• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    1.1 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    118 Feet

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

The hike to Rhyolite Ghost Town is a 1.1 mile trail offering scenic, desert views and the chance to explore a historically rich ghost town.

Just outside of Death Valley National Park, Rhyolite is 35 miles from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center on the way to Beatty, Nevada. Rhyolite Ghost Town is a result of the gold rush in Nevada. The town was very lively, with active citizens who enjoyed baseball games, dances, basket socials, tennis, a symphony, Sunday school picnics, basketball games, Saturday night variety shows at the opera house and pool tournaments. 

The town's peak time was around 1906. By 1907 the town had electricity and over 4000 residents. However, it was not to last as most towns in the Death Valley area found out. Mines dried up and with that failure came the demise of a town.  The immediate area had over 2000 claims. But a claim doesn't mean gold. The situation steadily declined and by 1916, the power company shut down and that was the end.

Probablythe most photographed building at Rhyolite is the Cook Bank. The building was built by J.S. Cook and cost $90,000 in 1908. There were two other banks in town but with the decline of the mines in the area failing to produce any gold, all three closed in 1910.  The Post Office also operated out of the bank and was the last business to close in 1913.

The train depot is the most preserved building in Rhyolite and now has a fence surrounding it to prevent vandalism. The depot was built in 1906 to service the Las Vegas and Tonopah line. Trains stopped arriving in 1916 but that didn't stop the use of the Depot. Over the years the depot changed ownership several times. During that time it served as a home, boarding house, casino/bar, a gift shop and even as a church.  Its a shame the fence is up but a guess a necessity.

Located behind the jail in Rhyolite is a fenced in grave where Isabella Haskins was laid to rest. According to the museum in town, Isabella's real name was Sarah Isabella Peters. The story about Isabella is that she became a prostitute to bail her boyfriend out of jail. This reputation stayed with her. One night her boyfriend beat her up in the local saloon. Later that night he shot her 4 times at their home. He claimed self defense but was found guilty of murder. The respectable people of Rhyolite protested against her being buried in the Rhyolite cemetery so it was behind the jail for her final resting spot.
 
Rhyolite also has a museum, the Goldwell Open Air Museum. It is a small shack house with some souvenirs and historical photos with stories inside. Outside is an array of art work created by Belgium artists. The most prominent was Albert Szukalski. Around the building you will see white ghostly figures. A very interesting sight. Szukalski used people from nearby Beatty to model as he molded the shrouds.

On the outskirts of town, down a dusty dirt road is the cemetery for Rhyolite. Definitely an eerie place not only because its a cemetery but in the middle of the desert and Rhyolite being a "Ghost Town" created a strange feeling. It was interesting walking through the cemetery. Thinking of how the people lived their life as miners in this harsh environment. There is a bronze plaque at the entrance that reads "This enduring bronze is placed here to the blessed memory of those that sleep herein; and to the remembrance of all others who came this way and opened up this great Nevada desert mining-world by those who cared....April 1959"  Another strange thing here is that there is a picnic table. Not sure who would want to have a picnic at the cemetery. There is absolutely no trees or shade. There is a small wood sign directing you to the cemetery as you approach town.

Pack List

  • Sun protection (hat, sunscreen)
  • Water (3 liters per person)
  • light Hiking boots, hiking socks (wool), trekking poles
  • Snacks
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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