If you’re looking to explore abandoned places in Utah, this is for you. Below are my 20 favorite abandoned places in our most beautiful state.
Abandoned Places In Utah
1. Iosepa Ghost Town
Starting off our list of abandoned places in Utah is the old Iosepa ghost town. When a group of Mormans left Hawaii for Salt Lake City, they needed a place on the mainland they could call home. Of all the places, they chose in the unforgiving desert of Skull Valley to set up shop.
Around 1890 they built their town and named it after their leader, Iosepa (Yo-see-pa) which is Hawaiian for “Joseph” After a lot of blood sweat and tears they managed to slowly transform the inhospitable desert into a small oasis for themselves.
Unfortunately, other Mormans weren’t as supportive of the islanders which left just under 50 people left to sustain the town. Although the native Hawaiians were accustomed to harsh conditions, their crops and livestock were not. After disease and multiple seasons of failed crops, the islanders deserted Iosepa in 1917.
Today, not a whole lot is left outside of some outlines of streets, crumbling foundations, and the graves of some settlers who will forever call Iosepa home.
2. White Mesa
White Mesa is a little-known town in the heart of Utah where many Ute Tribe members call home. However, toxic uranium processing and brutal desert conditions have caused the population to tank to just under 200 residents. While White Mesa isn’t officially a ghost town, it’s on the cusp of being completely abandoned.
Before White Mesa was settled, Native Americans were forced west to this area when white settlers created reservations for the natives in the late 1800s. Fast forward to 1938 the Ute tribe successfully sued the US government for $40 million for their displacement.
During the 1950s, the town of White Mesa was born. The town was a central meeting place for the Ute tribe and served as a place where residents could receive medical care, further their education, and congregate as a community.
This would all change in the 1980s when the White Mesa Mill was built in 1980 to processor uranium ore. Of all the places to locate the uranium processing plant, Energy Fuels Inc chose White Mesa. Many believe its placement is deliberate retribution for the lawsuit in the late 30s.
Today, this continued refinement has contaminated the air, poisoned the groundwater, and left residents stranded with very few options to rebuild their community. The homes and buildings left behind by those who fled the area slow decay and bake in the Utah sun.
If you’re interested in the full story of White Mesa, I highly suggest checking out Johnny Joo’s full write-up on the town.
3. Silver City
Silver City today is a collection of ruins and remains from the old Tintic Mining District from over 100 years ago. The area was first settled in 1869 when numerous deposits of precious resources were discovered by a cowboy prospector named George Rust (what a badass name).
The town slowly grew from a tent town, to one that could house miners and had amenities like a saloon and blacksmith. This slow growth was in part due to a lack of capital on the landowner’s end. Silver City reached a population of 800 by the turn of the century.
Unfortunately, a string of bad luck would hit the town. While in the midst of some of their most profitable mining, the mines struck water, causing the mine shafts to flood quickly. Even with the aid of pumps, this slowed mining down considerably.
In 1902 fire would decimate many buildings in the town, causing a second wave of miners to look for work elsewhere. This, combined with other more successful mines in the area caused the population of Silver City to drop even further. By 1940 only 111 people lived in the area. Today, it’s a ghost town.
4. Dragon Canyon Ruins Camp Site
Just down the road from Silver City is a small batch of old abandoned buildings. While this isn’t the most exciting abandoned place in Utah, it is a great spot for camping out or simply checking out on your way up to Silver City. Also be sure to check out the cemetery located just south of this site located near Ruby Hollow.
This cemetery was the final resting place for many of Silver City’s residents and other settlers who didn’t quite make it all the way to the west coast.
5. Ophir, Utah
Ophir helped support the resource-rich mines in the nearby area during the 1860s and early 1900s. The town was named after the biblical reference to Ophir, where King Soloman brought his gold his old to Isreal. During the early days, gold, silver, zinc, and lead deposits were found and helped sustain the miners and the town.
Unlike most abandoned mining ghost towns, Ophir continued to mine in some capacity just before 1960. When the mines shut down many people found work elsewhere, but a few residents decided to stay. A 2016 survey discovered that Ophir was one of the smallest incorporated towns in the state with just 23 people.
Today, explorers can find abandoned homes, vacant mines, and artifacts from the past throughout the town.
6. Grand Central Mine
Grand Central Mine is definitely one of the more popular abandoned places in Utah, but that isn’t to say it isn’t worth the trip. The old mine was located just north of Mammoth and operated between 1872 and 1960. Both gold and silver were extracted from Grand Central Mine, making this mine quite lucrative.
Today the mine is in ruin, and makes for a fun urban exploration. There is at least one open shaft that drops down 750 meter, so explore with caution. I personally think this would make a great foreground for a Milky Way shot since its so incredibly dark here at night.
7. Centennial Eureka Mine
Not far from Grand Central Mine you can find the remains of the Ureka Mine just over the ridge to the north. The Eureka Mine operated between 1875 and 1955 extracting copper, lead, silver, and of course, gold. The mine was a major part of the Main Tintic Mining District and was one of the larger mines in the area.
Today explorers can venture through the nearby ruins, or take a look at what an authentic mine shaft would have looked like back in the early 1900s.
8. Thistle, Utah
Thistle is definitely one of the more interesting abandoned places in Utah, as it has numerous vacant homes and ruins for explorers to photograph and check out.
Thistle’s history actually started off a trade route for Native Americans before white settlers showed up. The Mormons ended up settling in the area during the Mormon Migration to Utah during the 1840s but were left largely undisturbed by the natives. When the Europeans arrived in the area, native tribes would try to defend their land but ultimately be relocated.
The town was officially formed sometime around 1880 and was home to mostly railroad workers. During its heyday, Thistle boasted more than 600 residents with a school, saloon, post office, barbershop, and general store. The town’s population would slowly shrink over time as more people and businesses switched to automobiles versus the rail system.
The final nail in the coffin was a massive landslide that nearly wiped out Thistle in 1983. The landslide swept away almost all of the wooden structures and forced any remaining residents to live elsewhere. Although many of the buildings were destroyed, there is still plenty to see for urban explorers adventurous enough to make the journey.
9. Grafton, Utah
Just south of Zion National Park the remains of Grafton silhouette against the clear blue Utah sky. The town was settled in 1859 as part of a cotton-growing operation. Grafton grew in size when another nearby town called Wheeler was wiped out after a two-week-long flood.
This should have been a sign of things to come, as more flooding would soon jeopardize Grafton. The town dug irrigation canals and planted orchards which would help move and absorb floodwaters if they did reach the town. These canals however would frequently get clogged and need cleaning out, requiring a massive amount of labor and time.
In 1866 the Black Hawk War triggered fears that Grafton would be a target. Many residents fled to Rockville and never returned. Only a few people remained in Grafton until the last family left in 1944. The abandoned town has been featured in films like Old Arizona, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Today many of the buildings are still standing, but remain under the watchful eye of the Grafton Heritage Partnership.
10. Delta Solar Ruins
Unlike most abandoned places in Utah, the Delta Solar Ruins aren’t remains from an early settlement or part of a mining operation. The destroyed solar panels were part of a project that promised cheaper and more efficient solar energy harvesting. But as you can tell, it didn’t quite work out.
The cheaper material Delta Solar had in mind was essentially plastic, which proved no match for the brutal conditions of the Utah desert. Ultimately, the project was considered fraud, and the company was fined nearly $50 million back in 2018.
Only the skeletal husks are left behind as a monument to the Delta Solar Project.
11. Satan’s Land
When it comes to abandoned places in Utah, Satan’s Land might just be the most ruined. These knarled remains of an old iron factory now attract graffiti artists, vandals, and photographers looking to explore something a little different.
When the iron factory shut down in the 1960s, the environment made quick work of anything that remains. As the building decayed naturally, scrappers and vandals accelerated the process. Today, not much remains of Satan’s Land since floodwaters inundated the property years ago.
The area is now considered off-limits and is fairly dangerous if you don’t watch where you are walking.
12. Home of Truth
Home of Truth is a ghost town located in southeast Utah and has numerous original buildings that are still standing. Of all the abandoned places in Utah, Home of Truth might have one of the strangest stories.
In 1929, Marie Ogden lost her husband and found peace through different forms of spiritualism. She quickly formed an occult called the School of Truth. She believed that she could use spiritualism to contact her dead husband, and she could teach others to communicate with the dead as well.
In 1933 she and about 20 followers formed a small town and collective farm in what would be known as Home of Truth. Towards the end of construction, there were 23 structures on the property. Things got really weird when one of her followers died from cancer. She claimed she could bring them back from the dead.
By bathing the corpse in a salt bath, and injecting the body with milk and eggs, Marie believed that she could repurify the body and bring it back to life. Surprisingly, when the sheriff got wind of this he ultimately let her keep the body since it was so well preserved.
As the press continued to publish stories, more followers left the town. In 1937 Marie announced that she would be bringing the dead woman back to life. She was arrested after failing to produce a death certificate, however, police could not find a body. It was later discovered that the body was cremated before police could take it.
There are three “portals” to the property all of which are listed as no trespassing. But if you do go, you can get a glimpse of where all this craziness took place
13. Tintic Standard Reduction Mill
Built in 1920, the Tintic Mill, (AKA Harold Mill) only operated until 1925. Today, the ruins are used as a playground for explores, graffiti writers, and photographers.
The mill processed metals such as copper, gold lead, and silver during its time in operation. The mill used acid-brining and leaching to for refinement. Unfortunately, this process was soon inefficient with advancements in ore refining. This caused the mill to cease operations in 1925.
Unlike many abandoned places in Utah, there is still plenty to explore at the mill. There are numerous water tanks, ore crushers, and drain boxes left behind which also contribute to heavy metal pollution in the nearby groundwater.
14. Thompson Springs
Thompson Springs is on the precipice of becoming a full-blown ghost town, with tons of abandoned buildings, homes, and structures scattered across the area. Like many abandoned places in Utah, Thompson Springs was forged from hard-working men and women.
Before Thompson Springs, the land was home to Native Americans back in the Archaic Period. Evidence of this is found on numerous nearby petroglyphs. When white settlers arrived, they constructed Thompson Springs in 1890 for the ranchers and farmers who tamed the land.
Unlike most abandoned places in Utah, Thompson Springs wasn’t a gold or silver mine, but was used to support a coal mine just north in Sego Canyon. The town isn’t dead yet, but has definitely fallen from grace. If you love abandoned places and desert towns, Thompson Spring isn’t a place you’ll want to pass up.
15. The Beehive Kilns at Frisco Utah
Frisco is another abandoned place in Utah that was used for mining and ore processing. However, unlike most abandoned places in Utah, Frisco has some amazingly well-preserved kilns. These kilns were used at least since 1872 and are one of the most well-preserved mining artifacts in the entire state.
The town of Frisco was short-lived. The Horn Silver Mine that supplied Frisco with ore had suffered a massive cave-in during the winter of 1885. While no one was killed, many workers left to find jobs elsewhere.
At its peak, Frisco boasted 23 saloons and extracted more than $60,000,000 worth of ore from the land. This combination of booze and bullion made Frisco notorious for theft, drunken brawls, and murder.
16. Silver King Mine
Yep, it’s another mine. However, unlike other abandoned places in Utah, this mine is largely intact making it worth the trip out to explore.
The history of the mine dates all the way back to 1870 in the midst of the Apache Wars. In order to flush out Apache soldiers, General George Stoneman ordered a road be constructed across the Pinal Mountains.
One of the soldiers discovered a strange black silvery substance while working on the road. He pocketed some, and kept this a secret from everyone else. After his service, he set out to mine the silver himself but disappeared. It’s assumed he was killed by Apaches in the area.
A ranch hand and a few friends went searching for the soldier but were attacked on their way near the summit of the mountain. An unknown companion was killed. and buried near the summit. During the burial, one of the ranchhands noticed a strange marking. These markings were left by the soldier, and the silver deposits were located.
The mine ceased production when silver prices crashed in 1888. Today, Silver King Mine is one of the best abandoned places to explore in the state with so much of it still intact.
17. Gold Hill
Gold Hill was a mining town that supported the gold, copper, silver, and arsenic mines in the area. While most mining towns immediately took shape after the discovery of resources, Gold Hill was settled 13 years after the first traces of gold were discovered in 1858.
Gold Hill quickly began to live up to its name and was known to have some of the richest ore in the entire region. Thanks to its diverse abundance of resources, Gold Hill survived the silver crash, but ultimately was abandoned after World War II.
Today there are quite a few abandoned structures you can explore and photography in Gold Hill and the surrounding area.
18. Cottonwood Paper Mill
One of the more popular abandoned places in Utah is the Cottonwood Paper Mill in located in Cottonwood Heights. This hardy abandoned stone structure was built in 1883 where workers transform wood pulp into paper. During production, the mill could make up to 5 tons of paper a day.
On April 1st, 1893, a fire alarm sounded across the mill. Many thought this was an April Fools prank, but were shocked to find the mill ablaze. The fire destroyed everything but the stone frame. In 1927 the structure was rebuilt and turned into a dancehall.
This eventually brought in rock bands and other artists from the 40s to the 60s. Later in the 80s, it was used as a haunted house but then condemned due to structural issues in the early 2000s.
Today, urban explorers can venture through this unique piece of history and photograph its extremely unique exterior.
19. Silver Reef Ghost Town
Unlike most abandoned places in Utah, Silver Reef is more commercialized than true ghost towns, but that doesn’t take away from its awesome history. Silver Reef is unique in that it has a mix of silver ore found in sandstone, which is not typical for silver ore deposits.
Prospectors discovered this silver around 1866, and the town sprung to life in the next few years. By 1879 roughly 2000 people called Silver Reef home. The main street was two miles long, and churches, banks, restaurants, and numerous other accommodations for its residents.
Mining halted in 1884 due to the silver crash but reopened in 1916. Unfortunately, this lapse in operations caused many residents to relocate, and miners were forced to find work elsewhere. While the town never really recovered, the mines were purchased and mined for uranium during the late 1940s.
While this ghost town has many commercial elements to it, its still a cool explore, especially if you’re already in the area for something else.
20. Ogden Exchange Building
Allegedly, the Ogden Exchange Building is one of the most haunted abandoned places in Utah. Built in 1931, the gorgeous art-deco structure was used to show off and sell livestock. The building is nearly 10,000 square feet and is absolutely beautiful inside.
Over the years the building has housed offices, barbershops, and a cafe. As the railroads played less of a role in commerce and travel, Ogden Exchange suffered. The business closed in 1971 and was then again used in 1974 as a trade school.
In 1974 the trade school moved out and a drug treatment center moved in. The center closed in 1987, leaving it a target for vandals. Today the structure has survived arson, vandals, and scrappers. Hopefully, it will remain preserved for future explorers.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of abandoned places in Utah, 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.