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In search of Ghost Towns – Ghost Town Trail, Arizona

by Mary Chong
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Have you ever found yourself doubting the kindly information provided to you at the tourist office? Or perhaps you wonder if you took a wrong turn or misunderstood the directions provided? We experienced this very thing when we asked the gentleman behind the counter at the Tombstone Tourist Office if there were any Ghost Towns near by.

(Also check out our Tombstone article and our Boothill Graveyard articles)

Just follow this road here, as he pointed to the Ghost Town Trail on the map…sounds simple right?

Heading North out of Tombstone we were told to take a right and go along Middlemarch Road. It’s a loop called the “Ghost Town Trail” and it’s marked clearly in a solid black line on the map we were given. We were told that the entire loop should take a couple of hours to complete so, we set off in search of Ghost Towns, happily saw the street sign, turned right and started driving along.

Think again

Little did we know but that nice well-marked paved road quickly turned into a dirt road. (after thought but hmm…perhaps that’s why it’s called a trail?) We had a 4x4, a full tank of gas, lots of water and food in our cooler and lots of daylight. No worries, it looked like a really nice scenic drive. We didn’t even worry when we saw no houses, or power lines but because there were random clusters of cows grazing we knew that there was civilization close by – somewhere – or so we hoped.

Um…is that a mountain in front of us? Perhaps we missed a turn?

ghost town trail

The road quickly turned from 2-lanes to no lanes and the worry and self-doubt started to set in.

Before you know it we are driving along the edge of the Dragoon Mountains with no choice but to continue onwards – upwards – and then downwards – as there wasn’t enough physical “road” to turn the car around. In the end, it was worth the drive but the drive, excitement and the adventure getting to the 3 ghost towns we visited was much more exciting than actually seeing the 6 or so abandoned buildings.

Pearce, Arizona

ghost town trail

Courtland, Arizona

ghost town trail
ghost town trail

Gleeson, Arizona

ghost town trail

Here are some pro travel tips

  • Find out the conditions of the road. The likely hood that it is real ghost town as opposed to a “tourist trap” is that the road will not be paved.
  • Plan enough time. Again, dirt roads, likely means that there won’t be streetlights etc. and you don’t want to wander around in the dark.
  • Have a paper map, GPS, fully charged cell phone with you, food and water etc. with you. We didn’t see a single car/person for about 4 hours…so, be ready in case of emergency.
  • Watch for signs and do not trespass on private property.

Check out the video of additional photos of our adventure

What classifies as a ghost town? By definition, a ghost town is a town that once was and is no longer. Does a current population of 15 count?

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santafetraveler October 18, 2013 - 7:47 pm

The southwest is loaded with them- we’ve been to a few in Colorado and NM. Will have to put these on our list.

Mary Chong October 23, 2013 - 11:39 am

We did visit a few in Nevada but never in Colorado and NM. Thanks for the future trip idea!

Jennifer October 18, 2013 - 3:47 pm

Looks like you found some authentic ghost towns! Very cool!

Anne @ Pretraveller October 18, 2013 - 3:29 pm

It looks like you were justifiably getting worried about the route! And I guess if you stop and think about it a ghost town is unlikely to have a proper maintained road…

Mary Chong October 18, 2013 - 4:23 pm

Yes – when you stop to think about it – exactly haha! I don’t think we were thinking…


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