Where ghost towns, hauntings and alien sightings abound
From abandoned towns to unsolved mysteries and paranormal encounters, Nevada’s rugged Silver Trails Territory is an otherworldly destination. As home to Death Valley National Park and an abundance of scenic state parks, the region offers an eerily beautiful backdrop to its mystery-laden attractions. Travel the Extraterrestrial Highway and see what awaits along these desolate and dusty desert roads.
Stepping Into Ghost Towns
In the mid-1800s, Nevada buzzed with prospectors seeking riches of gold and silver. As deposits depleted, mining towns disappeared almost overnight. Fans of abandoned places will keep their cameras and imaginations busy touring ghost towns like Rhyolite and ruins of the town bank, a train depot, a house built from 50,000 beer and liquor bottles and the Goldwell Open Air Museum, a sculpture park with a haunting rendition of the Last Supper. Explore the semi-ghost town of Belmont to see miners’ cabins, the old chimney of the Monitor-Belmont Mill and the intact 1876 courthouse, a Nevada State Historic Site. In nearby Manhattan, a “living” ghost town with a population of 125, look for the steel vault still standing in a crumbling bank building and the wooden church that was allegedly stolen from Belmont.
Eerie and artistic rendition of the Last Supper in the Goldwell Open Air Museum
Mysteries in the Desert
There’s something about the vast, uninhabited desert landscape that opens the mind to mystery. Starting in the 1920s, prospectors and miners claimed to have found a network of tunnels filled with catacombs, mummies and a mysterious city inhabited by ancient people beneath the desert. Paiute Indians have long told a similar story – the legend of Shin-au-av, a subterranean desert kingdom. At the remote Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, a huge, dried-out lakebed is latticed with the tracks of “sailing stones” – massive rocks weighing upward of 300 kilos that mysteriously slide across the cracked desert floor.
The eerie International Car Forest, a roadside attraction in Goldfield
Visit Haunted Hotels
In Pioche, Nevada, an authentic Old West outpost, you might encounter otherworldly spirits at the Overland Hotel & Saloon, featured on Travel Channel’s TV series “Ghost Adventures.” When gold was discovered in Goldfield in 1902, it grew into the largest city in Nevada. It’s sparsely populated now, but the long-shuttered Goldfield Hotel is a favorite among paranormal investigators searching for ghostly apparitions.
The Mizpah Hotel – in the high desert former mining town of Tonopah – dates to 1907 and was also featured on “Ghost Adventures.” While still rumored be haunted, today’s Mizpah Hotel is also appreciated for its modern amenities and beautifully restored elegance. It’s an ideal basecamp for enjoying Tonopah’s dark night skies, mining history and nearby ghost towns.
The Mizpah Hotel, a recently renovated historic hotel known for its haunted reputation
Travel the Extraterrestrial Highway
Area 51, a top-secret, heavily guarded U.S. Air Force facility, has been the epicenter of alien intrigue for decades. You can get close to it if you drive State Route 375, also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway. Stretching from Crystal Springs to Warm Springs, both of which are ghost towns, this isolated, 158-kilometer road is dotted with tiny desert outposts and reaches the outskirts of Area 51. Stop in the town of Rachel, nicknamed the UFO Capital of the World, to order an Alien Burger at the Little A’Le’Inn. Ask the locals about their ET experiences, and you’ll be convinced the area is frequented by visitors from beyond.