There’s a cornucopia of abandoned cities and ghost towns in America. And you can find a number of them in Arizona. Ghost towns in Arizona consist of abandoned buildings and homes that hide in plain sight within the dry deserts and plateau of the old Wild West. Most of these abandoned towns are former mining sites during the mining boom in the 19th century. When the mineral seams gave out, however, plenty of these old towns was abandoned, with residents seeking job opportunities elsewhere.
Nowadays, we see abandoned towns in Arizona as top tourist attractions. When on a road trip through the Copper State, those on the hunt for unusual places stop by to visit. And while not all of these Arizona towns come with eerie stories, their desolate states will surely leave a haunting impression. If you’re looking for pit-stops when heading to national parks in Arizona or are simply wanting to explore spooky places on a day trip, you should definitely visit these Arizona ghost towns!
Dubbed as the “Wickedest Town in the West,” Jerome is a former mining town nestled within the Verde Valley. A once thriving copper-rich land, it was home to 15,000 residents during its heyday. Unfortunately, that number quickly dwindled down to a mere 50 by the late 1950s. Today, you can still see remnants of the town’s mining past with crumbling facades and bare foundations of buildings that greet visitors.
But this is not the only reason why Jerome got its “ghost town” status. Jerome is also known as one of the haunted places in Arizona due to the several tragedies that struck the town, including fires and violent murders. At the center of this belief is the Jerome Grand Hotel, a former hospital reputed to be the home of spirits of patients and staff. Join ghost hunting tours and spirit walks and hunt down Jerome’s most famous haunted locations. You can even add gold panning at the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town to your itinerary for an experience like no other!
Situated in Cochise County, Tombstone is the “town too tough to die.” With its dirt road and dusty streets lined with old-time saloons, restaurants, and shops, the town looks straight out of old western movies. A popular tourist destination, it offers visitors a glimpse of the past with its ghost town museum and other attractions.
Explore the original underground silver mining grounds that turned Tombstone into one of the boomtowns of the 1880s. Hop on a horse-drawn wagon or stagecoach to explore the historic district. Alternatively, go on foot to visit the most haunted spots, including the area where the O.K. Corral shootout took place. Afterward, you can watch a reenactment of the gunfight at the local theaters or enjoy a meal at the Big Nose Kate saloon.
What was once a bustling gold mining town is now home to more burros than people. Situated along the old Route 66, Oatman is a living ghost town with several residents still living on the site and running shops and restaurants that cater to over 500,000 visitors yearly. It’s one of the remaining Western towns in Arizona that exudes a Wild West atmosphere, with its rugged area lined with dusty streets, wooden sidewalks, and kitschy shops.
It’s also home to the Oatman Hotel, a two-storey adobe hotel that is rumored to be where Old Hollywood supercouple Clark Gable and Carole Lombard allegedly honeymooned in 1939. In fact, the suite that the lovebirds stayed in is one of the town’s top attractions! Some guests claimed to have encountered the spirits of the famous couple. And while it may not be one of the most romantic hotels in the world, it’s certainly a great stop for those looking for spooky and haunted places in Arizona to visit.
Just 16 miles west of Tombstone in Cochise County, Gleeson is unlike other ghost towns in Arizona that were founded on gold, silver, or copper. Instead, the native tribes mined the area for turquoise. Before long, white settlers discovered that the land was also rich in copper, lead, and silver. This led to an increase in miners, prospectors, and consequently, the general population of the area.
After World War I, however, the demand for copper began to fall, which led to the closure of mines and the exodus of the town’s residents. Nowadays, we still see remnants of Gleeson’s booming past with ruins of its hospitals, schools, saloons, and a general store. The ruins of the town’s jail have since been restored and turned into a museum.
With a population of over 4,000 residents, Bisbee doesn’t exude the same eerie feel as the other creepy ghost towns on this list. Located in Cochise County, it was once a mineral-rich land that served as a mining settlement to over 20,000 miners, prospectors, and their families. After almost a century of mining, though, the mines ceased operations.
Nowadays, the town is home to an art and culture-rich community, but you can still get a glimpse of its mining past. Tour several of the museums to get an in-depth look into the lives of miners and settlers back in the day. Want a more immersive experience? Go 1,500 feet underground and explore one of the abandoned mines. Meanwhile, for those looking for spooky adventures for a Happy Halloween celebration, take part in one of the ghost hunting tours or haunted pub crawls. Looking for places to stay overnight or longer? Head on over to the Copper Queen Hotel, a historic hotel that dates back to 1902!
With a population of, well, nothing, Nothing is as abandoned as abandoned places in Arizona can be. Located about a hundred miles northwest of Phoenix, it was founded in 1977 and, during its height, had a population of four. It was abandoned in 2005 but saw life again in 2008 when a businessman purchased the town and set up a pizza stand, gas station, and even grounds for an RV park for RV motor homes.
Unfortunately, by 2011, the new owner closed up shop and Nothing was once again an abandoned town with only worn-out signs and collapsing structures. Since it never truly saw a boom in residents, there’s not much to see in this small town, but it does provide a nice break in scenery between the miles of dirt road between Wickenburg and Kingman.
Not to be confused with Fairbanks in Alaska, Fairbank is another abandoned town in Cochise County, located just 10 miles west of Tombstone and east of the San Pedro River. Fairbank played an important role in the development of Southern Arizona. The town served as a waypoint between the then bustling town and the rest of the state. Though when the mines in Tombstone dried out, Fairbank’s significance soon faded away too.
Today, the land is under the management of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Visitors can take a self-guided tour around the deserted town and its abandoned buildings and structures, including the restored schoolhouse from the 1920s, a railroad depot, and a few cemeteries.
Over an hour away from Seneca Lake—one of the best lakes in Arizona—you’ll find Goldfield. Situated within the city of Apache Junction, it was a former gold mining town home to around 4,000 residents during its heyday in the 1890s. Nowadays, it serves as a tourist attraction for those who want to immerse themselves in the world of the old Wild West.
Begin your tour by hopping aboard an old-time train to learn all about the history of the Goldfield ghost town, while gazing at the beauty of the Superstition Mountains. Afterward, tour a 100-year-old gold mine or watch reenactments of historic gunfights. The town even has its own shooting range, complete with interactive targets! So, you take a turn at holding a firearm and shooting your shot.
9. Crown King
Perched on top of the Bradshaw Mountains, Crown King is one of the ghost towns in Arizona only accessible through a rough dirt road. But the journey to reach it offers incredible views and plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities. Technically, a living ghost town, it was once a gold mining town turned into a tourist attraction and summer destination for residents living in nearby towns and cities. Unfortunately, several fires destroyed many of the original buildings and structures of the town.
One of the still-standing buildings is the Crown King Saloon on Main Street. First established in the 1890s, it currently serves as the main attraction for many visitors. The walls of the establishment are full of photos showing the history of the area. As such, not only can you get delicious food and beer, but you can also learn about Crown King and Arizona’s history.
10. Vulture City
Established in 1863, Vulture City was once a thriving gold mining town and home to one of the most productive gold mines in the state’s history. The mine’s closure in 1942 caused its residents to relocate and soon afterward, Vulture City was a ghost town. While the land that the town is on is now privately owned, visitors can still explore the remnants of the once-booming town through self-guided tours. Although, if you want to learn more about the restoration process of the town, guided tours are also available.
Swansea is one of the Western towns in Arizona that sits near the Arizona-California border. It was once a thriving mining town and was even home to a gold and copper mining company. Just like most Arizona ghost towns, though, it was soon abandoned after the mining company went bankrupt. On top of that, the dry surroundings and lack of water sources contributed to the town’s demise.
Today, the BLM is working to preserve and restore what’s left in the area, including old mine shafts. Visitors are free to explore dozens of abandoned buildings and structures and learn all about its history from the plaques installed by the BLM.
12. Agua Caliente
Unlike other ghost towns in Arizona, Agua Caliente wasn’t a mining town. Instead, it was a prominent tourist stop thanks to a natural hot spring, which was originally used by Native Americans. However, by the 19th century, white settlers and travelers discovered the soothing and healing properties of the spring. A 22-room resort was built in the late 1890s with a swimming pool filled with water sourced from the hot spring.
The Wild West town continued to thrive as a tourist destination until the hot spring dried out due to irrigation and farming. Nowadays, you can still find remnants of the resort, as well as other ruins of old buildings and a cemetery.
Uncover the Best Ghost Towns in Arizona Today
Arizona isn’t just home to national and state parks or the Grand Canyon. Its rich history also makes it home to several abandoned places. This includes former mining towns and settlements that are now just deserted hamlets left in desolate states. While many may have forgotten about these Arizona ghost towns, plenty of curious explorers still find their way to them. Scattered along the landscape of the Wild West, an array of these small towns in Arizona even come with eerie stories of tragedy. Visit Arizona today and you might come into contact with some of its ghostly residents.