6 Haunted Spots Across the U.S. for a Spooky Off-Roading Experience
Off-roading often takes you to some of the most beautiful and remote spots on Earth. But what if you could add a dash of mystery and historical allure to your adventure? Exploring haunted spots in your 4x4 could turn your next overland trip into a truly unforgettable experience.
But where should you go to make sure you have a safe journey? We’ve put together a list of some of the most haunted off-roading locations across the U.S. – and some tips on building a spooky yet safe adventure.
Why Choose Haunted Locations for Off-Roading?
The Thrill of the Unknown
There’s a certain adrenaline rush that comes with the unknown, and haunted locations provide just that.
Imagine setting up camp near a ghost town once bustling with gold miners or adventurers like yourself. The spine-chilling atmosphere adds a new layer to the already adventurous off-roading experience.
Haunted locations are often rich in history. Whether it’s an abandoned gold mine in California or a deserted mountain town in Colorado, these places offer a glimpse into the past. As you drive through these areas, you're literally moving through history, offering a multi-dimensional educational and exciting experience.
The Stories You’ll Tell For Years
Every haunted place has a story to tell. These aren’t just empty, forgotten spaces; they are locations filled with the narratives of the people who lived, worked, and, yes, perhaps even haunt these places still.
As an off-roading enthusiast, you're naturally an explorer at heart, and what's more intriguing to explore than a place with a mysterious past? (And maybe catch a glimpse of something unexplainable.)
1. Calico Ghost Town, California
Located in the southern California high desert near Barstow, Calico is a ghost town that transports you back to the days of the Wild West.
Founded in 1881 as a mining town, Calico was deserted in the 1890s when the mines ran dry. Some say you can still hear the echoing voices of those who once roamed the streets!
Calico Ghost Town offers a variety of trails suitable for all levels of off-roading enthusiasts. The high desert conditions mean you'll want to bring plenty of water and make sure your cooling systems are in top shape. The proximity to Barstow makes it a convenient spot for a day trip or an overnight camping experience.
2. Bodie State Historic Park, California
Just a stone's throw away from Yosemite National Park and Mono Lake, Bodie is another California ghost town that had its heyday during the gold rush.
Once home to nearly 10,000 residents, today, Bodie is preserved in "a state of arrested decay," allowing you to view the interiors of buildings just as they were left deserted.
Bodie State Historic Park is accessible via a number of dirt and gravel roads, making it an excellent location for 4x4 vehicles. The park does require an entrance fee, which goes toward the preservation of this National Historic Site.
Due to its elevation, it can get quite cold, even in the summer, so pack accordingly. Also, keep an eye on park schedules and guidelines, as some areas may be restricted.
3. Garnet Ghost Town, Montana
Situated in the Garnet Mountain Range between Missoula and Helena, Garnet is Montana’s most well-preserved ghost town. The area's mountains were rich in gold-bearing quartz, drawing miners from as far as California and Colorado.
Today, Garnet offers a deeply historical and atmospheric experience for those looking to explore one of America's coolest ghost towns.
Garnet has numerous off-road trails leading to and from the town, providing a variety of challenges for all levels of off-roading expertise.
Be prepared for changing weather conditions and have recovery gear handy, as the Montana terrain can be unpredictable. The town also offers designated camping areas, making it an excellent location for an overnight stay.
St. Elmo Ghost Town, Colorado
Located in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, St. Elmo was a thriving hub for gold and silver mining in the 1880s.
Today, it’s often called “Colorado’s most original ghost town.” Despite some structures being lost in a fire, the community has worked hard to restore other buildings, including the town hall.
St. Elmo offers a host of off-road trails, many of which can be quite challenging due to the rocky and steep mountain terrain. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with good off-road tires and high-clearance capabilities.
Given the altitude, prepare for rapid weather changes and pack accordingly. St. Elmo is popular in the summer months, so if you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the off-season.
5. Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada
Located about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, near the California border, Rhyolite sprang up in 1905 following a rich quartz discovery.
Though much of the town now lies in ruin, it remains one of the most photographed ghost towns in the West, offering a unique blend of desolation and history.
Access to Rhyolite involves several off-road routes, some more challenging than others. Since you'll be venturing deep into the Nevada desert, ensure your vehicle is well-stocked with water, fuel, and emergency supplies.
Because of the harsh climate, it's advisable to check weather forecasts and avoid extreme temperatures when planning your trip.
6. Silver City Ghost Town, Idaho
Tucked away in the Owyhee mountains, southwest of Boise, Silver City is an old mining town that still retains many of its original 1860s structures. One of its main attractions is the Idaho Hotel, still in operation despite being over 100 years old.
The trails leading to Silver City are best suited for vehicles with high clearance and 4x4 capabilities. These routes offer a combination of rocky and sandy terrains, making it an exciting adventure for off-roading enthusiasts.
With limited amenities and cell service, it's crucial to be well-prepared for a self-sufficient trip. Check the Idaho Hotel's operating schedule if you want a unique overnight experience.
Ghost Towns and Off-Roading—A Match Made in Haunted Heaven
Ghost towns across the United States offer not just a glimpse into the past but also provide unique terrains and trails that are perfect for off-roading enthusiasts.
Whether you're seeking the high desert mystique of Calico in California, the gold rush nostalgia of Garnet in Montana, or the eerie tranquility of Rhyolite in Nevada, there's a haunting adventure waiting for you.
Want to add some style to your spooky adventure? Make sure to shop the latest gear here at Goats Trail Off-Road Apparel Company and prep for your next overland trip!