As creepy as they might be, ghost towns are truly fascinating things. In fact, they're so fascinating that even the oldest, most worn-down ghost towns host hundreds (if not thousands) of visitors each year.
Many ghost towns are nothing but a pile of ruins at this point, but a few are still relatively intact. These deserted settlements are the best ones to visit, and if there are still people around to tell the stories of such places, it makes the trip even better. Luckily, it's not too hard to find these ideal ghost towns; some can even be found right here in Arizona.
Ready to start your exciting and somewhat spooky adventure into the past? Read on to learn where to go.
#1: Virginia City, Montana
Virginia City was built—as so many small towns were—during the Gold Rush by eager prospectors looking to get in on the gold found in the area.
Today, it stands out because it truly embraces—and sometimes takes advantage of—the tourists it sees. Visitors can dine in restaurants situated next door to an authentic 19th-century building, historical information can be found throughout town, and living history demonstrations happen often.
Additionally, guests have the opportunity to pan for gold, hop aboard an old fire engine, and see a show in the oldest operating opera house in the US.
Clearly, this is a pretty hopping place for a ghost town!
#2: Bodie, California
On the other end of the spectrum, we have Bodie. This is another Gold Rush boomtown that all but disappeared after the final mine closed in the early 1940s. However, it differs from Virginia City in that it remains completely untouched. The structures remain exactly as they were left, still stocked with goods as though the places might be used again tomorrow.
The town is now a Historic State Park, and is maintained (to an extent) by the state. Guests are welcome to walk the streets and feel what life may have been like for residents. However, they’re not allowed to remove any items, including the square nails and old bottles that can be found littering the road.
#3: Kennecott, Alaska
Once home to the richest concentration of copper in the world, Kennecott (pictured above) was a booming mining community into the 1930s. Unfortunately, during the early ‘30s, it was discovered that the highest grades of ore were depleting and by 1938, the very last train had left Kennecott.
One family chose to stay on as caretakers of the property until the 1950s. Later, the land was acquired by the National Parks Service. It's now a National Historical Landmark and the grounds are eerily still and empty. Guided tours of the mine are offered daily, and interesting hiking opportunities surround the area.
#4: Tombstone, Arizona
Tombstone is often referred to as the “town that's too tough to die”, and we have to say, we agree with this nickname. That said, the place did nearly die in the early 1930s when its population dropped to around 150 people, earning the place official ghost town status. Luckily, this tough town has been saved and is now home to around 1,300 residents, many of whom are actively helping preserve Wild West History.
Like Virginia City, Tombstone offers guests a bit more than the typical set of abandoned buildings. Visitors can witness a reenactment of the famous shootout between the Earps and the Cowboys, or take a ghost tour, mine tour, or jeep tour. Shopping, dining, and lodging are all available in town as well.
These 4 super cool ghost towns are a great place to start. Once you've seen them, take a look around and see what other cool historical places you can find. You never know what hidden gems might be hiding right around the corner for you to discover and explore.