Planning an epic road trip to visit all those American ruins we shared recently? You might want to make some room in your itinerary. We've scoured the internet for the country's coolest ghost towns, from North Carolina's Outer Banks to the Wild West. Get that long-overdue oil change and pack your bags. Oh, and take us with you—we'll bring the tunes.
Founded as a Gold Rush town in 1862, remote Bannack was abandoned in the 1970s. Despite its 60 well-preserved buildings and protected status as part of Bannack State Park, the ghost town somehow doesn't attract very many tourists—so you can expect an eerily quiet experience when you visit. If that sounds too scary for you, schedule your trip for the third weekend of July, when Bannack briefly comes to life with the "Bannack Days" festival.
Batsto Village, New Jersey
Over 40 buildings still stand in this quaint New Jersey Pinelands town that grew up around an iron works. Now preserved as a historic site, Batsto Village boasts houses, farms, and industrial buildings dating from the Colonial period down to the 1870s, so a wide range of architectural styles are on display. And because of its forested East Coast location, the village offers an unusual amount of shade and greenery for a ghost town.
Animas Forks, Colorado
Located in a beautiful alpine valley outside of Silverton, Colorado, the defunct mining community of Animas Forks has to be one of the most stunning ghost towns in America. Even better, recent stabilization efforts—just completed in 2014—ensure that you won't be crushed by a stray log as you stroll through the site, contemplating the passage of time.
Gold Point, Nevada
Is there a more quintessential ghost town than Gold Point? Originally settled in the 1880s, the town went through a series of booms and busts as veins of silver and gold were discovered and exhausted. Since the last residents left Gold Point in the 1960s, the site has become a popular tourist destination, even offering WiFi-connected cabins and RV hookups to overnight guests. But don't worry: Gold Point is no Disney World, and still offers all the grit and grime you could hope for.
If you prefer your Americana a little more recent, Glenrio might be right up your alley. A casualty of Eisenhower's interstate highway system, Glenrio was once a flourishing pit stop for travelers along the famed Route 66. Today, its several surviving midcentury buildings attract tourists fascinated by Atomic Age road culture.
Portsmouth, North Carolina
Founded in 1753, Portsmouth was once a thriving port-of-entry. The town's fortunes changed starting around the middle of the 19th century, when a series of hurricanes changed the geography of the Outer Banks, turning the once-important port into a quiet backwater. After the last residents moved away in 1971, Portsmouth became a historic site; the village is now accessible by ferry.
Bodie was once named the official California state Gold Rush ghost town, and it's easy to see why. Really more of a ghost city, Bodie's sprawling remains look like a Wild West fantasy, complete with saloons, brothels, and a morgue, as well as street after street of tidy, slowly decaying wood-frame houses.
One of the spookier-looking ghost towns on our list, Kennecott was a thriving mining town until the nearby ore veins were depleted in the late 1930s. Today, the 14-story mill overlooking the settlement like a citadel is a popular tourist destination, with tours given three times a day during the summer season.
Featured image: Bodie, CA, by Flickr user ravencrest