The ghost towns in Arizona are unique attractions that intrigue urban explorers and history fans. They provide the opportunity to explore abandoned locations and transport yourself back in time to an era from the past while soaking in the region’s history. Much like the surrounding area in the southwest United States, Arizona is home to one of the country’s largest collections of ghost towns. This is due to a combination of mining towns often being abandoned when the mines dried up and the warm, dry conditions being perfect to preserve them.
However, despite their allure, many Arizona ghost towns are hidden gems that remain unknown due to their remote locations, making them difficult to reach to being so dilapidated that people simply aren’t advised to visit them. You’ll love our list of Arizona’s best ghost towns to visit. From famous tourist ghost towns to the dilapidated ones well off the beaten path, exploring a ghost town is a highlight of the “Grand Canyon State”.
- Arizona Ghost Towns
- Top 3 Ghost Town Tours
- The 20 Best Ghost Towns In Arizona
- 1- Goldfield Ghost Town & Mine
- 2- Tombstone
- 3- Vulture City Ghost Town
- 4- Gold King Ghost Town & Mine
- 5- Hackberry
- 6- Bisbee
- 7- Fairbank
- 8- Oatman
- 9- Chloride
- 10- Gleeson
- 11- Swansea
- 12- Tip Top Mine / Gillett
- 13- Agua Caliente
- 14- Two Guns
- 15- Seneca Lake
- 16- Ruby
- 17- Kentucky Camp
- 18- Nothing
- 19- Castle Dome Landing
- 20- Cordes
Arizona Ghost Towns
The 20 Best Ghost Towns In Arizona
1- Goldfield Ghost Town & Mine
Established in the 1890s, the Goldfield Ghost Town & Mine is about 10 miles (16 kilometres) east of Scottsdale.
While not deserted like most ghost towns, it was abandoned in 1926 and has been restored and preserved in historic fashion to keep its Wild West spirit and experience alive.
In the town, visitors can enjoy horse riding, exploring the museums, gift shops and the town itself, drinking at a historic saloon, and going on a zipline.
Outside the town, you can tour the old gold mines, try your luck gold panning, or test your aim at the shooting range.
Goldfield Ghost Town & Mine is along the Apache Trail at 4650 North Mammoth Mine Road, Apache Junction, Arizona, 85119.
Founded in 1877, Tombstone is to the southeast of Tucson.
Originally a thriving mining town, it was all but abandoned in 1892 when the mines dried up.
It is the largest wild west town still in existence, having been restored and turned into a tourist attraction.
You will find legendary sites like the O.K. Corral, historic saloons, cemeteries, theatres, parks, churches, and buildings among the attractions.
Explore museums and art galleries, enjoy a historic gold mine tour, and even a Wild West-themed amusement park.
All of this makes Tombstone the best place to visit the old west, no matter how you want to see it.
3- Vulture City Ghost Town
Vulture City is northwest of Phoenix, on the site of the old Vulture Mine, the largest gold mine discovered in Arizona ever.
Established in 1863, the city thrived until 1942, when the mine dried up and was abandoned.
Having fallen into disrepair, many of the town’s buildings were eventually restored and preserved for future generations.
Now, visitors will see stone and abode buildings that contained saloons, gas stations, brothels, homes, hotels, offices, storehouses, workers’ residences and mess halls.
Those wanting a fuller experience can even take a two-hour guided walking tour of the mine.
Vulture City Ghost Town is at 36610 355th Avenue, Wickenburg, Arizona, 85390.
4- Gold King Ghost Town & Mine
Located near the town of Jerome, between the Coconino and Prescott national forests, the Gold King Ghost Town & Mine is home to a small collection of dilapidated buildings, broken-down classic cars and trucks, and the remnants of the mine itself.
Some buildings are kitted out with artefacts dating back over 100 years to give an authentic experience.
There are statues and a gift shop installed to cater to more traditional tourists; this is a fabulous little attraction that sees fewer visitors than it deserves.
Gold King Ghost Town & Mine is at Perkinsville Road, Jerome, Arizona, 86331. A guided ghost walk around Jerome will have you hunting for ghosts using EMF readers and Spirit Boxes. Check it out here.
Hackberry is a small, unincorporated town along the historic Route 66 that began as a mining town in 1874.
It was largely abandoned in 1919 and almost became a ghost town, although it’s home to a small population.
A collection of historic cars, garages, gas stations, and fuel pumps will let visitors embrace its legacy with the motor industry.
Sites like a general store, music hall, motel, and 1920s coal kiln will allow you to stock up and enjoy a historic southwest town.
Bisbee is a town near the Mexican border that differs from most ghost towns because it still has a reasonably large population.
It qualifies because there are plenty of preserved sites that convey its historical significance as a mining town.
With the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, Bisbee Restoration Museum, Copper Queen Mine, Central School, and Lavender Pit, you can see historic buildings and sites from the past.
Learn about the structures, history and industry, and see first-hand how a former mining town can evolve instead of dying.
Founded in 1881, Fairbank was an important town as it had the closest rail station to Tombstone and the nearest stagecoach station to Bisbee, making it a vital link between both towns.
Its popularity peaked in the 1920s before declining when the nearby mines began to close.
Finally abandoned in the 70s, it is the definition of a ghost town, with no residents, just dilapidated buildings remaining.
The remnants of a general store, saloon, post office, hotel, schoolhouse, stable, outhouse, railroad bridges and platforms, and a few houses are all that is left to explore.
Join the Bullets and Bordellos Ghost Tour to uncover Tombstone’s dark history and learn about its scary past.
Settled around 1910, Oatman exploded in 1915 when more than $10 million of gold was discovered.
It thrived for almost 50 years until the mines dried up and it was all but abandoned.
Now it survives only on its history and proximity to Route 66.
Historic buildings and sections of the mines remain for visitors to explore its past, while motor enthusiasts will enjoy the views of Route 66 from up in the hills.
Wild burros roam the town, creating a unique experience, while a gift shop sells handcrafted souvenirs to remember your trip.
Established in 1863 as a silver mining camp, Chloride is the oldest continually lived-in mining town in Arizona and has the state’s oldest continually operated post office.
In the late 1920s, much of the town burned down in a fire.
A small collection of mines and buildings remains, including a playhouse and jail.
There’s a collection of brightly coloured painted boulders in the surrounding area, creating a unique mural for visitors to see and explore.
Join this Arizona Ghost Towns and Wild West Day Trip if you’re visiting Las Vegas.
Originally founded as Turquoise in 1875, Gleeson was a booming copper mining town until the mines ran dry in 1939, during World War II, and it was all but abandoned.
Visitors will find the remains of a cemetery, hospital, jail, saloon, the foundations of a school and evidence of the mining.
A small population also remains and sells handcrafted rattlesnake products, making for a truly unique experience.
Located on the California border, Swansea is a small ghost town that only existed for 30 years in the early 1900s.
Vandalism and weathering have caused severe damage to many of the town’s sites, yet remains of adobe buildings, cemeteries, mine shafts, miner’s homes, vintage cars, and foundations make it an eerie but enjoyable destination for ghost town lovers to explore.
12- Tip Top Mine / Gillett
Tip Top Mine and Gillet are a pair of ghost towns in the hills to the northwest of Phoenix.
The former is home to the remnants of the mine and several small buildings, while the latter boasts what is left of the historic 1878 Burfind Hotel.
Between the two, they provide plenty of unique sites for fans of ghost towns to enjoy.
13- Agua Caliente
Agua Caliente was established in 1744 near some hot springs that gave it its name, which means “hot water”.
After starting small, the town grew into a ranch and then a resort with a 22-room hotel and swimming pool, but it eventually closed when the hot spring waters dried up.
While some of its 2,700-acre area remains as farmland, most is unkempt and abandoned.
With its vast size and a collection of ruined buildings, including the hotel, caretaker’s quarters, a stone house and store, and various other dilapidated sites, it is an incredible place to explore.
14- Two Guns
A tiny ghost town off Route 66, on the edge of the Navajo Nation, Two Guns is a great place to stop while seeing other sites.
With the remains of a campground, trading post, zoo, old cottages, and a burned-out service station, as well as nearby attractions like the abandoned Canyon Diablo Bridge and Apache Death Cave, you can see how fast a town that was thriving as recently as the 1970s can decline.
15- Seneca Lake
Seneca Lake is unique in that, rather than a town, it is an abandoned 1970s summer camp.
While time and vandalism have taken a toll on the site, it is still an exciting place to visit, backdropped by stunning natural beauty.
It’s especially fun for fans of the horror classic Friday The 13th.
Founded in 1877 as the Montana Camp, Ruby was a thriving mining town that produced a variety of metals yet is perhaps best known as the location of the infamous Ruby Murders and the subsequent manhunt in the 1920s.
It’s one of the state’s most well-preserved ghost towns where you can travel around a range of complete buildings.
There’s a jail, school, houses and a mine building complete with all of its machinery and workings.
17- Kentucky Camp
Kentucky Camp was a mining camp founded in 1905 that only lasted seven years before being deserted.
A historic district in Sonoita, Kentucky Camp has been listed on the U.S. National Register Of Historic Places since 1995.
With the United States Forest Service required to maintain its buildings, it is a fabulous place to explore well-preserved structures and artefacts that help to teach you about the area’s past.
One of the youngest ghost towns in the state, the town of Nothing was only established in 1977 and has been uninhabited since 2005.
Never having a population higher than four people, the main sites in Nothing are a gas station and convenience store, as well as some other dilapidated structures, making it a quick yet unique place to stop right beside the highway.
19- Castle Dome Landing
Castle Dome Landing was settled as a mining and railroad camp in 1863 before the state of Arizona was founded.
Its spot as a port for steamboats on the Colorado River and the lead from its mines during the two world wars helped it stay active longer than most mining towns.
While the town was eventually abandoned in 1978 and the port submerged beneath its waters, much of the town is now a living museum.
More than 50 buildings have been restored to look how they did in 1878, with mannequins and artefacts bringing the stories of the past to life.
Settled in 1883 by John Henry Cordes, the town of Cordes began to empty in the 1940s and was abandoned entirely in 1950.
With a few buildings still standing and descendants of the town’s founder still said to live in the area, it is a small ghost town with a truly haunting atmosphere.