Calico Ghost Town

california ghost town calico

Top ways to experience Calico Ghost Town and nearby attractions

california ghost town calico

Calico Ghost Town - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

  • (0.12 mi) Calico Ghost Town Campground & RV Park
  • (8.84 mi) Rodeway Inn On Historic Route 66
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  • (8.83 mi) Super 8 by Wyndham Barstow
  • (0.04 mi) Calico House Restaurant
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  • (8.70 mi) Los Domingos Mexican Restaurant
  • (0.00 mi) Dorsey's Dog House
  • (3.27 mi) Eddie World
  • (9.54 mi) Route 66 Mother Road Museum
  • (9.38 mi) Rainbow Basin Natural Area
  • (3.45 mi) Liberty Sculpture Park

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california ghost town calico

The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Calico Ghost Town

Last Modified: August 23, 2023 //  by  Anda //   22 Comments

Somewhere on the long desert drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas , lies Calico, one of the most popular ghost towns on Route 66 , in California. At least for me. But not everybody shares my opinion.

For ghost town devotees, Calico is this over-commercialized town that plays to idealistic Old West stereotypes. Even so, if you have never seen a ghost town before, Calico may be a fun place to experience.

california ghost town calico

Table of Contents

A Brief History of Calico

What to expect in calico ghost town, maggie’s mine, mystery shack, odessa railroad, lane house and museum, old school house, best time to visit calico ghost town, how to get to calico ghost town, where to eat in calico, where to spend the night in calico.

The discovery of gold and silver in the second half of the 19th century changed the face of California completely. Thousands of people lured by the promise of riches began heading west in order to “ see the elephant ,” as the California Gold Rush  was often called.  

Little towns began sprouting like mushrooms around the gold and silver mines. One of these towns was Calico, in the upper Mojave Desert, which developed around the Calico Mining Company.

The story of Calico is not any different from that of the many other mining boomtowns gone bust after marked collapsed.

In the late 1800’s the town was buzzing with prospectors searching for its mineral riches. Silver was discovered here and the Calico became one of the richest mining districts in the state. 

Calico Ghost Town

By 1886 the town’s population peaked to 1,200 souls. Calico had a wide variety of businesses and shops, hotels, a jail, saloons, a Chinatown, and –like any respectable town– a redlight district. 

But when the silver market collapsed later that decade, the town fell into decline. Miners and their families began moving away in search of other opportunities.

As a town, Calico had a turbulent existence, burning down to the ground in the fall of 1883. After its abandonment in the 1930s, the town stayed neglected for almost 20 years. In 1950, Walter Knott – the owner of Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park– converted Calico into a tourist attraction.

READ NEXT :  How to Spend an Incredible Day in L.A.

Calico is a county park where people come to imagine life in an old mining town. Only five of the original town buildings still exist today. The others are recreated replicas of their originals.

Building in Calico Ghost Town

Unlike Bodie where you get a feeling of isolation and abandonment, Calico is anything but deserted. The ghost town of Calico is a joyful and populated place where at any time of year you’ll cross paths with hundreds of tourists. It feels more like Jerome, which is an ‘alive-an-well’  ghost town .

While Calico is not exactly authentic, I think it’s still a nice place where you can experience the Old West. And if you are a photo enthusiast, you’ll find a lot of photo opportunities here.

Top Sights to See in the Ghost Town of Calico

Scattered throughout Calico are numerous shops, restaurants and historic sites that you should visit. The shops sell all kinds of trinkets, antiques, candy, western clothing, and more. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s still fun to browse through them.

shops in Calico Ghost Town

The park also operates mine tours, gunfight stunt shows, gold panning, and a small a rail road. If you want to partake in some of these activities, you’ll have to pay extra.

Back in the 1880s this was a working silver mine. Today the mine is safe and open to the public to walk through. A quick self-guided tour will give you an idea how the mines of Calico looked. There is a display showcasing some of the minerals found locally.

Maggie Mine in Calico

Want to see water running uphill? How about a broom swapping by itself? If you take a guided tour of the famous Mystery Shack you’ll see all these and find out more about Harry Dover, the guy who created the shack.

Mystery Shack in the Ghost Town of Calico

This small working railroad was installed in Calico Ghost Town in 1958 and has been working ever since. The train tour takes you around the hill and lasts about 10 minutes. Along the way you can see some of the old mining equipment and many of Calico’s historical sites.

Odessa Railroad in Caico Ghost Town

If you want to find out about the former Calico Mining District, you should visit he Lane House and Museum. The museum building is one of the five original adobe structures from the late 1880s that have survived the test of time.

Lane House and Museum in Calico Ghost Town

Although the building has undergone many changes over the years, you can still see some of the old features, like the transom windows, an electrical wiring from the 1930s, and furnishings that belonged to the Lane family who lived here from the 1920s to the 1960s.

At the top of the town, just as you hit the end of the road, you’ll see the building of the Old School House. This is a replica, but it still makes you feel nostalgic about that era..

Old School House in Calico

Calico Ghost Town is open year round, except Christmas Day. Given its location in the Mojave Desert, it’s rarely overcast or rainy in Calico, which is a good thing.

Visiting Calico in spring

The best time to visit is between October and May, when the weather is cooler. However, if you don’t have a choice, the summer months may work as well. Although the temperatures will be above 100ºF, the weather is very dry in the desert, so it doesn’t feel so bad.

  • Calico is open daily from 9am-5pm.
  • $8 – adults
  • $5 – Youth (4-11)
  • Children 3 & Under – Free

Calico Ghost Town is located on 36600 Ghost Town Road in Yermo, just east of Barstow, on California Interstate 15.

The driving distance between Los Angeles and Calico is 127 miles (1 hour and 50 minutes). If you don’t have a car, the best way to get from Los Angeles to Calico is by bus which takes 2h 5m and costs $40 – $65. 

If you are coming from Las Vegas, the driving distance is 149 miles (2 hours and 13 minutes) via I-15 S.

There are several places where you can eat in Calico. Most of them are decent, but they all have higher prices as you would expect in any amusement park.

If you are looking for a full-service restaurant, Calico House is probably the one. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and have a wide selection of dishes on their menu.

Calico House Restaurant

There is also a patio from where you can enjoy the beautiful mountains around and watch the little train going around.

Located at the top of Calico Ghost Town, Old Miner’s Café is another nice choice for lunch. The restaurant serves hamburgers, a variety of sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, ice cream and more.

Lil’s Beer Garden Saloon is basically a snack bar located on one of the original buildings that still looks just like an old-fashion saloon, with swinging doors. It’s a nice place to get a drink and get a pizza or a hot dog. The pictures up on the wall of all the old history gunslingers, outlaws and sheriffs are nice to look at.

Calico Ghost Town can be easily visited as a day trip from Los Angeles , or from Las Vegas. However, if you decide to spend the night around here, I recommend staying in Barstow, just 15 minutes away from Calico.

hotel in Barstow

It’s not the most fancy town but it’s O.K, considering that you are in the middle of the desert. Check your favorite hotel booking sites for rates and availability here.

There is also a camping site nearby where you can rent a cabin on pitch your own tent. The pay for the site varies according to hook-up access. Each site is restricted to 4 people, 1 car and 1 tent. 

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Calico Ghost Town

Anda is an award winning travel writer, avid globetrotter and passionate photographer. She is the voice behind "Travel Notes & Beyond," a collection of stories and travel impressions from her wanderings around the world. When she is not busy writing, traveling, or editing photographs, you can find her hiking in the foothills behind her house together with her husband and their dog.

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Reader Interactions

October 6, 2023 at 10:39 am

I absolutely love this place. We come here for days at a time. The sheer peacefulness of this place is amazing. Mornings and evenings are heavenly.

Plus I get to off road.

Elizabeth Nees

May 29, 2023 at 12:14 pm

Around 1960 my family traveled through Calico Ghost Town during vacation. I was a child, perhaps 9 years old. I remember standing at a bar and being served a “chocolate phosphate”. It was delicious! also, the man behind the bar told us the bar itself was exotic, and historically relevant—- it had been brought from around the cape. Is this true?

Is the bar still there? Do they still serve phosphates? thank you.

May 29, 2023 at 1:18 pm

The bar is still there, but I have no idea if they still serve “chocolate phosphate.” But if I return to Calico I’ll make sure to ask. It’s interesting to see how some events from our childhood still linger in our memory.

October 6, 2023 at 10:35 am

I’ll ask. I’m here for the weekend

January 31, 2022 at 7:56 pm

I used to work at the Marine base riding stables & we took trail rides to Calico several times a day. It took about 1.5 hours each way & we would spend an hour in Calico, I never did get tired of it. When I was a little girl a friend had burros & mules there & took out rides. I actually would like to see it again as I haven’t been here since 1975.

January 31, 2022 at 11:34 pm

It seems you’ve known Calico for a long, long time. It would be interesting to visit it again, after all these years.

March 27, 2016 at 10:20 am

We’ve been to a few ghost towns, but not toCalico yet. I agree, these can sometimes feel a bit commercial but it’s still fun to sidle up to the bar in the saloon and order a frosty mug of sarsaparilla!

Anda Galffy

March 27, 2016 at 11:29 am

I agree, Corinne.

March 27, 2016 at 8:21 am

Ha,ha, that’s funny, Shobha! I’m sure your kids would enjoy Calico.

Mark Schultz

December 13, 2021 at 4:09 am

Visited 30 years ago going back to visit this winter great history and well restored town great day trip when you fly into Vegas.

December 13, 2021 at 11:39 am

Winter is a great time to visit Calico, because it’s not so hot.

Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

March 26, 2016 at 5:21 am

This is absolutely fascinating. I’ve never visited a ghost town and really like the sound of this although perhaps Bodie would make a better first start. That school house reminds me of the one in Little House on the Prairie! #TheWeeklyPostcard

March 26, 2016 at 1:53 pm

It doesn’t really matter what ghost town you start with. They are all very charming, even though some of them are more touristy than others.

Rhonda Albom

March 25, 2016 at 8:01 pm

I haven’t heard of Calico, but like you, I have been to many ghost towns. I used to like them, but I think I have seen too many. I also never heard the expression “see the elephant.” Fun and interesting post. Love the photos.

March 26, 2016 at 3:55 pm

Thank you, Rhonda. I would still like to see some ghost towns before I declare myself ‘bored’ of them.

Ruth - Tanama Tales

March 25, 2016 at 7:25 pm

I have wanted to visit Calico for a long time since you see the signs every time you visit Vegas. Last time I had plans to visit, we ended up in Death Valley. Even if it is not that authentic, I wold like to visit to learn about the history. In December, I went to Tombstone which is not authentic at all but I wanted to visit anyway (I wanted to complete the trio of most famous mining towns in Arizona: Jerome, Bisbee and Tombstone).

March 26, 2016 at 1:55 pm

I’ll have to visit Tombstone, even though you say it’s touristy. I’m sure I’d like it anyway.

Mary {The World Is A Book}

March 25, 2016 at 7:11 pm

We’ve passed by Calico many times on the way to Vegas but never exited to visit. This gives me a good idea of what to expect. I think my kids would actually enjoy this. We’ve never been to Bodie or Jerome so I’ve got nothing to compare to. Looks like a fun little stop to break up the drive.

March 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm

I’m sure you’d enjoy visiting Calico. I went there six-seven times so far so for me it’s no longer too exciting, but if you’ve never visited the town you’ll like it.

Lyn @thetravellinglindfields

March 25, 2016 at 1:38 pm

We have been to lots of ghost towns, including Bodie which we loved, but never Calico. It does look worth a visit next time we are in California. I am like you, I love ghost towns.

March 25, 2016 at 1:42 pm

If you like ghost towns, you’ll surely enjoy Calico. Although not as authentic as Bodie, Calico is still worth a visit.

Lydia C. Lee

March 25, 2016 at 1:10 pm

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Top Destination Deals!

california ghost town calico

We have four fun attractions to experience and make lasting memories while in town. Attractions are open most weekdays and on the weekends.

  • Ghost Tours

     ​www.calicoghosttours.com

Currently booking online at

www.calicoghosttours.com 

Come experience a tour you will never forget. This is the truest accounts of the paranormal activity in Calico. 

  • Attractions
  • School and Youth Groups

Calico Attractions

california ghost town calico

Calico Ghost Town is open daily from 9-5, except Christmas Day.

The attractions have a separate fee from the entrance fee.

california ghost town calico

Our Attractions

Special events.

The Attractions are located within Calico Ghost Town, which is operated by San Bernardino County Regional Parks. There is an entry fee into the town, separate from the attractions. Visit www.calicotown.com for details and information.

Two of our most beloved events are right around the corner. Hope to see you there!

Visit www.calicotown.com for more details. 

california ghost town calico

Calico Attractions ©  All Rights Reserved

Calico Ghost Town

Photo of Calico Ghost Town - Yermo, CA, US. Old school house

Review Highlights

calico-ghost-town-yermo photo TAhNZGQyjYaP91XqPs84bw

“ We explored the silver mine tour, the train ride and the mystery shack and i highly recommended all of them! ” in 53 reviews

calico-ghost-town-yermo photo 0AfvRFhpYGajxOB_gTfIOg

“ The kids took pictures with Santa, made crafts, rode the train , watched the Animal show and had fun shopping. ” in 119 reviews

calico-ghost-town-yermo photo VtgfDNGbIjjYl6hJs_eZ5Q

“ From mining tours to the intricate details of the reconstructed buildings, it's like stepping back in time. ” in 19 reviews

Show more review highlights

Location & Hours

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Map

36600 Ghost Town Rd

Yermo, CA 92398

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Ask a question

What is the admission fee?

$8 for adults, can't remember what it was for kids. We didn't stay because it seemed like a lot for a quick stop just to stretch legs.

Is the restaurant open 7 day a week now that we are in the yellow tier?

As of last week it was still closed.

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475 reviews

Photo of Belle Z.

Maybe it's because I've wanted to go to this place since I was a kid when I thought it was a literal village of ghosts, but this place is fantastic! We got there just at opening, so there was no problem parking or with crowds. Despite the listed time, not all the attractions were open until 9:45, but it's fine since there is so much to look at. It consists of a sit-down restaurant, other casual eateries, gift shops, a saloon, and other places I did not go into. You can also pan for gold, take a train, explore the mines, and visit the mystery spot. It's a shack of illusions with a hilarious, themed guide. They have in-character miners moseying about, and they are super entertaining. Not only do you have the main street to charm you, but in the distance, there are so many shacks, dilapidated homes, and a chapel that add to the authentic, historical goodness of the place. This is a wonderful ghost town and only three miles from the freeway on the slog to or from Vegas. I highly recommend a side trip here!

california ghost town calico

See all photos from Belle Z. for Calico Ghost Town

Photo of Nancy M.

Gracias Too commercialized Nothing left to say! This 66 year old is "old school!" Thx but still looking forward to my more authentic experience. I was fascinated with the money upon each grave marker.

Photo of Nell E.

Quaint full on town, retired from it's days of mining silver. With stops like gold panning, a train ride (for a price) the blacksmiths, gift shop with crystals and magnets, a $5 silver mine tour of Maggie's mine and a whole town of folks dressed in period piece regalia from the time the Old West was won, a delightful experience! $10 entry per adult, pretty well priced. Make your own mud-clay-straw bricks as in ye old times, they come apart in the rain, hence the bold arbors and long roofs old clay brick homes would have, and you can still find in developing countries. The Calico festival was in full swing on a sunny weekend in September with live shows, some too loud for my liking, but all spirited, and fun, a nice stop over on a cross western road trip!

california ghost town calico

This is such a cool destination to stop at via I-15 N that's filled with a lot of history and activities. Some of the structures are in its original state. None of the original family members live on site anymore. People either come here to work or visit. Lady working at gold panning was super cool. She also provided a great tip for storing gold. Our son wanted to participate and enjoyed gold panning. He said, "It costs less and you get more gold than Knott's Berry Farm." I chuckled. We browsed through shops and homes. One of my faves was seeing various types of medicines used to cure illnesses. Staff are very welcoming and friendly. Restrooms are clean. We definitely wouldn't mind visiting again.

california ghost town calico

We have been here twice with Boy Scouts. The kids had a great time. My son bought a walking stick with a flash light on it, came in handy on his hikes. We also camped here and it was miserable. We were in a tent and the wind was so bad that the tent was lying down. I have never been so uncomfortable camping. I ended up in our truck. I will never tent camp again, this experience ruined it for me. If you are in an RV you will be fine. If you are planning to bring a tent watch the weather forecast and beware of gnarly winds.

Photo of Paige H.

This old ghost mining town is perfect for a little day trip for the family, including the dog ($1 per dog entry fee). Adults are $8 and they do not do military discount for the entry fee, but they do accept 10% military discount and most shops and restaurants. There are 4 main activities to try out in town. Panning for gold, the mystery house, the train ride, and the old mine. We opted to go inside the mine since the others weren't really worth it for us since we don't have children. The mine was definitely a cool attraction because you got to go into a real mine shaft and see the different tunnels that were dug. For only $4.50 a ticket, it wasn't a bad time. They do have campgrounds near the lower lot, and admission is free if you decide to camp there. Climbing around the rocks was super fun, and the food was pretty decent at the old miners cafe. Special shout-out to the fried pickles! If you are looking for a quick, fun stop on your travels, this little tourist trap is the place to go!

california ghost town calico

See all photos from Paige H. for Calico Ghost Town

Photo of Bruce O.

Calico Mine Ghost Town (Calico , CA) - June 17, 2023 We came here a little after noon to check out the ghost town. It's only about 5 miles away from the I-40 freeway exit. It is $8 per person to enter. Once in, you can check out some of the original structures including homes, a hotel that was built into the rock, stores, restaurants, saloons, and the mining areas. And yes, the restaurants, saloon, and shops have food, alcohol, and merchandise! They have one of the best stores for dog treats I have ever seen.

california ghost town calico

See all photos from Bruce O. for Calico Ghost Town

Photo of Lorri D.

It's a fun little side visit. If you are going for just a "regular" visit, you'll enjoy it. Ride the train, visit the historical sites, pan for gold, grab a drink and/or a bite to eat, take old timey pictures, shop, shop, shop, tour the Maggie Mine, explore, shop some more, check out the Mystery Shack, but definitely take a Ghost Tour!! There are 3 tours to choose from; The School House, the Mine, and Main Street. Nothing will pop out at you, but it tells you about these sites and the spirits who still wander these areas. Now, if you want a scary visit... then visit during the Calico Ghost Haunt, you will definitely scream, laugh, and possibly even wet your pants. Lots of cool costumes, pop-out frights, games, live music, and everything you'd expect. This takes place in October, so get your tickets! Parking for any occasion is in a large lot, expect to walk a ways no matter where you park. There is ATV parking, RV parking and the regular lots. Just to enter the ghost town there is a fee, this is on top of any attraction costs. Last I visited it was about $8 per person for entry. Located just outside of Barstow. There is camping nearby and off-road trails, or just a hop across the highway is Eddie World (basically a snack bonanza), and close to the Historic Route 66. The town is pretty rustic (in every way) so please watch your footing and hold on to handrails when you can. One of the coolest parts of the town, in my opinion, is just exploring the hills above and around the old school house. Obviously you can't go inside the old mines, but the old hillside home remains are fun to walk through. Lots of shopping and pricey souvenirs, as well as some delicious treats. Worth a stop.

california ghost town calico

Had to stop on my way to Vegas It's so full of history and great little stores and a new restaurant, clean bathrooms Love that you can self your take your time to see everything and all the details Very clean and well taken care of it's a great little piece of history..

california ghost town calico

See all photos from Victoria M. for Calico Ghost Town

Photo of Gary O.

Great place for a family visit. The drive in was nice and although it seems like not a lot to see there is quite a bit of you read the information markers. Spent the entire day there and spent lunch at the restaurant overlooking the area. Beautiful scenery and it was peaceful. This place actually impressed me more than I thought it would. I enjoyed all four attractions they offer. Cost is $12 for adults and $6 for kids. The only discount offered is a military discount. I will return again in the future.

california ghost town calico

See all photos from Gary O. for Calico Ghost Town

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Calico Ghost Town

Hello everyone! This is a friendly reminder that any of these fun places we may visit, we are a guest at. Please treat both businesses and trails with the utmost respect. We here at Hidden California follow the 'Leave no Trace' mantra, meaning whatever you bring with you comes back with you. If you see trash on a trail, please do your part to help remove it. Remember, we are not picking up trash from another person but instead cleaning up for Mother Nature. Happy adventures!

36600 Ghost Town Rd Barstow, CA 92311

34.947302, -116.864993

Admission Prices

Dog-Friendly:  Yes (be mindful of weather)     Kid-Friendly:  Yes

About the  Calico Ghost Town

Article by David Johnson:

CalTrans estimates that more than thirteen million cars traveling on Interstate 15 pass by Ghost Town Road just north of Barstow each year. We have been part of that number many times over the years, and it was not until this year that we took the off-ramp to find out exactly what is there.

We paid $8 each for admission and that was far from the last time we opened our wallets. Some people love it and some people consider it a rip-off, but on balance it is interesting.

california ghost town calico

The name was derived from the color of the mountain peak just above the town. Within a few short years, the hills were dotted with mines and more than 1,000 people called the town home. When the price of silver crashed during the panic of 1893, so did the town.

There was an attempt to revive the town decades later by re-purposing the spent ore but that too failed, and the town faded to black again. In 1954, Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame acquired the property with the intention of restoring it to period and marketing it to fans of theme parks which were coming into vogue.

california ghost town calico

Using old photographs, he created a faithful reproduction of the original town, and opened it for business. In 1966, he either tired of the venture or realized it was not a money maker, and he donated the property to the County of San Bernardino . It has ever since been operated as part of the county’s park system.

While you’re in the area, make sure to visit Elmer’s Bottletree Ranch nearby!

The three dozen or so structures seem completely authentic to the period, and there is a mine that you can walk through in exchange for $3. The view of the valley from the top of the site is stunning.

There is a more than decent restaurant in the middle of town offering a wide variety of dishes including vegetarian fare, and several smaller places where you can buy food. If you prefer alcohol, there is a saloon to meet your needs.

california ghost town calico

There is a narrow-gauge railroad that you can ride around one of the hills for $4 a pop, and other experiences available in exchange for currency. There are periodic staged gunfights and other amusements depending on the timing of your visit.

If camping is your thing, there are 265 available campsites including some with hookups, rest rooms and hot showers. Calico Ghost Town is open year around with the exception of Christmas day.

If you are in doubt, I would advise you to go. The town has special appeal to those interested in California history or mining, and there are enough trinkets and goodies for sale to keep the shopper occupied for a few hours. Be advised that the town is on a fairly steep incline, and it is probably not a great experience for somebody with ambulation issues.

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Home > Road Trip Itineraries > West Coast > California Road Trip Itineraries > Southern California Road Trip > Calico Ghost Town: A Place for Those Who Love the Old West!

Calico Ghost Town California

Calico Ghost Town: A Place for Those Who Love the Old West!

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If you’re a fan of stories of the Wild West, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to visit at least one of America’s ghost towns. These towns in the Old West  still retain their old, dusty western charm. In California , there are multiple ghost towns (we have already talked about Bodie , one of the best-preserved towns), and today we talk about Calico , also known as Calico Ghost Town , a mining town near Barstow .

Calico is a perfect intermediate stop for those traveling from Los Angeles to La Vegas . The town was founded in March 1881 and grew rapidly thanks to deposits of silver, borax, and gold. At one point, there were 1200 inhabitants, 500 mines, and 22 saloons, but its decline was just as fast. Calico became a ghost town in 1907, when borax deposits were discovered in nearby Death Valley .

Things to Do in Calico and Attractions

Entertainment in calico ghost town, calico: tickets, hours, location.

things to do in Calico

In Calico, you will also find a replica of the old school that has been rebuilt on the original site, as well as what is left of the homes of Chinese immigrants. During the week classes are reenacted in the school, while on Sundays you can enjoy the sermon of the preacher. Finally, don’t miss the train ride , which will take you to see the old mines up close.

Calico California events

  • Hours : Open every day
  • Reservations : Not required
  • Entrance fee : $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-15, free for children 5 and under
  • Length of the visit : An hour or two may be sufficient
  • Best time to visit Calico : You can go any time of year, although in the summer it gets hot. During the week some attractions may be closed.
  • Location: Calico Ghost Town, Yermo, CA, just east of Barstow. Exit I-15 on Ghost Town Road.

Warning: Operating hours can change and closures for extraordinary events can occur, so we strongly suggest to check the venues official websites.

lorenzo puliti

lorenzo puliti

I am fascinated by the wonders of the world I never tire of going in search of them.

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Calico Ghost Town

california ghost town calico

Top ways to experience Calico Ghost Town and nearby attractions

california ghost town calico

CALICO GHOST TOWN: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

  • (0.12 mi) Calico Ghost Town Campground & RV Park
  • (8.84 mi) Rodeway Inn On Historic Route 66
  • (8.47 mi) Best Western Desert Villa Inn
  • (8.71 mi) California Inn
  • (8.83 mi) Super 8 by Wyndham Barstow
  • (0.04 mi) Calico House Restaurant
  • (3.39 mi) Peggy Sue's 50's Diner
  • (8.89 mi) Lola's Kitchen
  • (8.80 mi) DiNapoli's Firehouse Italian Eatery
  • (8.70 mi) Los Domingos Mexican Restaurant
  • (0.00 mi) Dorsey's Dog House
  • (3.27 mi) Eddie World
  • (9.54 mi) Route 66 Mother Road Museum
  • (9.38 mi) Rainbow Basin Natural Area
  • (3.45 mi) Liberty Sculpture Park

Calico Ghost Town: 6 Best Things to Do in the Old West

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Why You Should Visit The Very Much Alive – Calico Ghost Town

To all my fellow ghost town lovers, have you seen any of the various ghost towns of California? Spread across the state are all kinds of abandoned locations each filled with rich history and a unique past.

Generally, most think “creepy” when they hear the phrase ghost town . While some definitely may be, not all give off a frightening appearance. “But why would you want to go there?!” says my mom every time I mention visiting a ghost town.

Well unlike other desolate locations, Calico Ghost Town in Southern California is actually more alive than you would think. Making this one of California’s more popular ghost towns to visit in the state.

As much as I love the eerie-ness of abandoned ghost towns, like Bodie Ghost Town , I still love to explore more lively ones such as these. If you’re traveling through California and looking for some western fun, don’t be afraid to add Calico Ghost Town to your list.

What’s The Story of Calico?

So what did happen to the once populated town of Calico? This once bustling mining town arose in 1881 around the time of the largest silver strike in California. With a high demand for silver, Calico constructed over 500 mines and produced over $20 million in silver ore. And all in just 12 years!

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Obviously there was huge opportunity for those working in this mining town, but unfortunately success would not last long.

As with all mining towns in history, its foundation is built from the wealth of materials mined from the earth. Sadly, most towns rapidly decline once demand for a product has diminished. Eventually leaving a town so unprosperous that it becomes abandoned.

Well, this is exactly what happened! In the mid 1890’s, Calico began it’s downhill spiral when silver lost its value. In turn, the town quickly lost residents as miners packed up their belongings and moved away. Leaving the once busy town empty and completely abandoned.

If it weren’t for Walter Knott (creator of popular theme park Knotts Berry Farm), we wouldn’t have the chance to see Calico the way we do today. In 1950, Knott purchased the abandoned town and restored all but 5 of the original buildings. The goal was to have them look as they once did back in the 1880s.

Later in 2005, Calico received a State Historic Landmark and was proclaimed as “California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town” by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

calico-ghost-town (5)

Today, visitors can roam the re-created streets of Calico and experience for themselves the history of what was once here.

How To Get to Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town is located about 15 minutes from the city of Barstow off the Interstate 15. Exit the 15 freeway from Ghost Town Road and head north, following the signs for Calico. After about 3.5 miles you will see signs for the ghost town on the left. Not hard to miss!

Especially since it’s the only thing out here along with the giant name “Calico” spelled out in the mountains above.

For those traveling from out of town, we recommend staying in the city of Barstow . It’s not the most glamorous city, but remember you are located in the middle of the desert. While you’re there, be sure to eat at the Original Del Taco! My favorite fast food chain.

Hours/Admission – prices subject to change

  • Open Daily from 9am-5pm except Christmas Day
  • $8 – adults
  • $5 – Youth (4-11)
  • Children 3 & Under – Free
  • Annual Family Pass:   $50.00. (Valid for 12 months from date of purchase)

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6 THINGS TO DO IN CALICO GHOST TOWN

For a ghost town, there’s actually a lot to do at Calico. Enough to easily fill about 2 hours or more of your time. For starters, simply wander the historic main street and take in the beautiful desert surroundings. This was enough to have me fall in love with the place. Well, if you’re a desert lover like myself that is.

Calico definitely still holds that old west charm that I love finding in any old ghost town. Even though the buildings are not technically original structures, it’s still exciting to imagine what this town was so many years ago.

calico-ghost-town (8)

Calico Ghost Town is built on a small hill. The town entrance is at the bottom with the end resting higher up. Expect a miner climb (pun intended) as you walk through the town. What’s great about being nestled on a hill top are the gorgeous views of the desert valley below. A surprise reward once you reach the far end of the town.

Outside of general roaming, there are a bunch of other things to do and attractions to see.

1. Check Out the Many Shops & Historic Sites

Scattered throughout Calico are numerous shops and historic sites to visit. Shops selling all kinds of trinkets, antiques, candy, western clothing, and more. Even if you don’t want to buy anything, it’s still fun to cruise and window shop, seeing all the unique items for sale.

But you never know, you just might find yourself walking out with a new hat or random donkey plushie like we did.

Besides shops, make sure you see the Calico Jail, blacksmith shop, the bottle house, and school house (which I talk more about later).

calico-ghost-town (9)

2. Grab Food and a Beer at The Saloon or Cafe

You can’t visit a ghost town without visiting one of the rustic saloons. And you definitely can’t visit a saloon without grabbing a beer. Right?

Pop in to Lil’s Saloon which has beer on tap, pizza, hot dogs, and nachos if you’re looking for a quick bite.

If not here, you can find more beer and food at the Old Miner’s Cafe up near the top of the town. The food here is a little more suited for lunch with burgers, deli sandwiches, and ice cream. All while enjoying the desert view from the outdoor patio deck. If you’re lucky, you’ll see one of the local kitties roaming about!

For a more legit dining experience, you can eat at the Calico House Restaurant towards the front of the town. This sit down restaurant offers buffalo burgers, smoked tri-tip, gourmet sandwiches, and a wide variety of homemade pastries.

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3. Pay A Bit Extra for some of Calico’s Top Attractions

For a more immersive experience of Calico Ghost Town, you can pay extra to partake in 4 of the activities of the town. We’ve done a couple of these activities while we were here, but it’s not necessarily needed to have a good time in Calico.

  • Maggie Mine – a once working silver mine in the 1880’s is safe and open to the public to walk through. Take a quick self-guided tour through the mine and see the blacklight display showcasing some of the minerals found locally. This was neat since it’s the closest to exploring one of the mines of Calico. A little creepy to walk through and probably not the best for those who are claustrophobic.
  • Mystery Shack – a guided tour through the famous Calico Mystery Shack where you can see water running uphill, a broom standing by itself and the history of Harry Dover who created the shack
  • Calico Odessa Railroad – this small working railroad was installed in the town in 1958 and runs on a regular basis for visitors each day. The tour is about 8 minutes long and takes you on a short trip around the hill to see the historical sites, some of the mining equipment, as well as learning some of the history of the general area. $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 5-10.

calico-ghost-town (10)

  • Gold Panning Adventure – learn first hand how the miners panned for gold in a stream by mining your own “gold” (Fools Gold or Iron Pyrite). Participants take home any gold they collect

4. Don’t Forget to See The School House

Those who visit Calico Ghost Town might just miss this incredible spot at top of the town. Once you hit the end of the road, head left and cross a small bridge which takes you to my favorite spot – the replica School House.

While you cannot go inside the school house, you can still see inside from one of the windows in the front. This secluded school house is my favorite part of Calico as it resides next to one of the best views on the grounds. Technically called “The Point,” you can basically see all the way to Barstow from here.

Not only is the view killer, but the school house makes a great place to snap some photos as it’s one of the more unique historic markers of the area.

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5. Explore the Rocky Area Behind Maggie’s Mine

If you’re feeling adventurous, get off the main road and explore the rugged area behind Maggie’s Mine and the Calico Railroad. (within permitted boundaries of course)

Word of Caution : The mines in the area are extremely hazardous and are forbidden to enter or approach for any reason.

Outside of off-limit mining areas, this area has some interesting rock structures you can climb into. Kind of like little houses embedded into the mountain.

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Around here is where you can also find an incredible scenic view. Accessible by most if you can manage a short rocky trek up to the top of the hill. Railings are included for those who need the extra help.

From up here you have an even better view of the desert below compared to The Point near the school house. Although, it’s generally more crowded, which is why I still favorite the view and more peaceful area around the school house much more.

calico-ghost-town (14)

6. Take A Ghost Tour

Yes, you heard that right. Take a GHOST tour of Calico Ghost Town! Go figure. None of these tours are a theatrical show but more so a historical and educational tour about the true stories and hauntings that have taken place at Calico.

There are 3 ghost tours to choose from:

  • Main Street – walk up main street while learning about the town from its origin in 1880 to today
  • Maggie Mine – the same mine you can walk through in the day, this tour takes you through the mine with the lights turned down low. Expect to hear stories of hauntings and other strange occurrences from inside the mine
  • School House – hear stories of the children who went here and get the chance to go inside the school house at night

We have yet to do a ghost tour at Calico but this is something I have always wanted to try. Anything haunted or ghost related always catches my attention.

Why All Desert Lovers and History Buffs Should Experience Calico Ghost Town

As you can see, there is loads to do at this living ghost town. Calico Ghost Town offers an enjoyable experience for all ages and has numerous options for fun during your visit here.

Maybe you’re looking to just wander and visit the local shops. Or perhaps you’re feeling more adventurous and want to take up some of the immersive tours and activities.

For us, we simply enjoy roaming through old west areas, enjoying a couple beers, and ultimately, taking in that epic desert scenery. There’s just something special about this old western town that always has us coming back.

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We hope you can spend the day or even just a couple hours exploring one of California’s most popular ghost towns! We’re sure you will take something away from it, maybe even a ghost.

If you’re looking for more living ghost towns such as these, you’ll love Oatman  and Jerome , the largest ghost town in America. Both are full of life and filled with fun things to do just like Calico. You can find these ghost towns in the beautiful desert state of Arizona.

Have you been to Calico Ghost Town? What was your favorite thing to do here? Share with us in the comments below!

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california ghost town calico

Legends of America

Legends of America

Traveling through american history, destinations & legends since 2003., calico, california – revived from a desert grave.

Calico, California 1931

Calico, California 1931

Three miles north of Interstate-15, midway between Barstow and Yermo, California , sits the historic and restored ghost town of Calico, California .

It all began in 1875 when roving prospectors first found silver on the south slope of the Calico Mountains. However, it wasn’t until some five years later that additional ore discoveries worth $400 to $500 per ton brought about a small rush and the filing of many claims.

In the spring of 1881 came the discovery of the Silver King, Calico’s richest mine. Less than a year later, the new settlement supported several businesses on a commercial street flanked by tents and adobe buildings on a narrow mesa between Wall Street Canyon and Odessa Canyon. It took its name from the myriad of colors in the mountains, which are the backdrop for the town.

The weekly Calico Print appeared in October 1882, and a local stamp mill was built to begin working ores.

But in the spring of 1883, many of the local miners left Calico when borax was discovered three miles east at Borate. Later the same year, a fire destroyed much of the camp, but Calico again boomed in 1884 as additional silver discoveries were made. Gaining a population of some 2,500, the town supported two dozen saloons and gambling dives that never closed, as well as more legitimate establishments such as a church, a public school, a dance school, and a literary society, along with dozens of retail businesses.

After 1884 many of the mines consolidated, and late in 1888, the Oro Grande Mining Company erected an even larger stamp mill for $250,000 on the north bank of the Mojave River. Soon it connected the stamp mill, near Daggett , to the Silver King mine by the ten-mile narrow-gauge Calico Railroad.

By the late 1800s, Calico was bustling with prospectors searching for their fortunes, and the Calico Mining District became one of the richest in the state.

Calico, California Entrance

Calico, California Entrance

During its heyday, the district would produce $86 million in silver and $45 million in borax. However, when the price of silver dropped from $1.31 an ounce to 63 cents during the mid-1890s, Calico became a ghost of its former self.  The narrow-gauge Calico railroad was dismantled just after the turn of the century, and the town officially died in 1907 with the end of borax mining in the district.

Around 1917 a cyanide plant was built in Calico, recovering values from the Silver King Mine dumps, and the town was revived. However, by 1935, the town was entirely abandoned and left to Mother Nature’s elements in the Mojave Desert.

Revival and Restoration

In 1950 Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park bought the townsite and began restorations. Its owner, Walter Knott, spent much time in Calico as a boy, as his uncle lived there. He even helped to build a silver mill in Calico at the time of World War I. Knott’s time spent there, no doubt, influenced his decision to buy the town and restore it.

One of the rebuilt attractions is the one-mile short line “Calico & Odessa” railroad which loops through steep canyons and hills past old mines and buildings north of Calico. Though the original townsite has been mostly rebuilt by new and restored buildings, one-third of the town is original, and the remaining newer buildings were carefully reconstructed to recreate the spirit of Calico’s Old West past.

In November 1966, Knott donated Calico to San Bernardino County, and Calico now operates as one of the many San Bernardino County Regional Parks.

Calico Shoot Out

Calico Shoot Out

Though Calico is no longer a crumbling ghost town thanks to Walter Knott, it most definitely gives the visitor a feel of what life might have been like during those old mining days. The false front stores and saloons , towered by the craggy mountains above and overlooking the desert valley below, provide an otherwise unobtainable glimpse into Calico’s rich history.

Today, walking tours are available with Calico historians who examine the life of miners during its heyday. The narrow-gauge railroad operates within the town limits, the hard rock silver mine provides underground exploration, buildings such as the schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and saloons can be explored, as well as a live gold panning operation.

The Calico Townsite is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to dusk, featuring numerous shops, restaurants, and other attractions. In the canyons below the town, a full-service campground, camping cabins, and bunkhouse provide the opportunity for extended stays.

Its reasonable admission price and prices “inside” the town at its restaurants, shops, and additional attractions, make it one of California’s best tourist values.

If Calico’s rich history, meticulous restoration, and gunfights aren’t enough entertainment for you, there’s more!!  Allegedly, this old town is haunted by several lingering spirits.

Ghosts of Calico

John and Lucy Lane, courtesy Bancroft Library, University of California

John and Lucy Lane, courtesy Bancroft Library, University of California

One of the most often sighted spirits is that of Lucy Bell King Lane, a woman who spent nearly seventy years of her life in Calico .

When Lucy was just ten years old, she moved with her parents, two brothers, and a sister to nearby Bismarck, which overlooked the town of Calico. To get to school, Lucy would have to slide down the steep slope in the morning and make the long tiring hike up the hill afterward. When she was 18 years old, she married John Robert Lane, and the two opened a general store that provided not only provisions to the mining population but also cloth, nails, and hardware.

They prospered briefly, but when the silver market began to decline, the couple left Calico in 1899. However, the couple returned in 1916, making their old store their home. Four years later, they moved into the old courthouse and post office building. Her husband John died in 1934, but Lucy would continue to live a long life, staying in the same house until she died in 1967 at the age of 93.

Lane's Store, Calico, California, Kathy Weiser

Lane’s Store, Calico, California, Kathy Weiser-Alexander

Today, their old home has become a museum that exhibits the life the Lanes lived, as well as a collection of mining materials, photographs, and Native American displays from the times before Calico’s silver deposits were discovered.

Though Lucy died four decades ago, she is evidently fond of her old hometown as she is frequently still sighted there. Most often, she has been seen walking between their old store and the home that she lived in until her death. When she is spied, she is described as wearing a long black dress, most likely the very lace one that she was buried in. Her favorite rocking chair has also been said to rock of its own accord, and often pictures are taken off the wall at night, only to be found the next morning in a neat pile on the floor. At Lane’s old store, clerks have often heard unexplainable noises and catch movement out of the corners of their eyes, which they also attribute to Lucy. The Lane house was the longest-occupied original structure in Calico.

But, favorite resident Lucy Lane is not the only phantom that lurks in Calico. At that very same schoolhouse sitting atop the hill in Calico, some people have reported seeing a little girl about 11 or 12 years, most often smiling through a window. Sometimes she even leans out and waves at passers-by.

Others have allegedly seen phantom school teachers and another small child who has been known to grab people’s legs or pinch their ankles. Some visitors have also reported seeing a floating red light inside the school.

Maggie Mine, Calico, California

Maggie Mine, Calico, California

But the most incredible story is one of two British tourists who reported having a long visit with a staff person in period costume, who explained to them that she was the “last teacher’ in Calico. As they were ready to leave, they had pictures taken with the self-proclaimed teacher. The last schoolmistress in Calico was Margaret Olivier, who passed away in 1932 and is buried in the Calico Cemetery. When the couple returned home and got their pictures developed, they were amazed to see that the “staff member” didn’t appear in the photographs. Later, they found that there had been no staff members working at the schoolhouse during their visit.

Though the hills surrounding Calico once held dozens of mines, and the many pits and ruins continue to attest to this, Calico features the Maggie Mine, which once produced some $13 million in silver ore, and now its tunnels can be explored by visitors. In the 1,000 feet of tunnels that are open to the public, it should come as no surprise that many believe that spirits lurk within the mine’s depths.

Several visitors have reported extreme cold spots throughout the mine and feelings of “one’s hair standing up” in various places, but most particularly where two miners known as the Mulcahey Brothers made their home in the mine. Though portions of the mine are blocked off behind grates, macabre mannequins add to the spooky feeling in the mine.

Hank's Hotel, Calico, California. Kathy Weiser

Hank’s Hotel, Calico, California. Kathy Alexander

Near the Maggie’s Mine is Hank’s Hotel, which once belonged to an angry old cowboy whose spirit allegedly once punched a man in the leg who was standing on his fence. But more commonly, people have reported something tugging on their wrists, hands, and clothing along the boardwalk in front of the hotel. These antics, however, are not generally blamed on the angry cowboy but rather on a 4-5-year-old child who has been seen roaming the boardwalk and the surrounding area.

Also said to haunt Calico’s boardwalks on Main Street is that of its last marshal, Tumbleweed Harris. Several visitors have described seeing a big man with a white beard which fits the description of the man who kept the peace in Calico for seven years.

At the Calico Corral, some people have often heard the voices of crowds and celebrations coming from the barn that once hosted regular Saturday night dances.  At Lil’s Saloon, one of Calico’s original buildings, sounds of an old-style piano and rowdy crowds have been heard when no one was in the building. Employees have also often reported hearing the jingle of spurs and other noises that can’t be explained.

Another spectral lady in a long white dress has frequently been seen walking near the outskirts of the ghost town and at the building that once housed the town theater, which is now the R&D Fossils & Minerals Shop, another female ghost named Esmeralda, has allegedly has taken up residence.

Dorsey, the mail dog

Dorsey, the mail dog

And finally, Calico had another famous resident – that of Dorsey, the “mail carrying dog.” Dorsey was found in 1883 by Postmaster Jim Stacy when the hungry and footsore black and white shepherd was lying on his porch. Stacy quickly adopted him, and Dorsey became his faithful friend. In addition to his postmaster duties, Stacy was interested in a mine in nearby Bismarck.

On one occasion, when Stacy needed to get an urgent message to his partner at the mine, he tied a note to Dorsey’s neck and sent him up there. Before long, Dorsey returned with a reply. Dorsey was soon carrying messages back and forth to the mine frequently when Stacy had the idea to make the dog a regular mail carrier. Soon, the dog was carrying all the mail from Calico to Bismarck, bearing his load in little pouches strapped to his back. For three years, Dorsey covered the mail route between the two camps and became so valuable that Stacy was offered $500 for the dog, to which Stacy replied: “I’d rather sell a grandson.”

Dorsey’s legend was revived in a 1972 album entitled “ The Ballad of Calico ” by Kenny Rogers. The song was called “ Dorsey, the Mail Carrying Dog .” And, of course, in haunted Calico, he has been revived in another way – the “spectral dog.” On several occasions, Dorsey has been seen as a shadow-like apparition at the cemetery and near the Print Shop that stands near the original location of the post office.

Unless you sit on Hank’s fence, it appears that none of the ghosts in Calico are malevolent, so don’t let them stop you from visiting this great old ghost town .

©Kathy Alexander, Legends of America , updated Augustt 2022.

Contact Information:

Calico California Ghost Town 36600 Ghost Town Rd PO Box 638 Yermo, California 92398

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Calico Ghost Town: Old Mining Town Turned into Tourist Attraction in Yermo

On the long desert drive to Las Vegas, one of the most exciting places you can stop is the famous mining town known as Calico Ghost Town. This town is a unique representation of the history of California mining, and it is a great place to explore with the whole family. While it is more geared to younger kids, it is still worth visiting as there is a ton to see and photograph. Here is all the information, and let me know what you think in the comments.

california ghost town calico

  • Open 9 AM – 5 PM
  • Adults –  $8, Youth (6-15) – $5, Children (Under 5) – Free
  • Attractions cost more like the mine and the train ride
  • Here is the map of the town
  • From my visits in 2015 and 2021

Here is the history directly from their site :

Calico   is an Old West mining town that has been around since  1881 during the most significant silver strike in California.  With its 500 mines, Calico produced over $20 million in silver ore over 12 years.  When silver lost its value in the mid-1890s, Calico lost its population.  The miners packed up, loaded their mules, and moved away, abandoning the town that once gave them a good living.  It became a “ghost town.”  

Calico Ghost Town 10

Walter Knott purchased Calico in the 1950s, architecturally restoring all but the five original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s.  Calico received State Historical Landmark 782 and in 2005, was proclaimed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town. 

  The Town

california ghost town calico

The town is pretty massive, and my favorite part about it is the mountain behind that shows the city’s name. It is excellent for framing pictures of the old buildings. The town is an excellent representation of what life in the time period was like, but it also has a lot of modern additions; I mean, there is even Starbucks in one of the old buildings.

Calico Ghost Town 23

You can go inside some of the old buildings as well and they have antiques in them, like in the fire station photo below.

california ghost town calico

Here are some of my favorite spots.

Bottle House

Calico Ghost Town 11

I am not sure what the history of this house is, but it is made entirely of bottles and is an excellent place to take pictures. The house now caters to people with dogs by selling pet supplies, but that doesn’t make the outside any less epic.

california ghost town calico

Update 2021: It doesn’t seem to be a pet store anymore but I am not sure what it is as it was not open when I went.

Maggie’s Mine

My favorite place in the whole town is the old mine building connected to a mine you can actually explore. This attraction cost $3.50 when I went but it was worth it to walk through the mine.

Calico Ghost Town 7

Walking through the mine is a great way to experience the way miners worked. They had mannequins showing how people slept and worked in the mine. They also had a sign that showed the “glory hole,” where they pulled out $65,000 worth of silver.

Calico Ghost Town 6

I am claustrophobic but never felt scared in the mine. It is well kept up, lit, and ventilated, so it shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

california ghost town calico

When you exit, you are at the base of the scenic view.

Scenic View

california ghost town calico

At the back of the town is a short little hill you can walk up, giving you a great view of the town below. This area can also be accessed from where the mine exit is as well. If it is hot, make sure you know there is no shade here, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great view.

california ghost town calico

There is also a view down towards the mining area from above here as well.

School House

Calico Ghost Town 27

My favorite place in the town for photography is the old historic schoolhouse. This site is nestled under the mountain that has the Calico sign on it, making it a great place to take pictures.

california ghost town calico

There are plenty more places to explore in the town, such as the general store, sweet shop, barbershop, and gold panning area if you are interested in experiencing more. Calico Ghost Town is a great place to go at least once; let me know what your favorite spot is in the comments.

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California's calico ghost town invites you on a desert adventure, share this article.

Back in the 1880s, silver miners found work and built homes in the desert town of Calico, California. But those days of prosperity couldn’t last forever. By the mid-1890s, silver had dropped in value, leading miners to abandon the town. However, this wouldn’t be the end of Calico.

In the 1950s, Walter Knott, founder of Knott’s Berry Farm, bought the town and began restoring several historic buildings. Since then, the Calico ghost town has found new life as a tourist destination. Today, you can explore Calico Ghost Town Regional Park in the desert of Yermo, California. Take a look at what adventures await you there with this photo guide.

An Old West town.

© Miquel Frontera | September 3, 2011

A road leading up to a mountain with white words toward the top reading "Calico."

© Ken Lund | May 6, 2015

Aerial view of a dusty desert town.

© Justin Ennis | April 15, 2010

A train riding through a desert.

© Person-with-No Name | September 28, 2020

Close up of a house made of glass bottles.

© Tech109 | September 24, 2009

A dusty old West desert town.

© Tracy | July 1, 2013

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Calico

Calico Ghost Town, California

Calico

Calico is a ghost town that was formerly a mining town in San Bernardino County, California, in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert. In 1881, prospectors moved from nearby areas to Calico mountain and discovered silver. Upon discovery of silver, the town came into existence and flourished due to heavy mining operations. There were approximately 500 mines that created a total output of $20 million in a decade.

After a decade, when the silver reserves dried up, the miners started leaving the town. The population dropped drastically and eventually turned it into a ghost town.

california ghost town calico

In 1950, Walter Knot purchased this town and started restoring all the original buildings to make them resemble the era of the 1880s. Following the restoration, Calico received State Historical Landmark #782. In 2005, Calico was proclaimed by then California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town. The town is now considered Calico Ghost Town Regional Park.

Calico Ghost Town

Calico is a must-visit if you are interested in going back in time and feel the west of the late 1800s. Walk the streets, enter a unique bottle house, take a short train ride, watch western reenactors, and enjoy the history of the town.

california ghost town calico

This town is also known to have a reputation for being one of the most haunted places in California. Take a tour and see if you encounter some paranormal activity 😉

How to get there

Calico is on Inter-State 15 if you are driving from Las Vegas take I-15 South, and drive for approximately 149 miles. You will notice large CALICO written on the mountain.

Vegas to Calico

If you are driving from Los Angeles, take I-10 east and then take I-15 North. Calico is approximately 126 miles from LA.

california ghost town calico

Parking is available on site.

california ghost town calico

It is a good size town, and you will enjoy walking through the streets, visiting attractions, and visiting stores in a rustic and unique buildings.

california ghost town calico

Maggie Mine and the Calico Odessa Railroad

california ghost town calico

Calico Odessa Railroad is a 8-10 minute train ride that takes you around a small hill. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountains, and learn about some historic spots along you journey.

california ghost town calico

Tickets for the Calio Railroad: 11 years and older are $5, 5-10 years old is $2.50, and 4 years and under are free.

california ghost town calico

Bottle House

Glass Bottle House Calico

The house is constructed of glass bottles. There is a pet store inside this unique building.

california ghost town calico

A friendly advice by a miner:

california ghost town calico

Useful Links

Brief History of Calico Ghost Town

Calico Attractions

San Bernardino County Regional Parks

california ghost town calico

Thanks for visiting our blog. Please leave a comment if you find our post helpful, or if you have any questions   or suggestions for us .

THERE IS LOT TO EXPLORE. KEEP EXPLORING 

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Julia Orchard

Thanks for the well-structured and well-presented post!

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Hey there Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts. many thanks

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Gurminder kaindowal

The bottle house is amazing.the view the click everything is perfect. Thanks for sharing this wonderful route

Thank you for appreciating our post. This is definitely a very unique place.

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Gabrielle Sales | From1Girlto1World.com

Great post and photos! I would like to visit this ghost town. I’ve seen some ghost towns (or themes) in Arizona where I currently live a lot but I’d like to see my first one in California with history.

Hi Gabrielle, thank you for liking our post. We highly recommend you to visit this ghost town, very unique 🙂

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Inderjit Grewal

Walter knott tied a perfect knot between 1880’s and present by restoration of Calico. The bottle house is amazing You people adventure places worth visiting and that kick your adrenaline KEEP UP👍

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california ghost town calico

8 Spookiest Ghost Towns in California

california ghost town calico

Betsy Malloy

A California ghost town might be the kind you think of, an abandoned mining camp with tumbleweeds blowing down a deserted main street, past a long-disused saloon or general store, toward the old cemetery. You can find those in the Golden State, but there’s more: Abandoned reminders of a grand social experiment, the remains of internment camps, and what’s left of a medicine man’s so-called “health resort.” Some of them may even be spooky, with stories of hauntings and restless spirits.

Know this before you go: Some ghost towns are at high elevations. Others in the desert are hot in the summer, with no shade. They often don’t have water and other amenities. The terrain in a ghost town may be uneven, and you might encounter snakes and other animals. Take sturdy shoes, water, a hat, sunscreen, and snacks. And be sure your vehicle is up to the drive. 

If you only see one ghost town in California, Bodie is the one to visit.

Bodie was a gold-mining town the started in 1876. At its peak, more than 10,000 gold-seekers lived there. The wild, wide-open mining town was so wicked that some people thought even God had forsaken it.

Today, Bodie is a pilgrimage site for people who love ghost towns. It has almost 200 structures still standing, kept in a state of "arrested decay." The large site with so many things to see is unparalleled among California ghost towns.

Bodie is also said to be not spooky or haunted but cursed. Legend has it that any visitor who dares to take anything—even a rock—from this Gold Rush ghost town, isolated beyond the eastern Sierra, will be punished. But in fact, the curse was invented by park rangers, who wanted to keep people from stealing things.

Bodie is a California state park, located east of the Sierras, 13 miles east of US Highway 395 between Lee Vining and Bridgeport at 8,500 feet elevation. The paved section of the road to it takes about 15 minutes to drive. The last three miles of rough dirt road will take you 10 minutes or more to cross. In the winter, the road becomes impassable, except by snowmobile.

Cerro Gordo

GeoStock/The Image Bank / Getty Images Plus

Some people say Cerro Gordo is a better ghost town than Bodie because it's less crowded with sightseers. To offset that, it has far fewer buildings, and it's harder to get to.

Cerro Gordo is privately owned, and the only way to get a look around is to take a guided tour. You can get tour tickets at the Cerro Gordo Mines website . Structures still standing include a hotel, bunkhouse, the 1877 Hoist Works, a private residence, and other buildings. The old general store doubles as a museum.

Cerro Gordo's silver mining history began in 1865, but it was almost as hard to get to then as it is now. Mule-drawn wagons had to haul the ore 275 miles to Los Angeles, an expensive process. Only high-grade ore could make a profit. By 1868, the richest veins played out, silver prices fell, and mining ceased.

Over the next 50 years, the mines produced silver, lead, and zinc. By 1938, Cerro Gordo was abandoned. But today's caretakers say they may have left a few stray spirits behind . Don't worry about it being spooky; they are only seen at night.

It's just outside the boundary of Death Valley National Park at 8,500 feet elevation and eight miles east of Keeler off California Highway 136. The road is steep in places and not for vehicles with low ground clearance. 

GeoStock/The Image Bank / Getty Images Plus 

Purists might complain that Rhyolite is technically in Nevada, but it's only 10 miles from the state line and well worth a stop if you're touring California ghost towns.

In its heyday, Rhyolite had three train lines, three newspapers, three swimming pools, three hospitals, two undertakers, an opera, and symphony and 53 saloons. It lasted from 1905 through 1910.

The thing that makes Rhyolite unique are its buildings made from permanent materials rather than canvas and wood. Also worth a look is the nearby  Goldwell Open Air Museum  and its collection of sculptures.

Rhyolite is between Beatty, Nevada, and Death Valley National Park off Nevada Highway 374, which becomes California Highway 190 at the border. It is open to the public with no admission free.

wsfurlan/iStock / Getty Images Plus

Calico is one of the easiest California ghost towns to get to, just off Interstate Highway 15 between Barstow and Las Vegas.

Calico's 1881 silver strike was the largest in California history. The price of silver declined in 1896, and by 1904, it was abandoned.

Walter Knott, who also started Knott's Berry Farm , purchased Calico in the 1950s. He restored all but five original buildings to look as they did in the 1880s. Today, Calico is part-authentic ghost town, part-regional park, and part tourist attraction. Don't turn up your nose and let its overt commercialism keep you from visiting. There's plenty of history if you take the time to look for it.

North Bloomfield

jcookfisher/Flickr/cc-by-2.0 

Gold mining at the Malakoff Diggins near North Bloomfield started in 1851. During the town's heyday, it had nearly 1,500 inhabitants and more than 200 buildings. 

By the 1860s, the easy-to-reach gold was depleted. MIners depended on hydraulic mining techniques to get to the gold ore, washing away entire mountains in the process. That was what led to the town’s final demise. When hydraulic mining was declared illegal in 1883, the town went into a slow decline.

Today North Bloomfield is in Malakoff Diggins State Park . You can see the former mining sites and original historic buildings along North Bloomfield Road, including a church, school, barbershop, and fire department.

North Bloomfield is in California’s Gold Country, northeast of Sacramento off California Highway 20 near Grass Valley and Nevada City.

Allensworth

Stephen Saks/Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus

Allensworth holds a unique place in California history. Founded by former slave Colonel Allen Allensworth in 1908, it was to be a place where African Americans could live and thrive without oppression.

The all-Black town’s success was featured in many national newspaper articles around the turn of the twentieth century. By 1914, it had more than 200 inhabitants. Soon afterward, the town water supply started drying up, and the Great Depression came in the early 1930s.

Public services shut down, and residents moved to the cities to look for work. The Post Office closed in 1931. By 1972, the population was down to 90, and it later dropped to almost zero.

Today, Allensworth is a California state park where you can see then restored buildings, including a library, church, schoolhouse, and hotel.

Allensworth is in the Central Valley, north of Bakersfield and west of California Highway 99.

R. Litewriter/iStock / Getty Images Plus 

In 1944, radio evangelist Curtis Howe Springer got title to a piece of the Mojave Desert as a mining claim. He named it Zzyzx, which he said was the last word in the English language.

Instead of digging for minerals, Springer created a small camp around a palm-lined, natural spring. He bottled the water and sold it to travelers. He also operated a health resort (or so he called it).

In 1976, the U.S. government reclaimed the land. Today, it is home to the Desert Studies Center of the California State University system. You can see the springs and a few abandoned buildings.

Zzyzx is a few miles southeast of Interstate 15 at the Zzyzx exit, near the town of Baker.

Rick Gerharter/Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images Plus 

If you think of a ghost town as a place that was busy in the past but is now empty or nearly empty, the former internment camp at Manzanar

More than 10,000 Japanese Americans lived at Manazar from 1942 until the end of World War II in 1945. Unlike the people who flocked to the other ghost towns in this guide, Manzanar's residents were more likely to try to get out (or so some people thought). Military police with submachine guns stood watch in eight guard towers around the perimeter of the camp.

Today, you can learn more about Manzanar's history in the visitor center and visit Block 14, where you will find two reconstructed barracks and a mess hall. You can also take the self-guided loop drive and see the cemetery. Even if Manzanar doesn't have ghosts, it can give you a spooky feeling to think of its former internees.

Manzanar National Historic Site is nine miles north of Lone Pine off US Highway 395. There is no admission charge.

If you loved these ghost towns, you might also want to visit:

  • Silver City , near Lake Isabella, which is more like a museum of ghost towns, created from more than 20 historic buildings moved there from mining camps.
  • The Lost Horse Mine at Joshua Tree National Park is known for its well-preserved stamp mill.
  • For a rare look at the mercury mines that supported California's gold rush, visit New Almaden , near San Jose.

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California’s Calico Ghost Town: Where History Meets Adventure

california ghost town calico

Prepared By:

Hilary terrell.

History buffs, adventure seekers, and artisan goods aficionados rejoice: whether you have one day or a full weekend to spend here, this regional park has countless offerings and activities to fit any itinerary.

This story was created in partnership with San Bernardino County Regional Parks Department . All photos courtesy of San Bernardino County Regional Parks.

A quintessential old west mining town.

Old West signs in Calico State Park

Calico boasts a history just as rich as its residents once were: in 1881, this classic old West mining town was a booming hot spot for silver, attracting over 1,200 silver-searching residents and acting as the center of over 500 nearby mines. Calico was nearly abandoned when silver lost its value in the mid-1890s until it was purchased and restored in the 1950s by Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm. After restoring the town, Knott donated it to San Bernardino County in 1966. In 2005, Calico received its State Historical Landmark status and is now operated and maintained by the Regional Parks Department. 

Now, the very same buildings that made up the bustling 1880s town are home to numerous can’t-miss shops and exhibits . Stock up on a variety of unique products at the shops, which offer items ranging from one-of-a-kind handcrafted Navajo jewelry to indulgent handmade bath products, Native American decor and leather goods, gorgeous local artwork, mouth-watering sweets, and so much more. While strolling the shops on main street, make sure to also pay a visit to the old schoolhouse, the cemetery, and the house of Lucy Lane, Calico’s longest living resident. 

A Wealth of History & Things to Do

Inside a shop in Calico State Park

After you’ve perused the shops and exhibits in Calico’s historic buildings, learn more about the fascinating history of the town through a wide selection of tours, events, and festivals. 

Partake in one of three haunting ghost tours , on which you’ll spend an evening on a guided tour exploring either the town, the mine, or the schoolhouse, all the while learning about true stories that are sure to enthrall you. Prefer a daytime tour? No problem —take a self-guided tour through the Maggie Mine , or hop on the Calico Odessa Train for a narrated ride through the area. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can book an off-road tour to visit the Silver King Mine (for reservations, call 760-254-3050).

In addition to catching a tour, make sure to explore the mystery shack—a fascinating house of optical illusions—and experience onsite gold panning, just how the miners did it. 

If your schedule permits, it’s well worth coordinating your visit of Calico Ghost Town with one of the lively events or festivals that take place here during the year. If you’re a history buff, don’t miss Calico Days in September or California Days in February. If you’re traveling over a holiday break, partake in the spirit of Christmas at Holiday Fest , wear your best costume at the Halloween Ghost Haunt , or test your egg hunting skills at the Easter Celebration. And if bluegrass is your jam, get ready for a knee-slapping good time at the annual bluegrass festival in May.

Hiking, Biking, and ATVing—Where History Meets Adventure

Images of ATV and mountain biker in Calico State Park

Just as much as Calico is a gold (er, silver) mine of history, it’s also a hidden gem for outdoor adventures. The area’s trails offer year-round opportunities for hiking and mountain biking, and there is a network of trail systems for ATVing and off-roading. Bring your own bike or ATV, or simply rent from a local outdoor shop on your way there!

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Calico area makes for an excellent destination especially in the fall, early winter, and late spring. During these seasons, highs range between 60 and 80 degrees fahrenheit (15-26 degrees celsius), with lows typically between 40 and 60 degrees fahrenheit (4-15 degrees celsius), making it ideal weather for outdoor recreation. Note that February and March can bring rain, and the summer months can reach temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees fahrenheit (32-37 degrees celsius), so make sure to plan accordingly.

Getting There and Where to Stay

Cabins at Calico State Park

No matter where you’re traveling from, Calico makes for a no-hassle destination as it’s easily accessible from several airports including Ontario, San Bernardino, LAX, Las Vegas, and Palm Springs —and offers a variety of lodging options. 

The ideal way to make the most of your time here is to spend a night or two in one of the onsite cabins or bunkhouses , all of which have heating and A/C. The park also has a campground that’s suited for both tent and RV camping, and even offers RV rentals. The general store sells camping supplies and limited groceries, and an onsite restaurant, saloon, and cafe offer a variety of dining options. As an added bonus, events are free for campers, and during the summer months, a movie-in-the-park is shown on select evenings in the campground area. 

For those seeking alternate accommodation options, hotels and additional restaurants can be found in the nearby city of Barstow. 

As it’s open year-round (excluding Christmas Day), Calico Ghost Town makes for the ideal destination for history buffs, outdoor adventurers, shopping enthusiasts, and families alike – there’s truly something for everyone! Get a taste of the park by learning more about the unique Calico concessionaires , and then plan your visit and check out upcoming events by checking out the park’s website .

california ghost town calico

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Visiting Calico Ghost Town, California

Published: September 25, 2023

Modified: December 27, 2023

by Leila Turley

  • Arts & Culture
  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Tips

visiting-calico-ghost-town-california

Introduction

California is a state renowned for its diverse attractions, from beautiful beaches to stunning national parks. One unique destination that showcases California’s rich history is Calico Ghost Town. Tucked away in the Mojave Desert, Calico Ghost Town offers visitors a glimpse into the past, allowing them to step back in time and experience the Wild West.

Originally a bustling silver mining town in the late 1800s, Calico fell into decline in the early 1900s but was later restored and transformed into a popular tourist attraction. Today, it stands as a living museum, offering a fascinating blend of history, entertainment, and natural beauty.

As you approach Calico Ghost Town, the iconic sight of the weathered and worn buildings nestled amidst the rugged desert landscape creates an authentic atmosphere that immediately transports you to a bygone era. From the moment you step foot in this historic town, you can’t help but feel the allure of the Wild West and the excitement of its colorful past.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, a photography hobbyist, or simply seeking a unique and offbeat experience, Calico Ghost Town has something to offer. From exploring the well-preserved buildings to engaging in activities and experiencing the Old West ambiance, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this captivating destination.

In this article, we will take you on a virtual tour of Calico Ghost Town, providing you with essential information to plan your visit. From the history of the town to the various attractions and activities, we will explore the highlights of this fascinating Californian destination. So, saddle up and get ready to embark on a journey through time in Calico Ghost Town.

History of Calico Ghost Town

The story of Calico Ghost Town begins in the mid-1880s, during the height of the silver mining boom in California. The discovery of large silver deposits in the area led to the rapid development of a mining town, which was named Calico due to the vibrant colors of the surrounding hills.

At its peak, Calico was a bustling community with a population of over 3,000 people. The town boasted numerous businesses including saloons, a school, a post office, and even a newspaper. However, as the silver veins started to run dry, the mining industry began to decline, and by the early 1900s, the town was virtually abandoned.

Despite its abandonment, Calico didn’t fade into oblivion. In the 1950s, Walter Knott, the creator of Knott’s Berry Farm, purchased Calico and began restoring the town to its former glory. With the help of local historians, Knott aimed to preserve the town’s history and create an authentic representation of the Old West.

Today, Calico Ghost Town stands as a well-preserved example of a 19th-century silver mining town. The buildings have been meticulously restored, providing a glimpse into the daily life of the town’s inhabitants. From the schoolhouse to the blacksmith’s shop, each structure tells a story of the vibrant past that once thrived in Calico.

Visitors to Calico Ghost Town can explore the town’s history through the various exhibits and artifacts on display. The Lucy Bell Lane Museum houses a collection of historic photographs and artifacts, offering insights into the mining industry and the people who called Calico home.

One of the notable features of Calico Ghost Town is the Maggie Mine, an authentic silver mine that visitors can tour. Guided tours take you deep underground, providing a firsthand experience of what it was like to work in the mines and the conditions that miners faced.

Overall, the history of Calico Ghost Town is a testament to the resilience of the settlers who braved the harsh desert conditions in pursuit of silver. Today, it stands as a captivating destination, allowing visitors to step back in time and immerse themselves in the rich history of the Wild West.

Getting to Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town is located in the Mojave Desert, approximately 10 miles north of Barstow, California. Whether you’re coming from within California or from out of state, there are several transportation options available to reach this historic destination.

If you’re traveling by car, the most convenient route to Calico Ghost Town is via Interstate 15. From Los Angeles, it is approximately a two-hour drive, while from Las Vegas, it takes about three hours. Once you reach Barstow, you’ll spot signs directing you to the town. The last leg of the journey involves a short drive on a well-maintained dirt road.

If you prefer public transportation, you can take an Amtrak train or Greyhound bus to Barstow. From the Barstow Station, you can arrange a taxi or rideshare service to take you to Calico Ghost Town. Alternatively, some tour operators offer shuttle services from Barstow to Calico Ghost Town, allowing you to sit back and enjoy the ride.

For those flying into the area, the nearest major airports are LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT) and McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas. Once you land, you can rent a car or take a shuttle service to Barstow, where you can then follow the same directions for reaching Calico Ghost Town by car.

It’s important to note that Calico Ghost Town is situated in a remote desert location, so it’s advisable to ensure you have enough fuel, food, and water for your journey. The nearest amenities and services are available in Barstow, so it’s recommended to stock up on supplies before heading to Calico.

Parking is available near the entrance of Calico Ghost Town, and there is a small fee for parking. Once parked, you can easily explore the town on foot, as it is a compact area.

Whether you choose to drive, take public transportation, or join a guided tour, reaching Calico Ghost Town is an enjoyable and accessible journey. Just remember to plan ahead and check road conditions, particularly during inclement weather, to ensure a smooth and safe trip to this historic destination.

Exploring the Town

Once you arrive at Calico Ghost Town, it’s time to embark on a captivating journey through the town’s well-preserved streets and buildings. As you explore the town, you’ll be transported back to the late 1800s, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of the Old West.

The main street of Calico is lined with historic buildings that have been restored to their original appearance, offering a glimpse into the daily lives of the town’s residents. Take a leisurely stroll and admire the charming architecture, complete with wooden facades and aged signs.

One of the must-visit spots in Calico is the Lucy Bell Lane Museum. Here, you can dive deeper into the town’s history through fascinating exhibits and displays. Learn about the mining industry, discover the challenges faced by the residents, and see authentic artifacts from the era.

As you continue your exploration, be sure to visit the former schoolhouse, which now serves as an interactive museum. Step inside and imagine the lively classroom atmosphere that once filled the space. You can even sit at the desks and get a sense of what education was like in the late 1800s.

Another highlight of Calico Ghost Town is the “Old West Shootout” reenactments. Experience the thrill of a Wild West showdown as actors recreate dramatic gunfights right before your eyes. The performances are entertaining and educational, providing a glimpse into the lawless nature of the era.

For a taste of adventure, head over to the Mystery Shack, a peculiar building that defies gravity and confuses the senses. Explore the optical illusions and mind-bending experiments inside, guaranteed to leave you scratching your head and questioning the laws of physics.

As you wander through the town, you may notice an array of quaint shops selling various souvenirs, handmade crafts, and Old West-themed items. Stop by the general store to stock up on nostalgic candies and unique trinkets, or browse through the art gallery to admire works inspired by the desert surroundings.

Calico Ghost Town also offers picnic areas where you can enjoy some time in nature and savor a packed lunch. Find a shady spot beneath a rustic tree and relish the tranquility of the desert landscape while reminiscing about the town’s storied past.

Remember to bring your camera along, as Calico Ghost Town provides countless opportunities for stunning photographs. The rustic buildings against the backdrop of the desert, the cacti and wildflowers, and the authenticity of the town itself make for unforgettable snapshots.

Whether you spend a few hours or a full day exploring the town, Calico Ghost Town offers a fascinating experience that will transport you to a different era. Immerse yourself in the history, soak up the ambiance, and make lasting memories as you uncover the treasures of this unique California destination.

Attractions in Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town is a treasure trove of attractions that offer visitors an immersive and educational experience. From historical sites to unique exhibits, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this captivating destination.

One of the main attractions in Calico is the Lucy Bell Lane Museum. Housed in a historic building, the museum showcases a collection of artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that provide insights into the town’s mining history and the lives of its residents. Step inside and journey through time as you uncover the stories of the people who once inhabited Calico.

The Maggie Mine is another highlight of the town. This authentic silver mine offers guided tours that take you underground to experience the conditions that miners faced during the height of the mining boom. Learn about the mining process, marvel at the tunnels, and imagine the challenges and triumphs of those who worked in the mines.

For a taste of the Old West, don’t miss the “Old West Shootouts.” These exciting and entertaining reenactments take place throughout the day, allowing visitors to witness thrilling gunfight performances that transport you back to the lawless and wild times of the Old West. Get ready for a lively and immersive experience that will leave you captivated.

Another attraction that shouldn’t be missed is the Mystery Shack. Step inside this quirky building and prepare to have your senses puzzled. The Mystery Shack is filled with mind-bending optical illusions and perplexing experiments that challenge your perception of reality. It’s a fun and interactive experience that will leave you scratching your head in wonder.

For those seeking outdoor adventure, a hike to the nearby Calico Mountains is a must. Explore the scenic trails that wind through the desert landscape, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Keep an eye out for unique rock formations and native wildlife as you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Mojave Desert.

Throughout the year, Calico Ghost Town hosts special events and festivals that add even more excitement to your visit. From live music performances to Old West reenactments, there is always something happening in this lively town. Check the events calendar to see if your visit coincides with any special happenings.

Lastly, visiting the various historic buildings and shops in Calico is an attraction in itself. Explore the well-preserved structures, which include a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and general store. Take a step back in time as you wander through the streets, and don’t forget to stop by the gift shops to pick up unique souvenirs and memorabilia.

Whether you are interested in history, adventure, or simply enjoying the ambiance of an Old West town, the attractions in Calico Ghost Town offer a wide range of experiences. Immerse yourself in the rich history and vibrant atmosphere of this unique destination as you explore each fascinating attraction it has to offer.

Activities in Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town offers a variety of activities that cater to different interests and age groups. Whether you’re looking for educational experiences, outdoor adventures, or fun-filled entertainment, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this historic destination.

One of the popular activities in Calico is the mine tour. Descend into the depths of the Maggie Mine and follow a knowledgeable guide through the tunnels, learning about the mining process and the hardships faced by the miners. It’s a fascinating and immersive experience that provides a glimpse into the town’s rich mining history.

If you’re seeking a dose of adrenaline, hop aboard the Calico Odessa Railroad. This narrow-gauge railway takes you on a scenic ride through the desert landscape, offering picturesque views of the surrounding hills and valleys. It’s a great way to sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of Calico.

For those who enjoy hands-on experiences, try your hand at gold panning. Head to the water troughs and learn the art of retrieving gold flakes from sand and gravel, just like the miners did during the gold rush. It’s a fun and interactive activity that allows you to test your luck and see if you strike it rich.

If you’re visiting with children, be sure to stop by the Lil’ Miner’s Playground. This play area is designed for young adventurers and features a mini climbing wall, slides, and other fun structures. It’s a great spot for kids to burn off energy and have some fun while exploring the spirit of the Old West.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the hiking trails available in and around Calico Ghost Town. Take a leisurely stroll along nature paths, immersing yourself in the desert landscape and enjoying the serenity of the surroundings. The trails offer stunning views and opportunities to spot wildlife, making it a great activity for nature lovers.

For a unique and thrilling experience, try your hand at the shooting range. Calico Ghost Town has a designated area where visitors can experience the excitement of shooting various firearms under the guidance of trained professionals. It’s a chance to channel your inner outlaw and test your marksmanship skills.

Throughout the year, Calico Ghost Town also hosts special events and festivals that offer a range of activities. From live music performances and art shows to parades and cultural celebrations, there’s always something happening in this vibrant town. Check the event calendar to see if any festivities coincide with your visit.

Lastly, don’t forget to indulge in the simple pleasure of exploring the town on foot. Calico Ghost Town is a compact area, allowing visitors to leisurely stroll through the streets, admire the historic buildings, and soak up the atmosphere of the Old West. It’s a chance to immerse yourself in history and create lasting memories.

With its diverse range of activities, Calico Ghost Town offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, adventure, or family-friendly fun, this historic destination has it all. So, pack your sense of adventure and get ready for a memorable experience in Calico Ghost Town.

Dining Options in Calico Ghost Town

After a day of exploring the historic sights and engaging in activities in Calico Ghost Town, you’ll likely work up an appetite. Luckily, there are dining options within the town where you can satisfy your hunger and enjoy a delicious meal.

The Calico House Restaurant is a popular dining spot in the heart of Calico Ghost Town. Set in a charming building with a rustic ambiance, the restaurant offers a diverse menu with dishes inspired by the flavors of the Old West. From hearty burgers and steaks to comforting homemade soups and sandwiches, you’ll find a variety of options to suit different tastes.

For a quick bite or a sweet treat, the Calico Coffee Company is a delightful stop. This cozy café offers a selection of gourmet coffee, specialty drinks, and freshly baked goods. Indulge in a warm cup of coffee paired with a freshly made pastry or grab a refreshing iced beverage to cool off on a hot desert day.

If you’re looking for a taste of authentic Western cuisine, head to the Calico Saloon and Grill. This lively establishment not only serves up delicious meals but also offers an entertaining atmosphere with live music and performances. Enjoy classic favorites such as barbecue ribs, smoked meats, and hearty pub-style fare while immersing yourself in the lively spirit of the Old West.

For those craving a sweet treat or a cool dessert, the Lily’s Café & Sweet Shop is a must-visit. Delight in an array of homemade ice cream flavors, delectable pastries, and mouthwatering fudge. It’s the perfect spot to satisfy your sweet tooth and indulge in a well-deserved treat.

In addition to these dining options, you’ll also find concession stands and food carts scattered throughout Calico Ghost Town. These offer a variety of quick and convenient options, including snacks, beverages, and ice cream, perfect for a quick refuel during your exploration.

While the dining options within Calico Ghost Town are sufficient to satiate your appetite, keep in mind that the town is situated in a remote area. If you prefer more extensive dining choices, you may need to venture to nearby Barstow, where you’ll find a wider selection of restaurants and eateries to choose from.

Whether you’re seeking a hearty meal, a light snack, or a sweet treat, Calico Ghost Town has dining options to suit every palate. Take a break from exploring and enjoy a satisfying meal while soaking in the unique ambiance and charm of this historic destination.

Shopping in Calico Ghost Town

When visiting Calico Ghost Town, shopping for unique souvenirs and mementos is an essential part of the experience. The town offers a variety of shops where you can find everything from Western-themed merchandise to handmade crafts and local artwork.

The General Store is a great place to start your shopping adventure. This charming store is reminiscent of a bygone era, offering a wide range of merchandise that reflects the spirit of the Old West. Browse through shelves lined with nostalgic candies, old-fashioned toys, and Western-themed apparel. You’ll also find an assortment of souvenirs, including Calico Ghost Town branded items, perfect for commemorating your visit.

For those seeking unique and handmade crafts, the Calico Crafters’ Shop is a must-visit. This cooperative store features the work of local artisans, showcasing a diverse selection of handmade jewelry, pottery, quilts, and woodwork. It’s the ideal place to find one-of-a-kind treasures and support local artists.

If you’re a fan of art, the Ghost Town Art Gallery is worth exploring. This quaint gallery showcases a variety of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, all inspired by the beauty of the desert landscape and the history of Calico Ghost Town. Take some time to appreciate the talent of local artists and perhaps even bring home a unique piece of artwork.

The Cracker Barrel Trading Post is another noteworthy shopping destination. This store offers an eclectic mix of merchandise, ranging from Western apparel and accessories to jewelry and home decor. Browse through authentic cowboy hats, leather goods, and Native American-inspired crafts for a true Western shopping experience.

For those looking for a bit of magic and mystique, stop by the Madam Grace Mystic Shop. This captivating store offers a curious collection of spiritual and metaphysical items, such as crystals, tarot cards, and mystical accessories. Explore the world of the supernatural and discover unique treasures to enhance your spiritual journey.

Throughout Calico Ghost Town, you’ll also find smaller kiosks and outdoor market stalls selling various goodies. These may include handmade crafts, local products, and unique trinkets. Take your time to wander through these hidden gems, as you never know what treasures you may uncover.

Keep in mind that shopping in Calico Ghost Town is not just about the merchandise; it’s about the experience of stepping back in time and immersing yourself in the charm of the Old West. Take a moment to engage in friendly conversations with the shopkeepers, who are often dressed in period costumes and eager to share stories about the town’s history and the items they sell.

Whether you’re looking for a souvenir to remember your visit or a special gift for someone back home, the shopping options in Calico Ghost Town offer a delightful array of choices. From Western-themed items to handmade crafts, you’re sure to find something that captures the spirit of this unique destination.

Accommodation Options near Calico Ghost Town

For those planning a visit to Calico Ghost Town, there are several accommodation options available in the vicinity. While Calico itself does not offer lodging, the nearby city of Barstow provides a range of choices to suit different preferences and budgets.

Barstow, located just a short drive from Calico Ghost Town, offers a variety of hotels and motels catering to different needs. From well-known chain hotels to charming independent establishments, there is something for every traveler.

If you’re looking for convenience and amenities, you’ll find several well-known chain hotels in Barstow. These hotels typically offer comfortable rooms, on-site restaurants, and amenities such as swimming pools and fitness centers. Many of them are conveniently located near Interstate 15, making it easy to access Calico Ghost Town and other nearby attractions.

If you prefer a more boutique and personalized experience, consider staying at one of the independent motels in Barstow. These establishments often have a unique charm and character, providing a more intimate and local flavor to your stay. Some of them offer cozy rooms, friendly service, and are located within close proximity to dining options and shopping centers.

For those seeking a budget-friendly option, there are also several budget motels and roadside inns available in the area. These accommodations provide affordable rates without compromising on comfort. While they may be more basic in terms of amenities, they can be a great choice for those looking to save on accommodation expenses.

Another option for lodging near Calico Ghost Town is to book a vacation rental. Platforms such as Airbnb and VRBO offer a range of rental homes, cabins, and apartments that provide a more private and home-like experience. This option is ideal for those traveling with a group or seeking a place with more space and privacy.

When choosing accommodations near Calico Ghost Town, it’s advisable to consider factors such as proximity to the town, amenities offered, and budget. Additionally, it’s important to check reviews and ratings to ensure the quality and satisfaction of your stay.

Regardless of your accommodation choice, staying near Barstow provides convenient access to Calico Ghost Town and its surrounding attractions. You can enjoy your visit to Calico, explore the town, and then retreat to a comfortable and convenient base in Barstow for a good night’s rest.

Remember to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred choice. Whether you opt for a chain hotel, a cozy motel, or a vacation rental, your stay near Calico Ghost Town will add to the overall experience of immersing yourself in the fascinating history and ambiance of the Old West.

Planning Your Visit to Calico Ghost Town

When planning a visit to Calico Ghost Town, it’s important to consider a few key aspects to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. From determining the best time to visit to organizing transportation and making the most of your time in the town, careful planning can enhance your trip.

Firstly, consider the best time to visit Calico Ghost Town. The town is open year-round, but visiting during the spring or fall months when the weather is mild can provide a more comfortable experience. Keep in mind that summers can be hot, so plan to visit earlier in the day or later in the afternoon to avoid the peak heat hours.

Next, determine the duration of your visit. While it’s possible to explore Calico Ghost Town in a few hours, consider allocating a half-day or a full day to fully immerse yourself in the town’s history and attractions. This will allow you to take your time, participate in activities, and fully appreciate the unique ambiance of the Old West.

When it comes to transportation, if you’re driving, ensure you have enough fuel and supplies for the journey as Calico Ghost Town is situated in a remote desert location. If you prefer public transportation, consider taking a train or bus to nearby Barstow and arrange transportation from there to Calico Ghost Town, either through a shuttle service or a rideshare app.

While in Calico Ghost Town, take advantage of the various activities and attractions available. Consider participating in a mine tour to learn about the town’s mining history, catch one of the Old West shootout reenactments for an exciting performance, and be sure to explore the well-preserved historic buildings that offer a glimpse into the past.

Additionally, don’t forget to indulge in the unique dining options and browse the shops for souvenirs and memorabilia. Take the time to interact with the friendly shopkeepers and learn more about the town’s history and the items they sell.

When planning your visit, remember that Calico Ghost Town is located in a desert environment, so it’s important to dress appropriately. Wear comfortable walking shoes, dress in layers, and bring sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Lastly, consider checking the official website of Calico Ghost Town for any updates on operating hours, special events, or guided tours that may enhance your visit. Keep in mind that Calico Ghost Town can be more crowded during weekends and holidays, so if you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting on weekdays.

By taking the time to plan your visit to Calico Ghost Town, you can maximize your experience and make the most of this unique and captivating destination. Prepare in advance, embrace the spirit of the Wild West, and get ready for a journey through time in this living museum of California’s historic past.

Calico Ghost Town is a captivating destination that offers a unique and immersive experience for history enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and anyone looking to step back in time. With its well-preserved buildings, fascinating exhibits, and engaging activities, Calico Ghost Town allows visitors to relive the excitement and hardships of the Wild West.

From the moment you arrive, the rugged desert landscape and weathered structures transport you to a bygone era. Explore the historic streets, taking in the charm of the Old West architecture and admiring the restored buildings that once thrived during the silver mining boom.

Immerse yourself in the rich history of Calico Ghost Town by visiting the Lucy Bell Lane Museum, where you can delve into the town’s past through artifacts, photographs, and exhibits. Experience the thrill of venturing underground on a mine tour, where you can learn about the mining industry and the challenges faced by the miners.

Engage in the lively festivities of the Old West with the “Old West Shootouts” and get your heart pumping with the thrilling performances. Explore the optical illusions and mind-bending experiments at the Mystery Shack, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll through the town, capturing the essence of the Old West with each step.

Calico Ghost Town also offers dining options where you can savor delicious meals or indulge in sweet treats. From enjoying a flavorful meal at the Calico House Restaurant to trying local coffee and freshly baked goods at the Calico Coffee Company, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

Shopping in Calico Ghost Town is a delight, with various shops offering Western-themed merchandise, handmade crafts, and local artwork. Browse through the General Store for nostalgic candies and souvenirs, or visit the Calico Crafters’ Shop for unique handmade treasures.

Accommodation options in the nearby city of Barstow provide a comfortable base from which to explore Calico Ghost Town and its surrounding attractions. Whether you choose a well-known chain hotel, a cozy independent motel, or a vacation rental, you can rest and rejuvenate after a day of discovering the wonders of the Old West.

In conclusion, a visit to Calico Ghost Town is an opportunity to step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history and ambiance of the Wild West. From the well-preserved buildings and engaging activities to the delightful dining options and unique shopping experiences, Calico Ghost Town offers a memorable and enchanting journey through California’s past. So pack your sense of adventure and embark on a captivating experience in Calico Ghost Town, where the Wild West comes to life.

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HistoryNet

The most comprehensive and authoritative history site on the Internet.

Ghost Town: Calico, California

Drivers will find no Walmarts, malls or suburban enclaves along I-15 between Barstow, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Folded mountains line the horizon, and scattered Joshua trees populate the desert—pretty much the extent of scenery along this stretch. However, amid the mountains and yuccas of the Mojave Desert a town once thrived. Welcome to Calico, a living ghost town with a rich, colorful history.

In 1881 Barstow area silver miner John Peterson described a prominent peak some 10 miles to the northeast as “calicocolored,” as the shades reminded him of the pattern typical to a pioneer woman’s skirt. The name stuck for both the peak and the surrounding range. At the base of 4,491-foot Calico Peak a soon-thriving silver mining town took the same name. During its mid-1880s peak Calico boasted more than 300 claims, several dozen established mines, a population of 1,200 (including a Chinese quarter), a post office, several lodging houses and hotels, 22 saloons and a red-light district.

Miners John McBride, Larry Silva and Charlie Mecham filed the earliest recorded silver claim in March 1881 after striking a vein in a canyon soon dubbed Wall Street. From their strike and related claims sprang the Calico Mining District. Within two years the discovery of borax deposits at nearby Mule Canyon lured even more miners to the district, and by 1886 the hills were honeycombed with shafts.

The relatively shallow ore deposits and natural firmness of tunnel walls around Calico kept operating costs low, unlike many other California mining operations that required significant investment capital to extract the ore. The Silver King, Oriental and Bismarck in particular drove Calico’s wealth during the boom period of 1881–1907. Until the nationwide financial panic in the 1890s, the Calico mines yielded more than $20 million in silver and $9 million in borax. The significant drop in the price of silver, from a high of $1.31 per ounce to a low of between 60 and 63 cents per ounce in 1897, tarnished Calico’s reputation as a silver mecca. The 1893 repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act and the ensuing depression prompted closure of nearly all the mines, leaving the borax operations as the sole income earners.

During its heyday Calico claimed several notable characters. In the 1880s Postmaster Everett “Bill” Stacy and brother Alwin trained a Border collie named Dorsey to deliver mail between the post office and Alwin’s store at the Bismarck diggings— a story recounted, with embellishment, in a 1977 Wonderful World of Disney episode titled “Go West, Young Dog.” Prospector Annie Kline Townsend, who supported a young daughter, claimed to have carried dispatches for the Confederate Secret Service. Calico residents and mine owners Robert Whitney Waterman and Henry Harrison Markham served consecutively as California governors between 1887 and 1895.

Calico’s population plummeted through the first half of the 20th century, until Walter Knott—a local miner and homesteader—bought the town in 1951. Thinking Calico’s history might serve as a tourist draw between Barstow and Las Vegas, Knott envisioned a family park providing such activities as gold panning and horseback riding, and lodging modeled after late 19th-century hotels. But instead of developing a theme park, Knott channeled restoration efforts, and in 1966 he donated the 480-acre property to San Bernardino County as a regional park [cms.sbcounty.gov/parks]. Knott ultimately built an amusement park— Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park—with a ghost town modeled after Calico.

Today Calico is registered as California Historical Landmark No. 782. The park is open daily (adults, $8; ages 6–15, $5; 5 and under, free) and features mining demonstrations, tours and a museum, among other attractions.

Originally published in the June 2014 issue of Wild West . To subscribe, click here .

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Calico Ghost Town

Ohv guide – calico ghost town odessa and mule canyon.

1881 marked the beginning of one of the largest silver strikes in California history and the birth of Calico. This authentic silver mining town lives on as one of the few original mining camps of the Old West.

http://www.calicotown.com/index.php

Located about 15 miles north of Barstow off Interstate 15, Exit Ghost Town Road or Calico Road and head North to Staging Areas. You can either head up Odessa Canyon or Mule Canyon from the main highway, from those two canyons you can dry camp and ride

GPS Positions and Pictures:

Calico Ghost Town and Adjacent Canyons High Quality Pictures

california ghost town calico

Past Trips:

Calico Mines April 24, 2008

Calico February 2004

General Information:

  • Safety is always first in all activities. PACK IN / PACK OUT. Littering of any kind punishable by law. Please use common sense when shooting. Shooting is not allowed in Calico Regional Park or Odessa Canyon (1st large canyon east of Calico Ghost Town campground). Shooting is allowed in all other parts of the Calico Mountains. It is illegal to shoot across any road or trail or from any vehicle. Shooting at glass or other breakable items that will cause litter is illegal. You must shoot into a solid soft background. Please remove all targets and shooting debris when finished.
  • OHV riding is allowed but restricted to existing open roads only in the Calico Mountains. Hill climbs, riding in the mud hill areas, and across open desert not on a road is illegal. Green or Red Stickers are required on all Off Highway Vehicles (38010 CVC). Green stickers are valid year round. Red stickers are limited to ride only October through June. You must were a helmet at all times (38505 CVC). No operator of an all-terrain vehicle shall carry a passenger while operating on public lands (38506 CVC). Maximum speed is 35mph on open roads. Maximum speed limit is 15mph in or near any campground unless otherwise posted. (Slower speed limits may be posted.) It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of alcohol or any drug to drive a vehicle on or off-road (23152a CVC).
  • No mine is stable or safe. Exploring mines is not recommended and may put you and others into a dangerous and life threatening position. Many vertical shafts exist that you may fall into. Some mines are on private property and exploring these mines is trespassing.
  • Horses, hikers, and non-motorized vehicles have the right-of-way over all motorized vehicles. Jeeps have the right of way over ATVs and motorcycles.
  • All campfires must be built inside of a campfire ring. Please keep all campfires to a reasonable size. No burning of objects that create toxic fumes.
  • Barstow BLM Office, Monday – Friday (760) 252-6000. Emergency – Dial 911

More on Odessa Canyon and Mule Canyon information coming Soon!

TheTravel

10 Must-Visit Historical Ghost Towns Of The American West

  • The historic ghost towns in the American West, such as Grafton and Garnet, offer eerie tourist attractions with a spooky history.
  • These American West ghost towns were once thriving settlements, but economic decline led to their abandonment.
  • Visitors can explore well-preserved buildings and learn about the past of each of these historic ghost towns in the US through self-guided or guided tours.

In bustling towns, laughter fills the air, and the streets teem with life as people go about their daily routines. On the other hand, ghost towns paint a different picture, where deserted streets, abandoned structures, and eerie silence prove that not everything that once thrived has a happy ending. Still, the idea of touring one is oddly satisfying, especially when it has a spooky history tied to it.

The deserted towns of the American West, including the ghost towns in Arizona , make eerie tourist attractions. The history of these old American ghost towns followed a similar path, where they experienced impeccable growth before their source of income, whether mining or farming, declined and the settlements dissipated. Whatever their story, these are some of the many must-visit historic ghost towns of the American West for that paranormal thrill.

Related: 10 Incredible Ghost Towns In Canada To Explore Today

Grafton, Utah

When it was completely abandoned: 1944.

History and breathtaking natural beauty define the once-bustling town of Grafton . Located in Utah near the renowned Zion National Park , Grafton dates back to 1859 when several families cooperated to do agriculture and build homes. Unfortunately, the community suffered raging floods and relocated from their original settlement to the current townsite between 1862 and 1866.

Although the last known resident moved away from the town in 1944, travelers still explore the ghost town of Grafton, which is also the most photographed ghost town of the West . Here, visitors can discover a cemetery and well-preserved buildings, including a schoolhouse constructed in 1886, the 1888 Adobe Russell Home, and the 1907 Ballard Home, among others.

  • Date Founded: 1859
  • Admission Fee: Free
  • Open: Year-round

Garnet, Montana

When it was completely abandoned: early 1940s.

Garnet was once home to about 1,000 people when the gold mining business was booming. This charming town had profitable years in the 1890s as the Nancy Hank Mine worked on and off until the Montana School of Mines declared it dead by 1960. An enormous fire burned nearly half of Garnet and drove it into disrepair until restoration works began in the 1970s. By this time, there was no one to call it home, as miners had to seek employment elsewhere.

Currently, this ghost town boasts over 30 well-preserved buildings, which visitors wander into as they enjoy the Old West Town vibe. While here, travelers can start exploring at the Visitor Center to check out memorabilia before proceeding to the self-guided trails with interpretive signs.

  • Date Founded: 1860s
  • Admission Fee: $3 for adults; Free for visitors under 16 years
  • Visitor Center opening hours: Daily from late May through September from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The route leading to Garnet, just after Bear Gulch Road, is steep, narrow, and bumpy, so it's not suitable for RVs and trailers.

Kennecott, Alaska

When it was completely abandoned: 1938.

Kennecott ghost town still fascinates people with its history . It became a thriving mining town when the Kennecott Mining Corporation came to life in 1903 and established five copper mines. The corporation drew miners with higher salaries and produced about $200 million worth of ore before depleting.

By 1938, Kennecott’s mining successes were history as it became a ghost town, leaving iconic buildings such as the Concentration Mill as a testament to its financial and mining prowess. Tourists tour the ghost town on self-guided tours by following the National Park Service Map or taking an immersive guided tour with St. Elias Guides .

  • Date Founded: 1903
  • Admission Fee: St. Elias Alpine Guides charge Adults (13+) $34 and Children(12-) $17 to access the 14-story Concentration Mill

St. Elias Alpine Guides offers tours from late May to early September

Related: Living History: Inside The Ghost Towns That Are Still Considered 'Home' Today

Rhyolite, Nevada

When it was completely abandoned: 1924.

Rhyolite is a historic ghost town in Nevada with hauntings and legends to explore . It traces its roots back to 1904 when prospectors Shorty Harris and E. L. Cross discovered quartz. The establishment of the Montgomery Shoshone Mine brought more people to the town, who built hotels, a school, stores, two electric plants, and a hospital.

Unfortunately, financial panic brought Rhyolite to its knees as mines ceased operating, banks failed, and mill production slowed, leading to a decrease in population. While walking around town, travelers find remnants of Rhyolite's past, such as the Bottle House, the train depot, and parts of the old jail and bank.

  • Date Founded: 1904
  • Open: Year-round from sunrise to sunset

Melmont, Washington

When it was completely abandoned: in the early 1920s.

Melmont is another American West ghost town in Pierce County, Washington, founded in the early 1900s when the Northwest Improvement Company set up a coal mine in the area. Although little of Melmont’s bustling days remain today, it had a train depot, a saloon, miners’ cottages, a hotel, and a post office.

Melmont gained ghost town status when the mines ceased operating in the early 1920s, and a forest fire raged over what remained. However, an easy hike through the townsite exposes travelers to an old shed used to store dynamite, the foundation of a schoolhouse, and wall structures.

  • Date Founded: 1900

Golden, Oregon

When it was completely abandoned: 1920s.

Golden is one of the many must-visit American West ghost towns; it was abandoned in the 1920s and is known for its fascinating history of building churches instead of saloons like other mining towns. This town dates back to the early 80s when small placer mines found small amounts of gold. However, the Americans who founded the camp pursued greener pastures, and Chinese miners took over, but the founders drove them out years later.

By the 1890s, Golden was a true mining town as hydraulic operations stripped gold off the streams. Today, ghost town enthusiasts stroll around Golden to explore the restored structures, including a former home, a church, a building that housed a store and a post office, and a shed.

  • Date Founded: In the 1890s

Bonanza, Idaho

When it was completely abandoned: around 1910.

Bonanza was the first community settlement in the Yankee Fork area in 1877. By 1881, the population had grown to approximately 600, and the town had a tin shop and a saloon where miners came to celebrate and socialize. However, a fire burned much of Bonanza in 1889, resulting in most residents moving to the nearby town of Custer.

Mining idleness also contributed to its abandonment, but the construction of a gold dredge in 1939 brought new life before collapsing again. The dredge is open seasonally for tours, and a few remaining buildings await history buffs to discover during a walking tour.

  • Date Founded: 1877
  • Open: Summer, Spring, & Fall

Related: Shaniko: Visiting What Is Possibly Oregon's Coolest Ghost Town

Miner's Delight, Wyoming

Miner's Delight is one of Wyoming's earliest towns, founded when miners discovered gold in the area in around 1867. The town offers insight into the state's early history, gold mining culture, and resilience after producing more than $5 million worth of gold ore despite facing closures and the Great Depression.

The townsite preserves several cabins, including one with rusting iron equipment such as an old stove and iron box screens. Travelers access Miner's Delight via a 0.25-mile-long walking trail near Fort Stambaugh Road.

  • Date Founded: 1867

Calico, California

When it was completely abandoned: 1907.

Calico is an old mining town in San Bernardino County, California, established in 1881 due to the discovery of silver ore. However, silver lost value and pushed miners to desert Calico in the 1890s. Subsequently, Calico lost its luster, but Walter Knott bought it in the 1950s and restored the buildings to their former glory.

Today, this town is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks, and tourists come here to explore its intriguing history at the Lucy Lane Museum, which displays Calico's relics and old photographs. The Maggie Mine also allows travelers to explore Calico's mining history through its exhibits and displays. Aside from such exhibits, Calico is full of spooks that make it famous .

  • Date Founded: 1881
  • Admission Fee: Adults 12 & over - $10; Youth ages 4 to 11 - $5; Ages 3 and under - Free admission
  • Open: Daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Note: Each attraction within Calico charges a different fee

Goldfield, Arizona

When it was completely abandoned: 1898.

During its heyday in the 1890s, Goldfield had three lively saloons, a schoolhouse, a brewery, a general store, and thriving mines. Unfortunately, the grade of ore dropped, and the once bustling community became what is today one of the many Western ghost towns to visit, despite efforts to revive the mines.

Today, this ghost town is a hub for travelers seeking an authentic Wild West adventure as they can witness gunfights performed by the Goldfield Gunfighters from high noon. Additionally, tourists can explore the town's mining history during the Goldfield Mine Tours, led by guides narrating Goldfield's heritage, gold mining procedures, and equipment.

  • Date Founded: 1892
  • Open: Year-round except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Each attraction charges a different fee in this town.

10 Must-Visit Historical Ghost Towns Of The American West

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COMMENTS

  1. Calico, California

    Calico is a ghost town and former mining town in San Bernardino County, California, United States. Located in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert region of Southern California, it was founded in 1881 as a silver mining town, and was later converted into a county park named Calico Ghost Town.

  2. Calico Ghost Town

    Visitors from around the world come to Calico each year to experience a real ghost town originally settled in the 1880s.A hive of activity for the adventurous at heart - the park hosts the Mystery Shack- a crooked house where water runs uphill, two museums, narrow-gauge train rides and gold panning.Calico was founded during California's largest ...

  3. Calico Ghost Town Regional Park

    Calico received State Historical Landmark 782 and in 2005 was proclaimed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be California's Silver Rush Ghost Town. Today, Calico is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system, which is visited by people from across the country and from all over the world.

  4. The Ultimate Guide to Calico Ghost Town, in California

    Somewhere on the long desert drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, lies Calico, one of the most popular ghost towns on Route 66, in California. At least for me. But not everybody shares my opinion. For ghost town devotees, Calico is this over-commercialized town that plays to idealistic Old West stereotypes.

  5. Calico Attraction

    Calico Attractions Calico Ghost Town is open daily from 9-5, except Christmas Day. The attractions have a separate fee from the entrance fee. Our Attractions Special Events The Attractions are located within Calico Ghost Town, which is operated by San Bernardino County Regional Parks.

  6. Calico Ghost Town

    Calico in Southern California is the ghost of an Old West mining town that boomed in the 1880s, and went bust only 12 years later when the price of silver plummeted. At its height, this...

  7. CALICO GHOST TOWN

    Calico Ghost Town 3.9 (475 reviews) Unclaimed Parks Closed 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM See hours See all 2.7k photos Today is a holiday! Business hours may be different today. Write a review Add photo Show more review highlights Location & Hours Suggest an edit 36600 Ghost Town Rd Yermo, CA 92398 Get directions You Might Also Consider Sponsored

  8. Visit the Calico Ghost Town in the Mojave Desert- Hidden CA

    Calico Ghost Town is open year around with the exception of Christmas day. If you are in doubt, I would advise you to go. The town has special appeal to those interested in California history or mining, and there are enough trinkets and goodies for sale to keep the shopper occupied for a few hours.

  9. Things to Do in Calico Ghost Town: Attractions and History

    In California, there are multiple ghost towns (we have already talked about Bodie, one of the best-preserved towns), and today we talk about Calico, also known as Calico Ghost Town, a mining town near Barstow. Calico is a perfect intermediate stop for those traveling from Los Angeles to La Vegas.

  10. Calico Ghost Town Townsite, California

    Calico received State Historical Landmark 782 and in 2005 was proclaimed by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be California's Silver Rush Ghost Town. Today, Calico is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system, which is visited by people from across the country and from all over the world.

  11. CALICO GHOST TOWN: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go ...

    Visitors from around the world come to Calico each year to experience a real ghost town originally settled in the 1880s.A hive of activity for the adventurous at heart - the park hosts the Mystery Shack- a crooked house where water runs uphill, two museums, narrow-gauge train rides and gold panning.Calico was founded during California's largest silver strike.

  12. Calico Ghost Town: 6 Best Things to Do in the Old West

    Outside of general roaming, there are a bunch of other things to do and attractions to see. 1. Check Out the Many Shops & Historic Sites. Scattered throughout Calico are numerous shops and historic sites to visit. Shops selling all kinds of trinkets, antiques, candy, western clothing, and more.

  13. Calico, California

    Three miles north of Interstate-15, midway between Barstow and Yermo, California, sits the historic and restored ghost town of Calico, California. It all began in 1875 when roving prospectors first found silver on the south slope of the Calico Mountains.

  14. Calico Ghost Town: Old Mining Town Turned into Tourist Attraction in

    Calico Ghost Town: Old Mining Town Turned into Tourist Attraction in Yermo On the long desert drive to Las Vegas, one of the most exciting places you can stop is the famous mining town known as Calico Ghost Town. This town is a unique representation of the history of California mining, and it is a great place to explore with the whole family.

  15. See the adventures awaiting you in California's Calico ghost town

    California's Calico ghost town invites you on a desert adventure Grae Gleason November 2, 2023 11:09 AM PT Back in the 1880s, silver miners found work and built homes in the desert town...

  16. Calico Ghost Town, California

    Calico is a ghost town that was formerly a mining town in San Bernardino County, California, in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert. In 1881, prospectors moved from nearby areas to Calico mountain and discovered silver. Upon discovery of silver, the town came into existence and flourished due to heavy mining operations.

  17. California's 8 Best Ghost Towns to Visit

    Calico is one of the easiest California ghost towns to get to, just off Interstate Highway 15 between Barstow and Las Vegas. Calico's 1881 silver strike was the largest in California history. The price of silver declined in 1896, and by 1904, it was abandoned. Walter Knott, who also started Knott's Berry Farm, purchased Calico in the 1950s. He ...

  18. Calico

    CALICO. For the most colorful of the natural surroundings of any ghost town, Calico is the place to visit. It gets its name from the myriad of colors that are part of the mountains which are the backdrop for the town. There is none other like it. Walter Knott who worked the mines in 1910 has restored the town.

  19. Calico Days

    Celebrating the rich history of California's Silver Rush, Calico Ghost Town events are held to commemorate its mining past and historical significance. Calico Days is a weekend experience revisiting life in the Old West during the 1800s.

  20. California's Calico Ghost Town: Where History Meets Adventure

    A Quintessential Old West Mining Town. Calico boasts a history just as rich as its residents once were: in 1881, this classic old West mining town was a booming hot spot for silver, attracting over 1,200 silver-searching residents and acting as the center of over 500 nearby mines. Calico was nearly abandoned when silver lost its value in the ...

  21. Visiting Calico Ghost Town, California

    One unique destination that showcases California's rich history is Calico Ghost Town. Tucked away in the Mojave Desert, Calico Ghost Town offers visitors a glimpse into the past, allowing them to step back in time and experience the Wild West.

  22. Ghost Town: Calico, California

    Ghost Town: Calico, California by Ramon Vasconcellos 3/2/2017 Drivers will find no Walmarts, malls or suburban enclaves along I-15 between Barstow, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Folded mountains line the horizon, and scattered Joshua trees populate the desert—pretty much the extent of scenery along this stretch.

  23. Calico Ghost Town

    Info: 1881 marked the beginning of one of the largest silver strikes in California history and the birth of Calico. This authentic silver mining town lives on as one of the few original mining camps of the Old West. http://www.calicotown.com/index.php Location:

  24. The Ultimate Off-Road Guide to Calico Ghost Town

    Drive to Ghost Town Rd. Directions from Phoenix, AZ: (approx. 6 hrs.) Get on I-10 W. Follow I-10 W to Vicksburg Rd in La Paz County. Take exit 45 from I-10 W. Get on I-40 W/US-95 N in Needles from AZ-72 W and CA-62 W. Follow I-40 W to A St in Daggett. Take exit 7 from I-40 W. Follow Daggett-Yermo Rd to Ghost Town Rd.

  25. priceless™

    Embark on an immersive group tour of California's Calico Ghost Town. Join family and friends for an expert-led excursion to an abandoned 19th-century town that flourished during the silver rush and was restored in the 1950s. You'll see its old silver mine, try your hand at panning for gold, and ride on a classic train car at the old Odessa ...

  26. 10 Must-Visit Historical Ghost Towns Of The American West

    Calico is an old mining town in San Bernardino County, California, established in 1881 due to the discovery of silver ore. However, silver lost value and pushed miners to desert Calico in the 1890s.