The Cerro Gordo Ghost Town Guide
If tales of the American Wild West ignite your excitement, you’ll love learning about the ghost town of Cerro Gordo. This ghost town sits in California’s mountains and has a simultaneously dark and prosperous past.
Let’s dive into the history of the Cerro Gordo ghost town to help you decide if it’s worth visiting.
Where Is Cerro Gordo Ghost Town and How Did It Come to Be?
Cerro Gordo is a ghost town in the Inyo Mountains near Lone Pine, California. Like many ghost towns today, it was once a bustling mining town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The main mining prospect was silver, but the area also produced zinc and lead. Prospectors worked the mines here off and on until 1933.
Although the remote and mountainous location made it difficult to transport supplies, this town once had over 4,000 residents, seven saloons, and three brothels. Additionally, it was once known for “a murder a week,” creating a poignant image of the dangerous American Wild West days.
As the minerals began to dry up, miners left, and no one worked the mines. Consequently, Cerro Gordo was a ghost town by 1938. With so many instances of death-by-draw here, it’s no wonder people believe it’s haunted!
Today, Cerro Gordo has private owners and is mostly intact–just the way it was when it was a booming mining town.
Can You Visit Cerro Gordo?
Although Cerro Gordo is privately owned, you can book guided or self-guided walking tours. All tour proceeds go to the Cerro Gordo Historical Association, which funds and preserves the town.
As a result of the association’s efforts, the town is utterly picturesque, offering many photo opportunities. So, don’t forget your camera!
If you come to visit, note that there are currently no camping or overnight stays allowed. You might not want to camp there either since there’s no wifi, limited cell service, and no facilities other than outhouses. At least they allow pets, but you must keep them on a leash.
Adult admission is a $10 donation, and children are free.
Who Owns Cerro Gordo?
The abandoned town’s owners are Brent Underwood and Jon Bier, two friends who purchased the town for $1.4 million with other friends and investors’ help. The pair planned to preserve the town’s history while making it an excellent place for visitors.
As a result of his investment, Brent Underwood has since moved to Cerro Gordo full-time and is documenting the journey on a YouTube channel called Ghost Town Living.
Does Cerro Gordo Still Have Silver?
Cerro Gordo once had California’s most fruitful silver-producing mines, but do they still have silver today? Probably, but nothing worth a commercial mining effort.
One long-time resident explained that he’d spent 22 years searching for a lost vein of silver. And, in 22 years, he’d only found approximately a wheelbarrow’s worth of the precious mineral.
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The Best Hikes to Experience Cerro Gordo Ghost Town
Cerro Gordo lies in a remote mountain setting with stunning views of other mountains and the valley below. One of the best ways to get a closer look at the ghost town is hiking some of these trails.
Swansea-Cerro Gordo OHV Route
This route is a 34-mile OHV loop trail that starts near Lone Pine, California, and can be used as an alternate route to access the ghost town. As the name suggests, OHVs (off-highway vehicles) most often use this trail, which has excellent wildlife-spotting opportunities.
Mobius Arch Loop Trail
The Mobius Arch Loop Trail is a shorter hike near Lone Pine that’s just 0.6 miles long. As you walk, you’ll see incredible scenery around the Lone Pine area.
It has a moderately steep grade, so although it’s a short hike, it might be challenging for some. But at least you can bring your dogs and horses along!
The Best Campgrounds Near Cerro Gordo Ghost Town
Because there are no campgrounds inside the Cerro Gordo area, you’ll need suggestions on where to stay. Here are some nearby campgrounds you’ll love.
Boulder Creek RV Resort
Address: 2550 S Highway 395, Lone Pine California 93545
Why You’ll Love It: This RV resort is in Lone Pine, California, a 40-minute drive from the ghost town. It has RV sites for rent, cabins, and even a market for supplies. Plus, you’ll love the free coffee and muffins served in the morning at the clubhouse!
Price: $55 nightly rate for all sites
Diaz Lake Campground
Address: 3 miles south of Lone Pine on Highway 395
Why You’ll Love it: Diaz Lake Campground is a no-frills dry camping area along the shores of Diaz lake, south of Lone Pine. Therefore, if you’re into dry camping, this is the spot for you! Activities include swimming, water sports, fishing, and more.
There are no showers at this campground, and the bathrooms are vault toilets, but it’s a great jumping-off spot for exploring Cerro Gordo and the Lone Pine area.
Price: $14 per night
This Well-Preserved Ghost Town Is a Must-See
Cerro Gordo is one of the best-preserved ghost mining towns, so it’s definitely a must-see! A step into this town is like a step back in time to miners’ lives and living conditions over a hundred years ago.
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