There are some pretty picturesque (and spooky) ghost towns and abandoned places within a few hours of the Phoenix area. These are just a few of the hundreds of cool abandoned places around Arizona, each one coming with an equally vibrant (and often crazy) history. If you’re looking for some places to go to get you in the Halloween mood, here are some good options.
A building in Vulture City, courtesy of Abandoned America
Vulture City, located about 90 minutes west of Fountain Hills, was once home to the most productive gold mine in Arizona. The mine and the town around it formed in 1863. The place experienced a massive boom as the gold and silver yields increased exponentially. The town met its demise during and after World War Two when the government penalized the mining company for not using its resources for the war effort. Today the owners of the abandoned city and mine offer tours daily.
Tortilla Flat actually still has a population… of six. Located on the Apache Trail (State Route 88) halfway between Apache Junction and Roosevelt Lake, this town used to be a lot bigger. It went from a campsite in the 1800s to a stagecoach hub in 1904 during the construction of the Roosevelt Dam. The town gradually declined after several natural disasters, and today it’s the home to some ruins and a really good restaurant.
Jerome and Gold King Mine
Jerome, situated on the north face of Mingus Mountain about two hours north of the Phoenix area, was once a massive copper boomtown. In the 1920s, more than 10,000 lived there. The Great Depression sent the place into ruin, and it remained abandoned for many years. Gradually Jerome became a tourist attraction for its many haunted places, especially the Jerome Grand Hotel and the Gold King Mine. Today there are about 400 permanent residents, surrounded by the ruins of a not-so-distant past.
Agua Caliente and Sundad
Agua Caliente and Sundad are both absolutely fascinating pieces of history. They are located along the western edge of Maricopa County, about two hours from Fountain Hills. The Spanish actually founded Agua Caliente as early as 1775, named after hot springs which still exist there today. It was a popular tourist destination for its springs for a long time before becoming part of a ranch in the 1900s. Twenty minutes north is Sundad, a mysterious place assumed to be a sanitarium offshoot of Agua Caliente. Most of the structures have burned down, and today the foundations have been made into complex mosaic art pieces.
Gleeson, Arizona is a small ghost town located in Cochise County about four hours southeast of Fountain Hills. The location of the town used to be a turquoise mine before it switched over to extracting copper, lead, and zinc. The town burned down in 1912. It was then was rebuilt in time for the hype for resources during World War One. As such, Gleeson experienced two separate periods of booming business before the Great Depression took it out for good. Many of its remaining buildings are quite well-preserved.