If you’re looking to explore abandoned places in Las Vegas, I got you covered. Below are my 10 favorite abandoned places inside Sin City.
Abandoned Places In Las Vegas
1. Fontainebleau Las Vegas
The Fontainbleau is a massive unfinished hotel that towers over 700 feet above the Vegas strip. The project was announced in 2005, but after the holding company was sued in 2009 the investing banks withdrew their funding. This put progress at a complete standstill. The lastest attempt to rekindle the project was snuffed out again as any progress was halted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s wild to think how many people pass this empty building and assume it must be full of vacationers. Today the property sits vacant, but vigilantly patrolled by 24-hour security. There are rumors that construction will resume in the near future, but anything is possible. Of all the abandoned places in Las Vegas, the Fontainbleau is likely the most difficult one to access and photograph.
2. Las Vegas Drain Tunnels
Over 600 miles of drains crisis cross beneath Las Vegas to prevent destruction from flash flooding. Rain is rare, but when it does happen these tunnels can fill completely with water with currents moving as fast as 30 mph. Despite this danger, nearly 1000 homeless people call these tunnels home.
While these tunnels aren’t exactly abandoned, they provide a rare glimpse into an alternative reality for those living in poverty, and a unique draining infrastructure usually looked over.
The tunnels are intact and considered active infrastructure despite the lack of rain and rundown appearance. These tunnels are extremely dangerous and should be avoided by newer explorers. Flash floods, poisonous insects, disease-ridden rats, and potentially dangerous individuals are all very real hazards beneath the strip.
These hazards alone rank these tunnels as one of the most dangerous abandoned places in Las Vegas.
3. Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park
The fort was once home to Mormon missionaries traveling west during the late 1800s. They eventually settled on the site, and constructed the first official building in Las Vegas (it’s still standing by the way). Unlike many forts, civilian Mormons lived inside to provide protection against Native American attacks on the settlers.
During the start of the Utah War, the fort was abandoned by the Mormons when tensions reached an all-time high. In 1860 a small band of US military men took over the fort to protect nearby settlers. The fort was renamed to Fort Baker, and revamped during the Civil War.
Later on, the fort would become privately owned as a ranch, and change hands a few times after the previous owner defaulted on their loan. Eventually, the fort was acquired by the city of Las Vegas, and in 2005 a $4.5 million renovation was finally complete.
Mormon Fort is in great shape and actively maintained by the state. The Mormon fort is a great option if you’re looking for abandoned places in Las Vegas that are legal to explore. It provides a unique look a the local history without risking a hefty fine.
4. Neon Sign Boneyard
The Neon Sign Boneyard is a treasure trove of early Vegas neon lights that have been preserved throughout the years. If you’re sick and tired of modern nightlife you can come here to step back in the past and get a glimpse of Vegas how it was in its early years.
The Neon Sign Boneyard is part of the Neon Museum which helps protect the signs from theft and vandals. You can order tickets for a tour, with the best time being just after sunset when the lights come to life.
5. Wheel of Misfortune
Dubbed “The Wheel of Misfortune”, the location is actually the old ruins of the Three Kids manganese mine. The mine was first opened in 1917 and helped produced manganese for weapons during World War I. The mill closed after the war but reopened again in 1951. The mine would continue to operate until all the manganese was depleted in 1961.
The ruins of the mine have become a playground for artists. The most notable piece, The Wheel of Misfortune was designed from an old floatation tank to resemble the iconic Wheel of Fortune. It’s a cool spot but very rugged, make sure you wear closed-toed shoes. You can park nearby for five dollars or if you have four-wheel drive park off the road.
6. Overton Beach Marina
The Overton Beach Marina was a thriving little vacation spot during it’s heyday. Unfortunately due to years of drought the receding water level turned the oasis into a dustbowl. Everything in the area was forced to close down and the property was left to decay in the harsh Las Vegas heat.
The marina. campground and RV park is now a ghost town. There are numerous structures now abandoned through the area. Be sure to check out St. Thomas Ghost Town if just north of here if you visit.
7. St. Thomas Ghost Town
St. Thomas is a unique abandoned place in Las Vegas that has a story unlike any other. The town was founded in 1865 by Mormon sellers who mistakenly thought they were still in the Utah territory. The area was positioned along the Muddy river making it an excellent place for farming.
Nevada eventually discovered the Mormons and demanded five years in back taxes. The Mormons refused to pay and instead they packed up their things, and proceeded to burn their town down. Talk about sticking it to the man.
Later on, in the late 1800s, new settlers discovered the ruins and the fertile soil. They decided to call the area home. Soon St. Thomas was home to over 500 people and had a school, church, and multiple stores. This however wouldn’t last forever.
In 1928, the Hoover Damn project was announced. With it, Lake Mead would rise significantly, putting St. Thomas underwater. The residents were told they had to leave and were reimbursed for their trouble. In 1935, Lake Mead began to fill, and soon the town was 60 feet underwater.
Over the years fluctuating water levels allowed the ruins to reappear briefly before being submerged again.
Today, drought conditions make it possible to explore the ghost town once again. You can see many of the foundations and areas where the town once stood. Of all the abandoned places in Las Vegas, St. Thomas is personally one of my favorites.
8. Historic Hi-Lo Restaurant
This little gas station combination restaurant is a popular stop for those traveling to Los Vegas from the south. Lo-Gas was a classic stop for drivers heading in and out of the Vegas area. I wasn’t able to pull up too much history on the location, but I’d imagine a lack of sales could have been to blame for its current state.
The building closed in the late 90s. While the sign is still cool to check out, much of the gas station is covered in graffiti. A fence now surrounds the property but it’s still one of the few abandoned places in Las Vegas left standing.
9. Royal Hawaiian Motel
The Royal Hawaiian Motel is an icon urbex spot right along 1-15 leading up to Las Vegas. The hotel, which was once part of a small town was built in the early 1900s as a quaint railroad town. In order to steal more traffic from Vegas, the mayor of the town partnered up with the Young Electric Sign Company to commission the now-famous sign.
Despite being abandoned, there’s a lot left to see at the Royal Hawaiian. The sign makes for a great picture, especially against the azure Nevada sky. There is some tasteless graffiti on the building but artists do occasionally leave some really unique pieces there. If you’re road tripping to Las Vegas from the south, don’t miss this spot!
10. Lake Dolores Waterpark
You can’t miss the ruins of Lake Dolores Waterpark when traveling along Route 15. While this location isn’t technically in Las Vegas, Californians taking a road trip to Sin City will likely pass this beauty on the way. The park was built in the 1960s, when the founder set out to create an oasis in the desert. It didn’t go as planned.
For a while, the park thrived, but it continuously struggled to get water out into literally the middle of nowhere. Things got a lot harder when a boy was paralyzed when he broke his back going down one of the slides. A lawsuit filed that would financially drain the park and leave it in ruin.
If you’re interested in the full history of the location, check out the write-up we did on Lake Dolores.
Many of the slides and attractions have been removed, but the massive palm trees, concession areas, and concrete platforms remain. Grafitti artists have covered the park in vibrant colors and skaters have transformed the ruined park into their playground.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Las Vegas, but that doesn’t mean that’s all there is to find. Take the back roads, follow train tracks, and find some places for yourself. There are plenty of places I kept off this list so get out there and explore.