When visiting Nevada, sure there’s Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Reno, to name a few popular destinations. But there are always less-traveled destinations worth exploring. Note: our piece on Nevada ghost towns on Huffington Post Travel.
Perhaps you’re looking to escape modernity and want to step back into a time gone by and channel the vibe of the old Wild West. Some less traveled places in Nevada (or more traveled throughout time, depending how you see it) are the ghost towns. Nevada has its fair share of wonderfully preserved ghost towns. These desolate landscapes and dilapidated shacks provide wonderful subjects for photographers. Here are just a few…
Rhyolite, west of the town of Beatty on Highway 374. This ghost town was the third-largest city in Nevada in 1908, is at the east entrance of Death Valley. While the Goldwell Open Air Museum isn’t a ghost town, its nearby and might be a fun visit for the artistin the family. For more info: www.rhyolitesite.com and www.goldwellmuseum.org
Off State Route 376 is the old silver mining town of Manhattan, altitude 7,000 feet and population 50. The Manhattan Bar & Motel has been serving patrons since 1906. There is plenty of hiking and photographers will also enjoy the Big Smoky Valley and there is plenty of wildlife to see in the area, as well as gold panning. Owners John and Mary have great tips on what to see and also give guided tours. For more info: www.manhattanmotelandbar.com
Nearby is Belmont, along Nevada Highway 82. Silver ore was discovered here in 1865 and the once thriving town is apparent in what remains of those old buildings. It is listed as a historic district and Belmont Courthouse is now a state historic site. For more info: www.parks.nv.gov/bc.htm
From Belmont, take State Route 376 to U.S Route 50 “The Loneliest Road in America” to the town of Austin. There is only one road through this old mining town and that’s U.S. Route 50. Austin has three graveyards and the hardware store is still open. There are bike trails for mountain bikers, but if you’re just in town to channel the old Wild West, this is the Pony Express territory and there are occasionally reenactments held here, with riders who come all the way from Missouri. While this living ghost town does not provide the gold and silver it once did, turquoise is reportedly mined in small quantities.
Cindy, one of the owners of the Cozy Mountain Motel in Austin and a member of the Chamber of Commerce, which is across from China Ridge, where the Chinese used to live, is a wealth of information. “If you go into the next valley you’ll see some remains of places, some structures and it’s still interesting,” she says. “There are a few shacks if you go exploring on the dirt roads. “This is a photographer’s paradise. I love the way the sun sets on the canyon walls.” Off U.S. Route 50, State Route 722 is a scenic road and there are many sightings of big horn sheep, mule deer and even mountain lions.
Austin might be familiar to movie buffs, because the town was in the 1971 movie “Vanishing Point.” “We do have a twisty-turning summit coming into Austin from the east side,” Cindy says. “The car chase takes place on the summit, it comes right through town and wraps around the church.” Nearby Austin is Middlegate Station, which was an overland stage station used by the Pony Express. It’s still in operation today. For more info: www.austinnevada.com
Also on U.S. Route 50, the town of Eureka bills itself as the “Friendliest Town on the Loneliest Road.” One of the beautiful buildings in this still active ghost town is its Opera House, which still is still in operation. Like the other towns, there is plenty of hiking in the area, but if it’s the town you’re interested in seeing, there is still mining going on in Eureka. Visitors are invited to tour the Barrick Ruby Hill Mine. For more information: eureka.travelnevada.com
Ghost towns near Reno
But if you’re already in Reno at one of the events mentioned in Spotlight: Nevada | Cars Travel Food, you can take a quick jaunt over to Silver City, Gold Hill or Virginia City. For more info: blog.visitrenotahoe.com/tag/ghost-towns
If you’re into rock and roll history, while in Virginia City, the Red Dog Saloon is reportedly where 1960s psychedelic rock began. Janice
Joplin also sang with the house band here. www.reddogvc.com