California’s Ghostiest Towns

Silver City, Bodie, Calico: Where do you go for history and atmosphere?

Silver City Ghost Town

GOLDEN STATE GHOSTS: What truly defines a ghost town, for a particular visitor, can run the ghosty gamut. Some people need a lot of historic facts to fill out their experience, and absolutely no apparent trace of the modern day. Others want more phantoms than past-talk, meaning the emphasis really is on "ghost" in ghost town. And many want a general mix of the two: Some dramatic tales from decades ago stirred with a pinch of fantasy, fable, and a few fright-packed stories for eerie measure. Our state delivers on all fronts, and you can have your straight-up history and your ghost tour nights, too. If you're looking for a little atmosphere this October, and some fine spots for photography, you might head for one of California's dozens of documented ghost towns. Those include...

BODIE: Not only is this one of our state's most celebrated and well-known ghost towns, it is an icon on the world stage. The Eastern Sierra-close clutch of 1800s buildings is often called "pristine" and with good reason: There is little to no evidence that time has marched on, and that's just the way that its state parks caretakers and its thousands of international fans like it. Even the dirt-gravel road to get in is properly tire-testing, preparing you for a trip back to the 1870s. And should you leave with any found souvenirs, just know that there is indeed a curse for that.

SILVER CITY GHOST TOWN: This Kern River Valley gem has a number of things in its corner. One? It's not too far from the big city of Los Angeles, meaning it is fairly easy to access (not quite the case with Bodie). Two? It's structures are properly Old-West-y, meaning a camera is in order. And three? Lantern tours are given on certain nights, especially during the spirited evenings of October. Want to hear tales of wraiths and such? Best follow this page, ghost-townie.

CALICO GHOST TOWN: It's a neighbor to Barstow and famed as a place that Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farm bought in the 1950s. Yep, there are places to buy t-shirts and candy and activities for kids -- it has some Knotts charm, for sure -- and there are spots to peek back into its silver-mining past, which was a biggin'. How biggin'? Some 500 mines operated back in the day and the ore finds zoomed into the millions of dollars.

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