Celebrate Spooky Season by Off-Roading to One of These Legendary Ghost Towns

Autumn is a favorite time of the year for off-road enthusiasts to enjoy off-roading and colorful fall foliage. It also means Halloween is around the corner, which is a perfect reason to explore one of the many legendary ghost towns throughout the American West.

get into ghost town gear with onx offroad

Offline Maps, Open Trails, Difficulty Ratings, Public Land Boundaries, Campsites, Tracking, Share Waypoints, and More.

With Halloween in mind, we’ve compiled a list of popular ghost towns off-road enthusiasts can navigate to and explore using the onX Offroad App. The following list of western ghost towns is ideal for a fall day trip of family fun and Halloween holiday spookiness.

CALIFORNIA

Calico Ghost Town

Located in the southern California high desert, not far from Barstow, Calico is an old mining town founded in 1881 that was then abandoned in the 1890s. Attractions include the Lucy Lane Museum with information about Calico’s origins, Maggie Silver Mine, Calico Odessa Railroad, gold panning, fourteen gift shops, and many other family-friendly attractions.

Bodie State Historic Park

Near Yosemite National Park and Mono Lake in central California, Bodie is an authentic gold-mining ghost town. Gold was discovered in the area around 1859 and, at one point, had a population of nearly 10,000 at the height of its gold rush period. Today, Bodie is a National Historic Site that’s been preserved in “a state of arrested decay,” where the interiors of each building can be viewed “as is” from when they were left deserted.

North Bloomfield Ghost Town

Located roughly 80 miles northeast of Sacramento, North Bloomfield is an authentic gold mining ghost town within the Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park. Dubbed “Humbug” in 1851 by some of the town’s unlucky miners, today, North Bloomfield is well-preserved and includes many of the original buildings from the late 1800s. Visitors can take part in daily tours of the facilities during the summer and on weekends during the winter.

MONTANA

Garnet Ghost Town

Located within the Garnet Mountain Range midway between Missoula and Helena, Garnet is Montana’s most intact ghost town. Named for the ruby-colored stones found in the area, the mountains surrounding Garnet were rich in gold-bearing quartz, which brought miners from California and Colorado. Named one of America’s coolest ghost towns by Travel + Leisure, visitors can explore the town’s remaining buildings, hike area trails, and learn more about the town’s place in Montana’s history.

Bannack State Park

Bannack was the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery site in 1862. It was also Montana’s first territorial capital, with its population growing to nearly 3,000 residents by 1863. As with most gold towns, as the gold dwindled, so did its population. Today, Bannack still has over 50 historic buildings—including the beautiful Hotel Meade—and has been called one of Montana’s best-preserved landmark mining towns.

COLORADO

St. Elmo Ghost Town

Dubbed “Colorado’s most original ghost town,” St. Elmo was founded in 1880 when many moved to the area for gold and silver mining. St. Elmo was home to nearly 2,000 residents at its peak and was an important hub for acquiring supplies arriving via train. Today, visitors can visit St. Elmo and still walk its streets. And although some of the buildings were lost in a fire in 2002, many remain, while others, such as the town hall, are being rebuilt to their original state.

Independence Ghost Town

Located roughly 16 miles east of Aspen, Independence was founded in 1879 as the first mining site in the Roaring Fork Valley not far from the Continental Divide. At its peak, the town had nearly 1,500 residents and was a thriving mining camp and stagecoach layover stop. Today, visitors can walk the site on a self-guided tour that includes many of the town’s original log cabin structures.

NEVADA

Rhyolite Ghost Town

About 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, not far from the border with California, is the ghost town Rhyolite, founded in 1905. The town sprang up after quartz was found in the area filled with free gold, and soon after that reached its estimated peak population of 5,000 residents. Today, although much of the town lies in ruin, the area is one of the most photographed ghost towns in the West.

IDAHO

Silver City Ghost Town

Located southwest of Boise in the Owyhee mountains, Silver City is an old mining town with many of its original structures from the 1860s. One of its main attractions is the Idaho Hotel, which is still in operation despite being over 100 years old. Today only three businesses remain—including the Idaho Hotel—and the town of Silver City is a picturesque place to explore the old West during a weekend off-roading adventure.

ARIZONA

Ruby Ghost Town

Near the border with Mexico in southern Arizona and about 70 miles from Tucson is the old mining town of Ruby, where gold was first discovered around 1870. Today, visitors to Ruby can peruse nearly 25 buildings, including the old jail, school, playground, and more. As one of its best-preserved ghost towns, Ruby allows one to take a glimpse at Arizona’s mining history.

CONCLUSION

As you can see from this article, there are many opportunities to get out and discover one of the many western ghost towns, and Halloween is a perfect excuse for a visit in one’s off-road vehicle of choice. Choose your destination, queue up your route on the onX Offroad App, load up the family, and set off on a full-filled and educational adventure in the historical wild West.

277

Dale Spangler

Dale Spangler is a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast introduced to two wheels at the age of eight and began racing motocross at 12. After chasing his dream of being a professional motocross racer through the mid-90s, he moved on to a career in the powersports industry, where he’s spent the last 28+ years as a marketing specialist, writer, and content creator.