It’s the Halloween season, so we’ve assembled a list of some of the most popular ghost towns in America. Many of these are located in state parks and have hotels and campsites nearby for easier access. We can’t promise you’ll see any ghosts, but it might be worth a visit just for the spooky atmosphere.
Bodie State Historic Park
Located in the remote eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, Bodie State Historic Park offers a glimpse into the past. Like many gold rush towns, Bodie’s population boomed after the discovery of gold deposits, but eventually the gold mines dried up, the town was abandoned by residents and faded into obscurity. Rather than be restored, its buildings have been allowed to decay, providing an authentically creepy experience. It’s status as a State Historic Park means it remains as a protected time capsule, offering a unique glimpse into the past.
Kennicott Ghost Town
Located in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Kennicott is a ghost town with a compelling history set against the stunning backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness. This remote and isolated former mining town was born during the early 20th century copper boom and, like many others, eventually succumbed to the changing tides of fortune. The town is surrounded by natural features like glaciers, rugged mountains and pristine streams. Kennicott’s most impressive feature is the 14-story Kennicott Concentration Mill, a dilapidated ore processing facility built into the side of a hill.
Located in Bannack State Park in Montana, this ghost town is a compelling glimpse into the Wild West. Founded in the 1860s during the Montana Gold Rush, Bannack quickly grew into a bustling mining town, complete with saloons, hotels, and other establishments that catered to the fortune seekers of the era. However, as gold reserves waned and the population dwindled, Bannack gradually transformed into a ghost town.
Today, it's a well-preserved State Park, offering visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the Wild West. The town's wooden structures, including the famous Bannack Hotel, have been restored to their 19th century appearance as a testament to the past. Bannack also features a cast of historical reenactors who are happy to take questions and offer living history lessons. Don’t be fooled by its clean and upkept appearance though: Bannack still offers nighttime ghost tours during the fall season.
St Elmo, Colorado
St. Elmo, located less than 83 miles southeast of Aspen, Colorado, is one of the state's best-preserved ghost towns. Formed in 1880 for miners in search of gold and silver, the town's final residents supposedly took the last train out in 1922 – and never returned. Today, you can visit St. Elmo by car or all-terrain vehicle to see several wooden storefronts, including the general store. For the ultimate mountain getaway, you can even rent a log cabin. The infamous town of Tin Cup, Colorado, which is known for its ties to shady Wild West outlaws and a spooky town cemetery, also sits nearby.
Custer Ghost Town
This partially restored ghost town lets visitors experience life in a frontier mining town. Custer was founded in early 1879 by gold speculators. Economically supported by the operations of the Lucky Boy and Black mines, Custer reached its peak population of 600 in 1896 but by 1910 had become a ghost town. The town includes the restored schoolhouse and Empire Saloon as well as a variety of unmaintained mining equipment. Free guided and self-guided walking tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day during business hours.