Arizona’s 19th-century mining boom gave rise to several towns that bustled with near-instantaneous commerce (and, in some cases, debauchery), but whose rapid growth ended abruptly when precious metals were depleted or sheer bad luck caused residents to move on.
Today, many of these outposts are little more than abandoned buildings. Yet others have taken on new life, drawing artists and free spirits who embrace their town’s haunted past and welcome outsiders in search of spooky tales and Old West lore.
In a state full of ghost towns, you have your pick from the famous (Bisbee) to the infamous (Tombstone). Below is a list of some of Arizona’s most distinctive ghost towns, each with its own quirks and curiosities.
But mind your step as you explore these towns’ haunted hulls, or you might end up a permanent resident.
Globe-Miami (about 90 miles east of Phoenix)
Not all ghost towns are unpopulated, as the very-much-alive residents of Globe and Miami can attest to. But as mining operations have slowed in the area, the towns—known collectively as Globe-Miami—are luring guests in by drawing the ghosts out. By day, shop for antiques downtown or browse original art at the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts. Nighttime belongs to the ghosts.
In Globe, volunteers host monthly ghost tours of the 1910 Gila County Sheriff's Office & Jail, which has seen its share of death, frequently the result of vigilante and mob justice. In nearby Miami, the Bullion Plaza School once served as the segregated school for the town’s Mexican-American children. Closed in 1994 due to structural issues, it’s slowly being restored, and portions have turned into a history museum with displays that rival larger institutions.
Past guests of The Noftsger Hill Inn in Globe have reported hearing children’s voices at night—perhaps former students of the onetime schoolhouse turned six-room bed and breakfast. Try to snag a room with an original chalkboard for added effect. (Rates: $90 - $150)*
Gleeson (SE of Tucson, 16 miles east of Tombstone)
Credit: StellarD on Wikimedia Commons
Once home to a turquoise mine favorited by Tiffany and Co. in the mid-1880s, all that remains of Gleeson today are some private ranches, a nearly collapsed general store, and an old jail. The jail was restored and operates as a museum with local artifacts and lore, open on the first Saturday of each month or by appointment. Travelers to Gleeson take note: It’s one of several stops along southern Arizona’s Ghost-Town Loop Tour that also includes Fairbank, Tombstone, and St. David. Visit www.gleesonarizona.com for more information.
Tombstone Monument Ranch captures the look and feel of an Old West town … but with much nicer bedding and amenities. Guest rooms are designed to look like old storefronts – perfect for those wishing to live out their “Westworld” dreams, minus the robots. (Rates: $204 - $350)
Gold King Mine and Ghost Town (29 miles west of Sedona)
Credit: Ron Chilston
Formerly the town of Haynes, Arizona, the Gold King Mine is part museum, part mining camp. A $5 admission gets you into the site, which also includes a display of vintage cars, trucks and abandoned mining equipment. Self-guided tours take you through exhibits such as a 1914 sawmill, a mineshaft and an array of old buildings that once served as the dentist’s office, school, and garage. Kids are welcome, and families can take part in a blacksmithing demonstration or try their hand at gold and gem panning.
Gold King Mine may not be haunted, but ghost seekers can take their chances with a night at the Jerome Grand Hotel, just 45 minutes west of Sedona. The hotel began life in 1927 as the town’s hospital, and two different psychics claimed to have felt the ghost of the “head nurse” lingering about. (Rates: $165/standard room - $525/grand suite)
Chloride (23 miles NW of Kingman and Route 66)
Ghosts likely outnumber residents in this Western Arizona town of 350 – give or take. Considered the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in the state, Chloride is home to cattle ranches, brightly painted cliff murals, dark skies and a hand-built ghost town within a town: Cyanide Springs.
Thrill seekers and history buffs should reserve a spot for Ghost Expeditions’ three- to four-hour walking ghost tours, which employ handheld field instruments and are guided by psychic medium Daena Smoller. Other tours include a “Haunted History” tour and “Secrets of the Chloride Cemetery.”
Get the full roadside hotel experience at Shep Miner’s Inn, a historic 1800 adobe inn originally designed for passengers on the Butterfield Stage Line. Furnishings are sparse, but guests compliment the inn’s charm, comfort, friendly staff and hearty meals provided by the attached restaurant, Yesterday’s. (Rates: $118 - $158)
For more ghost tours, haunted hotels and lurid lore, check out the following stories:
- 5 Arizona Ghost Towns You May Have Never Heard Of
- Haunted Arizona
- White Boots and other Mineshaft Ghosts
*All hotel rates are per night, exclusive of taxes and fees, and vary by season and room. Always check with the hotel for the most current rates.