Located roughly in the center of Arizona, the rather unappealingly named Vulture City sits as one of the most enticing ghost towns in the United States. Vulture City is located at the site of the defunct Vulture Mine in Maricopa Country in Arizona and offers a refreshing break from the heavily regulated tours of State Parks around the country.

If one would like to see an American ghost town come alive, visit the ghost town of Bannock in Montanna. The next time it is scheduled to become alive is on the next Bannack Days scheduled for July 16-17, 2022.

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History Of Vulture City

Abandoned America says of Vulture City:

"The history of Vulture City, the most significant ghost town in Arizona, reads like a dime store western novel, full of Apache raids and stagecoach robberies. Attempting to find any concrete truth buried in a never-ending stream of conflicting and inaccurate accounts feels a little like panning for flecks of gold in a nearly barren claim."

The Vulture Mine was a gold mine discovered in 1863 and was the most productive gold mine in the history of Arizona. It all started when Henry Wickenburg - a prospector from California's gold rush stumbled on quartz containing gold while traveling through the region. He started mining the outcrop himself

Over the course of the Vulture gold mine's life from 1863 to 1942, it managed to yield some 340,000 ounces of gold along with some 260,000 ounces of silver - an incredible amount.

  • Population: Peaked At 5,000 in 1880
  • Buildings The Town Had: General Stores, Saloons, Brothels, Mess Hall, Blacksmith Shop, Boarding Houses, a School
  • Henry Wickenburg: Discovered The Gold, Was The Town's Postmaster, School Inspector, a Judge, And Justice of the Peace
  • Death: In the End, Wickenburg Donated What Was Left Of His Property, Broke and Melancholy Took His Own Life In 1905

Soon the mining town, Vulture City, sprang up and the settlement's post office was established in 1880. The town grew to peak at around 5,000 residents and many of the buildings like the huge Vulture Mine-Assay Office building still stands today (built 1884).

Related: 20 American Ghost Towns You Should Visit (But Not Alone)

From Abandonment to Modern Attraction

As often happens with gold mining boom towns, after the mine closed, the settlement was abandoned and its buildings decayed. One boom town, Virginia City, in Nevada, has managed to preserve itself by reinventing itself as a living Old West Town.

  • Closed: Vulture Mine Closed For Good In 1942

While much of the popular perception of the "Wild West" is mythical and romantic. There were no "pistols at dawn" or other Hollywood creations, this town seems to have been the embodiment of the idea of the Wild West. It was marked by violence with 18 men being hanged on an ironwood tree by the ruins of Henry Wickenburg's house.

  • Wild West: Vulture City Was The Embodiment of the Perception of the Wild West

Today the buildings and the Vulture Mine are privately owned. But two-hour guided walking tours are offered of the historic Vulture mine.

Visiting this historic site, visitors are thrown back in time. Many of the buildings and remaining artifacts have been faithfully restored along the 0.5-mile long gravel path walk. One will see how boom goes to bust. One will be able to explore the Assay Office, Cookhouse, Brothel, Post Office, Henry Wickenburg’s Original Home, and of course the infamous Hanging Tree!

Related: 25 Images Of Ghost Towns That Everyone Forgot About

Vulture Mine Tours & Admission

The Vulture Mine Tour offers a glimpse of the olden days and the golden days of the town. Besides the mine, the tour also goes through some of the remaining buildings of Vulture City.

According to Abandoned America, for a minimal fee, visitors can wander around the remnants of Vulture City unsupervised. It is said to be a vastly different experience than some of the more regulated touristic ruins one might be used to visiting. Visitors are expected to use their own common sense when exploring these often collapsing buildings.

The site is open to the public for self-guided tours daily from 8.00 am to 2.00 pm during the summer months. But it is open from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm from the beginning of October. Their guided tours run from late October to mid-may on Saturdays and Sundays.

Open 7 Days a Week:

  • Monday to Thursday: 9.00 am to 3.00 pm (8.00 am to 2.00 pm In The Summer Months)
  • Friday to Sunday: 9.00 am to 5.00 pm

The 2-hour guided tour is offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 am. Private tours are available on request.

  • General Admission: $15.00 Per Person
  • Children: $7.00 (Aged 7 to 11 - under 6 Free)
  • Pets: Leashed Dogs Are Welcome
  • Reservations: Not Required Unless Coming With a Group of 15 or more

Located in the beautiful Sonoran Desert (12 miles outside of Wickenburg) a trip here is a celebration of the American Wild West.

Next: The Eerie California Ghost Town Looks Like An (Abandoned) Wild West Movie Set