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If you’re searching for ghost towns in Idaho, we’ve got you covered! Below are 13 different ghost towns you can explore across the great state of Idaho along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.
We rate ghost towns in Idaho 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.
If you’re a fan of the Old West and mining, you may want to visit the ghost town of Bayhorse, located 14 miles southwest of Challis, Idaho. The town lies in the Salmon-Challis National Forest and is easily accessible by U.S. 93. Take Idaho State Road 75 south and turn left onto Bayhorse Creek Road. This road is three miles long and will take you to Bayhorse Creek Road.
You’ll be able to explore the abandoned buildings of Bayhorse while you’re here. Remember to pack plenty of water and snacks, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. The ghost town is surrounded by rugged terrain, so wear appropriate footwear and bring a camera to take pictures.
This small city was founded in 1887 and was once a bustling mining town. Unfortunately, the town started to decline in the middle of the 20th century when several mines closed.
The town was formerly a thriving mining community, but the mining industry dwindled and eventually closed the mines. Although there are remnants of mining, most buildings remain today. The Hecla Mining Company built these structures as livable spaces for miners. Even today, the abandoned town beckons visitors to come and explore. The historic downtown stretches more than three-quarters of a mile and is 300 feet wide.
Visitors to Burke can tour the remnants of the mining community. Historic markers and environmental restoration are a welcome addition to the city’s haunted past. Now, the town is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon, and is one of my favorite ghost towns in Idaho.
Gilmore was founded in 1873 and came to life after silver-lead ores were discovered. The town eventually ceased to exist in the 1930s when its power plant burned down.
Once a bustling mining town had a population of over 600. The town had a bank, post office, and mercantile. It even had a city park and a large school with seventy-one students in 1928. The town had a railroad that was built by hand in under a year. It carried ore across the Continental Divide while in use.
The ghost town is home to old buildings, mines, and mining equipment. If you are visiting the area, you can camp on the host’s property or nearby.
4. De Lamar
The town of De Lamar was originally a mining community, named for its founder, Joseph De Lamar. This community was thriving and prospered as silver was found in the nearby Owyhee Mountains. Once the mining boom subsided, the town’s residents started to move away. The second wave of abandonment came after World War I, when the price of silver dropped dramatically, severely damaging the silver industry.
The town is located in the southwest corner of Idaho, on the Owyhee mountain range. The town has a population of fewer than 300, and has many interesting buildings from the past. While the town has been vacant for decades, you can still find remnants of the original mining industry. Today, there are only a few structures left standing.
5. Rocky Bar
Founded in 1863, Rocky Bar once had a population of 2,500. After gold was discovered in nearby Feather River, residents flocked to the town. Hundreds of cabins and stamp mills were built in the area. The town burned down in the 1890s, but the ruins of buildings still remain. Originally, Rocky Bar was a possible Idaho Territory capital. The town can be found in the county of Featherville. Take North Pine Featherville Road to reach the town.
Today urban explorers can venture through town exploring many of the remaining homes and structures. Rocky Bar is one of the most isolated
6. White Knob
This tiny town lies on the hill between Mackay, Idaho, and the White Knob Mountains. It is the perfect place to visit if you love history. While visiting the town, you’ll be able to explore a variety of historical and cultural sites. This small town was once a bustling center for mining and ranching but is now void of any modern activity.
There are several trailheads on the mountain that are accessible to hikers and mountain bikers. The trails are maintained by the Bureau of Land Management and are suitable for four-wheel-drive vehicles. If you’re not comfortable driving to remote places, consider renting a mountain bike and seeing the White Knob ghost town from above.
7. Idaho City
Idaho City was originally named Bannock back during its inception in the late 1800s. Gold mining was a huge industry in the area. During the Civil War, Idaho was not immune to conflict and saw some of the county’s westernmost fighting.
More than $100 million was mined in the area, which is more than double the amount of gold found in neighboring California. After the gold rush, however, the population of Idaho City sank to less than 100.
Today, Idaho City is an easy day trip from Boise and is one of the most popular ghost towns in Idaho. It’s an easier drive than some of the more rural ghost towns on this list, making it a great quick exploration with the family.
Wallace was founded after Colonel William Wallace built a cabin in the area in 1884. After the Civil War, he retired to explore different mining ventures around the area. News traveled quickly that Wallace was in a premium area for new prospecting, and by 1885 the town already had a general store, numerous homes, and several small businesses.
As the town grew Wallace was known for its “work hard play hard” culture. Miners would work hard all day, and then drink, gamble, and screw the night away. There were countless saloons and five brothels where over 60 women worked just to keep up with the vices of the town.
Wallace is one of the more “active” ghost towns in Idaho, with a population of around 800. Despite its residents, Wallace still has a lot to offer in terms of its history. Of all the ghost towns in Idaho, Wallace is by far my favorite “active” town.
9. Silver City
In the late 19th century, Silver City, Idaho, was a thriving community. In addition to the local brewery and bottling plant, the town was home to millions of dollars in ore. The town’s population was as high as 400 people in 1865, with 125 businesses. Currently, the town has only a summer population of 12 people and a winter population of one.
At an elevation of 6,200 feet, Silver City receives between four and six feet of snow per year, making it quite inhospitable during the cold seasons. The town was one of the first towns in Idaho to be electrified, but the transmission lines were diverted to build the nearby Mountain Home Air Force Base.
Although the town began to decline after 1889, it still has a number of charming features, such as a white chapel and two general stores. There are even three cemeteries, with a third tucked away on the hill above Slaughterhouse Gulch
The old buildings in Silver City are in various states of disrepair and decay. There are several nearby mine dumps, and the old schoolhouse is still in use today as a gift shop.
Some of the better houses, like the Stoddard House with its ornate gingerbread trim, are used as summer cabins. In addition to the historic Idaho Hotel, Silver City was home to the state’s first telegraph service, and in 1874, a telegraph line was built from Winnemucca to Boise City.
10. Yankee Fork
In the heart of central Idaho, the town of Yankee Fork is a relic of the past. Its mining history was prominent, and three ghost towns are located here. The town was established in 1879, and is lined with buildings, including the General Custer Mill and China Town.
In 1896, the population was 600, but by 1911, the last mine closed and the town’s population sank. In 1990, the town was revived by the Land of the Yankee Fork Historical Association, which hosts events such as Custer Day, a mining history exhibit, and historical reenactments.
In the heart of central Idaho, the town of Yankee Fork is a relic of the past. Its mining history was prominent, and three ghost towns are located in the nearby area. Along the way, you can explore a 988-ton dredge, see a sandstone mountain, or simply take a scenic drive through the stunning countryside.
Be sure to check out the Yankee Fork Cemetery which is dotted with dozens of headstones and replacement wooden markers. One child’s grave is marked by a “cradle” fence, with a flower basket suspended from it.
In the early 1890s, Bonanza and Custer grew together, with the two towns sharing the same water supply and a water system. The towns grew together and were nearly two-to-one in population.
After two fires in 1889, many of the merchants in Bonanza relocated to Custer, making the two towns virtually the same size. Eventually, the town had a population of 600, but the waterworks and water system were in disrepair and firefighters couldn’t save much of the town when a fire broke out.
While the town is now vacant, you can see the remains of the buildings from the 1880s, including the famous Boot Hill cemetery. You can also visit a nearby mining town, Custer, which was founded near the Bonanza mine in 1878.
Custer was founded in 1879 by a group of gold prospectors hoping to strike it rich. Custer peaked at around 600 residents by the late 1800s. When significantly less gold was found in the region than expected the population dropped off. By 1910 the area was officially a ghost town.
Today the Custer is a part of the Challis National Park Forest and is maintained and protected by the park service. you can explore some of the original buildings, and check out some of the mining equipment.
The mining industry in the area began in the mid-1860s with placer workings and later transitioned to quartz mining. By 1864, a stamp mill was operating and there were hydraulic giants, too. The population decreased from around 2500 in 1864 to only 318 by the end of the century. In the early twentieth century, Chinese immigrants were allowed to work in less-profitable claims. They later started establishing laundries and restaurants.
Placerville in Idaho offers a number of activities. In addition to historic structures, Placerville offers two active museums. The Mercantile and the Placerville Museum tell the history of the town. The Mercantile is the first store in Placerville, and features an old jail cell. In the early days, criminals were prosecuted with unrelenting rope or deadly bullets.
Go out and explore!
That concludes our list of ghost towns in Idaho, 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.