The Best Ghost Towns in Idaho

Published: July 7, 2014

The best Ghost Towns and Old West sites in Idaho! These are towns rife with folklore and legend and full of history. Many still boast old mines and buildings. The towns selected each have something unique about them, sure pique your interest and quell your thirst for adventure. Towns are included on the list by virtue of unique legend and history, fame, things to do, and their importance to state history.

  1. Silver City

    Silver City is located in Owyhee County, Idaho. Founded in 1864, it grew up around a silver mine in the nearby War Eagle Mountain. Silver City experienced a boom in growth in the early 1860s to the late 1870s, due rich silver and gold mines. Silver City was never fully abandoned, and you can even stay in the old Idaho Hotel which is said to be haunted. Are you brave enough to stay the night?

     

     

  2. Chesterfield

    Chesterfield is located between Lava Hot Springs, Idaho and Soda Springs, Idah, and was founded in 1880 by Mormon pioneers. It was declared fully abandoned 100 years later. Around 27 buildings remain, many of which are original, including the old dancing hall, where you can still dance today.

    Legend says a creature we would now call a Bigfoot was spotted here in 1902! If Bigfoot hunting isn't your thing, the area boasts wonderful fishing, dances in the old restored dance hall, and plenty of hiking in addition to many restored old buildings which now serve as museums to the public.

     

     

  3. Rocky Bar

    Founded in 1863 after the discovery of gold in the nearby Feather River. It was abandoned in 1864 by all but one quirky character: Charles Spittles. Rocky Bar was home to many quirky characters over the years including Mr. Spittles and Peg Leg Annie. You can still visit many of their homes, and several other old buildings still remain.

    Interested in buying a ghost town? Rocky Bar went up for sale in 2007 and sold for nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Whether you want to buy or just visit, there is plenty of hiking and history to be had here at Rocky Bar.

     

  4. Idaho City

    Idaho City was founded in the early 1860s near Boise and went bust by 1870. It suffered through many diseases and fires, so only some buildings built after 1860 survived.  Idaho City is considered a living ghost town, still inhabited by many people, and many of the buildings have been restored by the residents.

    You can pay a visit to the old mercantile store and buy souvenirs, or pay your respects at the crumbling cemeteries. A wonderfully intact little town, there is plenty to keep you busy!

     

  5. Albion

    Albion was founded in the late 1800s, and currently has about 264 year-round citizens. Albion was home to the Albion State Normal School, which trained teachers until the program was moved to Idaho State University in the 50s.

    Many of the original buildings cannot be visited, due to asbestos.

    Sound a little boring? As is typical of wonderful Idaho towns, you can hike, fish, and often find plenty of interesting things to do.

     

  6. Caribou City

    Let this town founded in 1897 capture your imagination! It's mostly unpreserved, with most buildings crumbling and decrepit. So what's to do here? Scavenger hunt for old artifacts and mining equipment abandoned along the hillsides. Be sure to pack a picnic and enjoy the scenic view from Caribou City!

  7. Moose City

    Feeling adventurous? Tackle a local legend. Very little is known about this little town, which has sat abandoned since the late 1800s.

    Pack for a long hike and appropriate clothing. Be sure to carry lots of water and wear comfortable boots. You're in for a bit of hunt!

    The last record of the town is on a map from 1882.... some people have claimed to have located the site via GPS, but found nothing in the area. Do you think you can fare better? Is Moose City still around? Good luck!

  8. Bonanza and Custer

    Bonanza and Custer were abanonded by the early 1920s, but you can still visit many old buildings. The local government has worked to restore many of these buildings to their former glory. You can view two old cemeteries to the west of Bonanza, and the town now boasts a self-paced walking tour! You can drive right up the town, and it doesn't take much hiking to enjoy the site. It feels a bit more touristy than some of the other ghost towns here, but it is still full of history and interesting things to see.

  9. Burgdorf

    Burgdorf, near McCall, Idaho, is mostly abandoned, though it still has a few residents who maintain the resort area. Since it's founding in the early 1800s, people have come to the area to enjoy the natural mineral springs. The old hotel built in 1903 serves as a museum and tourist center, and you can still view a few original buildings. Enjoy a dose of history and some theraputic hot soaks!

  10. Mount Idaho

    Just off the highway you can visit Mount Idaho, one of the earliest cities in Idaho, built sometime around 1860. The town boasted a hotel turned hospital, a post office and a stage line in addition to a toll road. Many of the original buildings remain and are open to the public.

    Cemetary buffs will appreciate the graveyard on the property, one of the town's most interesting sites.

     

Silver City is the best tourist location, easy to get to, plenty to see and do. The other cities have interesting folklore and legend, and plenty to keep the imagination occupied. Whether you want to soak in the hot springs in Burgdorf, hunt Bigfoot in Chesterfield, search for the long lost Moose City, or brave the haunted Idaho Hotel, there is plenty for everyone to see or do. Idaho is a rural state with beautiful natural resources you can enjoy as you adventure through Idaho's history.

Be sure to visit ghosttowns.com for even more ghost towns in Idaho and other states, and pay a visit to the Idaho Museum of Natural History or one of the many museums in Boise and other areas for more tourist information and information on local ghost towns.