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13 Ghost Towns In Death Valley [MAP]

    ghost towns in Death Valley

    If you’re searching for ghost towns in Death Valley, we’ve got you covered! Below are 13 different ghost towns you can explore across the Death Valley area along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.

    We rate ghost towns in Death Valley based on their status. Here’s how our system works:

    • Abandoned: Is abandoned with ruins and structures in a decayed state. Great for urban explorers.
    • Historic: Preservation efforts have been made and sometimes plaques installed. Great for everyone.
    • Barren: Almost nothing remains of the town. Ideal for metal detectorists.
    • Commercial: Is commercially owned with amenities, restaurants, and stores. Great for families.
    • Semi-Abandoned: Abandoned areas with a small population in the area.
    • Privately Owned: Tours might be available but not open to the general public.


    1. Ballarat

    36.04641, -117.22673
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: conradh – flickr.com

    History:

    The town of Ballarat was once a bustling place, with three hotels, a school, and seven saloons. But now it’s a ghost town, watched over by a single man and his dog. The town was abandoned in the early 1990s, and in 1988, the family of Charles Manson stayed in the Barker ranch south of town.

    What’s Left?

    The old town is still worth exploring. It has a unique history. You’ll be glad you took the time to visit. And if you’re visiting the area, don’t miss seeing the old mining equipment that still lies in the flats.


    2. Panamint

    36.11828, -117.09533
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Jim Choate – flickr.com

    History:

    Panamint in Death Valley was a thriving community in the 1870s, but has long been abandoned. Several thousand people lived in this small settlement, lured by the promise of easy money and adventure. Panamint was the site of a silver mining boomtown in the 1870s. The town was run by outlaws and eventually flooded, destroying everything. The road to the town was only accessible to dedicated 4x4s until the late 1980s. 

    What’s Left?

    You can explore the remains of the abandoned mine while hiking through a scenic 7.5-mile trail. This hike is strenuous and requires an excellent amount of endurance. However, the views are worth it. You’ll be rewarded with stunning scenery and an authentic sense of history. You’ll be glad you did.


    3. Death Valley Junction

    36.302, -116.41416
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    The town began life as a tent settlement. A saloon and hotel were built. Then in the 1920s, the Pacific Coast Borax Company built a hotel and office complex in Death Valley Junction. Once the company stopped operation in 1928, the town’s development went sour.

    What’s Left?

    Today, the town remains in various stages of decay. To get a taste of Death Valley’s past, be sure to check out the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel. The opera house boasts elaborate murals, vintage seats, and a backstage stuffed with costumes. We were lucky enough to attend a tour led by a local ghost-hunting team.


    4. Cerro Gordo

    36.5377, -117.79523
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    Once the epicenter of the silver rush in the 1800s, Cerro Gordo in Death Valley is now a ghost town. This 400-acre town in the Inyo Mountains is a nugget in time. But don’t expect comfort or luxury – it was built for rugged beauty,

    What’s Left?

    There are a number of attractions to explore in Cerro Gordo, including a one-room saloon with two out-of-tune pianos and a mysterious bloodstain on the wall. The road is steep and requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle, so you might want to bring a friend. The town’s caretaker, Robert, is a friendly host who can offer tours of the buildings. If you’re staying overnight, you can also get a tour of the ghost town, which is included in the cost of your room.


    5. Leadfield

    36.84829, -117.05945
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Neal Wellons – flickr.com

    History:

    Julian was a well-known oil promoter in the Southern California region, and he bought stock in the Leadfield Mining Company. Although his business practices were questionable, he continued to promote the area and drill, despite the low-grade ore. As a result, he became an overnight sensation and was welcomed in the area by the Inyo Independent newspaper. The local newspaper wrote about Julian’s character, but Julian’s shady business practices led to the town’s demise.

    What’s Left?

    The buildings, slabs, and other structures are all highly photogenic, and this will captivate visitors of all ages. It is important to plan plenty of time for your trip, as there is not much shade. The ghost town is located on a small road, and you’ll have to hike to get there.


    6. Rhyolite

    36.90321, -116.82811
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: mypubliclands – flickr.com

    History:

    The town was established in 1904 by entrepreneur Charles M. Schwab. By 1906, the town had water and electricity. It also had a railroad and newspapers. It was home to an opera house and a stock exchange. The history, numerous ruins, and proximity to the freeway make this one of the best ghost towns in Death Valley to visit.

    What’s Left?

    When visiting Death Valley, be sure to spend some time in the town of Rhyolite. The ghost town sits amid a barren landscape and is easy to reach.

    The town is located just 35 miles from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. The nearest town, Beatty, Nevada, is nine miles away. While the town is free to enter, the road does become increasingly rough and the BLM has erected fences around unstable buildings. A visit to the Rhyolite ghost town is not part of the National Park, but it is located just outside of the park’s boundaries. 


    7. Pioneer

    37.00527, -116.78388
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    Pioneer was founded in 1908 to support workers mining in the nearby gold mines. The population capped out at 2,500 until a fire decimated nearly all of the town’s buildings. By 1931 Pioneer officially closed its post office sealing its fate as a ghost town.

    What’s Left?

    Pioneer is one of the smallest ghost towns in Death Valley and is better suited for camping or longer hikes. While there isn’t much left there are a few remnants of the mine and stone ruins.


    8. Skidoo Mill

    36.43671, -117.15493
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: mindat.org

    History:

    The Skidoo Mines Company built this historic mill to process gold from ore by water, gravity, and a combination of the two. This mill was the only water-powered mill in Death Valley. The water supply was piped from Telescope Peak, about 23 miles away. The mill had a telephone exchange, newspaper press, and a school. When the mines in the region ran dry, the town went into decline.

    What’s Left?

    Skidoo Mill is one of the better-preserved ghost towns in Death Valley, making it a must-see location on your trip.


    9. Journigan’s Mill

    36.41359, -117.18251
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: James Marvin Phelps – flickr.com

    History:

    The history of Journigan’s Mill in Death Valley dates back to the 1930s. The site is near several springs and was home to at least one mill before Journigan’s operation. The mill used stamp mills, cone-type ball mills, and crushers to treat ore and prepare it for shipping.

    What’s Left?

    Today, the remains of Journigan’s Mill can be seen on Emigrant Canyon Road in Death Valley National Park. The trailhead is on the west side of Emigrant Canyon Road.

    There are also plenty of other places to visit near the park. Just make sure you bring a camera. The Dead Horse Point hike is relatively safe and easy to do, making this one of the greatest ghost towns in Death Valley for family trips.


    10. Ashford Mill Ruins

    35.91897, -116.68328
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: K. Moses – nps.gov

    History:

    Ashford Mill supported the Ashford mine during the early to mid-1900s. Unfroturely, the mine was not as prosperous as anticipated which forced the mine and mill to shut down early into its operation.

    What’s Left?

    One of the most beautiful sites in Death Valley National Park is the Ashford Mill Ruins. Ashford Mill is the perfect location to see the desert and the harsh life it provides. The trail to Ashford Mill is about 2 hours from Las Vegas, making it one of the more accessible ghost towns in Death Valley.


    11. Darwin

    36.26799, -117.59173
    Status: Historic

    History:

    Darwin was settled during the mid-1800s by a prospector by the name of Darwin French who was searching for valuable resources in the western expanse.

    When silver and lead were found, a larger settlement took root in 1874. Ironically, Death Valley was actually the death of Darwin. When Death Valley was designated as a national monument in 1933 their bypass road isolated the town, removing nearly all traffic to the town.

    What’s Left?

    Today about 50 people call Darwin home. While it’s not the most exciting ghost town in Death Valley, it’s certainly a cool little town you’ll want to check out while exploring the desert.


    12. Keeler

    36.48715, -117.87396
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Larry Myhre – flickr.com

    History:

    The town is situated on the NE shore of the now-dry Lake Owens and is accessed from California State Highway 136. A railroad once served this town, and the town’s growth coincided with the fortunes of the nearby Cerro Gordo mines.

    Keeler was named after Julius M. Keeler, who owned the Keeler Mill. The Carson & Colorado Railroad was the last to stop in Keeler, but little traffic meant that there was no freight for the train to haul. In 1911, a zinc mine was discovered in the town. But by the time the mine was closed, the deposits had run dry. The last train left Keeler in 1960.

    What’s Left?

    Today, Keeler has many abandoned buildings to explore making it one of the best ghost towns in Death Valley for urban explorers.

    13. Gold Point

    37.35465, -117.36507
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    Photo Credit: James Marvin Phelps – flickr.com

    History:

    The town of Gold Point, Nevada, is a well-preserved historic mining community located in Esmeralda County, Nevada. The town was named for its local gold-mining industry, and its current population is seven. This area is well known for its sweeping views of Death Valley, and its attractions and activities include hiking, photography, and other outdoor pursuits. Gold Point is also home to a number of historical buildings and sites making it one of the best ghost towns in Death Valley for urban explorers.

    What’s Left?

    There are plenty of buildings to explore as well as some interesting geological discoveries. Trilobite fossils were first found at Gold Point by two geologists in the early 1960s. They were later identified by USGS paleontologists as the largest known assemblage of Early Cambrian trilobite fossils. This discovery prompted scientists to start exploring the site and its surrounding area. In addition to fossils, Gold Point is known for its extensive collection of dinosaur bones and skeletons.


    Go out and explore!

    That concludes our list of ghost towns in Death Valley, 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.

    If you’re having trouble finding ghost towns be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Finding Abandoned Places, or explore other ghost towns across the country.