There's something so romantic about the idea of camping overnight in an old ghost town. Maybe it's because sleeping under the stars seems kind of Wild West-ish, or maybe it's because deep down inside, you know that seeing a ghost in a ghost town would be kind of awesome...either way, not all ghost towns stay open after dark, so here are some of the best ghost towns for staying the night!
Bannack was still a functioning town up until the 1970's but the dwindling population and their hard-to-reach, remote location eventually proved too be the town's downfall. At its peak, Bannack had about 10,000 citizens, three hotels, three blacksmith shops, and four saloons. It also briefly served as the capital of the Montana territory. It's probably your best bet if you're in search of ghost town ghosts as well: a scandal in the town found that the town's sheriff had maybe been heading up a secret gang that could have murdered up to a hundred people throughout Montana-- 22 people were hanged for being members of the gang, and even more were lynched or run out of town.
Silver City Ghost Town is about 70 miles southwest of Boise, and is a partially restored 19th century abandoned mining town, which once found fortune with gold and silver. There are around 70 buildings that are still standing. At its height, Silver City boasted a population of just over 2,500 people. Gold and silver was discovered in 1863, which attracted hundreds of miners who flooded the area with mining claims. Thus, the town was founded in 1864 and loads of businesses followed suit. There were once 8 saloons, 6 general stores and even a hospital. Today, visitors can walk around and imagine what life was like over 150 years ago. The Owyhee Mountains play host to Silver City's primitive campground, which is open from Memorial Day weekend 'til November. Once the snow comes however, the only way you can access the Silver City is by snowmobile, skiing or snowshoeing.
The "Berlin" part of this park's name is the ghost town, and the "Ichthyosaur" bit refers to some undisturbed and very well preserved dinosaur fossils. Berlin was a boomtown founded during a small gold rush in the area. The gold was found in 1896 and within 15 short years, there was nothing left to dig up. Today, you can still see the ore mill, mercury float tables, mine shafts, homes, plus a blacksmith shop and a stage coach shop. All that, plus dinosaur bones and camping!
While a lot of the buildings in the silver-rush town of Calico have been replaced with false, Old Western-style fronts, rest assured that several of the structures are original, like Lil's Saloon, the post office/courthouse (now a museum), the general store, and a few others. Since the place has gotten a little touristy, you can see staged gunfights, pan for gold, and get a tour of the mine as well.
The once-bustling town of Terlingua is now mostly a tourist attraction (and home to one of the nation's biggest chili cook-offs). It was once owned by the Chisos Mining Company, and they primarily mined cinnabar (used to make mercury), but a new mineral, subsequently named Terlinguaite (how original) was also discovered nearby. If you're looking to camp, get into the spirit at Las Ruinas Camping Hostel-- they have tents already set up for you!
If you want the charm of a ghost town, but the convenience of staying in an all-inclusive resort, saddle up and ride into Dunton, Colorado.
What once was a small, isolated mining town in the early 1900's has become a stunning, romantic resort. It took about 7 years to restore the old buildings and put in modern amenities, but it was well worth the effort. Dunton Hot Springs resort is nestled in an alpine valley of the San Juan Mountains in Colorado where it boasts a painstakingly beautiful view from the resort’s log cabins. While staying there you'll be surrounded by mountain views, waterfalls and, of course, the main attraction: the hot springs.
Dunton Hot Springs doesn’t just offer you a relaxing get away, but also a slew of wild adventures. Since they’re smack dab in the middle of tons of rugged Wild West wilderness, there's something for everyone. They range from horseback riding, to snow shoeing, to river rafting, to mountain biking- the possibilities are really endless. Adventure literally is at your doorstep!
As for dining and drinking, Dunton Hot Springs definitely delivers! Since it was an old mining town they restored some of the original buildings, including the old saloon! The Dunton Hot Springs Saloon still has a lot of the original fixtures like the wooden bar where Butch Cassidy’s monikers are carved…pretty unreal! The Dance Hall next door can be rented out for events as well (they have a rustic wooden chapel which is perfect for wedding ceremonies). Not to mention their food, which is decadent. Plus, the kitchen is open, so you can watch them prep the day's meal-- or even pitch in, pioneer-style.
Right outside the still-active Elkmont Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the Elkmont Historic District. The creepiest parts of Elkmont, like the large former Wonderland Hotel, are a short hike away up a gravel road, but the area generally referred to as the Elkmont Historic District offers plenty of super creepy abandoned cabins to explore, all easily accessible from a paved road and the Appalachian Clubhouse parking lot.
From Wild West boomtowns and abandoned mountain resorts to luxury stays and scenic glamping spots, there's tons of ways to experience an unforgettable night in a ghost town!