Ghost towns in Southern California are creepier because they are renovated, which makes every ghost town more thrilling and haunted than ever before.
With the population growth in Southern California, the expanse of visiting places is also noticeable.
You might know Southern California is more populated than Northern California. Fortunately, some of California’s creepiest and most haunted ghost towns are situated in Southern California.
The idea behind visiting ghost towns can be different for every individual, but the ghost town’s thrilling vibe always attracts me.
So, here we are going to know all the ghost towns in Southern California with useful information and tips about them.
Ghost Towns In Southern California
Calico, Bombay Beach, Darwin, Leadfield Ghost Town, Cerro Gordo Mines, Robbers’s Roost Ranch, Empire Mine State Park, and Ballarat are the creepiest ghost towns in Southern California.
Here are all the ghost towns in SoCal:
- Cerro Gordo Mines
- Leadfield Ghost Town
- Bombay Beach
- Calico Ghost Town
- Robbers’s Roost Ranch
- Empire Mine State Park
- Silver City Ghost Town
- Red Mountain
- Tropico Gold Mine
- Panamint City Ghost Town
Ballarat is the best ghost town in Southern California, although this ghost town area is not as big as others. Ballarat ghost town is located in Inyo County, California.
Around 1900, Ballarat town started growing in population and eventually established a post office, school, three hotels, and several saloons.
Back in the day, Ballarat was home to over five hundred people. Prospector Seldom Seen Slim, also known as Charles Ferge, made Ballarat town famous to people.
Over 50 years, Seldom Seen Slim living and also working in Ballarat, California. Also, he is buried here; his grave you still found in Ballarat ghost town today.
In Ballarat, there another prospector made his home name Shorty Harris. He also took his last breath in Ballarat.
After 1960, Ballarat became a ghost town. And still today, you can find old gold mining instruments.
Rock Novak (age 61) lives in Ballarat ghost town and claims to be the caretaker of this town. He runs a store where you can buy soda and beer.
Tips for Visiting Ballarat Ghost Town:
- Drinks, snacks, and bathrooms are available in Ballarat ghost town.
- Don’t forget to meet with the caretaker and also the mayor of Ballarat Rock Novak. He is a nice guy, and he loves to talk to people.
- Visit Ballarat cemetery, where you can see the grave of several prospectors, including Seldom Seen Slim.
- Bring sunglasses, a sun hat, and sunscreen, and wear layers of light clothing because Ballarat ghost town is very hot.
2. Cerro Gordo Mines
Cerro Gordo Mine, also known as Cerro Gordo ghost town, is situated in the Inyo Mountains, Inyo County, California.
Between 1865 to 1867, Cerro Gordo was discovered by the Mexicans. Pablo Flores first landed in Cerro Gordo Mine and started silver mining.
Cerro Gordo mine company kept mining with over ten employees until 1938.
Cerro Gordo ghost town perfectly and precisely features the rich mining history that you can feel by walking around.
With the help of various private organizations and Cerro Gordo Historical Foundations, Cerro Gordo ghost town is restored again to attract more tourism.
Among Southern California ghost towns, Cerro Gordo is very famous to travelers.
You can find a gift shop in Cerro Gordo ghost town where you can buy mining history souvenirs.
Airbnb is also available in Cerro Gordo, so you can stay and enjoy the creepiest ghost town in Southern California.
Tips for Visiting Cerro Gordo Ghost Town:
- Cerro Gordo ghost town is perfect for family distinction because this place is safe, and you are going to find other tourists too often.
- The “Ghost Town Living” YouTube channel owner lives in Cerro Gordo ghost town and makes videos around this place. And I heard he bought Cerro Gordo ghost town.
- Winter is the best time to visit Cerro Gordo ghost town.
Check Out: Best Caves In Southern California
3. Leadfield Ghost Town
Leadfield Ghost Town is another of my favorite ghost towns in SoCal near California’s attraction Death Valley National Park.
Before 1900, miners established settlements to mine lead and copper, but the miners could not be content with mining because of the high expense of transporting.
In 1926, a businessman named Charles C. Julian saw the potential for mining in Leadfield town. But his company eventually went bankrupt.
In February 1927, Leadfield town became a ghost town with the closing of the post office.
You are going to experience the true silence and thrilling feeling at Leadfield Ghost Town.
There are several of mine where you can enter. Watching mine is going to remind you of the history of old mining.
Leadfield Ghost Town area is huge, so you are going to need a decent time to explore.
Tips for Visiting Leadfield Ghost Town:
- Leadfield Ghost Town is in the northeast section of Death Valley National Park.
- Bring water because there are no stores near this ghost town.
- An SUV or off-roading vehicle would be perfect for visiting Leadfield Ghost Town.
- Most mine gates are locked, so you cannot enter any mine at Leadfield Ghost Town.
- This ghost town is in a remote area, so bring everything you need to survive here.
Related: Places For Stargazing In California
4. Bombay Beach
Bombay Beach is not only a famous ghost town in Southern California but this place is also a popular destination for Californians now.
Bombay Beach is located on the Salton Sea, and this beach is 223 feet below sea level, which makes Bombay Beach the lowest community in the U.S.
The increasing salinity of the Salton Sea devastated the ecosystem of Bombay Beach and eventually made this beach a ghost town.
Rusting boat frames, haunted motels, and swimming pools covered in graffiti are common to see on Bombay Beach.
Surprisingly, Bombay Beach ghost town is filled with tourists and residents. Still today, over 250 residents live here.
Stores, restaurants, and motels are available in Bombay Beach ghost town.
Artists from all over America visit here to present their work to the world. Honestly, artists make Bombay Beach a unique place in California.
I recommend you to visit Bombay Beach not only for a thrill but to appreciate the work of artists.
Tips for Visiting Bombay Beach:
- Bombay Beach is a very hot area, so bring sunscreen, water, and sunglasses.
- Explore every corner of Bombay Beach because the more you explore, the better you can notice the uniqueness.
- Don’t forget to bring food, snacks, and soda.
- Bombay Beach locals are pretty nice and welcoming. So respect them.
- The area is huge, so it would be better if you could manage extra time to explore.
5. Calico Ghost Town
Calico is another ghost town in Southern California. Calico Ghost Town is located in the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert region.
Until 1890, Calico was an old West mining town where over one thousand residents lived.
Calico Town had over five general stores, three hotels, a market, several saloons, and three restaurants.
When silver lost its value, the mining work had to stop, and people started moving from Calico Town.
The history of silver mining still exists in Calico Ghost Town. And Calico Cemetery is also worth watching.
You feel horror and thrill after reaching Calico Ghost Town, although now this is a popular ghost town.
Tips for Visiting Calico Ghost Town:
- Within two to three hours, you can see everything in Calico Ghost Town.
- Just like other ghost towns in SoCal, this place is also very hot.
- Don’t forget to visit Calico Ghost Town cemetery.
- Calico Ghost Town is also a popular campground in Southern California.
6. Robbers’s Roost Ranch
Robbers’s Roost Ranch is the most secure and cleanest ghost town in Southern California.
Robbers’s Roost Ranch is located in the heart of Inyokern city, which is one of the smallest city in California.
You can find saloons, sheriff’s offices, beauty shops, and other historical things that are still well-organized.
Robbers’s Roost Ranch ghost town is less scary or creepier than other ghost towns in SoCal.
The current owner of Robbers’s Roost Ranch ghost town is very friendly. He showed me around the whole area.
And he has pretty good knowledge about the history of Robbers’s Roost Ranch.
Next to the entrance of Robbers’s Roost Ranch, you are going to see posters supporting Robbers’s Roost Ranch economy.
By purchasing Frog Balls from here, you can contribute to the Robbers’s Roost Ranch economy.
Tips for Visiting Robbers’s Roost Ranch Ghost Town:
- Frankly, Robbers’s Roost Ranch ghost town is small, so don’t expect too much.
- Utilize your smartphone GPS to find this ghost town.
- Walk around and see the historical things that you saw in western movies.
Darwin is an unincorporated mining community that became Southern California’s ghost town after the mining company left the town.
Darwin ghost town is surrounded by California’s famous desert Death Valley in Inyo County, California.
Darwin town is named after an explorer and prospector, Dr. Darwin French, who established the settlement here.
Dr. Darwin French established a mining settlement in Darwin town in 1860, and until the 1970s, the operation of mining continued by the company.
Around 30 to 40 people are still living in Darwin ghost town, so today, this is a semi-ghost town.
Around the Darwin ghost town, several original buildings are still standing; they look really amazing.
Several old saloon chairs, cattle skulls, horse saddles, and a variety of mining equipment still exist here.
You are also going to find some broken-down classic cars in this whole area that look fascinating in images.
Tips for Visiting Darwin Ghost Town:
- Darwin is a semi-ghost town because people are still living here.
- Darwin ghost town is located at the edge of Death Valley.
- Bring your camera because you can have some wonderful shots during sunset.
- Darwin ghost town is part of the Death Valley desert so prepare for hot weather.
- Darwin’s ghost town area is not really haunted, so you can bring your kids to see the history of mining.
Randsburg is another ghost town and a census-designated place in Kern County, California.
Randsburg ghost town is located along the United States Highway 395 between the city of Ridgecrest and Boron, California.
Randsburg was a part of the Rand Mining District that was discovered after finding gold back in 1895. After one year of established settlement in Randsburg, this town also opened a post office.
Today, Randsburg has a population of around 50 people, that’s why Randsburg is considered a semi-ghost town.
During the autumn and spring seasons, tourists often come to the Randsburg ghost town to explore. Also, Randsburg town hosts several old fashion events during both seasons.
The Randsburg Museum is open only on weekends and some holidays. I strongly recommend you visit The Randsburg Museum because you can see the town’s history.
An old saloon named “White House Saloon” is still available in the Randsburg ghost town.
A restaurant and a general store are available in Randsburg ghost town, so you can buy water and food from there.
Tips for Visiting Randsburg Ghost Town:
- Visit Randsburg ghost town on the weekend to get maximum experience.
- Connect with the locals to know about upcoming events that are going to be hosted in Randsburg ghost town.
- You can taste their local food in the restaurant.
- Water, soda, beer, and other beverages are available to buy in the area’s general store.
9. Empire Mine State Park
Empire Mine State Park is a creepy place to see the history of mining. Empire Mine State Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain in Grass Valley, California.
The area of Empire Mine State Park is over 850 acres that are filled with beautiful historical gardens, horseback riding, hiking trails, jogging trails, and many more.
Empire Mine State Park began in 1850 as a gold mining site. Until 1975, mining companies established their settlement here.
But, the California Department of Parks and Recreation purchased Empire Mine State Park and listed this park on the National Register of Historic Places.
Each year over a hundred thousand visitors come to his park to see the history of gold mining.
The secret room of Empire Mine State Park is the most haunted spot. Guided tours and self-guided tours are both available here.
A blacksmith shop is still around in Empire Mine State Park where five smiths work. The blacksmith shop’s smithers are mostly producing replica items and tools.
Empire Mine State Park has a restroom, parking area, and visitor center. You need to pay an entry fee before entering the visitor center.
Tips for Visiting Empire Mine State Park:
- Empire Mine State Park’s secret room is a must-visit place, so don’t miss it.
- The whole park is very quiet and also humid, which makes you relax.
- Every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Empire Mine State Park stays open for visitors.
- You can get a guided tour if you want to learn more about the history of this park.
- Empire Mine State Park has $7 entry fees for everyone, and you need to pay the admission fee at the visitor center.
10. Silver City Ghost Town
Silver City is a modernized ghost town located in Kern County, California, that welcomes people every day and stays open on some major holidays.
The Dave & Arvilla Mills family began mining statements in the late 1960s, and early 1970’s here.
Silver City’s mining statement was closed over 15 years after the Corlew Family re-opened. In the abandoned period, Silver City lost its population.
Silver City is now recognized as a museum representing the Kern Valley and gold history.
Silver City ghost town is listed in the National Directory of Haunted Places, and since then, people have come to this place to see some unique things.
Several Hollywood films are shot in Silver City ghost town, especially in western genre movies.
You need to pay to visit Silver City ghost town because the locals reinstate this place.
Tips for Visiting Silver City Ghost Town:
- Silver City ghost town entry fee is $5.50 per person from ages 13 to 113, $4.50 for those aged 6 to 12, and kids under 5 are free.
- The whole area of Silver City ghost town is well maintained.
- Talk to locals to learn about the history of Silver City ghost town.
- You don’t need to bring anything because you are going to find a general store and restaurant here.
11. Red Mountain
Red Mountain was formerly known as Osdick, and people also know this place as Red Mountain Mining Town.
Early 1920’s, the Osdick family established the settlement here. Over four hundred residents lived in Red Mountain.
Red Mountain ghost town is located in San Bernardino County, California, United States.
This ghost town is not similar to other ghost towns in Southern California because the area of this place is huge.
The abandoned school, church, and other buildings make the Red Mountain ghost town really creepy. You can feel a hundred feelings just right after entering this town.
Still today, Red Mountain ghost town is the home of over a hundred people. Hence, you can interact with locals easily.
The interesting fact about this ghost town is that locals are still mobilizing the old gas station, old general store, and other facilities.
Even at night, Red Mountain ghost town stays pretty lively, and locals host several events each year.
Tips for Visiting Red Mountain Ghost Town:
- Must visit abandoned buildings around the ghost town because old buildings are really haunted.
- Try to visit Red Mountain ghost town during spring because this is the best time to visit here.
- The price of food, snacks, and beer is a lot higher than normal, so it would be cost-effective if you bring them from the city.
- Avoid throwing packets around the area because locals keep the area clean.
12. Tropico Gold Mine
Tropico Gold Mine is an abandoned mining town from the early 1900s. Now Tropico Gold Mine has become a ghost town in Southern California.
In 1894, a prospector named Ezra Hamilton started using this place for mining gold and bringing associates from all over the United States.
Around 1950, Tropico became one of the booming gold mines in the state of California.
Unfortunately, Tropico Gold Mine did not hold a reputation for a long time. After 1950, residents started moving from this place.
During the 1980s, eventually, Tropico Gold Mine became abandoned entirely.
Tropico ghost town is surrounded by hillside areas, attracting more visitors to visit here.
Now, Tropico is a privately owned property, and the owner fenced off this whole area. And no visitors are allowed to enter.
No more residents are living in Tropico Gold Mine ghost town, so you are not going to find any locals here.
Several Hollywood films used the Tropico Gold Mine ghost town. And this Tropico is a popular ghost town in SoCal.
Tips for Visiting Tropico Gold Mine Ghost Town:
- Tropico Gold Mine ghost town is full of historical mining buildings.
- This area is now used as a film site, and you can’t enter this place.
- To review the Tropico Gold Mine ghost town, you can bring a binocular because you can see objects closely.
13. Panamint City Ghost Town
Panamint City is another ghost town located in the Panamint Mountains of Dead Valley.
I went to Panamint City ghost town from Los Angeles, in 5 hours; you might need 4 to 5 hours to be here from LA.
In recent times, Panamint City has become the most popular ghost town for tourists because many things are available to see here. You can even spend a whole day seeing everything around here.
Panamint City ghost town’s whole area has old-fashioned saloons, stores, hotels, and a post office that has been closed for over seventy years.
Between the 1960s and 1970s, hippies used to live here, but they eventually left this place, which is why you can see some graffiti around this ghost town.
Panamint City ghost town can be a great place to see the history for everyone, but Panamint City would be the best for hikers.
The Wyoming Mine is one of the main attractions of Panamint City ghost town. But, you need to hike up around a thousand feet above the Panamint City ghost town ground.
You are allowed to camp in Panamint City ghost town; there are five campsites available to stay in. But, bring every necessary stuff from home if you are looking forward to camping in Panamint City ghost town.
Tips for Visiting Panamint City Ghost Town:
- Panamint City ghost town is open to everyone. Here everything is allowed; camping, hiking, off-roading, and more.
- If you are visiting Death Valley, I suggest you visit Panamint City ghost town because this place is in the Dead Valley area.
- You would not find any restrooms, restaurants, or general stores, so you bring many water bottles and snacks.
- Panamint City ghost town is the most preferable for hiking lovers. And I also love to hike.
- Do not forget to visit the Wyoming Mine if you are in Panamint City ghost town.
Keeler ghost town was a very famous town in the early 1930s. In the heyday of Keeler town, over 2500 people lived here.
Before the 1920s, there was a public swimming pool, a post office, a train station, restaurants, and several hostels for visitors.
Celebrities and many wealthy Californian individuals come to this place to spend the weekend. But, until 1942, people lived in Keeler.
Now, Keeler ghost town has a population of around 50. Cerro Gordo mines were this town’s main operation.
Still today, Keeler swim club’s Olympic-sized swimming pool exists, and you also can see several mining companies’ residual things around the whole area.
Several buildings or mills are still here where; you cannot enter without permission.
Tips for Visiting Keeler Ghost Town:
- You can see Keeler ghost town locals around this place, so you can interact with them and know the history of this place.
- Bring a couple of water bottles, especially if you have plans to visit Keeler ghost town in summer.
- Owens Lake is near Keeler ghost town, so you can also visit dry Owens Lake.
- You don’t need half of the day to see the whole area of Keeler ghost town. Within 2 to 3 hours, you can cover this place easily.
Ghost towns in Southern California have a rich history of mining because the state of California was the top mineral-producing state in the United States.
Every ghost town in SoCal has connections to silver or gold mining settlements.
Ballarat, Robbers’ Roost Ranch, Darwin, and Cerro Gordo Mines are Southern California’s most famous ghost towns.
Still today, some people live in various ghost towns and run restaurants and general stores.
Camping is popular in some ghost towns in Southern California, such as Panamint City, Cerro Gordo Mines, Bombay Beach, and others.
Vanessa Martin is the founder and content head of California Moments. Vanessa has been living in San Diego, California, since her childhood. Vanessa brings everything about the Golden States California and shares it with you through Californiamoments.com.