Halloween is likely your favorite holiday if you’re a fan of true crime, Dateline TV, and scary stories. It’s the time when reality and the supernatural blur. While horror movies and haunted houses can provide thrills, real-life spooky towns offer something unmatched. The U.S. has its share of chilling tales, with some areas more haunted due to age. Salem, Massachusetts, and New Orleans, Louisiana, known for witch trials and voodoo, are prime examples. But there are also truly abandoned Wild West ghost towns, once bustling mining centers. Now, they’re filled with ghostly legends and stories.
Bodie, now a California state park, was a thriving gold-mining town until the late 1880s. Situated near the Nevada border, just an hour north of Yosemite National Park, it preserves its old homes and cars and even boasts a converted town hall now serving as a mining museum.
St. Elmo, Colorado
Like numerous Old West ghost towns, St. Elmo yielded silver and gold. Yet, within four decades, mining dwindled, and its abandonment followed the railroad’s halt in 1922. Today, a functional summer general store remains, along with over 40 structures, including a saloon, courthouse/jail, mercantile, and homes, accessible year-round.
Terlingua, once a bustling quicksilver center for Chisos Mining Company since 1903, remains renowned. In 1967, it hosted the famous chili cook-off, a tradition drawing over 10,000 enthusiasts worldwide every first Saturday in November. If you’re exploring Big Bend National Park, it’s a must-see stop.
Custer, an 1800s gold mining town in Salmon-Challis National Forest, thrived thanks to the Lucky Boy and Black mines. Its peak population was in 1896, but it was deserted by 1910. It’s one of three ghost towns in Land of the Yankee Fork State Park today. Don’t miss the historic hot springs with their gravel-bottom pools—it’s a spot where gold miners used to unwind and remains essentially unchanged.