Southwest Ghost Towns Road Trip Best Western Experience | Travel Zone by Best Western

Southwest Ghost Towns Road Trip

By Selena Wolcott

Join us as we journey through the Southwestern states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada.  We will explore the forgotten remnants of the past, exploring the eerie beauty and fascinating stories of these fascinating ghost towns.  


Arizona’s rich history is filled with tales of gold rushes, mining booms, and frontier explorations. Amidst its dry desert landscapes, several ghost towns stand as silent witnesses of the bygone era.  

Perched high on Mingus Mountain, Jerome is located in central Arizona overlooking Verde Valley. The ghost town of Jerome exudes an irresistible allure, drawing visitors from far and wide. Jerome’s origins trace back to the late 19th century when copper was discovered in the area. The town transformed into a thriving mining community. During its heyday, Jerome gained a reputation as a rough and rowdy town and later was nicknamed “Wickedest Town in the West”. In 1898, disaster struck Jerome when a devastating fire swept through the town. It is said that the morgue used ashes along with brick and stone to rebuild the town. Visitors and residents have reported eerie occurrences, unexplained sounds, and ghost sightings. If you aren’t wanting to stay in a haunted town you can stay just a few miles away in our cozy Best Western Cottonwood Inn. 

At the base of the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, Goldfield Ghost Town still stands today. In the late 1800s a prospector discovered a rich gold vein. The promise of gold attracted many from far and wide, which lead to the bustling mining town of Goldfield. The mammoth gold mine played a pivotal role in the town’s success. Visitors can explore the mines remnants and witness the remarkable engineering that was employed during its operation. The towns prosperity was shortlived when the gold veins were depleted;  by 1920, Goldfield turned into a ghost town. The town has stories filled with lost treasures and haunting legends. The Superstition Mountains  are believed to hold the secrets of the lost Dutchman’s gold mine. There have been many encounters of the paranormal within Goldfield and the surrounding areas. Book your stay at Best Western Gold Canyon Inn & Suites 


Continuing our journey, we now venture into Colorado where the echoes of the mining boom still linger. Roam through the deserted streets and uncover the takes of those who chased their dreams of wealth and fortune. 

Amidst the picturesque beauty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains lies the intriguing St. Elmo ghost town. Abandoned but not forgotten, this ghostly relic from the past carries a rich history and eerie tales. St. Elmo was founded in 1880 during the Colorado mining boom. Originally a mining community centered around silver and gold extraction, it quickly flourished into a bustling town. However, the town’s prosperity was short-lived. With the closure of the last mine in 1922, St. Elmo was left abandoned, frozen in time and preserved by the elements. Legend has it that the spirits of former residents still wander the streets, their ethereal presence felt by those who dare to explore the town’s remains. Despite its ghostly reputation, St. Elmo continues to attract visitors from near and far. The town’s well-preserved structures offer a glimpse into Colorado’s mining past and provide a unique opportunity to step back in time. Walking its dusty streets, visitors can imagine the vibrant life that once thrived in this remote mountain community. Additionally, St. Elmo’s ghost town has become a popular destination for photographers and history enthusiasts alike. The rustic charm of the weathered buildings and the contrast they create against the stunning backdrop.  We recommend the Best Western Vista Inn for its cozy and accommodating amenities. The onsite View Cafe is a great place for an espresso, smoothie, snack, pastry, or even souvenirs.  


Nestled in the serene landscape of southern Utah, the captivating Grafton ghost town stands silent. In 1859 Mormon pioneers founded Grafton to establish a farming community. At its peak, Grafton was home to around 30 families, with a school, church, and cemetery forming the heart of the community. The town faced numerous challenges, including devastating floods, crop failures, and conflicts with the local Native American population. Over time, these hardships led the residents to abandon Grafton, seeking more prosperous opportunities elsewhere. By the early 1900s, the town was left deserted. One of the most famous ghost stories associated with Grafton involves the spirit of a young girl named Annabelle, said to roam the town. According to legend, Annabelle tragically died from diphtheria in Grafton and is now believed to haunt the area. Visitors have reported encounters with her ghostly presence, adding to the mystery and allure of the ghost town. Grafton is considered the most photographed ghost town in the Southwestern United States. This location has served as a backdrop for numerous movies, including the groundbreaking 1929 film In Old Arizona, featuring the iconic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Situated near the stunning Zion National Park, Grafton Ghost Town is surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes. The juxtaposition of the weathered buildings against the backdrop of red cliffs with vibrant vegetation creates a captivating visual experience for anyone.  Stay at the Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites, only 20 minutes away from Grafton and just 5 minutes from Zion National Park.   


Our trip concludes in Nevada, where a treasure trove of ghost towns await discovery. Tucked away in the heart of the Nevada desert stands the ghost town of Rhyolite. Rhyolite’s history began in 1904 when prospectors discovered gold in the nearby Bullfrog Mining District. Rhyolite, named after the rhyolite volcanic rock found in the area, rapidly transformed into a bustling town. By 1910, the mines began to decline, and the population dwindled as people sought fortune elsewhere. The reasons behind Rhyolite’s haunting are open to speculation. Some believe that the spirits of miners and residents who met tragic ends still linger, while others attribute the paranormal activity to the residual energy of a once-vibrant town that was abruptly abandoned. Whatever the cause, the ghostly ambiance adds an extra layer of intrigue and mystery to Rhyolite’s allure. Despite its abandonment, Rhyolite’s architectural remnants, including the famous Bottle House and the ruins of the Cook Bank Building, are remarkable. These structures showcase the ingenuity and creativity of the town’s former residents, with unique designs that reflect the ambition of the era. Similar to the ghost town of Grafton, Rhyolite appeared in several films, including the 2001 movie “The Mummy Returns,” where it was transformed into the fictional city of Hamunaptra. Book your stay at Best Western Pahrump Oasis 

A trip through the ghost towns of Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada promises a journey through time. The spirits of the past whisper through the abandoned buildings and forgotten streets. Each of these ghost towns tells a unique story of triumphs and tribulations. Uncover the mysteries of the past and let the road lead you to the extraordinary world of the American Southwest forgotten communities.  

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