Located in the bullfrog hills just outside the edge of Death Valley National Park in Nevada, the ghost town of Rhyolite once had a thriving population of 5,000 people in the early 1900s. It was once a booming, prosperous tightly-knit mining community with over 2,000 mining claims in the small area. The discovery of a promising prospect mine named Montgomery Shoshone mine sparked the curiosity of many gold-crazed enthusiasts, who were questionably compelled to move to the uninhabitable land.


The History Of Rhyolite

The community of rhyolite started growing in 1905 when several mining camps sprang up after a prospecting discovery which ensued an inevitable gold rush. At its short-lived peak, the community of Rhyolite had thousands of homes with one of the most impressive buildings costing over $ 90,000 to build, with three stories. The small town even had a stock exchange and a board of trade established. The spirited, energetic town citizens led a lively social life with activities such as baseball games, whist parties (whist is a card game), and basket socials being the norm.

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The Montgomery Shoshone Mine, The Instigator

By April 1907, Rhyolite town had access to electricity which enabled the construction of a gold ore mill at the Montgomery Shoshone, along with its reduction tank and cyanide tanks. The mine was named after Bob Montgomery who would often gloat that he could make profits of $10,000 a day, which is equivalent to $296,597 today. He later sold it to Charles Schwab in 1906 who reportedly paid 2 to 6 million dollars.

How Rhyolite Became A Ghost Town

In 1907, there was a brief financial crisis instigated by the deflation of high leveraged hypothetical investment. Rhyolite was no exception and the town's steep economic rise was just as identical to its rapid descent. production at the mill declined to less than 245,000 for that year and by the end of 1910, the population had dwindled to less than 600 people. Rhyolite is a perfect 20th-century example of not counting chickens before they hatch! By the 1920s Rhyolite had become a Ghost town.

Visiting Rhyolite: Nevada Ghost Town

Old bank ruins: rhyolite ghost town Photo by AutumnSkyPhotography on Unsplash

A trip to rhyolite ghost town located on the way to Beatty just 35 miles from Furnace Creek Visitor Center is an amazing way to escape the congested, brightly lit, and clamorous city of Las Vegas. The Rhyolite ghost town is not within the boundary of Death Valley National Park however it is a mixture of both private and federally owned land.

How To Get To Rhyolite Ghost Town

When heading north from state route 374, there is a paved road that will lead straight to the heart of Rhyolite town. The ghost town has clear, well-labeled signposts from US 95 and NV374 prior to reaching the paved road, making it easy and convenient for domestic and international tourists to access it. It is only accessible by car.

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Things To Do In Rhyolite

Prior to arriving in the ghost town, there is the exceptional Goldwell Open Air Museum, as its name suggests it is not bound by four walls and a ceiling. The museum has an invaluable collection of art pieces dating back to 1984 and admission is completely free, however, donations are accepted. The collection of ghost-like figures portraying “ The Last Supper”.

Rhyolite, the ghost town, is located a few miles after the museum. One of the first notable landmarks to be seen is the rhyolite mercantile store, which is just alongside the road and has several outbuildings beside it. Originally the rhyolite mercantile store was a jail and was morphed into a store with time. Next, is the Tom Kelly house, named after the man who built it with 30,000 bottles and adobe.

As travelers continue further along into rhyolite there are more remnants to be seen with the most striking being the three-story bank which cost 90000 to build and the schoolhouse. The majority of the graffiti-covered, collapsed buildings are secured with fencing in order to preserve them

Other buildings will find at rhyolite include:

  • The railroad depot
  • The Cook bank building
  • The John kelly bottle store
  • The Porterhouse store

When To Take A Trip To Rhyolite?

Trips to the arid deserted area are only undertaken in autumn or spring to avoid the blistering heat from the sizzling desert sun. With average temperatures in July soaring to 97 degrees, July is the hottest month during summer. and the average winter high and low temperatures are 54 and 27 degrees respectively. It is important to note that rhyolite is far from water sources.

Precautions And Tips To Take Before And During The Trip To Rhyolite

  • Try to make the trip as early as possible to avoid the higher temperatures of the mid-afternoon.
  • Since there are no nearby sources of water, it is important to carry along lots of water preferably in a cooler box
  • There are several rattlesnake warnings in Rhyolite and it is necessary to be cautious. Avoid places with hidden areas such as boulders with crevices and small gaps between it and the ground where a snake might hide.
  • There are no lavatories in Rhyolite, given the lack of water, however, there is a pit-latrine facility. Ensure to carry along the necessary toiletries for the trip.

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