These towns were once thriving with busy streets filled with people who wanted to strike gold. Now they are quiet reminders of what life was like in the Wild West. Here are five of the best ghost towns to check out for some spooky Southwest history.
Bisbee is said to be one of the most haunted places in Arizona. The city has seen its fair share of tragedy since its founding in the 1880s. At one point, Bisbee had the world’s most productive gold, copper, zinc and lead mines. Many mine workers perished on the job and left behind their families and unfinished business. Today, over 5,000 people call Bisbee home, but a handful of ghosts also inhabit this tiny town. At the Bisbee Seance Room, in Magic Kenny Bang Bang’s Victorian Parlor, guests can hear about the city’s historic haunted history. Guests can also book Old Bisbee Ghost Tour tickets to experience the town after dark.
Located three and a half hours outside of Phoenix, this small town has several hotels guests can stay at during their visit, including the Copper Queen Hotel. Built in 1902, this historic hotel is allegedly haunted and has been featured on at least two paranormal investigation shows. There is also a friendly ghost rumored to roam the dining room at Contessa’s Cantina, a family-owned Mexican restaurant in the town. To learn more about Bisbee and the town’s offerings visit discoverbisbee.com.
This tiny town’s rich Wild West history comes to life with staged shootouts, wooden sidewalks and a bounty of burros that roam freely. A historic stretch of Route 66 runs straight through this ghost town that boasts a rich mining and Southwest history. While the burros may seem like the star of the show, guests are also invited to explore the town, shop at local stores for souvenirs and watch the Oatman Ghost Rider Gunfighters put on two free shows daily.
In the early 1920s, a fire burned down most of Oatman’s smaller buildings, but still standing was the Oatman Hotel built in 1902. The historic hotel also has a bar and restaurant on the ground level and a museum on the second floor for guests to see what life was like in this former bustling Southwest mining town. Oatman is just under a four hours drive from Phoenix. More information about the town and events can be found at visitarizona.com.
Ruby was a town in Arizona that became famous for its richness in zinc and lead. The town first struck metal in the late 1870s, and by the turn of the century, Ruby had become the largest camp in the area. Ruby is the site of fortunes made and lost as well as two famous double homicides. Guests who dare to visit can roam around the 350 acres and see historic buildings, such as the schoolhouse and jail. There is also a museum on site that depicts what life was like in Ruby at its prime. Visitors can also camp and fish in this ghost town.
The town is just over three hours away from Phoenix. Guests must apply for a permit to visit Ruby. There are a few restaurants in Arivaca on the way to and from Ruby. Guests can also bring a picnic and enjoy their packed lunch at the picnic area on the sandy beach of the lake in Ruby. Visit rubyaz.com for more information.
The city of Tombstone boomed in the 1880s because of the bountiful silver mines. Although the mining industry in Tombstone only thrived for about 10 years, residents stayed to ensure the town’s survival. In 1962, Tombstone was declared a Natural Historical landmark. A trip to Tombstone is a trip back in time to the Wild West. Tombstone is the home of the infamous Gunfight at the OK Corral where Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp and two other Earp brothers killed three people from the Clanton cattle rustling gang. Guests can visit other historic sites, including the town’s courthouse and the Bird Cage Theatre.
To really immerse yourself in the Wild West, plan a stay at Tombstone Monument Ranch. The ranch itself is built in the image of an Old Western town where guests can wake up in the grand hotel, the Marshal’s office, the blacksmith’s or even the jail. While in town, make sure to stop at Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for live music, great food and Western fun. Visit cityoftombstoneaz.gov for more information about the town.
This abandoned settlement was established in 1863 and was one of Arizona’s most successful gold mines. From its origin until 1942, the mine produced 340,000 ounces of gold and 260,000 ounces of silver. But in 1942, the War Production Board ordered the closing of all non-essential mines and the mine closures determined the fate of Vulture City. It has been abandoned ever since. Guests can visit 15 restored buildings and the hanging tree. Legend has it that 18 men met their fate on the branches of this tree for theft and other crimes.
Vulture City is located in Wickenburg about an hour away from Phoenix. Visitors interested in spending the night can book a room at the Ranch de los Caballeros, a luxury ranch resort that embodies the spirit of cowboy culture. There are also a plethora of restaurants nearby with that Wild West flare to visit like Cowboy Cookin’ and Horseshoe Cafe. Tickets for admission and information about events can be found at vultureminetours.com.