriously, hit up the Paradise Valley Saloon & Bar G . If you like (or haven’t yet experienced) Basque chorizo burgers washed down with ice-cold domestic beers, this is your jam.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Reno: 205 MILES or about 3.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: WINNEMUCCA
2. Techatticup’s Modern Day Prop City
45 mins south of boulder city.
During the mid-1880s, the Techatticup gold mine in Eldorado Canyon was movin’ and shakin’ in biggest of ways. In addition to pumping out actual millions of dollars in gold, silver, and copper—in values that made it the richest and most famous gold mine in southern Nevada—this mining camp was known for lawlessness of the kind Hollywood couldn’t even come close to depicting on-screen.
The town itself—now known as Nelson Ghost Town—was founded by deserters of the Civil War, who assumed this isolated location would be the last place military would come searching for them. In true boomtown fashion, the mine dried up, and a flash flood wiped the area out. Some of the buildings remain, in ways that have attracted the eyes of countless cinematographers. Today, you can tour the Techatticup Mine , as well as what has grown into a leftover grounds of movie, TV, and magazine shoots—with props like the plane crash above, a permanent souvenir from the cult film 3,000 Miles to Graceland.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 45 MILES, OR 50 MINUTES Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL, SUMMER MAY BE A BIT TOASTY Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: BOULDER CITY
3. A super saucy triple window effect in Blair
1 hour south of tonopah.
Blair got its shot at being a boomtown, attracting gold-hungry prospectors from near and far, but hers was a bit more short-lived. Mining took serious root in nearby Tonopah and spread throughout the region as a result… to places like Blair and Silver Peak. A giant 100-stamp mill was built in 1907, which just so happened to be the largest of its kind in the whole state. By the year 1920 rolled around, the mine had dried up and Blair’s 700 residents moved on to bigger and better things. Today, a few eroded buildings still stand, like the stamp mill pictured, with a Nevada view that’s dang near impossible to rival.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Reno: 223 MILES, OR 3.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
4. A desert castle sure to instigate a little travel stoke in Austin
Towering over the Reese River Valley at Austin’s western edge, Stokes Castle was modeled after a real Roman tower for well-heeled railroad magnate, Anson Phelps Stokes, in the late 1890s.
Today it stands as a solid monument to the town’s mining-era grandeur. More than 10,000 people were living in Austin , chasing a serious silver vein, but by the time this tower was completed, the mine had dried up and everyone was off to the next place. He and his family lived in his castle for less than a year, and it has been unoccupied since.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 173 MILES, OR 3 HOURS DOOR TO DOOR Roads : PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: AUSTIN , BUT RELY ON REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS ONLY
5. Fish Lake Valley’s fully intact 1881 Post Office Building
This California-Nevada-straddling White Mountains boast Boundary Peak —Nevada’s highest summit at 13,146 feet. Just below it, on the Nevada side, is the quiet community of Dyer and nearby Fish Lake Valley. There are amenities, like a gas station, store, restaurant, and a couple bars, plus, a pretty sweet little B&B .
When the community realized that original settlement— Fish Lake Valley —was falling victim to time and weather, they scrambled to save many of the original buildings and relocated all of them to one handy spot for you to check out. That place is the Fish Lake Valley Heritage Center . Like a beautifully curated, mini ghost town, everything here is nothing short of sensational, particularly the town’s original switchboard, the fueling station itself, and the post office you see pictured above.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 229 MILES, OR 3.5 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities : DYER
6. An old army fort’s picture-perfect adobe brick ruins
45 mins south of fallon.
By the time Nevada State Parks stepped in to manage this property, the ruins were in a perfect state of what ghost town aficionados call “a state of arrested decay.” Not overly eroded to the point of being unable to appreciate them… but not flawlessly preserved either. The whole feeling of this old military fort exudes a Wild West vibe, allowing the rough-and-tumble qualities of Nevada’s past come to life before you.
The long and short of it is this: Fort Churchill was built to “protect” early settlers, explorers, and Pony Express riders from “hostile” American Indians. As with most places in Nevada, that proved virtually unnecessary, and the fort was totally abandoned in 1869—a mere eight years after it was built. Supposedly, Fort Churchill is an active paranormal hot spot, but the most out-of-this-world vision we can always guarantee is summertime visages of the Milky Way.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 57 MILES, OR 1 HOUR Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: LATE SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON
7. Aurora’s well-heeled historic cemetery and intact 1860s furnace
1 hour southwest of hawthorne.
The Nevada ghost town of Aurora isn’t much today, but it certainly wasn’t always that way. Ever heard of California’s totally impressive Bodie Ghost Town? Aurora was basically its “sister ghost town”—just a dozen or so miles across the border. If you’ve ever spent any time in Bodie, you’ll know that it looks like its occupants picked up and moved on only days before. Everything is in complete pristine condition beyond your wildest imagination—the day’s lesson plan written on the chalkboard, beds made, pantries stocked, you name it.
Aurora was just like that, until the 1950s when someone illegally dozed it to steal the locally hewn bricks the buildings were made of. Luckily, it’s still home to one of the coolest historical cemeteries in the state—a permanent home to senators and famed prospectors of the time—as well as one of the most intriguing furnace and stack structures in the entire state. A slew of noteworthy prospectors were drawn to Aurora, including Mark Twain , but that’s another tale, and not just of the tall variety.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 160 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: 30ISH MILES OF DIRT ROAD DRIVIN’. 2WD IN SUMMER OR FALL, 4WD IN WINTER MONTHS Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: HAWTHORNE
8. A legendary courthouse, structures galore, and one helluva Sagebrush Saloon in Belmont
1 hour northeast of tonopah.
Of all the ghost towns clinging to Nevada’s 300+ mountain ranges, Belmont is one of our favorites. As with many bygone boomtowns, Belmont was at one point a county seat—in this case, of Nye County—during its mining heyday. Thanks to plentiful silver in the surrounding hills, Belmont once boasted a population of 15,000 residents. Hence a whole lot of amazing ruins, including a bank, miner’s cabins, the storied Belmont Courthouse , mine shafts, 100-foot-tall brick chimneys, and the picture-perfect combination stamp mill ruins shown above. The best part? Belmont is positioned in such a way that standing in the very threshold of the stamp mill’s ruins affords 60-mile vantage points of the valley below.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 271 MILES, OR 5 HOURS Roads: SERIOUS DIRT ROAD DRIVING. 2WD IN SUMMER OR FALL, 4WD IN WINTER MONTHS. BE SURE YOU’VE GOT GOOD TREAD ON THAT TIRE… Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL AFTER SNOW HAS MELTED Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH , BUT RELY ON REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS ONLY
9. Intact head frames and a hoise house in Tybo
Tybo has one of the best-preserved head frames in the state. The mine shaft went into the earth, and the “head frame” towered above it, hoisting ore (and people) out of the earth. From there, the miners transported the big, raw chunks of rock to stamp mills in order to break them down and extract the precious minerals they sought.
Luckily, Tybo’s boasts a solid structure and many remaining features, including some you don’t always still get to see, like the original ladder, the winch wheel crank mechanism pictured here, and even the entire hoist house itself—the control room that helped control and guide the head frame’s power.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 305 MILES, OR 5 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
10. Mark Twain’s Unionville cabin
1.5 hours northeast of lovelock.
In 1861, a young Missourian named Samuel Langhorne Clemens tagged along with his older brother to Nevada Territory. It was here that Clemens would discover his distaste of office work, become “allergic” to shovels and gold mining, adopt the pen name “ Mark Twain ,” and train his ears on the colorful language, fanciful yarns, and bombastic characters that would later inform a life of writing—one that would shape American literature and humor forever.
Twain visited and wrote about many places throughout the Silver State, but it is here in Unionville where he first learned the hard way, as he observes in Roughing It , that “all that glitters is not gold.” Fortunately for lovers of history and Twain’s literature alike, it is also here in Unionville that the cabin where that episode unfolds still stands. You’d enjoy sleeping in it about as much as he did; but luckily, just down the dirt road, you’ll find the charming Old Pioneer Garden , where you can add a lovely, idyllic overnight stay to your pilgrimage.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Reno: 155 MILES, OR 2.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED UNTIL LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: LOVELOCK
11. Candelaria’s very picturesque original mercantile building
45 mins south of hawthorne.
If you’re looking for a great place to stretch your legs and take in some history on the road between Reno and Vegas , ease off the gas and point those tires towards Candelaria. Silver was noticed here by Spaniards in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the 1880s that its wild potential was discovered. Despite its lucrative prospects, the mining camp was incredibly far from any kind of water. Many Candelarians also suffered from “miner’s consumption”—AKA too much dust in the lungs. Then, on top of it all, the far-from-water mine “dried up” in an even more damning way. And that was that.
Although Candelaria is just about ten minutes off of modern-day US-95 , its relatively off-the-beaten-path location helped it remain mostly undisturbed for decades. By the 1980s, a mining company swooped in to test out the old mine tailings here, which, thanks modern-day sophisticated mining techniques, turned out to still be profitable. The mine’s tight security led to even further preservation of the area. Today, not much mining is still taking place, which means you can roll right up to this sweet little mercantile building in its splendid state of decay. Keep an eye out for the original metal storm windows; you don’t see many of those anymore.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Reno: 190 MILES, OR 3.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: HAWTHORNE OR TONOPAH DEPENDING ON DIRECTION
12. 60-Mile views from Berlin’s machine shop
1.5 hours from fallon.
The combination of crowdless highways and solid dirt road ramblin’ it takes to get to Berlin—part of Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park —is an iconic Nevada haul that delivers serious bang for your buck. Perched on a high mountainside overlooking a sweeping valley below, Berlin’s buildings remain some of the most plentiful and best-preserved in the entire state—thanks to Nevada’s climate and the painstaking protective efforts of Nevada State Parks staff. There are buildings, mining structures, and relics galore, as well as one of the most immersive and authentic mine tunnel experiences, at the Diana Mine. Highlights include a camera-hogging Model T, genuine Westinghouse winch, homes filled with belongings of the original 1890s owners, and one of the best surviving examples of a 30-stamp mill in the West. As you make your self-guided walking tour around the townsite, wander into the machine shop and gaze out for that incredible 60-mile vista.
And then there’s the paleontological bonus: despite hundreds of people helping pull nearly a million dollars worth of gold out of the ground, what they didn’t dig up was the most abundant concentration and largest-known ever discovered fossils of ichthyosaurs —massive Paleozoic swimming dinosaur-esque marine reptiles. Yep, at 6,700 feet of elevation, thanks to the fact that these mountainsides were once the banks of ancient seas. You can catch a glimpse of the dig site through the windows of the Fossil House, pose next to a massive to-scale mural, and camp, before you say auf wiedersehen to Berlin.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 158 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads : PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON, OR AUSTIN . DEPEND ON REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS ONLY
13. Gold Mountain’s magnificent masonry
1 hour south of goldfield.
Turns out, prospectors could really build stuff. Imagine traveling 2,000 miles across the nation through all manner of unforgiving landscapes, showing up at a mining camp, knocking out 15 hours of manual labor… then building a house out of rocks—a good one, too. Because that’s what they did out here. As well as stores, social halls, saloons, you name it—and with whatever materials they could find.
When you spot an old miner’s cabin that still stands, like the ones here do, pay attention to the fireplaces; these things are so airtight that you’ll expect to see a modern day construction crew around the next turn, but most are over 150 years old. What you’ll rarely notice is a roof; most were made of what scarce lumber there was around (especially after the railroad came through these regions), which was the first thing miners would take with them when a mine went bust and they set off for the next big boomtown. However, even roofless, many of these buildings have withstood the test of time and harsh Nevada elements all these years.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 190 MILES, OR 3 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST 25 MILES OR SO, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
14. A 100+ year old Sarsaparilla sign, proclaiming its blood purifying prowess in Midas
1 hour east of winnemucca.
If you’re wondering how many Nevada ghost towns have the word “gold” in their name, the answer is… well, a lot. But not this one, thanks to a—shall we say—more linguistically inclined postmaster. This northern Nevada locale boomed in the early 1900s and, although the resident ore was in fact gold, and, although the townsfolk did in fact want to call it Gold-something, the postmaster declared that enough was enough. So in order to stand out from all the Gold-everythings—and, likely, to sprinkle in a little inspiration—they named the town Midas, after the famous king in Greek mythology whose touch turned everything to gold.
The miners who had that Midas touch inevitably took their ore to be tested for purity at the local assay office, which still stands in all its glory, along with the Benneson’s Drug Store, where one of our favorite old signs still hangs, advertising the apparent miracle drink that was sarsaparilla. If you think we struggle with truth in advertising today, read that thing. You be the judge. Then head into the Midas Saloon for a cold brew and a delicious, honest meal.
A re we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Reno: 227 MILES, OR 3.75 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL, DO NOT ATTEMPT DURING WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: WINNEMUCCA
15. The entire town of Delamar, because there are too many spectacular finds to choose just one
45 mins from caliente.
We’re generally in the business of pointing out “must-sees,” but the entire ghost town of Delamar is just so mesmerizing that it’s an impossible task to highlight just one building or thing. Remarkably, the still-standing structures are almost too many to count—dozens of buildings, milling remains, two graveyards, miner’s cabins, a brick archway, and several mine shafts can be found here—and are all built out of a kaleidoscopic range of colored stone.
Luckily, eyes are the the only way to “take in” Delamar today. The gold discovered here was a bit more complicated than that of other mines, due to the quartzite embedded in it, which, when crushed up and processed, created fine dust that snuck into miners’ lungs, often with lethal consequences. In fact, before long, Delamar earned itself a nickname: the “widow maker” camp, as many of its prospectors contracted silicosis and “bit the dust.” If you’re into the paranormal thing (and want to meet some permanent residents), we’d recommend combining your otherworldly interests with some out-of-this-world fun, by cruising down the nearby, legendary ET Highway .
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Las Vegas: 145 MILES, OR 2.5 HOURS Roads: 4WD ONLY—PLAN TO NAVIGATE ROUGH, ONE LANE ROADS Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: CALIENTE
16. A Pony Express Station at the base of a 6-Story Mountain Of Sand
20 mins from fallon.
Westernophiles know that anything Pony Express packs some serious horsepower. Despite the fact that this ambitious operation—of young, strapping, orphaned bachelors racing mail across the western United States on mustang-back—lasted less than two years (thanks to implementation of the telegraph), it sure left an impression. Out of 157 stations from California to Missouri, Nevada was home to 30 Pony Express Stations, like the one pictured above. These stations, positioned between five and 20 miles apart, were places where weary riders could take a breather and exchange their ran-out horses for a more re-energized steed.
This particular one, located at Sand Springs, was completely hidden for over 100 years… buried in sand, like that of nearby off-road mecca Sand Mountain Recreation Area . The remaining foundation was literally uncovered by a team of archaeologists in 1977 and is now a pretty nifty spot to literally step into this short but fascinating chapter in American history.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 90 MILES, OR 1.5 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL, SUMMER MAY BE A BIT TOASTY Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON
17. A Real-deal Old-school Wild West Saloon At Gold Point
30 mins south of goldfield.
After gold and silver was discovered in Tonopah and Goldfield in the early 1900s, prospectors flooded in to try for their piece of the pie. While those two towns drew the largest influx, many other mining camps sprang up around the region, including Gold Point , where (somewhat ironically) a boom was sparked by Silver. However, while plenty of people never struck it rich in Nevada, the oh-so-Nevadan story of Gold Point features a man who did, in a much different way.
During the 1970s, Herb Robbins, not yet a Nevadan, came to the Silver State to explore ghost towns whenever he could. He eventually moved to Las Vegas, professionally installing wallpaper in all the big casinos, but not for long. One night, while playing slots, he hit the jackpot and immediately used his newfound fortune to BUY AN ENTIRE GHOST TOWN: this one. There, he started Gold Point Ghost Town Bed & Breakfast , with rooms converted from original miner’s cabins, a gallows-turned-matrimonial-pulpit, and delicious steak meals. The picturesque, relic-packed town spans multiple blocks, but its centerpiece, hands down, is the working saloon. When you go, check out that whiskey selection.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 184 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED EXCEPT THE LAST FEW MILES, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
18. The welcome sign declaring Ione’s staunch refusal to “Die”
1.5 hours southeast of fallon.
By now, we would be willing to bet you’re starting to figure out that each of these towns earned their own importance by generating millions and millions of dollars in gold and silver profit…scoring their own opp as county seat. Ione was no different; this community’s shot at county seat went down in 1863, and experienced not only one but TWO major booms. Belmont would eventually steal Ione’s thunder, luring its occupants over the hill… but Ione refused to die then, and it still hasn’t totally given up. A few ride-or-die residents pledged their allegiance to Ione over any other newer, more profitable boomtown, even after the post office closed for good… a sure kiss of death for any community. Today, a few hardy residents have managed to hang on, and made a pretty sweet sign to commemorate their audacious pride. Ione or bust, baby .
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 162 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED UP UNTIL THE LAST 20 OR SO MILES, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: FALLON
19. Murderer’s Row at Boot Hill Cemetery in Pioche
What’s the most rough-and-tumble Western town you can think of. Dodge City? Tombstone? Deadwood? We’re sure you see where this is going. Certainly, all of these boisterous spots exuded their own level of toughness. But a lesser-known little gunslinging Nevada town called Pioche swiftly beats out all the others by a country mile. A giant silver boom drew people to this southeastern Nevada spot, and a mind-numbing 72 of ’em were laid to rest before someone actually bit the big one from any natural causes. To put in perspective, Tombstone only had a couple murders each year, while Pioche found itself with dozens on its hands, not to mention plenty of literal shootouts in the street, on the regular.
Almost all of them are now permanent residents of Boot Hill Cemetery , which is photogenically positioned under the only lasting aerial tramway in the state. But why the name? Murderers were buried so quickly that the tips of their boots allegedly stuck out of the ground. Pay attention to the grave inscriptions; you’ll find stuff like “died in dispute over a dog” and “feared by some, detested by others… shot in the back five times from AMBUSH.”
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 176 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY SEASON IS PRIMETIME Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: PIOCHE
20. A 19th Century jail in at the last gold rush in the American West
Many places claim “firsts.” Well, the tiny, mega-remote “living ghost town” of Jarbidge claims two major “lasts.” Jarbidge prides itself on being the the site of the last legitimate gold rush in the American West, after the shiny stuff was discovered in this breathtakingly beautiful, modern-day wilderness area in 1909. Not entirely unrelatedly, it later hosted that last stagecoach robbery. The perp was eventually caught “red-handed” after his bloody handprint was discovered on the coach, which did mark a first: the use of fingerprinting technology to catch a criminal. As this would-be thief was far from the only nefarious individual to lurk about the canyon, the town had itself a jail—a pretty sturdy one, too. If only the rock-masoned walls of the storied Historic Jarbidge Jail could talk, you can bet they’d have some colorful tails to tell. Today you can walk right in off the main drag (and thankfully right back out) to its cold cell and check out its original prisoner cot, as well as thumb through old mining records.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Elko: 104 MILES, OR 3.25 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SUMMER ONLY. DO NOT ATTEMPT IN WINTER, SPRING OR FALL… ROADS ARE ASSUREDLY CLOSED Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: ELKO
21. Impressively intact Miner’s Cabins in Goodsprings
45 mins south of las vegas.
Heading into southern Nevada from LA? Do yourself a favor and shake things up a bit by taking the slight detour into Goodsprings, less than 15 minutes off of I-15 (at the Jean exit), take the historic walking tour, and slurp back one of the best Bloody Marys in the Silver State. This community might be quiet now, but when its early 1900s boom was enough to rival Nelson , the not-too-far-away spot that put southern Nevada on the mining map. While plenty of other mining towns produced more in actual dollars, Goodsprings was known for the unusually wide variety of precious minerals hiding down below, including lead, sivler, copper, zinc, and good ol’ gold. Self-guided touring maps and killer “Ghost Burgers” and knock-your-socks-off libations can all be found at one of our favorite southern Sagebrush Saloons, The Goodsprings Pioneer Saloon , possibly the last stamped-tin bars of its kind in existence. (We recommend taking your tour before you settle in… we have a habit of not wanting to leave.) And don’t miss the Cottonwood Cabin.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 38.5 MILES OR 40 MINUTES Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING OR FALL, SUMMER MAY BE A BIT TOASTY Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: JEAN
22. Manhattan’s still-standing stone bank and original vault
1 hour north of tonopah.
When a town was pulling insurmountable wealth out of the ground, people needed a secure place to store it. In short, mining meant banks. So as you make your way around Nevada’s many ghost towns, you’re bound to encounter some pretty cool ones, still standing because, oftentimes, they were the strongest structures built. One of the best cases in point: Manhattan . (Yep! Manhattan, Nevada .)
When things started to slow down in Belmont, located just over the pass, thousands of fortune-seekers beelined it here to get a piece of the hot new boom. For a decade it was one of Nevada’s largest gold districts, necessitating this tough stone building—the only stone building in town. The building itself is a sight to behold, but venture inside for a glimpse of the original 1906 Nye & Ormsby County Bank vault, still anchoring things down in back, with its safe still doing its job. Keeping things locked down was definitely a priority for Nevada Manhattanites—because they knew themselves. Rumor has it that neighboring Belmont is still miffed at Manhattan for sneaking over that one night in 1908 and stealing its church—by dragging it 18 miles over the mountains. (Luckily, the thieves haven’t gone back for Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon … yet.)
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from Reno: 254 MILES, OR 4 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
23. Oddball old-meets-new in Goldfield
You may be familiar with the whole boom-then-bust-and/or-devastating-fire routine that so many ghost towns got so good at. Well, Goldfield , never to be outdone, cranked up the heat with TWO giant fires and a freak flash flood. However, partially owing to its position on the main route between Reno and Las Vegas, “The World’s Greatest Gold Camp” has soldiered on as one of the Silver State’s more oddball “living ghost town” communities. If it’s mining-era action you’re after, check out the Goldfield Consolidated Mine Company’s photogenic relics, like train engines, old cars, and tiny cabins; the Goldfield Historic High School (allegedly one of the most haunted places in the U.S.); the Esmerelda County Courthouse , still adorned with original Tiffany lamps; the imposing (and also haunted) Goldfield Hotel ; and the Historic Goldfield Cemetery , home to some morbidly intriguing epitaphs, and the camera-hogging Brown-Parker Auto Co. Garage, shown above.
Be sure to take the edge off at the Santa Fe Saloon , one of Nevada’s oldest continually operating elixir emporiums (and home to the “Meanest Bartender in Nevada”), and the nearby Mozart Tavern , which, in an earlier iteration staffed Virgil Earp as a bouncer. Oh, and if you’re looking to get a little weird, peruse Rocket Bob’s art cars on the main drag, and then swing by the International Car Forest of the Last Church on your way out of town, an installation of vehicles stacked and sticking out of the ground, ever-changing with the paint jobs visitors tend to give it. For tasty homemade grub, hit up the Dinky Diner .
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 184 MILES, OR 2.75 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY B est time of year to swing through: ANY SEASON IS PRIMETIME Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
24. The Iconic freestanding Metropolis arch
20 mins north of wells.
Historical markers tell of the “killer” jack rabbits and Mormon crickets that helped bring about the demise of this now-ironically named community . In reality, the ferocious bun-buns were really just the result of people killing off the entire coyote population, letting the critters procreate at rabbit-like speed and munch all the crops, predator-free; then, whatever agricultural remains they left on their plates, the crickets swarmed in and licked clean. Pair this with a shifty water rights scandal and a failed dam attempt and voila! We had ourselves a future ghost town. While the elements may not have been kind to these Metropolitans, they’ve left us with the bones of the old hotel, complete with one of the first elevator shafts in the region, and one of our favorite photogenic structures, the freestanding brick arch at the entrance to the local two-story school. We don’t recommend traipsing about the decrepit structure behind it, but if you peek in, you may spy the original chalkboard.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? NORTHERN Distance from Elko: 60 MILES, OR 1.25 HOURS Roads: PAVED UNTIL LAST TINY STRETCH, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: SPRING, SUMMER OR FALL Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: WELLS
25. Nevada’s Most Photographed Ghost Town
10 mins outside beatty.
Once home to 5,000 fortune-seekers, Rhyolite was abandoned more than 100 years ago, but its iconic buildings still dazzle film crews, more photographers than any other Nevada ghost town, and anyone craving one of the state’s best vestigial glimpses of the boomtown era. Its location at the edge of Death Valley certainly helps, but once you get there—especially at golden hour, you instantly get why. With so many fascinating buildings, some fully intact—like the train station… and brothel—others in a nearly perfect state of cracked and crumbling, like the iconic Cook Bank building, shown above.
Another stubborn remnant is the famed Tom Kelly Bottle House, constructed of nearly 50,000 medicine and booze bottles (there wasn’t much wood, but with all those saloons, there were plenty of those)—the oldest and largest of its kind in the nation. And then there’s the ghosts . Not of any haunted buildings (that we know of), but of the Goldwell Open Air Museum , a sculpture-filled installation started by Belgian artists in the 1970s, which is now home to a ghostly depiction of the Last Supper, a LEGO-esque woman, a 24-foot-tall miner (and his trusty penguin), and other surrealist visions rising from the desert, not to mention a free visitor center.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? SOUTHERN Distance from Vegas: 120 MILES, OR 2 HOURS Roads: PAVED ENTIRELY, 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY SEASON IS PRIMETIME Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: BEATTY
26. The last wooden train trestle standing
1 hour southwest of tonopah.
Nivloc, another boomtown in the 1900s heyday around Tonopah and Goldfield , emerged after a Shoshone Indian discovered gold here in 1907, swinging into full force by the 1930s. Like Midas, instead of establishing yet another Gold-Something, its founder, Colvin, named it after himself, except in reverse: N-I-V-L-O-C. While this ghost town’s mining exploits don’t rise high above the rest, what does is the last standing original wooden train trestle in Nevada. Two-ish stories tall, the thing was probably last traveled over around the 1940s—and that’s how it should be; do not climb or attempt to drive a steam train over that rickety old sucker. Instead, if you’re feeling rockhoundy, you can dig through core samples from some latter-day 1980s prospecting.
Are we talkin’ northern or southern Nevada? CENTRAL Distance from RENO: 232 MILES, OR 4 HOURS Roads: 2WD ALL DAY Best time of year to swing through: ANY TIME, THOUGH YOU MAY RUN INTO SNOW IN WINTER MONTHS Closest LIVING town to snag amenities: TONOPAH
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1. ride a camel to chinguetti, mauritania.
© Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery
2. See a nuclear disaster site in Pripyat, Ukraine
© Getty Images / Lonely Planet Images
3. Dig for gold in Bodie, California
Bodie’s abandoned gold mining town
© Getty Images
4. Shuffle through sand in Kolmanskop, Namibia
© Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
5. Avoid detection in Consonno, Italy
© Getty Images/Moment Open
6. See faded glory at Michigan Central Station, Detroit
Michigan Central Station, Detroit
© Getty Images/Flickr RM
7. Go for a swim in Lake Reschen, Italy
Lake Reschen in Italy
© Getty Images/Vetta
8. Oradour Sur Glane, France
Ourador sur Glane
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