8 Ghost Towns A Bone’s Throw From Las Vegas
Ready for a little mind-boggling piece of trivia? The Silver State is home to more ghost towns than actual populated ones. YEAH. And lucky for you, some of the best ones are practically in your backyard. Next time you’re in need of a frighteningly good day trip—and if you ain’t afraid of no ghosts—pack up the car and head for these eight ghost towns near Las Vegas.
Rhyolite Ghost Town
Get ready to be dazzled. Travel just under two hours to Rhyolite and you’ll instantly see why this place is easily the most photographed ghost town in Nevada. The still-standing remnants at the epicenter of the once wildly profitable Bullfrog Mining District are as iconic as they are impressive, and golden hour is one of the best times of day to snap Insta-worthy shots. You’ll also find the Tom Kelly Bottle House; built from nearly 50,000 glass bottles, it’s both the oldest and largest of its kind in the nation.
Of course, a visit to Rhyolite isn’t complete without a stop at the Goldwell Open Air Museum on your way in or out. An outdoor art park featuring some seriously colossal sculptures, you’ll 110% want selfies with a 24-foot steel prospector and his penguin companion, a pink cinder block woman standing just as tall, and the always popular Ghosts of Goldwell. And before you go, we highly recommend swinging through Beatty for a legendary bowl of chili at the perfectly named Happy Burro Chili & Beer.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Gold Point Ghost Town
If you wanna turn your ghost town day trip into a spirited sleepover, go 70 miles northwest from Rhyolite to Gold Point. In its heyday, the silver mining camp boomed with hotels, saloons, a post office, bakery, and more than 100 dwellings. Nowadays, history buffs and ghost town aficionados alike enjoy a lovingly restored main street, all thanks to the trio of gentlemen who parlayed their winnings from a casino mega-jackpot to buy and preserve the weather-beaten buildings. Plus, you’ve got some of the darkest skies in the Silver State overhead, so the stargazing is primo. After having a blast with the past in Gold Point, overnight 30 minutes away in Goldfield (and then sightsee some funky desert art on your way back to Vegas the next morning).
Nelson Ghost Town
Only 45 minutes from Vegas is Nelson, home to another stunner of a ghost town. Nestled in Eldorado Canyon is the Techatticup Mine, the oldest, richest, and most famous gold mine in southern Nevada. You can take mine tours, rent canoes and kayaks for a dip into the nearby Colorado River, and even snag a permit for full-on photoshoots. And you won’t be the only one eager to capture this Wild West landscape—this spot has a history of being showcased in movies, TV shows, and magazines, with plenty of left-behind evidence to show for it. One of our faves? A crashed plane from 3000 Miles to Graceland.
Goodsprings Ghost Town
Good things await you in Goodsprings. Point your car about 40 minutes southwest of Las Vegas and you’ll find yourself smack dab in the middle of a former boomtown. History’s the name of the game here, and a self-guided walking tour will get you up close and personal with miner cabins, a more-than-a-century-old schoolhouse (that the local kiddos still attend), and one of the best Sagebrush Saloons in the state. Built in 1913, the legendary Pioneer Saloon serves up pioneer steaks, a killer ghost burger, and equally memorable merchandise. Our advice? Take your tour before bellying up to the bar, as we have a habit of not wanting to leave.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Belmont & Manhattan Ghost Towns
This dynamic duo of living ghost towns might take you outta day trip territory, but we’d be doing you a huge disservice if we didn’t get ‘em on your radar. Four hours from Vegas is Belmont, and the sights you’ll find here are some of the most amazing in the state. If the 100-foot chimney that was once used for WWII target practice (note the 40 caliber bullet holes) doesn’t grab you, the combination stamp mill ruins with 60-mile vantage points of the valley below might. No matter what, the classically preserved Belmont Courthouse definitely will. See ‘em all and then swing by Dirty Dick’s Belmont Saloon to kick back in Sagebrush Saloon style.
From here, it’s a 15-mile dirt road adventure to nearby Manhattan, Nevada. Back when the mining boom was busting in Belmont, folks packed up and came to seek fortune here instead. But they didn’t just pack up their personal belongings. In the middle of one night in 1908, former Belmontans-turned-Manhattanites went back and stole their church. Yep, the whole thing. (Belmontians later built an exact replica replacement, but be careful how you ask about it; some locals haven’t had quite enough time to get over that one yet.) You’ll still see it standing proudly in Manhattan, along with remnants of the only-stone-building-in-town bank—which continues to house the original 1906 Nye & Ormsby County Bank vault, still doing its job more than a century later. More legendary stories await at the last remaining business in town, the Manhattan Bar (and its down-the-street motel). Turn in for the night 45 minutes back towards Vegas in Tonopah, where your overnight options include the most haunted hotel in America and an infamous Weird Nevada favorite: The Clown Motel.
You’ll get the best of both worlds in “Nevada’s Liveliest Ghost Town.” Pioche pairs more modern-day attractions—like stunning state parks, saloons, and museums—with authentic Wild West roots and relics, and all of it is less than three hours from Las Vegas. If you thought Tombstone, Deadwood, and Dodge City set the bar for gunslinging, wait until you hear this.
Back in the 1870s, literal shootouts in the street were a common occurrence here, and 72 people were laid to rest in Pioche’s Boot Hill Cemetery before anyone actually died of natural causes. And some were buried so quickly that the tips of their boots allegedly stuck outta the ground. The intriguing gravestone inscriptions are well worth a gander (one of our faves: “John B. Lynch: Shot during dispute over a dog.”), as are the original ore bin and aerial tramway—the only one in the Silver State!—still hanging overhead.
Delamar Ghost Town
If you’re taking the trip to Pioche, you’ve gotta stop and scope out Delamar, too. It’s almost unbelievable how many structures are still standing in this place—we’re talking dozens of buildings, two graveyards, milling remains, miner cabins, a brick archway, and still more. Plus, everything was built from a kaleidoscope of colored stones, making the ruins even more extraordinary, especially when the golden-hour sun makes it glow. Instead of hightailing it home to Vegas after your day at Delamar, save the drive for tomorrow and spend your night in Caliente (or hit Delamar on your way to Pioche and stay overnight there). You’ll thank us after you catch a gorgeous sunrise at one of the many state parks along your route.
St. Thomas Ghost Town
Saving the best for last? You be the judge. St. Thomas is one of Nevada’s most unique ghost towns, as it would normally be 60 feet underwater if not for extreme drought conditions. A little project by the name of Hoover Dam created Lake Mead, which overtook St. Thomas as it began to fill back in 1935 (one of its last residents literally paddled away from his home). Now, as the water levels at Lake Mead National Recreation Area fluctuate, the ruins are once again exposed for exploration. Next time you’re in need of a beach day, add this jaunt down a three-mile dirt road to your fun in the sun.
We’re only scratching the surface of all the ghost town fun you’ll find throughout the Silver State. Once you’ve crossed these eight off your list, get the specs on even more ghost towns.