Rhyolite Ghost Town

by Michael Satterfield

About 120 miles north of Las Vegas on the edge of Death Valley sits the ghost town of Rhyolite. Built during the Gold Rush, the town sprung up as quickly as it vanished. I had chosen the right car for the job, the Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack ate up the miles of open desert and in just a few hours I had reached the ruins of Rhyolite. Along the way, you pass through the Amargosa Valley, a place that is empty with the exception of the Area 51 travel plaza which consists of a gas station, a fireworks store, and a brothel called The Alien Cathouse.

Pushing on towards Rhyolite you'll come to the city of Beatty a small unincorporated town that has a larger hotel and a huge population of 1,100 people. The Dodge's exhaust note bounced off all the buildings and people turned their heads when they heard me pull away from the stoplight.
Beatty is not far from the ghost town and has a small museum. Many of the buildings from Rhyolite were salvaged for materials or moved in whole to Beatty. Once you get to Beatty you are only about 15-20 minutes from the entrance to Rhyolite and the Goldwell Open Air Museum, an open-air sculpture park, that houses an eclectic collection of works by various artists.

Founded in 1904 to service the Montgomery Shoshone Mine, Rhyolite would see massive growth in 1906 when Charles M. Schwab purchased the mine and invested heavily in infrastructure. Within a year, Rhyolite had electric lights, water mains, telephones, newspapers, a hospital, a school, an opera house, two banks, a modern train depot, and a stock exchange. When the mine eventually closed in 1911 most everyone left and by 1920 just a few residents remained.  Over the years most of the buildings were salvaged for building materials leaving just their ghostly shells.

Today Rhyolite is mostly in ruins with just a few preserved buildings like the bottle house. The site is open to the public, just mind the signs for protected areas, and there is no overnight camping.

Location:  36°54’24.9” N 116°49’42.1” W

 Enjoy more photos from my trip below: