5 Awesome Ghost Towns in America You Need to Explore

Hundreds of once prosperous towns across America have fallen into ruin over the years, leaving behind ramshackle buildings, intriguing history and a few wandering spirits. Whether you love the wild west or you can’t get enough of the paranormal, these desolate ghost towns are perfect for a weekend adventure or a creepy road trip.

1. Bodie, California

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Bodie began as a small mining camp but after gold was discovered in 1859, it eventually grew to become a booming Wild West gold rush town. At its peak, Bodie was home to around 7,000 people and nearly 2,000 buildings, including 65 saloons, a red light district, a bank, gambling halls and a jail. The town became a State Historic Park in 1962 and while only a small part of Bodie has survived, the buildings remain just as they were when the residents left years ago. Tables are still set, shelves are stocked, and it’s said that the occasional ghost makes an appearance.

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2. Rhyolite, Nevada

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Rhyolite is located in Nye County near Death Valley National Park. After Shorty Harris and E.L Cross discovered quartz in the area in 1904, people rushed to what is now known as Rhyolite. At one time the booming town had a stock exchange, electric plants, a school, hotels, machine shops, and even a hospital. After the financial panic of 1907, the town began to decline. In 1911 ,the mine closed, and in 1916, the power was finally turned off to the once prosperous town. Today, few buildings remain but visitors can explore what’s left of the 3 story bank, the jail and the Bottle House.

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3. Bannack, Montana

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Wikimedia/Nikolay Makarov

Founded in 1862 by John White who uncovered gold on Grasshopper Creek, Bannack functioned as a mining town from the late 1860’s though the 1930’s. Gold was discovered in nearby Virginia City in 1863, and the route between the two towns was a hotspot for robberies, holdups and murders. By the 1950’s, most of the residents had moved on and Bannack became a state park. Today, more than 60 structures are still standing and visitors can explore old buildings like the court house turned hotel, the Masonic Hall and saloons. Bannack is well-known for its paranormal activity and is thought to be haunted by several spirits.

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4. Animas Forks, Colorado

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Animas Forks is located in the San Juan Mountains near Silverton. People generally opt for a 4WD vehicle when exploring this area, but the unpaved road from Silverton to Animas Forks is passable in the warmer months with lower clearance vehicles. The town, which sits at 11,200 feet, was founded in 1873 and by 1876 it was a hopping mining community complete with cabins, a saloon, a post office, hotels and a general store. At its peak, Animas Forks had a population of around 500 people but as mining declined in the area, the residents began to move on and this once active mining town became an official ghost town in the 1920s. Today, this area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the remaining structures are being restored. Visitors can venture through the buildings at their own risk and enjoy this eerie town with its picturesque backdrop.

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5. Kennecott, Alaska

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Kennecott, a former copper mining town, is nestled within the gorgeous Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Reserve. The mine was up and running from 1911 to 1938, and this classy town boasted a general store, skating rink, school, hospital and a rec hall. When there was no more copper ore to be found, the mine quickly shut down and Kennecott was abandoned in 1938. Today, visitors can take a guided tour of the 14-story concentration mill and many of the other historic buildings.

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Looking for more awesome places to explore? Check out these camping adventures or discover your next campground on Camp Native.

Jessica Goehring title: Administrator
Jessica is a freelance writer. She resides in Minnesota with her husband, daughter dog, and 4 cats. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, and hiking.