View Full Version : Best/main ghost towns in AZ, NM, NV, UT and CO?

12-02-2004, 12:25 PM

Could you tell me what the main/best ghost towns in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada (LV/Death Valley areas), Utah and the bottom-left corner of Colorado are? I'd be very grateful indeed for any help. :-)

James from England.

old judge
12-02-2004, 02:40 PM
JAMES: On the off chance you got to this site without stopping through www.ghosttowns.com , I would tell anyone to at least start there. Go to each state and each area in which you are interested. Then surf this site with queries which might update your info. You might also let the ghosttowners on this site know when you'll be visiting, for how long, and what your primary interests are, i.e. touristy ghost towns, Class A, B, etc, photgraphy, history, ghostly places. OJ

12-02-2004, 03:08 PM
We stated Old Judge. I didn’t feel able to answer because most everyone’s definition of a ghost town is different and I think everyone would have a different opinion on the best ghosttowns. Some people think Goldfield is a great ghost town but it’s the freaking county seat of Esmeralda County (Hardy a ghost town unless you use Lambert Florin definition of "...a shadowy semblance of a former self."). My favorite ghost town in Nevada is not for publication (It has several dozen completely intact buildings including a completely equipped mine and mill which wouldn’t cost but a few thousand to get back in product). I suspect a tourist would like towns like Tonopah, Goldfield and Rhyolite in Nevada, Jerome in Arizona, Telluride and Silverton in Colorado, Cerro Gordo in Calif, etc. but I need more information.

12-03-2004, 07:34 AM
Dear Old Judge and Bob,

I must apologise for my highly ambiguous first post, which was, as you might have guessed, hurriedly constructed with neither much thought nor consideration.

I have spent sometime going through the list of sites on this website, but it’s sometimes hard to differentiate between them – hence my desire to get your expert opinions – for a foreigner without any direct experience of ghosttowns.

I am not yet totally sure about when I will visit, but I am expecting to travel around the SW USA by car (and camp most of the time) for about two months when I (finally) finish my PhD (Old Judge – I am doing my PhD on an area of law). However, it is likely that it will be June-August (I realise it’s generally a bad time to visit due to the heat, but I don’t have any real alternative; still, I like the heat and am used to it as I do a lot of backpacking in very hot countries).

I am particularly interested in sites which offer more than just a sprinkling of random things, thus giving a more ‘real’ view, but which are not touristy or at least not spoilt by tourism (Bob – the ones you stated seem good for an ‘outsider.’ Do you have any further, and similar, suggestions?). I will have a 2WD vehicle, so that is a consideration.

Thanks a lot for your time and assistance.


12-03-2004, 09:23 AM
Yeah I have lots of suggestions for someone who really wants to get away from tourist like places and is willing to hike a few miles. In June/July a really neat place in Nevada would be around Hamilton (1860/70s intense mining area) with a hike up to Belmont Mill. That time of the year 2WD will get you to and near a lot of places and it will be cool in the evening and not hot. A trip to Ely for supplies is about an hour and there are numerous one or two hour places nearby like Cherry Creek, Spruce Mountain, Atlanta, etc.) I can give you some interesting ideas around Great Basin National Park as well. I can think of lots of fun places off the beaten path in Colorado (A hike from Silverton to Telluride would reveal a lot of rustic history), Utah, Arizona as well and hopefully others will join in. I'd still try to get around Tonopah (Visit the Mining Museum, check out Goldfield, etc...) and again, neat places to explore for someone who doesn’t mind a little hiking within two hours on good 2wd roads from Tonopah. Some fun backcountry locales in the Arizona Strip (A chance to see the Grand Canyon from an all together different perspective as well). As the time approaches, we’ll have to exchange information via email. I can recommend all sorts of couple day diversions. Sounds like your planning a well deserved and memorable vacation, and will be glad to give you some sage advice on the Southwest (Nevada is my speciality).

12-03-2004, 10:04 AM
Hey Bob,

Thanks a lot for both your reply here and your private message. I don't have much time to go through them both in detail - I have to dash off now - but I have printed them and will reply ASAP.

Thanks again,


old judge
12-03-2004, 04:56 PM
James: So happens my wife and I have crisscrossed your area three times in the past year and a half. Will respond with some thoughts and photos this weekend. Right now my real concern is the Big 12 Football Championship. Since you're looking at next summer, there is no real hurry. But you can bet there are plenty of folks on this site, whom you can querie individually, who can respond, or ignore you. I expect the former. I will get back to you soon with my thoughts, but in the meantime, us yanks ain't gonna let you get too lost if we can help it. Old Judge

old judge
12-06-2004, 01:28 PM
James: A few thoughts that may help on your trip. Beginning in Nevada, Bob is probably your go to guy. My thoughts come from an older couple who, while we avoid four lane highways, and don't mind dirt, rock and gravel, we are 2WD and don't usually stray more than a mile from the vehicle. Carry plenty of water in July and August. Don't break down in the middle of nowhere. Let someone know where you're going, and how long to wait before searching for your royal remains. Anyway, Nevada. Enjoyable Class E GTs are Ely, Eureka, Austin and Caliente. We enjoyed Candelaria, Hamilton and Belmont Mill, Class B/C GTs. Search Belmont Mill on this site for Caver's excellent pics. Goodsprings might be worth the trip (between L. V. and D. V. on Nv. State 161.) While you're in Southern Nevada, you might want to drive the Interterrestrial Highway and visit Rachel.(No ghosts but some spooky folks and doins') Lot's of Ghost towns in the Death Valley area and somebody's been to many of them. As for me, if I were GTin' there, I wouldn't miss going to Scotty's Castle again. Utah, especially South and Southeast is as scenic as anywhere. Lots of GTs. I particularly recommend some time at Sego, and on the drive in, past the cemetery. Cisco is interesting as a Class D Ghost. If I were GTin' Northern AZ, I'd not miss the Grand Canyon or Canyon de Chelly. Also some interesting ruins along state 160 in NE part of state. A beautiful day trip in Colorado is the loop from Parlin on highway 50, up through touristy Class D GTs Ohio City, Pitkin and Tin Cup, and around to Almont (not a GT) and on to Gunnison. While I personally enjoyed the towns and cemeteries, the drive and breathtaking vistas make the trip worthwhile, unless you or your loved one tends to throw up on high, narrow, rocky, curvy mountain roads. In New Mexico, I'm partial to Class B Ghost Trementina. Easier pickin's are Cuervo (C), Montoya (you'll need landowner permission but has not been a problem for me), & the Golden Road (Cerillos, Madrid, and Golden, all a little touristy). Tierra Amarilla is not generally considered a GT, but, in my opinion, though a County Seat, is a bona fide ClassD/E and very interesting. There are so many folks you can query for more info. Just go to Search on this site and dig around, if it's fairly accessible, and not a secret, someone's got direct knowledge. For pics of some of the sites I've mentioned, check oldjudge's album and the New Mexico Album on www.backtrails.net (http://www.backtrails.net/). Old Judge

12-06-2004, 04:44 PM
Taking off where Old Judge left off.

Las Vegas may be a good place to jump off from as air fare to Vegas is most reasonable. Goodsprings is an easy 30 minute drive from Vegas and the real history is in the hills between it and Mesquite Valley (Now Called Sandy Valley). I have three different masters thesis others have written on Goodsprings plus a lot of local history but the definitive book on Goodsprings by Alan Patera, Let me know if your thinking of heading that way.

Rachel is a modern town but one of the oldest ghosts in the area is just up the hill from Rachel, a community called tem piute. The original townsite with old stone ruins is a few miles from the more modern but also abandoned site shown on most maps. Besides, a stop at the little Alien Inn is hoot listing to the UFO/Conspiracy clowns talking about the goings on at the ranch (So called Area-51), If you head over toward Railroad valley a trip to some of the ghosts like Reverie night be in order but heading over toward Caliente/Pioche is another neat place. I own five acres in Caliente and can fill your head with all sorts of stories. There are several interesting ghosts nearby (mostly polygamy farm communities but also a great mining town called Delamar). A stop at the county seat of Pioche is a must if your in the area. North past Pioche puts you on the road to Ely (Maybe bag Ward). Ely is a good hub with trips to Belmont Mill (and Hamilton), Ruth, and Cherry Creek being worth it. Sprucemont isanother hour from Cherry Creek but one of the neatest ghosts.

Scotty’s Castle is a 30 minute each way trip off 95 (but bag Bonnie Clare on your way) or make a loop into Death Valley and back out farther north at Gold Point. If you take 95 from Vegas, bag Rhyolite and Goldfield for sure. . I can give you lots of info on the lessor know ghosts along the way.

Eureka and Austin will be nice weather during the summer and US-50 is an interesting highway, but maybe bag an ichthyosaur and the ghost at Berlin (State Park) if your near Austin..

Old Judge, just my two cents for Pearson.

Nevada Bob
12-06-2004, 10:18 PM
Hello James,
If you get over into Revielle Valley don't miss the Eden Ranch site. It is on the west side before you get to the Gila Mill. There is a lot more to see than most ghosttowns have. I always love to stop by there. Good luck on your trip.

Still Learning
Nevada Bob

old judge
12-07-2004, 07:50 AM
Pearson: Check David Wright's excellent site on Death Valley and other parts of CA and Nevada. Very organized tie-back to this parent site. www.gbr.death-valley.us/ (http://www.gbr.death-valley.us/) Old Judge

12-07-2004, 09:01 AM
Thank you very much for your informative and useful replies; I will now go and research the suggested ghosttowns.

I will indeed almost certainly fly into and out of LAS, as it is generally considerably cheaper from London than it is to fly into, say, DEN, PHX, ABQ or SLC. In addition, car hire is predictably cheaper in LAS than elsewhere, due to the amount of competition.

I might extend my trip to 3 months, as I am very keen to undertake a comprehensive trip of AZ, NM, southern UT (including a trip to Salt Lake), SW corner of CO (and thereabouts), and parts of NV.

Thanks again for your help. :-)


old judge
12-09-2004, 01:27 PM
Hey Brit: check out www.them-or-us.com/sites/ (http://www.them-or-us.com/sites/) Old Judge

12-17-2004, 04:46 PM
Get yourself the three books Kenneth Jessen published on Ghost towns of Colorado. They will give you details, directions some history and what to expect before you get there. Before I bought these books I went to a lot of Ghost towns sites that were on private proporty (could not get to them) sites that had vanished except for old foundation you could find in the forest etc. You can also go to my site that has nothing but Colorado Ghost towns for more recent photos. Rockymountainprofiles.com

12-31-2004, 01:39 AM
Taking off where Old Judge left off.

Rachel is a modern town but one of the oldest ghosts in the area is just up the hill from Rachel, a community called tem piute. The original townsite with old stone ruins is a few miles from the more modern but also abandoned site shown on most maps. Besides, a stop at the little Alien Inn is hoot listing to the UFO/Conspiracy clowns talking about the goings on at the ranch (So called Area-51).
I live in Las Vegas and own 5 acres in Rachel. I've been to Old Tempiute many times, camped up there a few times and have gone through the mine three times. It is a good days worth to explore up there...anyone seen the old cabin on Choc Drop Mountain?

03-18-2005, 07:34 AM
James I took a wonderful trip through central nevada several years ago and loved the sites which are accesible from the great smokey valley. this runs N -S from Austin to Tonapah and is a broad wonderfully picturesque valley where the mountain ranges slowly rise to the east and west.Many sites are located in the foothills if these ranges. One of my favorites was Ophir which has the foundation to an absolutely Huge stampmill. there were several scattered miners shacks with relics still inside ,hopefully they have not been disrespected and too heavily vandalized by now.Have fun and bring lots of water.