What do legends of the Wild West, gangsters, a modern engineering marvel, and a TV star's museum of creepy objects all have in common? They're all in Nevada, and each teems with ghosts. Visitors to some of the most haunted places in Nevada may come across resident ghosts when they belly up to the bar in an Old West saloon, stay in a historic hotel, or visit popular tourist attractions.
What's better than a single haunted location? How about an entire haunted ghost town? The former boomtown of Rhyolite came to life virtually overnight in the early 1900s in the wake of discovering gold in them thar hills...the Bullfrog hills, to be specific. What started as a small mining camp quickly ballooned to more than 5,000 people seeking fortune in the wilds of the Nevada desert. In just over a decade, the town was virtually abandoned. Today, it sits on the Nevada edge of Death Valley National Park, and it has a full complement of abandoned and crumbling buildings.
Along with being a super cool and photo-worthy ghost town, Rhyolite is also a haunted town, making it a great Nevada destination for intrepid ghost enthusiasts seeking a spooky adventure in the desert. Visitors report encountering a brown shadow man--the ghost of a former prospector still hanging about town. The brown shadow man isn't the only gold mining ghost, perhaps unsurprising for a mining town. People also encounter a miner with a mule heading into the hills and see other apparitions that vanish as soon as they spot them.
Rhyolite is about 120 miles west of Las Vegas in the Mojave desert. You can visit the town and even enter a few buildings, but be on the lookout for rattlesnakes so you don't become a ghost yourself.
Old Washoe Club
Take the steep, winding drive up to Virginia City, where you can visit a number of haunted Nevada hotspots. None, however, are so famous as the Old Washoe Club, a saloon and museum in the heart of the Wild West town. Opened in 1875, the original Washoe Club was nicknamed the Millionaire's Club. It provided a place for the well-heeled of Virginia City to gather, socialize, drink, and engage in some paid-for pleasures of the flesh.
The exclusive Millionaire's Club met and socialized in a building a block over from its current location. The club was severely damaged in fires that ravaged the town that same year. After the blaze, it moved into the current location. By 1897, misfortune in the mining industry led to loss of fortune among Washoe Club members, and the club officially closed. Today, it serves as a saloon and museum.
This infamous haunt is so well-known that it has been featured on many paranormal television shows, including Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. The best-known hauntings here include several ghosts. Two are especially noticeable. The Blue Lady appears atop the club's spiral staircase as a full apparition. She's the ghost of a former prostitute, and she also frequently appears in photos. There's also an old prospector whose spirit still enjoys spirits of another nature. He hangs around near the bar, moving drinks when nobody is looking and making a shot of whisky (left out at night especially for him) disappear.
If you're in Virginia City, stop for a drink or for one of the many haunted tours available at the Old Washoe Club.
Silver Queen Hotel
Another infamous Virginia City haunt is the Silver Queen Hotel. It's Virginia City's oldest hotel, built in 1876. Today, it's a hotel, saloon, and wedding chapel filled with authentic Wild West ambience. It's also the location of death (it once served as a morgue), destruction, illegal activity, and even murder.
Ghosts have appeared on the wedding chapel's night cameras, and visitors claim they can hear footsteps in the carpeted hallway clacking along a wooden floor. They also report jiggling knobs and doors that open and close on their own. Two of the most active rooms appear to be Rooms 11 and 13, so if you're feeling especially brave, book those. You can also take a ghost tour.
You've probably heard of the most famous Goldfield haunt, the Goldfield Hotel. But that's only open to private tours. However, the Goldfield Pioneer Cemetery is something else altogether. It's super haunted, and it's open to the public.
The relocated cemetery (the bodies were moved to the new location, not just the headstones) holds the remains of many local historical figures of note including prostitutes, murder victims, prospectors, and more. There's even a guy whose tombstone notes he "died eating library paste." A grown man, by the way. Not a kindergartener.
The cemetery is still in use today, so please be respectful. And even if you don't encounter one of the spirits that wander this cemetery, you can still take a look at the graves to get a sense of the history of a silver mining boomtown that slowly died out and left behind so many ghosts.
Boulder Dam Hotel
The Boulder Dam Hotel is a charming and historic hotel located in Boulder City near the equally haunted Hoover Dam. It originally opened in 1932 as luxury accommodations for VIP visitors to the new Hoover Dam (then called the Boulder Dam).
It's also haunted. Visitors and staff report hearing phantom voices, laughter, and footsteps. Doors also open and close by themselves, and sometimes staff members find faucets running in unoccupied rooms.
The Hoover Dam is a spectacular feat of engineering, spanning the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona, creating Lake Mead, and generating around 4 billion kilowatt-hours of power every year. It took nearly five years to build the dam, and it was officially dedicated in 1935. One-hundred-and-twelve people died during its construction. That statistic may account for why the dam is so haunted.
As with similar haunted structures, there are rumors that some of the workers that fell to their death were permanently encased in the dam's more than 4 million cubic meters of concrete. Likewise, there have been suicides from the dam that may be responsible for some of the ghostly activity. Visitors and staff report cold spots, flickering electricity, items that go missing and turn up elsewhere, and inexplicable equipment malfunctions.
Serving more than 1 million power customers, Hoover Dam is both a working power plant and a tourist destination. Dam tours are available daily.
Boot Hill Cemetery
There are many cemeteries across the country called boot hills (or boothills), so-named to indicate that men were buried with their boots on. Pioche, Nevada has one such cemetery with a haunted reputation of restless spirits that still roam among the graves.
Pioche was once a Wild West boomtown filled with gunslingers, miners, hard drinkers, and various characters of ill-repute. So, essentially, it was your typical violent Nevada silver boomtown in the 1870s. It was also home to dozens of murders every year. In fact, one year there were 72. Many of the victims and murderers found their final resting place in Boot Hill Cemetery.
Today, the cemetery is still used for local burials, but you'll also find numerous historic grave markers that tell tales of violence, death, and danger. And this may be why the cemetery is haunted; because those who die violently often remain walking the earthly realm in search of some form of justice.
Zak Bagans' The Haunted Museum
Sure, Zak Bagans' The Haunted Museum is a Las Vegas tourist attraction, but that doesn't mean it's not haunted. In his career as one of America's most famous TV ghost hunters, Bagans has spent years collecting some of the creepiest haunted items in the world. Today, he keeps them all in one spot--his haunted museum.
Glass encasements and velvet ropes may keep visitors from touching the items on display, but they certainly can't hold back the frightening spirits that haunt them. You'll find over 30 rooms of spooky objects haunted by active spirits. Items on display include haunted dolls, a terrifying rocking chair associated with the actual haunting behind the movie The Conjuring, and the original Dybbuk Box, one of the most storied haunted objects on the planet.
This is a popular attraction. Plan your visit and buy tickets in advance.
Also known as the "Jewel of the Desert," the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah provided luxury lodgings to well-heeled guests from 1907 until 1999. It re-opened after renovations in 2011 and operates as a luxury boutique hotel with gaming in the lobby.
As with other historic haunted hotels, the Mizpah is not without its terrifying legends of murder, suicide, and violence. However, the hotel's owners and guests insist their ghosts are both friendly and interactive. As with so many haunted places, you'll find the full complement of ghostly activity: objects go missing, and people see and hear strange things. For those wishing to get up close and personal with the haunt, you can stay in the Lady in Red Room, haunted by a murdered prostitute. You may also encounter a soldier's ghost or the ghosts of children who play in the halls. Check in for the history and charm, but don't be surprised if you come face to face with a ghost.
Yellow Jacket Mine
Would you be surprised to know that the site of Nevada's worst mining accident is now haunted? Probably not, as ghosts seem to pop up in places of great tragedy. Such is the case with Nevada's Yellow Jacket Mine outside of Gold Hill. In 1968, a fire and toxic fumes killed at least 35 miners, and not all of their bodies were recovered. The mine was part of the Comstock Lode, a lode of silver ore that was the first major silver discovery found in the US. The public disclosure of its discovery in the 1850s set the stage for the fate of many men seeking their fortune in the wilds of Nevada.
Now, the hike to the Yellow Jacket mine is one of Nevada's most haunted. When you reach the mine's entrance, you may experience orbs, notice strange sounds, or even hear the cries of trapped miners coming from within. While you can hike to the mine and walk around it, entry is strictly prohibited.
Explore the Most Haunted Places in Nevada
The tales of Nevada's most haunted places intertwine with the history of the silver boom and the Wild West. Today, many of these places remain, ready and waiting to welcome you. So whether you're seeking history, hauntings, or both, there's plenty of spooky stuff to discover in Nevada.