Skip to content

18 Ghost Towns In Montana [MAP]

    ghost towns in Montana

    If you’re searching for ghost towns in Montana, we’ve got you covered! Below are 17 different ghost towns you can explore across the great state of Montana along with their status and exact GPS coordinates.

    We rate ghost towns in Montana 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. Bannack

    45.16103, -112.99559
    Status: Historic

    History:

    Bannack is where it all began in 1862, when a German immigrant named John Conrad discovered gold near Virginia City. The first town established to support miners working along Grasshopper Creek, Bannack became an official city on February 28, 1864. Soon, hundreds of buildings were constructed as mining turned into a full-blown industry within months.

    One year later, however, fire destroyed much of Virginia City. It was rebuilt quickly, but by 1865 there was little left for prospectors to find. In addition, most of those who had come looking for wealth left disappointed and moved elsewhere. By 1870 there were only a few hundred people living in Virginia City, which had been renamed Bannack. Three years later it was abandoned altogether.

    What’s Left?

    Today visitors can still see some remnants of what once was one of Montana’s most important cities. There are also many historical markers around town that describe events that took place during its time as a major metropolis. There are no hotels or restaurants in Bannack today, so if you plan to visit you should bring your own food and water with you.


    2. Rimini

    46.48751, -112.24796
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    Photo Credit: My Public Lands – flickr.com

    History:

    Rimini’s name comes from a local businessman, Ulysses S. Rimini, who financed part of an excavation project during Yellowstone’s tourist heyday. From 1891 to 1896, more than 3 million people visited Yellowstone each year—an incredible number for that time. Although a nearby geyser eruption caused Rimini to lose his investment money, he still saw potential in one area: tourists wanted souvenirs to take home with them. He opened up a gift shop near Old Faithful Geyser.

    What’s Left?

    Today, visitors can see remnants of Rimini’s building at Old Faithful Visitor Center. The store is currently closed, but if you want to learn more about Yellowstone’s history, you can stop by their museum and gift shop or visit their website.


    3. Virginia City

    45.29381, -111.94609
    Status: Commerical

    Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM – flickr.com

    History:

    As part of his exploration of Montana Territory, Horace Greeley passed through Virginia City on a steamboat traveling up the Missouri River. When he reached Bannack, he began to promote Virginia City as a great place for settlers. He coined it The Queen of Mining Camps.

    With that single phrase, he began an advertising campaign that drew thousands of people from all over America to come prospecting for gold. In 1864, Virginia City was incorporated. It had become one of Montana’s largest cities with a population approaching 10,000 people. In its heyday, there were more than 3,000 buildings within city limits. Today only about 250 remain standing.

    What’s Left?

    The city of Virginia City grew quickly. In just a few years, it was thriving with ore miners, prospectors, merchants, saloons, hotels, entertainment venues (including one of America’s first theaters), restaurants and even bakeries. The population reached around 2,000 within a year of Virginia City’s founding.


    4. Granite Ghost Town

    46.3171, -113.24819
    Status: Historic

    Photo Credit: Jimmy Emerson, DVM – flickr.com

    History:

    Granite, one of Montana’s most forgotten communities, was founded when prospectors discovered gold in Granite Creek, a tributary of Carver Creek. This discovery led to a small rush of people looking to strike it rich. At its peak around 1900, hundreds called Granite home. The community boasted three general stores, two restaurants, several saloons, and an opera house that served as an entertainment center for miners working nearby.

    What’s Left?

    Nowadays you can still visit what remains of Granite if you are brave enough to find it. Some say they have seen strange lights floating around in some parts of town and have heard voices calling out from behind closed doors. Granite State Park has lots of different things you can see like a mine superintendent’s house and an old miners union hall. The road from Philipsburg to Granite goes up high.


    5. Colma

    46.84306, -113.37972
    Status: Abandoned

    Photo Credit: Sheena Pate – corwnofthecontinent.net

    History:

    Located in a rural valley outside Helena, Montana, Colma was founded as a small community in 1883 and flourished until 1910. Thanks to its remote location and hidden, subterranean geography, it became known as the ghost town that wasn’t there. It was so completely forgotten by everyone living in surrounding areas that a passing railroad employee accidentally blew up an entire store full of dynamite because he didn’t realize anyone was living there.

    What’s Left?

    There’s not much information about Coloma. People who live nearby say they don’t know anything about it, and won’t answer any questions. There are two theories as to why this might be happening: either the people here have had too many bad experiences with this place, or there’s something else in this area that we don’t know about yet.

    Today, you can still visit Colma if you know where to look. Look for a collapsed building on private property about 3 miles west of Highway 12 near Red Rock Canyon State Park.


    6. Elkhorn

    46.2748, -111.9462
    Status: Historic

    History:

    The Elkhorn Ghost Town was a gold mining town founded around 1866, near what is now Elkhorn, Montana. After a prospector named Warren Williams discovered gold near Last Chance Gulch (today’s Main Street), miners quickly flocked to the area. By 1868, more than 20 saloons were operating in downtown Elkhorn, including two that doubled as brothels. In 1880, there were nearly 10,000 people living in and around Elkhorn. However, when silver prices dropped and ore became scarce, many of these people left.

    What’s Left?

    Today, only a few buildings remain standing in Elkhorn; most of them are private residences or businesses. There are no official tours of Elkhorn today; however, if you stop by any local business during normal business hours and ask politely for directions to Elk-horn or The Old Cemetery you will be pointed toward it immediately.


    7. Garnet

    46.82537, -113.33863
    Status: Historic

    History:

    About 100 years ago, Garnet was a small mining town. Gold was found in Garnet. The people came from far and wide to try their luck. Some made it big, others didn’t get much of anything out of it except for tales to tell after they went back home.

    What’s Left?

    Today there is nothing left but some old buildings that are falling apart, but even those have been taken over by nature. It looks like just another part of Garnet Mountain now. It is not marked on any maps because there isn’t anything left to mark anymore. I think if you hike up there you will be surprised how many things you can find that are still around that have been left behind over time by people who once lived here long ago.


    8. Nevada City

    45.30708, -111.96809
    Status: Historic

    Photo Credit: Larry Myhre – flickr.com

    History:

    Nevada City was first settled in 1862, but it wasn’t until 1864 that it officially became a town. It grew quickly, thanks to its proximity to Fort Owen and the Virginia City supply depot. However, due to its remoteness (Nevada City is about 22 miles from Virginia City), it was abandoned again by 1876.The reason behind Nevada City’s decline is due to a few different factors.

    First, there was a large boom of mining operations in Nevada City during its early days. However, those mines were quickly exhausted and closed down. As such, mining companies abandoned the area. Additionally, since mining brought people into town, when it disappeared so did that source of income—which left some businesses with little reason to stay open.

    Lastly, because Nevada City was built on top of an old Native American settlement, many believed that ghosts haunted the city. This combined with other reasons led to even more residents leaving for greener pastures. Eventually, all these factors led to a mass exodus from Nevada City until only about 100 people remained.

    These remaining residents then decided to burn down most of their homes rather than leave them as reminders of how great life once was. In fact, they burned everything except two buildings: one building housed a schoolhouse, and another housed a saloon where they held their last party before burning everything else.

    What’s Left?

     Today, only foundations remain. However, it’s still possible to see remnants of what used to be. There are also several tourist-friendly locations around Nevada City today, including various gift shops and bed & breakfasts which allow tourists to visit (and get spooked).


    9. Aldridge

    45.08694, -110.82083
    Status: Barren

    Photo Credit: Gary S – flickr.com

    History:

    Aldridge has one of Montana’s most colorful tales. Its namesake, Eli Aldridge, was a man of many professions, known by friends as the world’s best jack-of-all-trades. He worked as a trapper, Indian scout, road builder, and miner.

    Gold Fever struck him hard when he caught word of a gold strike on Muddy Creek near his cabin in 1864. The creek had already been named Muddy because of its muddy water, but no one knew it would soon be renamed for Mr. Aldridge himself! Before long, miners were flocking to Muddy Creek to stake their claims and Eli joined them. As more people arrived, they decided to build a town called Eldridge City after their famous fellow resident. 

    By 1870, Eldridge City had grown into a thriving community with over 600 residents—and an opera house! But all good things must come to an end, and so did Eldridge City. In 1880, all mining activity stopped due to low prices and lack of ore.

    What’s Left?

    Today there is nothing left of Aldridge City except a few cellar holes and some rusty cans that once held food or whiskey. You can still see these relics along Muddy Creek Road if you know where to look. If you like exploring old mines, don’t miss Silver King Mine in Granite County (another abandoned mine). It has a fascinating history and breathtaking views of surrounding mountains.


    10. Saint Marie Military Ghost Town

    48.40224, -106.53281
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    Photo Credit: montanahistoriclandscape.com

    History:

    Saint Marie is a military town that has been abandoned multiple times since the end of the cold war. This isolated base and living community has struggled to stay open due to low demand and population. The base was built in 1957 and designed to house 10,000 people. However, only 200 people stay on the base leaving hundreds of buildings abandoned.

    What’s Left?

    Today this abandoned community is overgrown with maintenance struggling to keep nature at bay. Since Saint Maire is on a military base it is one of the few ghost towns in Montana that are off-limits to would-be explorers.


    11. Castle Town Ghost Town

    46.44138, -110.67194
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    After only a few short years, Castle Town’s population dwindled down to 50 permanent residents. While very little is known about its early history, local lore states that gold miners lost their lives at Castle Creek in 1896 while searching for gold on their own land.

    Supposedly, they were murdered by cattle rustlers. Since then, numerous visitors have reported seeing or hearing things that cannot be explained by rational means. The town was abandoned in 1907 when mining operations ceased. The last resident of Castle Town died in 1982, leaving behind an eerie reminder of what life was like during Montana’s mining boom.

    What’s Left?

    Today, it is a popular tourist attraction and has been featured on television shows such as Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. If you are looking for a real-life ghost story to share with your friends, Castle Town might just be worth checking out!


    12. Comet

    46.31167, -112.16877
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    Located 14 miles east of Billings, Comet’s history begins in 1885. The town was founded by a crew building a railroad from Miles City to Great Falls. Since most of its residents were either railroad workers or store owners, there wasn’t much room for expansion. When the Union Pacific line bypassed Comet by only 2 miles, it left the town without much reason to exist—and residents began moving out until none remained.

    What’s Left?

    Today, all that remains are memories and some scattered ruins. The people who once lived here may be gone, but their ghosts still linger in many of these forgotten places. There are few things more unsettling than an abandoned town with nobody around—especially when you know what happened to everyone who used to live there. These stories remind us that our presence on Earth is fleeting, but our presence on the Internet is forever.


    13. Maudlow

    46.10777, -111.17305
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    The mining boom town of Maudlow was a sight to behold when it was established in 1885. Thousands of people flocked to mine for copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc, limestone and tungsten. By 1910, there were over 300 buildings and 2,000 residents living in Maudlow. But as quickly as it rose to prominence, its population dwindled after World War I due to lack of ore deposits. By 1938 only one family remained on site until they left for good in 1955.

    What’s Left?

    Today Maudlow is completely abandoned with nothing but empty lots and piles of rubble remaining. It’s not uncommon to find remnants from previous inhabitants like old bottles, dishes or books. There are also rumors that miners still haunt these grounds because they died before being able to leave with their paychecks or belongings. If you dare venture out here during the Halloween season be sure to bring along some extra batteries! You never know what might happen.


    14. Pony

    45.65861, -111.89444
    Status: Semi-Abandoned

    History:

    Pony has one of the funnier names of all the ghost towns in Montana, but that shouldn’t take away from its beauty. The town got its name from one of the early settlers who worked as a miner in the area. He named it Pony simply because his friend was a small man who was also nicknamed Pony.

    Like many ghost towns in Montana, Pony was a mining town that boomed and busted pretty quickly. The town formed in 1860 reaching a peak of 5,000 residents. As mining operations ceased, the population quickly dropped. By 1922 no mines were left open.

    What’s Left?

    Pony has 96 buildings that are still standing thanks to historic preservation efforts. With so much left behind there’s plenty for both explorers and photographers alike to see here.


    15. Sixteen

    46.21527, -110.99777
    Status: Abandoned

    History:

    The town of Sixteen was named after 16 miners who were trapped belowground during a cave-in. Today, only two buildings remain; both are small log cabins.

    The first is occupied by an active beehive that swarms if disturbed. Visitors can see its honey jars hanging from a tree out front. The second cabin is used for storage by a nearby rancher and should not be entered without his permission.

     It has been reported that items left inside have disappeared and reappeared elsewhere on their own. Many visitors report feeling ill while inside, as well as hearing strange noises coming from within its walls.

    Some say they feel like they are being watched or followed when visiting here. It is believed to be haunted by one of its former residents, a woman whose husband was killed in a mining accident near their home. She died years later after succumbing to grief and loneliness but her spirit still haunts her old home today.

    What’s Left?

    Many graves were marked only by small stones placed over them, with names like J&L or D&M or M&E carved into them. It’s easy to see why people would want to leave here after their time was up; there are few reminders of what life used to be like here for these families living and working together under such difficult conditions.


    16. Vananda

    46.39194, -107.00222
    Status: Abandoned

    ghost towns in Montana with school houses still standing

    History:

    One of Western Montana’s most notorious gold mining towns, Vananda (also known as Wyola) started out with a boom but eventually faded into oblivion. The city was first established in 1892 after prospectors discovered gold near Mount Garnet. However, within months of its founding, the city was nearly wiped out by a flood. 

    Considered a ghost town today, Vananda was once a bustling gold rush town. It reached its peak in 1895 with a population of nearly 3,000 people. A devastating fire destroyed all but one building in 1896 and that, combined with declining gold yields led to Vananda’s decline and eventual abandonment by 1910.

    What’s Left?

    Today many buildings remain standing including the Vananda Inn Hotel and several others which have been preserved by state historians for protection. Even with most ghost towns in Montana offering more for explorers, Vanada is still worth checking out if you’re nearby.


    17. Washoe

    35.00166, -118.16888
    Status: Abandoned

    ghost towns in Montana used for mining gold
    Photo Credit: mapio.net

    History:

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then photos of Ghost Town Washoe might tell a thousand stories. Washoe County, located in southwestern Montana, has more than its fair share of abandoned mining towns – from places like Copper City and Gold Creek to Idaho Gulch.

    But none stands out quite like Washoe; some historians say that if it were located on a hillside, you’d be able to see right down into it (if not for all those trees). The town was once home to dozens of miners who worked a nearby mine until about 1907 when water began flooding into their tunnels. By 1910, most residents had left Washoe behind and moved on to greener pastures.

    What’s Left?

    Today, only ruins remain; even the mine shafts have collapsed under layers of dirt and rock. Still, there are rumors among locals that ghosts still haunt these hills. Rumors aside, Washoe is one of my favorite ghost towns in Montana, as many of the original structures still stand.


    18. Wheat Basin

    45.91722, -109.06277
    Status: Barren

    History:

    A quick look into Wheat Basin will make it clear that it was a very prosperous town, rich in gold and silver. However, when those resources dwindled away, so did its inhabitants. While there are certainly more exciting ghost towns in Montana, we just think Wheat Basin is a cool little spot.

    What’s Left?

    Today, not much is left behind outside of a few overgrown foundations. Explorers armed with a keen eye and a metal detector might be able to unearth some long-forgotten relics if they’re lucky.


    Go out and explore!

    That concludes our list of ghost towns in Montana, 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.