Did you know that Las Vegas, is surrounded by old west ghost towns? Within a few hours drive or less from Las Vegas, you can find more than a dozen ghost towns.
Due to the dry climate, Nevada has some of the most well-preserved ghost towns anywhere in the country and several of them make for great side trips when you’re visiting Las Vegas.
I’ll give you a quick overview of each ghost town and include google map links so you can navigate to the old west towns you’d like to visit.
So in order of distance (from closest to furthest), here are the best ghost towns to visit near Las Vegas, Nevada.
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Nelson Ghost Town
Nelson is easily the most accessible ghost town to Las Vegas. The town is just a 45-minute drive (about 25 miles) from the Las Vegas Strip.
Once a completely abandoned town, Nelson was purchased in 1994 and has slowly been restored to become an interesting tourist spot. Visitors describe it as the most photogenic ghost town in Nevada.
Nelson was a thriving town during the gold strike era before it was abandoned in the 1940s. Today it’s home to plenty of historical buildings, old vehicles, and a mine for you to explore.
In its day, Nelson was a rough, lawless town. You can expect to see vehicles with bullet holes in the massive Nelson auto graveyard, abandoned buildings (including interesting artifacts) and you may even find a freezer full of dead preserved rattlesnakes inside the small museum!
Nelson has a rough and rugged landscape covered with cholla cacti. After walking the grounds and visiting the museum, taking a tour down to the Eldorado Mines is the highlight of a visit to this pristine ghost town.
Eldorado Canyon (where Nelson is located) was once the center of many Wild West stories. It certainly lived up to the notoriety and lawlessness of the old west during the silver and gold strikes of the 1800s.
The canyon area around the ghost town still holds some of its ancient charms. including:
- Old tin cabins used by miners
- A stamp mill
- Old tools used by miners
- A historic store
While you’re here you can take a tour of the Techatticup Mine (1861 – 1942), one of the richest gold mines ever found in Southern Nevada. Tours are given three times a day.
Eldorado Canyon has also been a popular filming location. The site was featured in the crime film 3000 miles to Graceland and a National Geographic feature called Brain Games.
You can find directions to Nelson Ghost town from Las Vegas here (map).
See our complete guide to visiting Nelson Ghost Town for more in-depth information.
Potosi Ghost Town
Potosi, aka Potosi Camp, is the site of a mine and ghost town located 29 miles from Las Vegas. Potosi Mine is believed to be the oldest lode mine in the state of Nevada.
Mormons discovered lead deposits in the area on their way to the Las Vegas mission in 1856. Other minerals discovered over the years in the hills surrounding the town include silver and zinc.
In 1861, about 100 miners settled in Potosi to mine the silver deposits found in the Potosi Mine. The mining of silver continued until 1863.
Fortunately, the locals discovered zinc in 1906, bringing the mining town back to life. Eventually, all the mineral deposits dried up, and everyone left.
There are no structures left in Potosi today except for bits of wood and metal, which are all that remains of the town. However, if you are looking for a beautiful hiking area with plenty of history, then the Potosi should be on your travel itinerary.
You will find the Potosi ghost town site and mine about 50 minutes (29 miles) from Las Vegas. Map and directions
Goodsprings Ghost Town
Goodsprings is a “living ghost town” (a town that still has a few residents) located 33 miles from Las Vegas. It was one of the largest producers of silver and lead in the late 19th century.
Highlights of a drive around Goodsprings include the Goodsprings Schoolhouse (built 1913) and the Pioneer Saloon which is believed to be the oldest existing saloon in Nevada at over 100 years of age.
Rumor has it that a ghost is frequently sighted in the salon. The current population of the town is approximately 200 people.
Most of the popular activities and places in Goodsprings revolve around the famous Pioneer Saloon and include:
- Zero1 Desert Adventures (off-road tours in a Polaris RZR XP1000)
- Ghost hunting in the Pioneer Saloon
- Lunch at the Pioneer Saloon
- Organized tour to the Seven Magic Mountains
- Stargazing at the Pioneer Saloon
Goodsprings and the Pioneer Saloon are just 35 minutes (33 miles) south from the Las Vegas Strip. Click here for a map and directions from your location.
Searchlight Ghost Town
Searchlight was a thriving town between 1897 and 1907 after a miner by the name of G.F. Colton discovered gold and founded the Duplex Mine.
Searchlight was the largest town in the area with a population of 5,000 people at its peak in 1907. Interestingly enough, this was a bigger population than Las Vegas had during the same time period.
By 1927, the town was down to a population of about 50. It later had a resurgence in population once construction began on the nearby Hoover Dam.
Modern-day Searchlight qualifies as a living ghost town with a population of around 500. Modern buildings are interspersed with the remains of historic buildings from the town’s heyday.
Some of the things from Searchlights history that can still be seen:
- Mining cranes
- Storage tanks
- Wood cabins
Searchlight, Nevada is a 54 minute (60 miles) drive from Las Vegas (see here for map and directions).
St Thomas Ghost Town
St Thomas is a ghost town found in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and is located not far from the Las Vegas Strip, making a visit to the town an easy half-day trip.
St. Thomas has a rich Mormon history and was settled in 1865. At its peak, it had a total population of around 500 people.
The town was purchased by the federal government in the 1930s and submerged by the rising waters of Lake Mead after completion of the Hoover Dam.
At one point, the remnants of the town were under 60 feet of water! Due to drought and the lowering water levels of Lake Mead, the ghost town of St Thomas is once again accessible to visitors.
This is a truly abandoned town. The remains include the foundations and partial stone structures of the buildings that once made up this town. The other thing that draws people to the area are the abundance of hiking trails found in and around the empty town.
The St Thomas ghost town is about a 1 1/2 hour drive (65 miles) from the Las Vegas Strip. See map and directions here.
Johnnie Ghost Town Nevada
Johnnie is one of the more famous ghost towns in the Mojave Desert. This town is located just north of Pahrump, in Nye County, Nevada.
Johnnie was established in 1890 when five prospectors explored the area looking for the rumored Lost Brefogle Mine. They didn’t find the lost mine but they did find gold. As the Johnnie Mine began producing gold, other prospectors flocked to the area.
At the peak of the gold rush, around 100 people were living in Johnnie. Donkey carts supplied water to the town (the nearest water source was four miles away), and a post office was established for the locals.
In the late 1800s, the town lost its buzz, and the post office closed down. Johnnie became a deserted town. Over the years, the town had a couple of resurgences as miners came and went in the area looking for gold with some occasional luck until the veins of ore were finally played out.
Today, the remains of Johnnie ghost town is privately owned. As such, the town and mines remain off-limits to tourists to allow for fresh excavations.
The Pahrump Valley Museum and Historical Society, however, holds some of the artifacts from the gold rush era. Some of the items that were left behind by the locals include:
- Rusting gold pans used by early miners
- Old mining wagons
- Vehicle parts
The newer Johnnie Mine Post Office is about as close as you can get to the town and mines. It’s about 1 1/2 hours (87 miles) from Las Vegas. You can find it on the map here.
You can visit the Pahrump Valley Museum in the nearby town of Pahrump, Nevada. Map and directions are here.
Ghost Town of Rhyolite
Rhyolite is a ghost town about 120 miles from Las Vegas. It’s located just outside the eastern border of Death Valley National Park. Rhyolite, in my opinion, is one of the coolest ghost towns close to Las Vegas.
Rhyolite was a mining town that boomed once gold was discovered in the surrounding hills in 1904. At one time, there were over 2000 mining claims made in just a 30-mile radius.
The reason I think the town is so cool is that many of the towns major buildings were made from stone so quite a few of these buildings still exist in some form or another today.
These buildings include:
- A bank building
- Railroad depot
- Bottle house
While the town boomed and money in the form of investments poured in, it was just a few short year later in 1907 that a financial panic throughout the country spelled the beginning of the end for Rhyolite.
Over the next few years the mines started closing, the bank failed and people started leaving. Today it is completely abandoned.
In addition to the remnants of the town, you’ll also find the Goldwell Open Air Museum. It’s an outdoor art museum full of interesting sculptures and definitely worth a visit.
The Rhyolite ghost town is located approximately 2 hours (127 miles) away from Las Vegas. You can find a map and directions here.
Calico Ghost Town
The historic ghost town of Calico is located off the I-15 freeway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. In 1881, Calico was the largest strike of silver ore in California (this is the only ghost town on this list outside of Nevada).
When the mines closed down, the town became abandoned. Later on, the Regional Parks System of San Bernardino County restored the town and turned it into a tourist destination.
Today, visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities in Calico, including:
- Visiting the mines
- Exploring the museum
- Taking gold panning lessons
If you wish to stay the night, you can even book a room or a camping spot at the Bunk House.
The Calico ghost town is in California just a little over 2 hours (143 miles) away from Las Vegas. You can find a map and directions here.
Pioche Ghost Town
Pioche was one of the toughest mining towns around to live in its heyday. In the early 1860s, it was a town full of murderers, thieves, and scoundrels of every type. Gunmen, hired to protect claims, arrived in the town daily.
The area prospered during a massive silver strike but lost its glory due to lawlessness. The nearest law was 200 miles away and any lawman that came near town was in danger of loosing his life.
Pioche still holds eerie memories of street shootouts. It’s said the town was so dangerous that 75 people died violently for every 1 that died from natural causes.
Today the town of Pioche still exists as a living ghost town. At its height, the town had about 8,000 residents but today just 900 people live here (and they’re much more friendly than the original residents).
A visit to Pioche will show you that the town has not lost its rustic touch. A few remaining attractions of interest in the town portray its grim history.
Make sure to visit Boot Hill cemetery where the early criminals of Pioche are buried. Other attractions in the area include:
- Overland Hotel and Salon
- Million-Dollar Courthouse (cost a million dollars by the time it was completed)
- Historic Aerial Tramway (for moving ore down the mountain)
- Nearby Slot Canyons
Pioche is just shy of a 3 hour (180 miles) drive north from Las Vegas. Map and directions can be found here.
Gold Point Ghost Town
Gold Point, Nevada is what is known as a living ghost town. The town (formerly known as Hornsilver) is mostly empty now but there are still a few occupants as well as a thriving bed and breakfast in the vicinity.
Gold was pulled from the area’s mines from the 1860s until the 1960s when the main mine in operation collapsed and it became too costly to continue mining operations.
Today, there are a total of seven people living in Gold Point. They’re mostly senior citizens who do not mind giving visitors a history of the desert town.
This well-preserved ghost town still has about 50 buildings standing including the town’s post office which is now a museum.
Things to see in Gold Point, Nevada include:
- Goldrush museum and souvenir shop (open on weekends)
- Self-guided tour (there are hundreds of mines in the area)
- Local saloon with a 1909 Brunswick pool table
Gold Point, while mostly quiet during the week, does see some visitors on the weekends and hosts larger groups a couple of times a year. If you wish to spend the night, you can rent a cabin, stay in your rv or camp under the starry skies.
Other fun things to do in Gold Point include:
- Fossil hunting
- Family meals
- Table shuffleboard at the salon
The mostly abandoned town is a little over 3 hours (187 miles) from Las Vegas. See it on a map and get directions here.
Goldfield Ghost Town
Goldfield is located between Reno and Las Vegas. This ghost town was once the largest and richest city in Nevada. After a large gold discovery in 1904, the population of the town swelled to over 30,000!
The town had multiple city blocks of homes, banks, bars and newspapers. It’s said that one of the saloons in town employed 80 bartenders to serve the bars clientele.
Like most boomtowns, the population dropped drastically as soon as the mines became unprofitable. The townsfolk moved on, pretty much leaving an entire ghost city full of buildings and businesses.
The town today features an urban courthouse (still in use) with chic Tiffany and Co lamps. The real gem in the town, however, is the Goldfield Hotel. Rumor has it the hotel is haunted with various reported sightings of strange people roaming the hotel’s grounds.
Today, Goldfield has a population of less than 300 people.
There are many activities to enjoy in and around the living ghost town of Goldfield, including:
- Superstition zipline
- Apache trail tours
- Goldfield mine tours
- Eagle eye shooting gallery
Goldfield ghost town is an under 3 hour (188 miles) drive from Las Vegas. Map and directions
Panamint City Ghost Town
Panamint City ghost town is located in the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park, just 200 miles from Las Vegas. In the mid-19th century, Panamint City was a thriving town with a population of about 2000 people.
The town was founded by outlaws who used the rugged canyon as a hideout until discovering silver there in the mid-1800s and they gave up their life of crime. The silver boom was over by 1875 and in 1876 most of the town was destroyed by a flash flood.
Today the town is deserted and only houses one resident who often offers cold beverages to visitors. Some of the attractions in the area include:
- Deserted vehicles
- Remains of a smelting factory
- Accommodation facilities for hikers
Although many people visit the city hoping to see some ghosts, others visit the town because of its hiking opportunities. The town is only accessible nowadays via a rugged 5-mile (one-way) hike. This hike will take you up 4000 feet in elevation and require some rock scrambling. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Two famous hiker’s cabins in the ghost town include Panamint Hilton and The Castle. Hikers are welcome to stay at the cabins as long as fire regulations are observed.
Belmont Ghost Town
Belmont ghost town is approximately 260-miles from Las Vegas. The town is located North of Tonopah, which was once a busy mining town itself.
Belmont became a town in 1865 after a silver strike. In addition to silver, several other minerals were found including copper, antimony and lead. The town continued to grow until it reached it’s peak population of 2,000 people in the late 1870s.
The town boasted a post office, a bank, four stores, a livery stable, a school, a couple of newspapers, two saloons and a blacksmith.
Though most of this town is now rubble, a few buildings in the area have stood the test of time. Some of the things you’ll find in the ghost town include:
- Belmont Courthouse
- Old miner cabins
- Monitor-Belmont Mill
Belmont ghost town sits 7433 feet above sea level and is perfect for escaping the Las Vegas summer heat. Nothing much goes on in the area except for efforts to restore the town to its former glory.
There are three businesses currently open in the town, they include an antique store called Susie’s Attic, a jewelry store named Sticks & Stones, and an authentic old west bar called Dirty Dick’s Saloon.
Being a desert town, Belmont is a popular place for snow sports during the winter. Currently, a bed and breakfast accommodation is under construction to cater to the increasing number of hikers visiting the town.
Belmont has no electricity, gas stations, or hotels. Tourists are advised to carry enough supplies when visiting the ghost town.
You can find Belmont ghost town approximately 4 hours (260 miles) northwest of Las Vegas. Here is a map with directions.
Manhattan Ghost Town
The mostly ghost town of Manhattan is a gem hidden in a beautiful area known as the Big Smoky Valley northwest of Las Vegas. The town first became prominent during a silver strike in the mid-to-late 1860s.
The mining of silver continued until the early 1900s. As nearby boomtowns began to shut down, more people came to settle in Manhattan.
History has it that Belmont Church was uprooted from its original grounds and ferried to Manhattan. Another monumental structure you’ll find in the town is the Manhattan hotel.
From a town that once housed 4000 people, Manhattan is today a small community of just 125 people. The town’s major attraction is the Manhattan bar and hotel.
Surprisingly, Manhattan is one of the few ghost towns near Las Vegas that continues to mine minerals even today. The nearest mine is located 14 miles from the town on Round Mountain.
The living ghost town of Manhattan, Nevada, is 4 hours (263 miles) from Las Vegas (map and directions here).
Other Ghost Towns in Nevada
Nevada is famous for its abundance of ghost towns and you may be wondering just how many ghost towns are in Nevada?
There are over 600 ghost towns in the state of Nevada. This is because at the turn of the century, Nevada was well known for having the largest gold and silver deposits in the country. People heading west tended to take an extended break in Nevada and try their luck panning for gold before moving on.
While these Nevada ghost towns may be too far away from Las Vegas for a day trip, they are still great places to visit if you’re road-tripping in the area and have the time.
Berlin Ghost Town
Berlin, Nevada came into existence when people discovered silver in the Nevada Hills. The town thrived on silver exports until the mines dried up.
Residents of Berlin deserted the town in favor of other boomtowns such as Goldfield and Tonopah. The remains of the Berlin ghost town have been preserved by the Nevada State Park system and the town itself is part of the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park.
The old mine cabins and other structures in town have been preserved enough by the park system to keep them from falling down without altering their look.
Attractions in the town include:
- A 30-stamp mill
- Assay Office
- Machine Shop
- Old Ford Truck
Berlin is also home to the Diana Mine, which is one of the oldest mines that exist from the silver strike era. While mine tours used to be available, they have been suspended so that the structural integrity of the mine can be assessed.
The ghost town of Berlin, Nevada is a 5 hour (284 miles) drive from Las Vegas. Map and directions to the town can be found here.
Midas Ghost Town
Midas is an off-the-grid ghost town in northern Nevada. Several mining towns popped up in the area when gold was discovered here in 1907. They called the collection of mining camps Gold Circle but the U.S. government decided there were already too many towns in Nevada with “gold” in the name. So the inhabitants chose the name Midas instead.
Midas once had a population as high as 2,000 but quickly realized that the mine could only support about 250 workers so by 1909 much of the town’s inhabitants moved on.
Midas had occasional mining operations ongoing until 1922 when a fire destroyed most of the mill and the mine closed for good. While the population numbers have continued to dwindle, the town hasn’t ever been totally abandoned.
Once the mine closed down, some of the locals stayed behind, and their ancestors live in the town to date. What is left of the town didn’t get electricity until 1989!
The main attraction in Midas is the saloon and diner. The streets are lined with hunting lodges and ruins of the ancient town.
As the only local bar in town, the Midas Ghost Town Saloon also acts as a museum. Inside the museum are photographs and artifacts from the gold rush era.
The Midas ghost town is located about 8 hours (507 miles) northwest of Las Vegas. See here for map and directions.
Unionville Ghost Town
Unionville, Nevada is a living ghost town with a current population of about 20. It’s one of the major towns that sprouted in the gold mining era attracting various prospectors, and even a few famous people such as Mark Twain (you can still see the cabin he lived in).
Springing to life in 1861, Unionville experienced an explosion in the population (1,500 people during its heyday) and subsequent fall once the area mines became depleted.
The ghost town is secluded and has an eerie feel. The closest services are about an hour’s drive away, but you can still catch a quick bite to eat at the Old Pioneer Garden Country Inn (the only business in town).
Mark Twain gave detailed accounts of Unionville in his book, “Roughing It”. Travelers have used the book like a map to navigate this ancient but pristine town.
You’ll find the Unionville ghost town an 8-hour drive northwest (508 miles) from Las Vegas. Check here for a map and directions.
Paradise Valley Ghost Town
Paradise Valley is a picturesque town located in the northern part of Nevada. It came to life in 1864, when a small group of prospectors came to the valley in search of gold.
One of the prospectors took a look at the valley and exclaimed “What a paradise!” The name stuck.
Having no luck in striking gold, the prospectors chose to stay regardless because of the beauty of the area. The town of Paradise never had more than 100 people in it and ranching became the primary source of making a living.
Today, Paradise Valley qualifies as a living ghost town and has a small population of folks that call this town home. Many of the historic buildings in town are abandoned but surprisingly well preserved.
The only services available to travelers is the Paradise Valley Saloon & Bar and a post office.
The Paradise Valley ghost town is an 8 hour (512 miles) drive from Las Vegas. You can find a map and directions here.
Jarbidge Ghost Town
Jarbidge became a prominent gold mining hub in 1909. It was one of the last wild west gold rush towns in the country. The ghost town is found in the Jarbidge Wilderness Area and during winter, the town is only accessible from the Idaho side due to deep snowdrifts on the Nevada entrance.
Once reaching a population of a few hundred prospectors, the town is now inhabited by just a handful of residents.
Fortunately, most of the miner’s huts and town buildings are still intact. Attractions in Jarbidge ghost town include:
- Original paintings and relics
- Jail cell
- Jarbidge community center
The last stagecoach robbery of the Old West happened in Jarbidge. The criminals were caught and imprisoned when their fingerprints were presented as evidence in court!
The Jarbidge ghost town is located near the Nevada and Idaho border and is the furthest ghost town on this list from Las Vegas (10-hour drive and 586 miles). See map and directions here.
As you can see the deserts around Las Vegas are full of forgotten ghost towns. While many of these towns are completely abandoned, others can be referred to as living ghost towns with just a handful of residents.
These ghost towns are full of Old West history and exploring them might just be about the most fun you can have out in the Nevada deserts around Las Vegas.