10 Spooky Ghost Towns in Idaho

If you’ve read any of my other Idaho posts, you know that there is much more to Idaho than just potatoes. With beautiful mountain ranges, crystal clear alpine lakes, rolling hills, and winding rivers, Idaho truly has it all.

Yet, one of the unique parts of this state that doesn’t get mentioned as often is the haunted, desolate mining ghost towns in Idaho.

These ghost towns once boomed with activity and riches of gold, lead, and silver. However, most of them drastically declined in profit and population and became ghost towns.

Idaho has a surprising number of documented ghost towns waiting for you to check out. Furthermore, each ghost town located in Idaho is under the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. Forest Service. So these departments have preserved each ghost mining town’s bountiful history and ecosystem. They are now open to the public as tourist attractions.

In this article, I’ve listed each ghost town located in Idaho and some of them are great road trips from Boise. On top of that, I’ve also included history and fun exploration tips. Some of these areas have a lot to explore and others are just dilapidated buildings. Take a chance and step into the account of Idaho’s rich and haunting mining ghost towns.

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Ghost Towns in Idaho
desolate mining ghost towns in Idaho.
Ghost Towns in Idaho
Ghost Towns in Idaho Guide

Ghosts Towns in Idaho

You can find most of these ghost towns in the middle of nowhere. So, come prepared to each ghost town with the following items:

Silver City Ghost Town

Silver City Ghost Town in Idaho

Silver City is one of the few mining towns from the 1800 and 1900s that has not been commercialized, restructured, or burned down. This rugged and mountainous ghost town will definitely make you feel like you took a  leap back in time.

Although they look no longer in business (you’ll have to go to find out when you go), Sinker Creek Outfitters is a great place to learn the area’s history on horseback through the mountains surrounding Silver City. So let me know if they are still around when you go! Sometimes small towns in Idaho don’t always have great information on the web. So you just have to see for yourself.

Are you looking for mineral samples? Check out Pat’s What Not Shop, where you can buy mineral samples mined from Silver City along with other souvenirs. If you’re also trying to stay the night, you might want to stay at the potentially haunted historic Idaho Hotel

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Silver City Ghost Town

Idaho City

Idaho City gold rush
Boise Basin gold rush

Idaho City was founded in 1862 after the Boise Basin gold rush. It was the next gold rush boom after the California gold rush. After the gold rush ended, the population declined to about 100 around 1920. See my complete guide on what to do with a day in Idaho City. It’s an easy day trip from Boise!

Idaho City is a place you’ll never forget. You can trace the imprints of desperadoes in the walls of the old jailhouse cells. Or, check out Boise Basin Museum’s antiques, souvenirs, and memorabilia of the gold rush era. Don’t miss taking a pit stop at The Springs at Idaho City for a nice hot spring soak.

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Idaho City Ghost Town

Wallace, Idaho

Wallace

On a 100-year run as the largest silver producer globally, Wallace, Idaho, is still the wealthiest mining town! Nowadays, this town engages tourists with its adaptation in producing the world’s largest ATV, mountain bike, and snowmobile trail system.

Take a step into the life of a miner by booking a guided tour underground. After that, soak in the fresh air and beautiful mountainous scenery. Then, check out the historic mine and bordello museums! While you’re downtown, visit the “Center of the Universe” plaque in the middle of 6th street in downtown Wallace. No one has debunked this statement, so perhaps it actually is the center of the Universe!

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Wallace, Idaho

Bayhorse Ghost Town

Bayhorse

Visiting the ghost town of Bayhorse, located near Idaho’s Salmon River, you’ll note the ovens visible on the dusty main street. These ovens were utilized to create charcoal used for the smelter. Once a lively community with 300 – 500 in the 1860s it is now uninhabited. 

This town is a small loop limited to about 0.9 miles in a canyon. You can also hike up the mountain to a nearby mine.

If you’d instead enjoy this town off your feet, there are ATVs and dirt bikes available to rent out for anyone that has a need for speed. At Big Bayhorse Lake, bring a blanket and a picnic basket to soak in the views and fresh air of this dainty little ghost town. Or, get your kayak or canoe and you can bask in the ambiance on the water!

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Bayhorse Ghost Town

Yankee Fork Area (Custer, Bonanza, and Yankee Fork Gold Dredge)

Yankee Fork Area (Custer, Bonanza, and Yankee Fork Gold Dredge)
Yankee Fork Area Bonanza
Yankee Fork Gold Dredge

Out of all the dredges, the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge is officially the best preserved out of them all. Yankee Fork Valley was invested in by a company out of New York and was estimated to have around 11 million dollars worth of gold. In 1966, the gold dredge was donated to the U.S. Forest Service. And since 1980, it has been opened to the public for self-guided tours.

Yankee Fork hosts three ghost towns—Bayhorse (provided previously), Custer, and Bonanza. After being successfully restored, the ghost town of Custer has been opened to the public during the summer months. You can reserve an appointment for a guided tour. On the other hand, Bonanza has not yet been restored and is marketed as more of a traditional-type of ghost town.

Bonanza is known as the first significant settlement in the Yankee Fork area, founded around 1877. Unfortunately, in 1889, a fire wiped out most of Bonanza. This caused many people to settle and relocate to Custer. The ghost town of Custer was deserted after the mining industry declined in the area. Today it boasts the Empire Saloon, a schoolhouse, and select cabins.

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Burke

Burke

Who doesn’t love a railroad running through the hotel lobby?

The ghost town of Burke—and honestly, let’s blame whoever thought this to be a grand idea—was built and constructed in a narrow canyon. The limited space forced city planners to build the winding railroad through the narrow town and through the town’s hotel lobby, the Tiger Hotel!

This town’s architecture and structure are known to be comically and intrinsically fascinating. In addition, while touring around, you’ll find holes carved into the hillsides. This is where past residents built their homes due to limited space and placement.

WARNING: Do not go into the caves and don’t go into any dwellings, buildings, or homes. This ghost town obtained its “ghost” prerogative for a reason. In fact, there have been notable paranormal activities discovered in this area. Visit at your own risk!

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Burke

Gilmore (Lemhi County)

Gilmore (Lemhi County)

This ghost town was mined for silver and lead and settled in 1878. Like most mining towns, Gilmore’s activity and population also steadily decreased over time. Still, during the Great Depression, a power plant exploded, signaling the finality of the mining town of Gilmore. To this day, only eight structures, including a desolated post office, remain standing.

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Gilmore (Lemhi County)

Placerville

Placerville

Only a select few historical buildings remain in this ghost town of Placerville. There are only two active museums open to this day where you can soak in the history of this old ghost mining town. 

The Mercantile was one of the first stores in the town. In the basement, you’ll find a solitary jail cell. This cell didn’t get much use, however. More often, criminals were prosecuted with a deadly bullet or the stinging swing of an unrelenting rope.

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Placerville

De Lamar

De Lamar

This ghost town is located in Owyhee County, and it was named after Captain Joseph Raphael De Lamar. In fact, he was known for being a sea captain and miner. De Lamar was listed as a historic district in 1976 on the National Register of Historic Places.

Unfortunately, the small town of De Lamar could only contribute four abandoned buildings to the cause. However, this old ragged mining town contributed and boasted $8 million of silver in its short-lived thriving period.

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De Lamar

Rocky Bar

Rocky Bar

Like a few mining ghost towns, Rocky Bar never fully recovered after an unrelenting fire destroyed much of the village in 1892. There are ragged, old structures stubbornly standing in this ghost town. But luckily, some residents have attempted to preserve its remnants.

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Rocky Bar

Wrapping Up: Ghost Towns in Idaho

Boise Basin Museum
Ghost Towns in Idaho
Ghost Towns in Idaho
Ghost Towns in Idaho

If you haven’t gotten enough ghosts, check out the Ghost Walk in Idaho Falls to learn the history of Idaho Falls and the spirits still haunting downtown buildings! Also, be sure to check out my post all about a day trip to Idaho City

Whether tempting fate or convincing yourself that you’re going for historical purposes, ghost towns are a daring travel spot for your next planned trip. But be wary of paranormal activity in these places—notably the ghost town of Burke—for these ghosts may not be so forgiving. In addition, check out the stunning mountainsides at Silver City or the lakeside views of the ghost town, Bayhorse. Soak in the history of each mining town, the cultivation of dredges, trains, mines, and more.

Share this article, “Ghost Towns in Idaho,” with friends and family to plan your next weekend trip. But don’t forget the most important note of all—don’t stay out after dark! 😉

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Guide to Ghost Towns in Idaho
Ghost Towns in Idaho to visit
Ghost Towns in Idaho to visit

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