If you’re looking for a unique day trip, consider visiting some of Arizona’s lesser-known ghost towns.
These abandoned towns offer a glimpse into the state’s rich history and make for a perfect spooky season adventure.
Here are five abandoned towns that offer a lot for the curious explorer:
|Once a thriving silver mining town, now a well-preserved ghost town with many original structures and artifacts.
|The Vulture Mine, a popular tourist attraction.
|A former gold mining town that became a popular stop for travelers on Route 66.
|Wild burros roam the streets and visitors can watch daily gunfights.
|A former mining town that was once home to over 1,200 people.
|Ruins of the town’s schoolhouse and post office can still be seen.
|A small town that was once a bustling copper mining community.
|Visitors can explore the town’s abandoned buildings and learn about its history at the Gleeson Jail and Museum.
|A former silver mining town that was once home to over 5,000 people.
|Visitors can explore the town’s historic buildings and take scenic drives through the surrounding mountains.
These hidden gems offer a unique glimpse into Arizona’s mining boom and the communities that sprang up around it.
While some of these towns are haunted by their past, they offer a fascinating look into a bygone era.
Best Arizona Ghost Town Near Phoenix
If you’re looking for a fascinating ghost town near Phoenix, Tip Top is a must-visit destination.
Located about 50 miles north of Phoenix, Tip Top was once a bustling mining town that boomed in the late 1880s.
Today, the ruins of Tip Top stretch nearly two miles along Cottonwood Creek, offering visitors a glimpse into the town’s past.
Tip Top was one of the three most active mining towns in Arizona between 1876 and 1884, alongside Tombstone and Wickenburg.
At its peak, Tip Top had six saloons, three stores, four restaurants, a school, and the first brewery in Arizona.
The town’s founders, Jack Moore and Bill Corning, were earning up to 1,000 ounces of silver per ton of ore.
Despite its success, Tip Top fizzled out in 1895, less than a decade after its peak. A brief revival attempt was made in 1910, but by the onset of World War I, the town was abandoned.
Today, visitors can explore dozens of buildings in various states of ruin, an old headframe, and several tunnels still left.
Note that as of April 2019, Tip Top is no longer open to the public.
Despite its abandonment, the ruins of Tip Top offer a glimpse into the town’s past and the mining industry that once thrived there.
Best Arizona ghost town for camping
If you’re looking for a unique camping experience, Kentucky Camp is a great option.
Located 40 miles south of Tucson, this historic ghost town was once a bustling mining community in the late 1800s.
Today, it’s a peaceful retreat for nature lovers and history buffs alike.
You can camp on the site with the appropriate permits, or you can rent one of two cabins for $75 a night as part of the USFS program, “Rooms with a View.”
Both options offer a chance to stay in a historic building and experience the rugged beauty of the surrounding landscape.
In addition to camping and cabin rentals, Kentucky Camp is a popular spot for mountain bikers and runners.
The area offers miles of quiet trails with stunning views of the Santa Rita Mountains.
While the gold deposits may have run out, the history and beauty of Kentucky Camp remain.
Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or a longer adventure, this ghost town is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Arizona’s rich mining past.
Best Arizona ghost town for exploring historic buildings
If you’re looking for a well-preserved ghost town with a rich history, Swansea is the place to be.
Located just 30 miles east of Parker, near the Arizona-California border, Swansea is under preservation by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Named after the Welsh hometown of founder George Mitchell, Swansea’s mining operations began in the mid-1880s and by 1909, a post office was established, and the town had a population of 750.
Swansea had many amenities that were not typical of a mining town, such as a car dealership, theater, and an electric light company.
The town was connected to the rest of the world by the first railroad that arrived from Bouse in 1910.
However, due to over-promotion by Mitchell, Swansea’s decline was quick.
The town was on-and-off until the Great Depression when it finally closed.
Today, Swansea is a popular destination for those interested in exploring historic buildings.
Dozens of buildings and structures remain to be explored, providing a glimpse into the past.
Despite the dry surroundings, the town had to haul water via pipeline almost four miles from the Bill Williams River to the north.
Swansea is undoubtedly one of the best ghost towns in the state and offers a unique opportunity to experience the history of the Old West.
Best Arizona Ghost Town with a Cemetery
If you’re looking for a unique Arizona ghost town experience, Agua Caliente is the place to go.
Unlike other ghost towns in Arizona, Agua Caliente is centered around a natural hot spring and a stagecoach line.
The hot spring had been used by American Indians and later by travelers along the Butterfield Overland Mail Route in the early 1860s.
Owned by Pioneer King S. Woolsey, the Agua Caliente Ranch had a 22-room resort with a swimming pool fed by the hot springs.
The resort was known for its healing properties, but the farming in the area eventually depleted the springs.
Today, visitors can see the remains of the hotel, several other stone buildings, and the Agua Caliente Pioneer Cemetery.
Located about 120 miles southwest of Phoenix, Agua Caliente is a unique destination for those interested in history and natural beauty.
The cemetery is a must-see for those who want to learn more about the pioneers who settled in this area and the impact of the hot springs on their lives.
Best Arizona Ghost Town Along Route 66
If you’re looking for a true ghost town experience along Route 66, Hackberry is a must-visit destination.
Located 28 miles northeast of Kingman in northern Arizona, Hackberry was originally a silver mining town established in 1874.
Although the mining claims quickly played out, the town was revived with the construction of Route 66 and several service stations.
Unfortunately, the town once again fell on hard times with the advent of Interstate 40.
Today, however, Hackberry is a popular stop for Route 66 travelers thanks to the reopening of the Hackberry General Store in 1992 as a Route 66 information center.
The town’s population has slowly rebounded, but it still retains its “ghost town” charm.
Highlights of a visit to Hackberry include:
- The Hackberry General Store, which is a great place to stop for souvenirs and Route 66 memorabilia.
- The Hackberry Cemetery, where many of the town’s early residents are buried.
- The Hackberry Petroglyph Site, which features ancient rock carvings that are over 1,000 years old.
Overall, Hackberry is a fascinating glimpse into the history of Route 66 and the American West.