The ghost towns in Arizona are the brilliant icons of the past of the Old Wild West. If you want to be transported back to dusty streets lined with wooden buildings, horses, and cowboy vibes, these coolest ghost towns in Arizona will give you exactly that but so much more.
These abandoned Arizona mine towns, enriched with distinct past, is one of the best getaways you can plan with your family for a unique holiday, traveling back in time to gold rush days in Arizona.
Most of Arizona’s best ghost towns are conveniently accessible and ideal for a short weekend drive. Although there are over two hundred ghost towns in Arizona, only a few are well-preserved as historic sites, making them perfect for adding to the best Arizona landmarks and your bucket list.
You can easily also add these Arizona ghost towns as quick stops on road trips and add visits to some of the best national monuments in Arizona and national parks along the route, stretching your trip for almost a week if you wish!
Whether looking for a quick weekend getaway from Tucson, Phoenix and Sedona or stops along the best Arizona road trip routes, this post takes you through the best ghost towns in Arizona worth your time.
TOP GHOST TOWNS IN ARIZONA
Located south of Flagstaff and in the dense Black Hills mountains within the Verde Valley at over 5000 feet, Jerome is one of the top ghost towns in Arizona. Nicknamed the most vertical city, Jerome is also the largest ghost town in the United States.
If you want to be introduced to the culture of Arizona ghost towns, Jerome is the best place to be as it is one of the best mining towns symbolising the Old Wild West.
Founded in 1876 with the discovery of gold and copper deposits in the area, Jerome attracted large numbers of migrants from everywhere, mainly miners, gamblers, and old-west bad boys.
This large-scale migration brought a wide boom, leading to the construction of many saloons and brothels.
The mines near Jerome were rich in copper rather than silver, with the mines producing 3 million pounds of copper per month, and during its peak time, the town inhabited over 15000 people.
Jerome got rightly nicknamed ‘The Billion Dollar Copper Camp’. It grew into one of the richest cities in the US at this time, and over 70 years, these copper mines in Jerome generated over a billion dollars worth of precious metal.
Eventually, in the 1950s, the mines began drying up. As expected, the town’s population dwindled to less than a hundred,
Jerome was designated a National Historic District in 1967, and artists began to flock to the town in the 60s and 70s.
Today, Jerome is home to 450 residents, making it the largest populated ghost town. It is a vibrant community with old buildings of the 1800s renovated into art galleries, museums, coffee shops, antique shops, craft stores, gift and curios shops, and wine bars.
Join one of the guided tours to cover the highlights of Jerome, where you will also hear many eerie and interesting tales of this mining town and its past inhabitants.
Do you know? Jerome is also one of the most haunted towns in Arizona. There are many popular ghost tours, and if you are here for the first time, I recommend you join one.
Some of the most haunted places with bizarre and sad histories include the Ghost City Inn, Mile High Grill & Inn, a former brothel, and the Conner Hotel. The tour guides will tell unbelievable stories and grim events in these spots.
If you are daring, stay overnight at the Jerome Grand Hotel, also rumoured to be haunted by the spirits of patients, dead miners, and staff.
Even if you’re not into the paranormal, there are many attractions worth visiting in Jerome.
Start from downtown Jerome, home to some galleries, restaurants and tasting rooms — and the famous “Haunted Hamburger” restaurant, worth stopping for lunch or dinner.
Visit the Jerome State Historic Park, home to Douglas Mansion, built in 1916 by a mining magnate.
Check out the unique Sliding Jail, a historic building and a museum constructed in the 1920s. Over the years, the building has slid down the hill about 200 feet to where it rests now.
The mining museum contains many excellent artefacts, photographs, and ancient equipment belonging to the miners, giving glimpses of the past of the mining town.
If you are with kids, head to the nearby Audrey Headframe Park to admire stunning views of the mountainous landscapes from the glass viewing platform over a 1918 mine shaft.
Bisbee, located near the Mexican border only about 30 minutes from Tombstone, is one of the unique ghost towns in Arizona that has gained popularity in recent years.
Located southeast of Tucson Bisbee in Cochise County, nestled in the rolling mountains, does not exude the typical charm of any Arizona ghost town, as the town is home to over 4000 residents currently.
But the rich past of Bisbee and its excellent location and all-year-round pleasant weather make it one of my favourite Arizona mining towns.
Bisbee was accidentally discovered in 1877 by a group of US Army scouts and cavalrymen who stumbled upon the presence of significant amounts of lead, copper, and silver.
The word soon spread resulting in a large influx of migrants looking to make the most of these minerals.
In a few years, Bisbee became known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps,” with a mining settlement for over 20,000 miners, prospectors, and their families.
Bisbee became one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing gold, copper, silver, and zinc, producing almost a quarter of the world’s copper.
It was the largest town in the Southwest between St. Louis and San Francisco.
After a century of prosperous run, the mines gave away as the mineral reserves depleted, with the last mine being shut forever in 1975.
Today, most of the rich historic past of Bisbee is well-preserved, thanks to the efforts of the residents, offering its visitors plenty of attractions and activities to give peeks into the golden past of Brisbee.
Walking through the old-fashioned downtown lined with whimsical art galleries, bustling shops, unique museums, cute cafes, bars, and restaurants.
Tour the museums of Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, and Bisbee Restoration Museum to get an in-depth look into the lives of miners and settlers back in the day.
Or better, join the world-famous Queen Mine Tour, which takes you 1,500 feet underground to explore one of the abandoned mines. Here you will get your hands dirty wearing mining hats and slickers and riding the train deep underground to search for precious metals.
Stop at Central School, and Lavender Pit, and for some spooky experiences, you can visit the Bisbee Seance Room, a Victoria parlor for the paranormal.
Join the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour strolling amidst ancient buildings and listening to the gory tales sending a chill down your spine.
Or spend overnight at the historic Copper Queen Hotel, dating back to 1902, which is rumoured to be haunted as well.
Halloween is one of the most popular times to visit Bisbee as the whole town comes alive with many themed parties, haunted tours, and markets.
One of the popular ghost towns in Arizona, Tombstone is a pretty town close to Bisbee in Cochise County and shares a common past of the Wild West and origins, with Tombstone also being discovered in the 1880s.
Tombstone, famously nicknamed the “town too tough to die,” was one of the leading silver mines during the era.
Within two years of establishment, Tombstone became one of the primarily populated towns and was home to more than a hundred saloons, over a dozen gambling halls, a bowling alley, many brothels, four churches, theatres, and large public office buildings.
Tombstone was a haven for lawless gunslingers, smugglers, cowboys, miners, and immigrants. It was abandoned in 1892 when the mines dried up.
Today, Tombstone is one of the most popular ghost towns in Arizona, receiving 400,000 tourists visiting each year.
Another thing that made Tombstone attract tourists happened after being the filming venue showcasing the infamous gunfight at O.K. Corral in the 1993 movie Tombstone.
You can experience the old west architecture in Tombstone on one of the excellent guided tours. Or hop on a horse-drawn wagon or stagecoach.
Admire the old-time saloons, restaurants, and shops lining the old town area, especially around East Allen Street, lined with boutique gift shops and eateries.
Theatre enthusiasts should visit Schieffelin Hall. You can also attend one of the underground mining tours. Join mysterious tours to feel spooky at Boothill Cemetery.
Check out the iconic Bird Cage Theatre on Allen Street, a raucous saloon littered with bullet holes thanks to the infamous fight, where they regularly reenact the gunfight.
If you plan to stay overnight, I highly recommend staying at Tombstone Monument Ranch.
Locate near the Arizona-California border is the former mining town Swansea, one of the worth-visiting ghost towns in Arizona, known for its rich gold and copper mining history.
Under preservation by the Bureau of Land Management, Swansea in western Arizona near the Bill Williams River was named after the Welsh hometown of founder George Mitchell at the time of its establishment in the 1870s.
Within a decade, Swansea grew in size, as did the revenue. Swansea had a post office, many saloons and restaurants, car dealership shops, theatres, a lumber company, and an electric light company.
But unlike the other Arizona mining towns, Swansea expanded only for about 30 years since its founding around the Great Depression, partly due to a lack of a stable water supply after incurring bankruptcy in 1911.
Today, you can check out old mine shafts, dozens of abandoned buildings, two cemeteries, miners’ homes, vintage cars, foundations and adobe structures and learn about its past from the plaques installed.
Note that it is one of the most remote Arizona ghost towns compared to others on the list, but if you like to explore minus the crowds, you will love this place.
Located 40 miles east of Phoenix, Goldfield is a beautiful hamlet and the gateway to the Superstition Mountains in the legendary Valley of the Sun.
Only a short drive from Mesa and Apache Junction, Goldfield is one of the best ghost towns in Arizona known for its well-preserved mining history, apart from its beautiful location.
Unlike some Arizona ghost towns, you will see that Goldfield is not abandoned but is well-preserved.
The Goldfield Ghost Town & Mine is one of the best day trips from Scottsdale you can plan, as it is only about 10 miles away.
Goldfield was founded in 1893 when gold was first discovered in the Superstition Mountains after prospectors struck gold here.
At the time of the founding of Goldfield, miners discovered massive amounts of gold worth at least three million dollars leading to a sudden frenzy and building of the town in a short span.
Goldfield colourfully expanded to include many saloons, brothels, offices, a hotel, a theatre, a general store, a schoolhouse, and a brewery.
However, this mega success did not long last. Goldfield was one of the shortest-lived mining towns as the mines dried up, leading to people abandoning it only five years after its founding.
Note that Goldfield may not be to your liking if you are not into touristy towns, but it is worth checking out for all the many activities, historic buildings and family-friendly events.
Check out the famous museum, an old train steamer, mine tours, daily gunfight reenactments, the historic schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, and old-style saloons alongside horses and wagons.
The historic town offers many old-west attractions where you can pan for gold. Try the period costume with your kids. Try zipline to take in the bird’s-eye view of Goldfield.
One of the latest additions to the mining towns in the state was Ruby, now one of the best well-preserved ghost towns in Arizona and a pretty city worth stopping by, near the north of the Mexico border amidst the beautiful Coronado National Forest.
Although miners discovered rich deposits of gold and silver in 1854, mining was limited as the area was Apache territory.
Ruby became a spot on the map when quartz was discovered in the 1870s. Miners even formed a settlement called “Montana Camp” just below Montana Peak.
Soon, prospectors found large amounts of gold, lead, and zinc in the nearby hills enticing many migrants to settle here, leading to another mining town in Arizona that came into existence in 1912 and was named after the wife of a mining merchant.
The Montana Mine in Ruby was the largest mining camp in southwest Arizona at the time, producing zinc, lead and 80 ounces of silver per ton.
Home to more than a thousand people, Ruby was also notorious for its many illegal activities with the border towns in Mexico.
The town is also best known as the location of the infamous Ruby Murders and the subsequent manhunt in the 1920s.
As the mining business dwindled in the mid-20th Century followed by the closing of the Montana Mine, Ruby turned into a veritable ghost town.
Ruby was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975; later, the remaining residents began working on restoring sections of the town to its former glory.
Ruby is a privately owned ghost town today, and you can explore its past with a permit and an admission fee; where you can see more than two dozen buildings, making you dive into the history of this town.
Among the prominent landmarks and old west buildings include the post office, a jail, a school, a warehouse, the courthouse, and mine machinery.
If you visit from May-September, you can witness hundreds of Mexican free-tail bats emerging from the old mines around sunset.
After touring Ruby for a few hours, you can enjoy fishing at the two private lakes nearby that are regularly stocked with bluegill, catfish and largemouth bass.
The town also offers camping grounds near the lakes, where you can enjoy birdwatching and stargazing.
One of the best stops you can make on your road trip along the famous old Route 66 is Oatman, one of the best ghost towns in Arizona, named after a woman, Olive Oatman, who lived among the local Yavapai and Mohave Native American tribes.
Oatman is one of the few towns in the Wild West that joined the extensive list of mining towns in 1915, much later than the other towns, when more than ten million of gold was discovered.
This boom and the subsequent expansion of Oatman continued for the next fifty years, with hundreds of prospectors and mining families calling the town their home.
Situated along the old Route 66, Oatman is now a living ghost town with many residents and one of the most-visited Arizona ghost towns, with nearly half a million visitors visiting to relive the golden days yearly.
Oatman is known for exuding the Wild West vibes on its dusty streets and wooden sidewalks laden with historical buildings, antique shops, museums, and more.
Another notable feature of Oatman is the friendly wild burros wandering the streets.
Among the top attractions you should visit is the Oatman Hotel, a two-storey adobe hotel which survived the fire of 1921 and is also believed to be haunted. There is a restaurant, saloon, and gift shop on the premises.
Located on the edge of the Navajo Nation, Two Guns is another popular stop off Route 66 and must be on the list of the best ghost towns in Arizona; situated between Flagstaff and Winslow on the rim of Canyon Diablo.
Two Guns is home to the remains of a trading post, gas station, and also a zoo, along with being the grim site of the Apache Death Cave.
It is probably one of the ghost towns in Arizona with a sad and eerie history.
Although it was one of the oldest inhabited areas with large populations of Native Americans dating back to the 10th century, Two Guns was an obscure town to the rest of the world until the mid-1800s.
In 1878, the nearby Canyon Diablo was the site of a mass murder of Apaches by their Navajo enemies; the site where the Apache hid out became known as the Apache Death Cave.
Two Guns was initially founded as a work camp for crews building the railroad over Canyon Diablo.
Due to its proximity to the Canyon and the illegal activities, Two Guns became notorious for its lawlessness, burglars, thieves, gamblers, and murderers.
Today, Two Guns is a quiet, abandoned town where you can see the remains of a campground, trading post, zoo, old cottages, and a burned-out service station.
Check out the locations of the grim past, the abandoned Canyon Diablo Bridge and Apache Death Cave close to the town.
Chloride, nestled in the Cerbat Mountains near Las Vegas and Kingman, is the oldest continually lived-in mining town in Arizona and has the state’s oldest continually operated post office.
If you want to be transported back in time to experience the rustic past of the Old Wild West, Chloride is the best place to be.
And it is also one of the less-crowded towns, so if you want to avoid the touristy AZ ghost towns, you will love Chloride for its more authentic charms.
Established in 1863 as a silver mining camp, Chloride had over 75 mines, including silver, gold, lead, zinc, and turquoise mines, with over two thousand people calling the town their home.
Like the other mining towns in Arizona, Chloride was a bustling city with all amenities and fleeting businessmen and traders.
As the mines were getting depleted the town suffered a major fire outbreak in the late 1920s, and by the 1940s, most of the town was shut.
But unlike most ghost towns in Arizona on this list, it never became fully uninhabited following the closure of the silver mines in the 1940s.
Stroll the streets of the old town, especially Tennessee Street of Chloride, home to an old saloon, a playhouse, an undertaker’s office, antique jail dating back to 1860, Lavender Lace’s Boarding House for Fine Women, and the oldest continually-run church in Arizona. Stop at the famous Mineshaft Market.
One of the quirky attractions in Chloride is the town cemetery where you can see the graves topped with old telephones.
Do you know? Many old buildings on the main street area feature in popular movies and music videos as Chloride is one of the famous filming locations in AZ.
I recommend you stop at the famous Purcell Murals, a series of colourful murals running for a mile and a half along the dirt road up the mountain.
Created by the local artist Roy Purcell in 1966, this art named “The Journey” covers 2,000 square feet of cliffside granite home to quirky art in all forms and sizes, ranging from mystic symbols to birds and armour.
Chloride also celebrates Old Miner’s Day to celebrate their mining heritage, with a few residents being the descendants of the original settlers.
Get transported back in time to the days of the gold rush of the 19th-century Wild West with a trip to the ghost town of Castle Dome City at the Castle Dome Mine Museum, one of the top things to do in Yuma AZ.
Located about an hour’s drive northeast of downtown Yuma, Castle Dome is more than just a museum.
One of the prominent ghost towns in Arizona, Castle Dome was a larger town than Yuma, back in its prime,
you will find more than fifty buildings atop over 300 abandoned mines, recreated to showcase the lives of the inhabitants that occupied the mining district of Castle Dome in the 1860s and 1870s.
Explore the buildings, including homes, original saloons, blacksmith shops, general stores, hotels, a bank, post office, shops, and a church, home to unique artefacts, to learn more about the town’s history, which was eventually abandoned in 1978
You can choose from various experiences, from a self-guided walking town tour to a more adventurous underground mine tour.
Check out some authentic artefacts, ancient tools, gems and mining equipment from the mines below on these tours, one of the top Yuma attractions you can enjoy with your kids.
While Prescott may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of abandoned towns, this city in Central Arizona has its share of the history of the Old Wild West, making it worth including on the list of the ghost towns in Arizona.
If you look closely, you will see plenty of the past, from Victorian architecture to Whiskey Row saloons.
One of the popular places known for its ghost history is the famous Palace Saloon, established in 1877. This intricately decorated heritage structure, now a popular bar, is known for being haunted by spirts, including former guests of the saloon.
You can join one of the many night tours in Prescott that will take you through its eerie past as you explore many haunted neighbourhoods filled with landmarks home to ghosts and grim tales.
OFFBEAT GHOST TOWNS IN ARIZONA
Vulture City, located northwest of Phoenix, on the site of the old Vulture Mine, is one of the best ghost towns in Arizona that should be on your bucket list because it is the largest gold mine discovered in Arizona ever.
Established in 1863, Vulture City was once a thriving gold mining town for over 80 years, and over 5,000 people settled here, inspiring the founding of nearby Wickenburg.
While Wickenburg is still a large town today, Vulture City quickly dwindled once the mine was shut down during World War II in 1942.
Many of the town’s buildings were eventually restored and preserved, and although most of the town is now privately owned, you can still explore the remnants of the once-booming town through self-guided tours.
Stroll through rustic streets lined with saloons, gas stations, brothels, homes, hotels, offices, storehouses,
I recommend signing up for guided tours on the weekends to explore the 300-year-old ironwood tree, located near Henry Wickenburg’s cabin, where 18 men were sentenced to hang to death.
The cabin and many areas in the town are rumoured to be haunted. So do not be alarmed if you feel spooky when you are here.
If you want a fuller experience, take the two-hour guided walking tour of the mine.
One of the offbeat ghost towns in Arizona is located atop the Bradshaw Mountains. Crown King is one of the ghost towns in Arizona only accessible through a rough dirt road, which makes it a thrilling stopover for families.
Unlike the other Arizona mining towns, the gold mining in Crown King began very late in the 1890s, but during its peak period, the Crown King mine produced over $2 million worth of gold.
On this drive to Crown King, you will be treated to spectacular views of the mountains and rich wildlife.
Once the gold ran out around the 1950s, the population in the town dwindled to almost zero, and later on, became of the summer getaways for tourists thanks to its excellent temperatures.
Today, only about a hundred people live here full-time, and you can explore its historic streets lined with well-maintained buildings, offices, and shops.
Among the top landmarks is the Crown King Saloon on Main Street constructed in the 1890s. After checking out the galleries containing rare collections of the mining past, savour the best food and beer here
Stop at the General Store and the red-brick schoolhouse. There are some newly added trails if you want to hike, go mountain biking or horseback riding.
If you are visiting Tombstone, add a stop to visit Gleeson, only 16 miles west of Tombstone in Cochise County, and one of the offbeat ghost towns in Arizona.
Unlike other Arizona ghost towns known for being the treasure troves of gold, silver, and copper, Gleeson was a rich mining area with turquoise.
The town was even initially called Turquoise but was changed to Gleeson in 1894.
Later on, prospectors also found large amounts of copper, lead, and zinc, resulting in the production of copper products, which led to the growth of Gleeson during WWI.
Gleeson was also a temporary containment area for prisoners that were imprisoned in Gleeson Jail, on their way to Tombstone, which is now a museum.
After World War I, however, the demand for copper began to fall, resulting in the closure of mines and the abandonment of the town.
Today, you can still see some of the preserved and renovated structures, including an old general store, hospital, school, saloon, and cemetery.
Fairbank, named for Nathaniel Fairbank of Chicago, who financed the railroad, was once a bustling railroad town and the closest train depot to Tucson and Tombstone and the nearest stagecoach station to Bisbee.
Fairbank served as a depot and post office in the late 19th century, thriving as these mining towns flourished during that time.
However, after Tombstone and Bisbee became more of a ghost town, Fairbank also dwindled into one.
The town, located in the San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area, is now on Bureau of Land Management land, and you can explore the ruins on a guided tour.
See the remains of a general store, saloons, butcher shop, post office, quartz mill, stable, railroad bridges and platforms, and a Wells Fargo office.
Visit the small schoolhouse that has been turned into a museum by the BLM to learn more about the town and the area surrounding it.
Agua Caliente, located north of the Gila River near the town of Hyder, which translates to hot water in Spanish, is a unique ghost town of Arizona in many ways.
Unlike other mining towns, Agua Caliente was one of the famous tourist spots of the mid-19th century, known for its natural hot springs preserved and used by Native Americans.
By 1897, a 22-room resort was built in Agua Caliente, with a swimming pool fed by the hot springs. Travelers and locals used the resort for its healing properties.
After the water was used for farming, the hot springs eventually dried, reducing the town to an abandoned one.
However, you can still see some of the past remains of the hotel, stone buildings, and the Agua Caliente Pioneer Cemetery.
Tip Top Mine and town, located amidst the hills to the northwest of Phoenix are one of the accident-formed towns due to the discovery of rich minerals by travellers and explorers.
Some prospectors unveiled large deposits of copper and silver leading to the birth of Tip Top Town, which was home to over a thousand people with the mines earning up to 1,000 ounces of silver per ton of ore.
Between 1876 and 1884, Tip Top was one of the three most active mining towns in Arizona with the other two being Tombstone and Wickenburg.
Tip Top had six saloons, three stores, four restaurants, a school and the first brewery in Arizona during its peak years.
But Tip Top’s glory was short-lived as the tides turned at the end of a decade, crumbling the town to the grounds.
Tip Top is now one of the ghost towns in Arizona known for some well-maintained remains of the rich mining history.
You can see the ruins of a few mines, an old head frame, many tunnels, and small buildings, including the historic 1878 Burfind Hotel.
A historic district in Sonoita, Kentucky Camp attracted the prospectors in the late 1870s when they struck gold, resulting in the birth of the town with over five hundred miners settling here for gold extraction.
Since many migrants from the back east named gulches in the area after their respective homes, Kentucky Camp got its name.
Listed on the U.S. National Register Of Historic Places since 1995 and run by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Kentucky Camp is worth stopping by although it was a short-lived mining town.
Explore the remains in the town on a short walk. Kentucky Camp is a popular place for mountain biking and hiking. You can also enjoy camping on the site with the proper permits.
Nothing, on US-93 between Wickenburg and Wikieup, as the name indicates, has zero population, and it is your typical abandoned town worth visiting for its eerie vibes while visiting Wickenburg.
Located about a hundred miles northwest of Phoenix, Nothing is one of the offbeat ghost towns in Arizona, which has a maximum population of about five.
It is also one of the youngest ghost towns in the state, the town of Nothing was only established in 1977 and has been uninhabited since 2005.
Since there was never a boom in residents, there’s not much to see in this small town, except for an abandoned gas station, a convenience store, some dilapidated structures, and a couple of signs.
One of the highlights while visiting Nothing is the beautiful desert AZ panoramas that you will pass through between Wickenburg and Kingman.
Another hidden gem on the historic Route 66 is the Hackberry General Store, one of the offbeat ghost towns in Arizona to visit.
Hackberry began as a mining town in 1874 and was a thriving town for nearly 40 years and also a leading automobile-oriented town, and now, as a few residents residing amidst the well-maintained remains of this mining history.
It is worth taking a short walking tour to check out a collection of historic cars, garages, a general store, a music hall, a motel, and gas stations.
GHOST TOWNS IN ARIZONA MAP
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