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Ghost towns near Las Vegas you'll have to see to believe

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Vintage cars and tin buildings with wooden houses in the center of Goldfield, a ghost town near Las Vegas.©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
A typical scene in Nevada's ghost towns, Goldfield, NV. Vintage cars and tin buildings with wooden houses. ©AlonzoWright

Driving through Nevada’s ghost towns is a lot like visiting Hollywood movie sets. It’s hard to believe places like these still exist. Imagine making a wrong turn and ending up in an alternate universe where time stopped more than a century ago; that’s pretty much how it feels.

These old mining towns are nestled in the bleached desert mountains and lined with rusted out cars and machinery in various states of corrosion. The cemeteries are decaying with crumbling headstones, there are signs warning of the dangers of abandoned mineshafts, there's an old general store and a local watering hole.

An abandoned cabin with a rotting roof stands in the desert brush with mountains in the background. Rhyolite, NV one of the ghost towns near Las Vegas.©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
An abandoned cabin in Rhyolite, NV just outside Death Valley. Vintage cars and tin buildings with wooden houses. ©AlonzoWright

But here’s the thing you have to remember about real ghost towns; they’re not tourist traps, they’re sites of unimaginable highs and lows. At the turn of the century, these towns were a whirlwind of tremendous wealth and prosperity, tragedy and violence, and every extreme human emotion you can think of in a very short period of time. Once the land was drained of its precious metals, the prospectors moved on to the next mine, leaving behind entire operations and sometimes loved ones who didn’t make it in the unforgiving desert.

Nevada’s historic boom towns are some of the best preserved in the country, and surprisingly, many of them are still inhabited. While most people will come to the region to see Las Vegas, right outside the glittering city limits are lonely stretches of highways that carve right through the heart of the great American West and ghost town experiences you can't get anywhere but Nevada. Keep reading for ghost towns near Las Vegas that you'll have to see to believe.

An antique sepia photo of miners in a horse in buggy from 1907, featured in ghost towns near Las Vegas for Manifesting Travel.
Prospectors in Eldorado Canyon with a boarding house and mill in the background, circa 1907. Photo courtesy of UNLV Special Collections.

Nelson Nevada Ghost Town

43 miles southeast of Las Vegas

Nelson's Landing Population: 34

You’ll probably have a few eerie, “The Hills Have Eyes” feelings on your way out to Nelson’s Landing/Nelson Ghost Town (people use the names interchangeably). It is, after all, down a desolate, winding road and tucked into a canyon in the middle of nowhere. When it was first discovered by the Spaniards in the late 1700s, they called it El Dorado, likely a nod to the elusive, mythical city of gold. And honestly, it’s striking in a similar way.

A desert town with vintage buildings sits beneath a blue sky with fluffy white clouds and mountains in the background. Nelson's Landing is a ghost town near Las Vegas.©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
Nelson, NV was the site of the Eldorado Canyon gold and silver mine. ©AlonzoWright

The rustic little town is a treasure trove of original structures from its booming mining days, junkyard gems, obscure art pieces and movie props, all waiting to be discovered by the occasional passerby. The general store is home to a small museum with photos, info, and a precious stash of cold water (which in the blazing summer heat is worth more than gold). It’s also where you check in and let the good folks know you’re there because there are no other services nearby if you need help.

Fees to visit Nelson's Landing

If you’d like to take pictures, and you will, it’s a $10-$20 fee and well worth it because it helps the owners keep the place open. There’s a high likelihood you’ll see a photoshoot or two because it’s a beloved locale for photographers who know it’s there. There’s an old Texaco filling station, gas pumps, a multi-story barn, a number of out buildings, vintage cars and trucks, a few old planes and countless other cool and photogenic things to see.


This place is definitely off-the-beaten-path, but it’s worth the trek. You can take a mine tour while you’re there too. It hasn’t been in operation since the 1940s, but it’s the site of a bloody history of rampant lawlessness and labor disputes because of the millions of dollars it produced in gold, silver and copper.

A plane crashed into the side of a desert mountain with rain clouds in the distance. Nelson is a ghost town near Las Vegas. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel.
This plane wreckage is from the set of "3000 Miles to Graceland" starring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell. ©AlonzoWright

Good to know about Nelson NV:

You can also get to the Colorado River from Nelson, but much of the town as it is today is what’s left from a devastating flash flood, so use caution if you do go down to the river. Monsoon season is typically July to August, and you don’t want to be caught out there in a fast moving storm.

It’s also not safe to go wandering around Nelson without telling the owners you’re there. There are abandoned mine shafts, rattlesnakes, scorpions, vicious cacti (totally not a joke), old mining equipment and about a million other things that could hurt you if you’re not paying close attention. There are also no services like a gas station, restaurant or lodging so make sure you’re well prepared before you go out.

An original black and white photo of the Rhyolite train depot from 1910 with passengers sitting on the platforms, featured in ghost towns near Las Vegas for Manifesting Travel.
Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad Depot in Rhyolite, circa 1910. Photo courtesy of the Nevada Historical Society. Photographer: A. E. Holt

Rhyolite Nevada Ghost Town

123 miles northwest of Las Vegas

Rhyolite Population: 1 (unless he moved)

Rhyolite is a true ghost town because there’s virtually nothing and no one left. The town sits on the edge of Death Valley, just 7 minutes from the small town of Beatty, NV. At the height of its boom, Rhyolite had a stock exchange, an opera house, an ice cream parlor, a hospital, jail and even a red light district with women of varying moral elasticity. In 1906, the one and only Charles Schwab purchased the local mine for an estimated 2 to 6 million dollars.


But by 1911, the mine was drained and shuttered, and the electricity turned off for the entire town just a few years later. In less than a year, the town was abandoned. Today, the walls of the 3-story bank, the jail, a train depot and a house made of 50,000 glass bottles remains. The Bottle House was originally built by a local miner, Tom Kelly, and was restored in 1925 by Paramount Pictures for a movie production.

The Goldwell Open Air Museum is also (interestingly enough) just down the road, and you can take in art installations from sculptors all over the world, including the 1984 permanent exhibit “The Last Supper,” created by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski.

A desert scene with sculptures of white shrouded figures in Rhyolite, one of the ghost towns near Las Vegas. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
“The Last Supper” by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski at the Goldwell Open Air Museum half a mile down the road from Rhyolite. ©AlonzoWright

Good to know about Rhyolite NV:

Rhyolite makes a good side trip if you’re touring through Death Valley National Park or taking a road trip from Las Vegas to Reno or Tahoe. It’s not much of a destination by itself and there are no services or places to eat. The good news is, Beatty is just six miles up the road and you’ll find everything you need there, including the Goldwell Museum’s manager, who’s quite the artist in his own right.

An original black and white photo of Goldfield's main street, one of the ghost towns near Las Vegas, from 1906. The photo features people walking, in horse-drawn carriages, and crowds converging in and out of the general stores. Featured in Manifesting Travel.
Main Street in Goldfield, NV circa 1906. Photo courtesy of the Goldfield Historical Society.

Goldfield Nevada Mining Town

184 miles northwest of Las Vegas

Goldfield Population: 298

Goldfield has a couple modern claims to fame; it’s home to what the Travel Channel deems to be one of the most haunted hotels in the United States, and a massive open-air art installation full of precariously leaning cars turned up on their ends.

But originally, Goldfield became the largest and wealthiest town in Nevada, with 20,000 residents who came from all over the country for the gold and silver ore found just below the surface of the desert mountainscapes. It was even home to Virgil and Wyatt Earp, with Virgil becoming sheriff in 1904.

Goldfield is a ghost towns near Las Vegas: A historic 4-story brick hotel sits abandoned with boarded windows and original detailing. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
The grand old Goldfield Hotel has been abandoned for 80 years and has been featured on many ghost hunting TV shows. ©AlonzoWright

At the height of its boom, Goldfield had the most luxurious hotel between San Francisco and Denver, a 150-room property that boasted private bathrooms, electricity, telephones, steam heating and an elevator.

The Goldfield Hotel hasn’t had any paying guests since the 1940s, but that doesn’t stop the rumors that there are some past guests who haunt the halls of the long-abandoned building. While it isn’t currently open to visitors, that may change in the future because it was open to the public for general and paranormal tours. At the very least, it’s worth peeking in the windows.


On the other end of town, The International Car Forest sits just over a hill off the main interstate. It’s a one-of-a-kind art installation with 40 junked cars staged in multiple angles, including partially buried, and standing on end. It’s another extremely photogenic spot that’s worth a stop over.

A bus sits teetering on its end with graffiti art in the middle of the desert with a monsoon rain storm in the background in ghost towns near Las Vegas. ©AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
A bus teetering on its end at the International Car Forest in Goldfield, NV. ©AlonzoWright

Good to know about Goldfield NV:

There is only one place to spend the night, the Goldfield Stop Inn, and the Dinky Diner is the only place to stop for lunch, but we can attest it’s worth the visit. The restaurant is owned and operated by a brother and sister duo who are extremely friendly and know how to make some mean American diner favorites.

We’re talking perfectly golden-brown mozzarella sticks, crispy onion rings, juicy burgers and southwestern style goodies too. While it doesn’t sound impressive to be the only place to eat in town, or the highest rated restaurant in the area (because there aren’t many choices), it really is good food and you’ll be happy you stopped.

A black and white photo from the early 1900s shows antique buildings and horse and buggies in the town of Tonopah, Nevada, one of the ghost towns near Las Vegas featured on Manifesting Travel.
Historic downtown Tonopah with mines in the background, circa 1906. Photo courtesy of the Town of Tonopah.

Tonopah Nevada Ghost Town

211 miles northwest of Las Vegas

Tonopah population: 2,000

You can’t mention Goldfield without including Tonopah, they’re only 30 minutes from each other and their histories are entwined. In 1900, a tipsy Jim Butler stumbled upon a hunk of silver while trying to wrangle his wayward burro in the middle of the night. What came after was a 20-year boom that yielded more than $120 million in today’s value, crowning the town the “Queen of the Silver Camps.”

Luckily, the town has been able to preserve much of its history, including the 100-acre Tonopah Historic Mining Park where Butler got his start. You can tour the mines and check out exhibits at the Central Nevada Museum, find the headstones of the 17 miners who were killed in a mineshaft fire at the old Tonopah Cemetery, visit the ghost town ruins in nearby Manhattan and Belmont, or one of our favorites, hang out at the stargazing park.

USA Today named Tonopah one of the best places in the United States for stargazing thanks to such minimal light pollution in the night sky. For being in the middle of nowhere, Tonopah has a surprising number of things to do. It’s also a great base to explore the region with several hotel options like the Mizpah and Belvada Hotels or the extra kitschy, World Famous Clown Motel. It’s also got its own brewery that serves up homemade BBQ, a 24/7 casino, lots of restaurants and a few shops to explore.

Ghost towns near Las Vegas: An antique fire department and a water company building sit against the hills of Tonopah, NV. @AlonzoWright for Manifesting Travel
Tonopah, NV is lined with historic buildings from the early 1900s and has restored hotels and a casino. ©AlonzoWright

Good to know about Tonopah, NV:

We consider this a good location to use as a home base because of all the services the town offers. There’s a handful of gas stations, restaurants, mechanics, and places to stay. That’s really hard to come by in the middle of the Nevada desert. Because this town is the most populated, there are much more things to do than the other towns on the list.

This is the place for those who need a little more civilization and action after touring through Nevada’s sleepy ghost towns.

A black and white photo of the Pioneer Saloon, a tin cowboy bar, from the early 1900s with a group of a dozen men in old fashioned clothes standing outside in the snow. Goodsprings is featured on Manifesting Travel as a ghost town near Las Vegas.
Postcard of Pioneer Saloon, circa 1915-1930. Photo courtesy of UNLV Special Collections, James H. Down Jr. Photograph Collection.

Goodsprings Nevada Ghost Town

34 miles southwest from Las Vegas

Goodsprings Population: 229*

Goodsprings would be a blip on the radar if it weren’t for its “frozen in time” saloon and a brush with Hollywood royalty. The Pioneer Saloon is the oldest in Nevada, and likely the last of its kind in the entire country.


The building still has all the original features like the 1913 Sears and Roebuck stamped tin walls, a Brunswick Company bar from the 1860s that was sent down from Rhyolite after the bust (remember that town?), the brass foot rail on the bar and an old wooden boardwalk outside that leads to the Goodsprings General Store. It is a whiff of the real Wild West like you’ve never had, complete with a pot-bellied stove and bullet holes in the walls from a gunfight that broke out over a poker cheat in 1915.

The Nevada desert from the side mirror of a moving vehicle shows a monsoon and lonely stretches of highway in the reflection on the search for ghost towns near Las Vegas. ©AOnozWright for Manifesting Travel
The lonely road to Goodsprings is a typical desert scene you'll see when driving to ghost towns near Vegas. ©AOnozWright

In 1942, the one and only Clark Gable bellied up to the bar, waiting three days for word on his Hollywood starlet wife, Carole Lombard’s plane. It had refueled in Las Vegas but never made it to California. Legend has it, the cigarette burns in the Pioneer’s bar are the result of Gable’s frazzled nerves, that culminated in the tragic news of the plane crashing on nearby Mt. Potosi. There were no survivors.

Today, the Pioneer Saloon has live music on the weekends, a full menu, souvenirs and has even been featured in an Xbox game. Goodsprings Elementary was built in 1913 and is one of the last one-room schools in the state that is still in operation, and it’s listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. There’s also a stone cabin that still stands. It was the first structure built in Goodsprings in 1886 and was home to the Campbell family until their matriarch’s death in 1980.

Good to know about Goodsprings NV:

Other than the landmarks we’ve pointed out, that’s pretty much all there is to Goodsprings from a “ghost town” perspective. There is an ATV tour company office there if you feel like ripping it up in the desert, but that’s about it as far as tourism goes.


This is a great place to stop if you’re driving from California to Las Vegas and don’t want to have the typical casino experience you’d get in Jean. It’s also noteworthy that the Seven Magic Mountains are just across the interstate and another good place to stop for photos on your way to Vegas.

*As of the 2010 census, it’s hard to say what it is today but there are about 20 or so kids enrolled in the school.


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Headshot for Ashley Onoz-Wright, Editor in Chief of Manifesting Travel

Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last nine years. Her work has been featured in Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, and She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.


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