Tonopah

Your adventure options are endless in Tonopah, Nevada. Embrace the oddball at a motel adorned with thousands of clowns, search for spirits in historic hotels or nearby ghost towns, and bask in the glory of the Milky Way (visible to the naked eye here). And when you’re done, wash all your newfound stories down with a locally brewed beer.

Wild West Sights Under A Sea of Stars

Queen of the Silver Camps

Tonopah, Nevada: also known as the starting point for some of the best memories you’ll ever make. That’s high praise, but trust us that this town delivers. Between the turquoise rockhounding, haunted hotels, must-see mining park, and the sleepy burro that helped put this place on the map, you’ll need more than one overnighter (under some of the darkest skies in the Silver State) to enjoy everything Tonopah has to offer. 

Season

All Seasons

Region

Central

Town of Tonopah

So, Where is Tonopah, NV?

Halfway between Las Vegas and Reno, Tonopah’s ideal location in Nye County (the largest in the state) makes it the perfect standalone destination or an awesome addition to tack onto your existing Silver State travels. If you’re traveling U.S. Routes 6 and 95, the town of Tonopah acts as an A++ start or end point for the Extraterrestrial Highway and natural overnighter on the Free-Range Art Highway, respectively. No matter how you get here, give yourself ample time to explore, as Tonopah positively brims with only-in-Nevada experiences.

The History of Tonopah, Nevada

‘Twas the year 1900, and a businessman and prospector by the name of Jim Butler had lost his burro. Once he found it, soundly napping in the desert, the story goes that Butler picked up a rock to rouse his runaway companion and realized it felt heavier than normal. Turns out, that burro had been snoozing atop an untapped reserve of silver ore. The site majorly boomed, naturally, as Butler and others filed claims and started mining. Only a year later, those mines had already produced almost $750,000 in silver and gold, and during the peak years (1901-1921), the total neared $121 million. Easy to see why Tonopah, NV is still regarded as “Queen of the Silver Camps” today. 

Tonopah Historic Mining Park

Like Jim Butler’s burro, lots of big-name celebrities were drawn to Tonopah as well. Wyatt Earp opened the Northern Saloon here in February 1902, and Jack Dempsey – the boxer who held the world heavyweight championship from 1919 to 1926 – had some of his first bare-knuckle bouts in Tonopah and nearby Goldfield. Legend has it that The Mizpah Hotel was the site of Howard Hughes’ wedding to Jean Peters in 1957, and Hughes even returned to Tonopah almost a decade later to buy up 100 mining claims.

Central Nevada Museum
“Me and Jim Found Tonopah”

You can walk in Jim Butler’s footsteps (and his burro’s hoofprints) at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, located right where the original mining claims started the silver rush. More than 100 acres feature preserved and restored buildings, artifacts, and always-evolving exhibits that can be seen via self-guided walking tour or guided Polaris expedition. There’s also the Mizpah Mine Shaft, which takes you for an underground mine walk over a shaft, and the Burro Tunne, which invites visitors to stand atop a grate and peer directly down a 500-foot-deep stope.

The Mizpah Hotel

Heralded as “The Finest Stone Hotel in the Desert”, The Mizpah Hotel was constructed in 1907 and immediately lived up to its luxury reputation, sparing no expense. outfitted with electric lights, steam heat, and a bar stocked with the best whiskey, The Mizpah Hotel remains one of the best overnighters in the Silver State.

The Central Nevada Museum is also an absolute must. High-caliber exhibits highlight the region’s Western Shoshone people and heritage while also diving into mining and pioneer history. You’ll learn all about the Tonopah Air Base, too, which was the largest WWII training center in the country. Kids (and kids at heart) will flip for the replica old west town outside that’s got ore cars, a blacksmith shop, a saloon, and more. 

Things To Do In and Around Tonopah

One day simply won’t be enough for exploring all the adventure opportunities in Tonopah, Nevada. Two of the Silver State’s best ghost towns are located just beyond Tonopah, too. Belmont Ghost Town boasts ruins of a massive combination stamp mill and a still-standing, 100-foot-tall brick chimney, plus the immaculately preserved Belmont Courthouse and the still-open Dirty Dick’s 1867 Belmont Saloon. Over in nearby Manhattan Ghost Town, you’ll find an original 1906 bank vault inside what’s left of the only stone building in town. This is also where Howard Hughes actually rolled up his sleeves and played prospector, and it’s home to a stolen church – seriously. 

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Look again at that towering chimney in Belmont – the holes you’re seeing are from rounds of target practice with 50 caliber bullets, courtesy of the WWII pilots training in Tonopah.

If you want an extra authentic souvenir, give rockhounding a try at the Otteson Brothers Turquoise Mine Tours. Or, simply pick up a gorgeous piece of turquoise from one of Tonopah’s local shops. More outdoor recreation awaits in Monitor Valley, where you can hike to Mt. Jefferson (Nevada’s fourth-tallest peak) and surround yourself with the beauty of the Alta Toquima Wilderness. The Pine Creek Campground is a perfect basecamp for latching onto these off-grid options, by the way. ATV enthusiasts won’t wanna miss Crescent Dunes (sometimes called Tonopah Dunes), either. Paddle tires are recommended, and if you don’t have your own ATVs, you can rent them in Reno or Las Vegas before making the trek. 

Nevada BL

If you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, take a walking tour of the historic Old Tonopah Cemetery, the eternal resting place of some truly fascinating people (whose spirits you might meet elsewhere in town). The fun’s only getting started once the sun goes down. Rated the #1 stargazing destination in America by USA Today, the Tonopah Stargazing Park is one of our favorite places for scoping thousands of brilliant stars in seriously dark skies, which you’ll be able to see with or without a telescope. 

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Typically held monthly over the summer, the haunted history lessons you’ll get on the Tonopah Ghost Walks can’t be beat. Or, if you prefer starry skies to spirit sightings, RSVP to the Tonopah Star Parties, which also happen monthly in the summer. Borrow on-site equipment or bring your own to see an unbelievable amount of stars, or try your hand at capturing those galactic views with an astrophotography workshop. 

Tonopah Restaurants

Hungry? You will be after reading this. At the Pittman Café inside the Mizpah Hotel, you can enjoy Egg Miz-Muffins and fluffy buttermilk pancakes for breakfast and dine on grass-fed beef burgers, country fried steak, and chicken fried chicken over dinner. Over at Tonopah Brewing Company, get a little messy scarfing down tasty BBQ plates – think beef brisket, burnt ends, and baby back ribs – accompanied by hefeweizen, IPA, and porter craft beers. 

Tonopah Brewing Company
Pittman Café

At Hometown Pizza, convenience meets deliciousness with calzones, sandwiches, and a pizza lunch buffet. If you’re craving Mexican bites, El Marques brings chimichangas, panuchos, and meat and seafood plates to the table. And for orange chicken, kung pao beef, Singapore noodles, and more, the Bamboo Chinese Kitchen inside the Banc Club is your best bet. 

Tonopah Events

For an extra dose of awesomeness, plan your Tonopah visit around one (or more) of the community’s special events. Be sure to get Tonopah Ghost Walks and Tonopah Star Parties on the calendar, both held monthly during the summer months. If you need Memorial Day Weekend plans, celebrate Tonopah’s founding father during Jim Butler Days & Nevada State Mining Championships, which includes street dancing, stock car (and bartender) races, kids mining events, and a whole lot more over multiple days.

The family-friendly Tonopah Arts Festival combines music and dance performances with an artisan fair and hands-on experiences, too. There’s almost always something on the event calendar for Tonopah, Nevada, so don’t forget to take a peek when travel planning. 

Places to Stay in Tonopah, Nevada

No matter what kind of overnighter you’re after, Tonopah, NV is here to deliver. The Mizpah Hotel is regarded as the “finest stone hotel in the desert,” and when it originally opened in 1907, it was the tallest building in all of Nevada. The Mizpah is also Nevada’s lone property on the Historic Hotels of America register, and if you’re lucky (or perhaps unlucky), you might encounter the Lady in Red during your stay. 

For an upscale boutique experience, consider the Belvada Hotel. Originally built in 1906 as the Nevada State Bank & Trust, the building was home to bankers, miners, and barbers before being renovated in 2020. Now, guests delight over the authentic, historic elements paired with modern decor and classic charm. 

The Clown Motel
Belvada Hotel

Truly an only-in-Nevada kind of sleepover, The Clown Motel almost speaks for itself. Located right next door to the Old Tonopah Cemetery, the lobby is jam-packed with thousands of clowns, and all 31 guest rooms feature 2-3 custom clown paintings (along with standard amenities). You can go all-in on the scare factor by requesting to stay in extra haunted rooms, or limit the length of your clown exposure by stopping by the gift shop.

When you check in at Tonopah Station Hotel, Casino and RV Park, you’ll have a chance to roll the dice for one free night stay – literally! The property also has a 24/7 casino, Stage Stop Café, and mining antiques museum. Jim Butler Inn & Suites will welcome you with exemplary customer service, comfy beds, and a light breakfast bar, while the Best Western Hi-Desert Inn offers tried-and-true lodging and amenities. 

#TravelNevada

Clowns, ghosts, mines, and the Milky Way – we wanna see it all. Use #TravelNevada so we can tag along while you’re touring Tonopah.

Take a trip down Main Street in @tonopahnevada and get a free history lesson, courtesy of the murals and monuments along the way. Please practice social distancing and enjoy the city's open restaurants, shops, bars, and museums. (📸: @tonopahnevada)
Tonopah, Nevada — The historic Mizpah Hotel, 1907.

The Clown Motel has become well-known in Instagram circles. I forgot until I drove by with it on my left, and I didn’t stop for photos there!

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(July 26, 2020)

#GreatAmericanWestRoadTrip #roadtrip #US95 #miningtown #Tonopah #TonopahNV #Mizpah #MizpahHotel #HotelMizpah #hotel #hotels #HistoricHotelsofAmerica #historichotels #ironwork #everything_signage #signgeeks #signs #Nevada #hôtel #TonopahNevada
Dinner in The Pittman Cafe is always a good idea! 🤩
First Monday of the New Year, and we thought we’d kick it off with something new, #MiningMonday! ⚒
Nevada has a long history of modern mining dating back to 1849 when ‘49’s on their way to California found gold in the Carson River. Since these first discoveries, the Silver State’s mining industry has grown to where 20 different minerals are mined for our everyday use, now one of the largest sources of gold in the world, and has the largest mining program in the Bureau of Land Management with more than 180,000 active mining claims! Remnants of the 150-year history can be seen as you travel across Nevada.

Pictured is a stamp battery (or stamp mill) which was used to crush gold ore. Rocks would be pounded to break them into fine particles where then it could be processed and the gold removed. This was an especially important piece of equipment in the early days of gold mining. When you are pulling into Tonopah, NV you will find the Central Nevada Museum which has on display some of the great machinery of early mining. Admission is Free and open Tuesdays-Saturday!

More brief history of Nevada mining visit 
http://www.nbmg.unr.edu/mining/MiningHistory.html

#Nevada #NevadaScienceCenter #Mining #MiningHistory #engineering #TravelNevada
Coming to you from the Lady in Red room at the Mezpah hotel! I'll let you decide if you think the room is haunted.  Swipe ➡️➡️➡️ if you dare!
The Harlot House sits above the Tonopah Liquor Company bar, and it used to be an active brothel in the 1920s. It is no longer a brothel, but allegedly you may see some ghost gals during your stay in this building that used to be a part of Nevada’s “Red Light District.”
 
Do you love a good ghost story?
Photo of the day: Crescent Dunes, near Tonopah, is (are? I never know) one of my favorite places to visit in that area. I've been there a dozen times or so, and honestly I think I've only seen other people there twice. It's a great place for solitude and reflection. And, if you're a photographer who wants to practice photos of sand patterns, this is a great place for it. Plus, there's no cost to go there. Just park and walk. Posted by Art Director Kippy Spilker. #nvmag #nevada #sanddunes #crescentdunes #tonopah
¿Ya conoces #TheClownMotel? Un aventura escalofriante y sensacional para los amantes del terror, este motel se encuentra en Tonopah y es considerado como el
Tricked out edit of my Tonopah Nevada picture.
I climbed a mountain today. I waited with my camera and out of no where I saw the most beautiful hawk and I was able to get a few pictures of it. #hawk #nature #natgeo #photography #flight
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