Explore Las Vegas

Las Vegas Day Trip: Exploring the Ghost Towns of Nevada

Itching to hit the road? Take a day trip around Las Vegas to visit these fun historic towns.

Head down just about any significant highway from Las Vegas, and you’re sure to encounter at least one ghost town.

Explore Nevada's Ghost Towns

With Nevada’s significant mining history, it’s no surprise that abandoned settlements of the past would be littered throughout the Silver State. Follow along as we embark on a few road trips to some of the notable ghost towns within a few hours of Las Vegas.

Rhyolite & Beatty, Nevada- Two Hours From Las Vegas

If you head north on the I-95 towards Tonopah, you’ll run into Beatty along the way. The former gold rush town dates back to the early 1900s- you can learn all about the history of the town at the Beatty Museum. Head west on NV-374, and you’ll come across Rhyolite, another former gold rush town. In addition to the historic bones of the ghost town, you’ll find some interesting sights like the Goldwell Open Air Museum. The unique sculpture park contains numerous unique art pieces (I found the most notable being an eerie take on The Last Supper) and is open 24 hours a day (the visitor center is currently closed). A little further north, you’ll find a unique building made of bottles. 

Tom Kelly’s Bottle House Rhyolite, Nevada | WhereTraveler
Tom Kelly’s Bottle House (©Melanie Lee)

Goldfield, Nevada- Three Hours From Las Vegas

Continue north on the I-95 past Beatty, and you’ll run into Goldfield. There’s a surprising amount to see in this tiny little town. The International Car Forest is just south of the central portion of town and definitely worth a visit. The uniquely painted vehicles provide a great way to stretch your legs and take in some art. Make sure to watch where you step though; we had a slightly close encounter with a rattlesnake on my first visit.

International Car Forest Goldfield, Nevada | WhereTraveler
International Car Forest (©Melanie Lee)

Goldfield also has gold rush roots, but the town is more known for the Goldfield Hotel. The property has a somewhat checkered past, and hauntings and paranormal sightings are said to be frequent- the show was even featured on an episode of Ghost Adventures. Some rumors even claim the property contains a vortex to the underworld- if you’re hoping for a sighting, look up to the windows on the third floor- we found moving shadows in our photos when I stopped by. The building is closed, so make sure you don’t trespass. If you’re stopping by in the springtime, you may find one more fun surprise- the cherry blossoms in full bloom. 

Crook Avenue Views Goldfield, Nevada | WhereTraveler
Crook Avenue Views (©Melanie Lee)

Good Springs, Nevada- 30 Minutes From Las Vegas

Head south on I-15 out of Las Vegas, and you’ll run into the turnoff for Jean, Nevada. Exit and head west to find Good Springs. Home to the famous Pioneer Saloon, Good Springs actually has a number of historic buildings littered between the residential houses. A quick loop through town takes you past a number of structures from the past, and if you head further west past the little post office, you’ll find an excellent desert landscape for photos. Stop by the saloon for a quick meal and a little haunted history. 

The Town of Good Springs, Nevada | WhereTraveler
The Town of Good Springs, Nevada (©Melanie Lee)

Nelson, Nevada- 45 Minutes From Las Vegas

Perhaps the most picturesque of ghost towns is Nelson. Take the 515 towards Boulder City and then head south on I-95 before turning east onto NV-165. You’ll drive past the desert terrain before coming upon Nelson. You may feel like you’ve entered another time because Nelson looks like it was transported straight out of a western film (albeit one with cars). The ghost town is family-operated and often operates as a film set- I encountered an entire film crew the first time I stopped by. Make sure to check-in at the office for photo permissions (it’s $10 an hour to photograph the town) and for some extremely useful information (they’ll tell you which cacti to stay away from in order to avoid a very nasty encounter). The town has been used for numerous photoshoots, including Luke Bryan’s cover art. I was also told Imagine Dragons had just used the property for a project on my last visit. 

Nelson, Nevada | WhereTraveler
Nelson, Nevada (©Melanie Lee)