Camping can be a lovely, quiet, outdoor pastime, but for those who require a little more thrill, it’s possible to camp in various ghost towns throughout the western United States. So grab your flashlight and add a little more scare to your campfire ghost stories by checking out one of these spooky locations.
Located in Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada, Berlin is a ghost town dating from 1863 where silver was found and mined. At its height, the mining company and the town supported about 250 residents including miners, a doctor and nurse, and even a prostitute, according to Travel Nevada. However, the mine was exhausted by 1911 and has been one of Nevada’s iconic ghost towns since the early 20th century.
According to Nevada State Parks, the town is in a state of arrested decay and still contains many of its original buildings. Although the remaining old-time residents are buried in the town’s cemetery, skeletons of another kind are also in abundance.
The fossilized remains of 40 ichthyosaurs, an ancient type of marine mammal related to whales and dolphins, have also been found in the park, allowing you to choose which species of ghost to include in your stories.
The park contains 14 campsites that can host tents or RVs. Ione and Grantsville, two other ghost towns in the area, are also nearby in case one ghost town isn’t quite terrifying enough.
Gold was first discovered in the town of Bannack in 1862, and by 1863, the gold rush had increased the population of the town to over 3,000 people.
In 1864, it even briefly became Montana’s territorial capital. However, once the gold ran out, the population left seeking more lucrative employment and the town eventually became deserted.
In 1954, Bannack became a state park that is also a registered historic landmark. This ghost town is considered to be one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the country, containing over 60 of the original structures.
Visit Montana writes that, rather than catering to commercial interests, Bannack State Park prides itself on being “preserved rather than restored; protected rather than exploited.”
Bannack State Park has 28 campsites available as well as a teepee that can be rented, allowing plenty of choice for a frightening getaway.
Terlingua, located in the Big Bend area of Texas, rose to prominence when the Chinos Mining Company was established in the town in 1903, mining cinnabar ore to produce quicksilver, or mercury. Coincidentally with the start of World War I in 1914, the largest vein of cinnabar ore in the area was discovered and the company became immensely successful due to the military uses for mercury.
At its peak, the town was home to a population of 2,000 that enjoyed such luxuries as receiving mail three times a week and having access to a doctor, school, and commissary provided by the mining company. However, production began to decline in the 1930s, and the Chinos Mining Company declared bankruptcy in 1942.
Today, Terlingua is a thriving tourist attraction containing restaurants, bars, art galleries, and other attractions. According to Visit Big Bend, it was home to the first chili cook off in 1967, a famous event that now attracts over 10,000 people each November.
Terlingua offers a variety of camping, hotel, and motel options, allowing you to choose how close to the ghosts you’d like to stay and which level of luxury best fits your needs.
Calico was established in 1881 in San Bernardino County in California. According to the San Bernardino County Regional Parks site, it went on to produce $20 million dollars worth of silver ore over a period of just 12 years. The town was abandoned when the value of silver sharply dropped in 1890, making its 500 mines worthless.
In the 1950s, Walter Knott bought the town and restored the vast majority of it to its authentic former glory. The Knott family donated the town to San Bernardino County in 1966, and today Calico has a population of 8 and is a tourist attraction that hosts about 400,000 visitors a year, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Calico offers 265 camping sites that can accommodate RVs as well as tents. Cabins and bunkhouses are also available to rent, allowing you to turn your spine-chilling visit into a group affair.
Rustic or hotel comfortable, whatever your spine tingling preference, the western US has a ghost town that will be to your liking. Enjoy!