The Calico Ghost Town Road Trip Guide
The rush for gold is better known, but thousands of people flocked to California in search of silver, too. Calico Ghost Town was once a productive mining area and has enjoyed an even longer life as a popular tourist spot.
Calico’s second boom came more than half a century after its first. Back in the 1950s it was developed as a theme park that celebrated its Old West mining heritage.
Today, the resurrected Calico is one of around 300 so-called ghost towns in California.
Let’s dive in.
Where Is Calico Ghost Town and How Did it Come to Be?
Calico, which lies in the Mojave Desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, wasn’t some two-bit operation. During its heyday (from 1881 to 1896) there were more than 500 mines that generated millions of dollars. It ran its course when the price of silver dropped dramatically.
The miners and their families abandoned the place, and it lay dormant for a few decades. Entrepreneur Walter Knott, who is best known for his Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park, revived it as a tourist magnet. Many of the original buildings were renovated or rebuilt.
Today, Calico Ghost Town is part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system. It has been modernized with shops and restaurants and has improvements for camping and hiking.
How much does Calico Ghost Town cost?
There’s an initial fee to enter the park, and certain attractions cost extra. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for youths (ages 4 – 11). Kids 3 and under get in free. There are also annual family passes available for $50.
Admission for dogs (other than disabled assistance dogs) is $1, and they must be on a leash.
Is Calico a real ghost town?
There are many who believe that Calico is haunted by spirits of its past. In fact, hour-long ghost tours are offered every Saturday night.
You may not see an actual ghost, but you’ll hear spine-tingling stories that have been passed down through the generations.
Pro Tip: If you’re not sure about Calico, here’s a list of the best Ghost Towns in California.
Is Calico ghost town worth visiting?
One of the big reasons that Calico Ghost Town is worth visiting is because there’s lots to see and do. Many ghost towns in California have great stories, but sometimes that’s about all they have besides a few run-down buildings.
At Calico, you can visit an actual old mine and view lots of exhibits and vintage photographs. The restored schoolhouse building is an educational look at the past, too.
You can also hop aboard a train for an 8-minute trip around the town. Calico also has modern conveniences, including restaurants and a coffee shop.
The Best Hikes to Experience Calico Ghost Town
Calico Ghost Town Visit Trail
For backcountry and mountain hiking in Calico, a route of nearly nine miles has already been established. With a pace of around 6 ½ minutes per mile, this hike would take you a little over 55 minutes and you’d see an elevation gain of 860 feet.
That’s a great way to get some exercise and get a better view of the surrounding desert terrain.
The Best Campgrounds Near Calico Ghost Town
Address: 36600 Ghost Town Road, Yermo, CA 92398
Why You’ll Love it: There’s camping within walking distance of the ghost town. Nestled between two canyons, the park has cabins and bunkhouses as well as RV sites, some with full hookups.
There are great views of the mountains as well as opportunities for hiking, fishing and kayaking.
Price: RV camping is $30/night with no hookups, $35 with some hookups and $40 with full hookups. Cabins are $65/night and bunkhouses are $160. Note: These fees are in addition to the park admission price.
Address: 35250 Outer Highway 15 North, Yermo, CA 92398
Why You’ll Love it: In addition to large sites with full hookups, you can expect the typical family-friendly amenities that KOA offers. There’s a swimming pool, laundry, and game room, and firewood is available at the camp store.
In addition, there is free cable and Wi-Fi service, an archery range, and bicycles for rent. The maximum length is 70 feet for the pull-thru sites.
Take a Ghostly Camping Trip
Old mining towns like these often have a colorful history. Calico Ghost Town lives to tell it.
Long after the glory days of silver mining, Calico hasn’t been forgotten. Instead, it has enjoyed a rich second act as a popular tourist draw.
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