Nelson Ghost Town
Deep in the Nevada desert sits Nelson Ghost Town, one of the most famous ghost towns near Las Vegas.
This historic landmark located about 45 minutes away from Sin City, and is considered to be one of the most famous Nevada ghost tows. It attracts plenty of photographers and filmmakers because it looks like it was taken straight from the Wild West.
The ghost town is just a small piece of property located along the main road near Eldorado Canyon. Here, you can tour Eldorado Canyon to learn the history of mining in the area or spend time taking photos of vintage cars, rusted out gas pumps and old barns.
Nelson Ghost Town Photography
Many movies and commercials have been shot here over years, and it’s still a popular place for photo sessions of all sorts.
If you want to take photos, you are required to check in at the main office where you have to pay the minimum $10 an hour fee.
But if you plan a wedding photo session at Nelson Ghost Town or a large commercial photo shoot, contact the main office ahead of your visit!
The fees are the main source of income for the owners who live on property, so your money will hep them to stay in business. When you purchase a photo tour, you will get access to the three barns on property where you can take photos. Visitors who don’t purchase a photo shoot permit, have access only to a limited number of spaces within Nelson Ghost Town.
Nelson Ghost Town History
Nevada has a rich mining history and the state is literally peppered with abandoned old mines.
However, Nelson Ghost Town is different.
While there are plenty of no-name ghost towns throughout the state, the historical Techatticup Mine is the oldest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada.
The Spanish discovered gold in this area around 1775 and back then, they called it El Dorado Canyon. But it wasn’t until 1859 when prospectors that had come here from all over the country started finding gold and silver in the area. That’s when several mining camps including the Techatticup Mine had been set up.
The dark side of Nelson Ghost Town
Soon, other minerals such as lead and copper were discovered in the area.
The place located in the middle of nowhere and cut off by miles of the harsh desert terrain often saw violent conflicts that were spurred by ownership and right disputes. Lawlessness was a normal thing at Nelson as the place attracted fortune seekers from all over the continent some of whom were deserters from the American Civil War.
Nelson was eventually abandoned when the area was hit by the flash flood and the torrents of gushing water flushed away the precious fossils that attracted so many people here.
What’s you see today are the remnants of the former Nelson that were sitting above the flood channel.
Techatticup Mine tours
A 1-hour tour of the Techatticup Mine can be purchased at $15 a person. Reservations are required ahead of your visit and can be made either online or by calling ahead of your visit.
A walking tour of the mine is approximately 1/4 mile long, and while most of it is on the flat surface, you should put on comfortable hiking shoes and not flip flops or sandals. Also, the mine tends to be a bit cool, especially during winter, so don’t forget to bring a jacket on a tour.
Tours of the Techatticup Mine start at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Taking photos at Nelson Ghost Town
This ghost town is extremely fascinating! Here you can find crumbling barns, an old Texaco station and an office of a local tour company that boasts a lot of cool artifacts.
Rusted out cars from the early 1900s are scattered across the property along with other abandoned pieces of equipment. You can even find an aircraft that appears to have nose dived into the side of the mound on the opposite side from the tour company’s office. But don’t worry, it’s completely staged!
Nelson Ghost Town Directions
Nelson Ghost Town is one of best places to visit near Las Vegas. However, compared to some big state and national parks in the area, you don’t need to spend hours on driving.
Your trip should take no more than 3-4 hours, so you will have enough time for other things to do in Las Vegas.
Here's how to find Nelson Ghost Town
Nelson Ghost Town sits about 45 minutes away from Las Vegas Strip.
From Las Vegas, take Beltway 215 east toward Boulder City, and then merge onto I-11.
Take an exit at U.S.-95 and drive past the dry lake bed on the right side. Shortly after that you will see an exit for Nelson on the left side. Take that exit and drive straight for approximately 15 minutes before you get to the town of Nelson. Keep left at the fork and you will soon get to Nelson Ghost Town.
Renting a car in Las Vegas
Nelson Ghost Town is located literally in the middle of nowhere, and it is not served by public transportation. To get here, you will have to rent a car. If you plan to visit Las Vegas during the high season (from May through the end of September), consider renting a car in advance.
One of the websites that I often use for booking cars is Discover Cars. Take a look at their website to check prices.
Nelson Ghost Town Hours
Nelson Ghost Town hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
I recommend brining a few snacks and water as there are no stores or restaurants nearby.
Although this historic ghost town has become commercialized, it’s still quite the experience!
Once you are done exploring Nelson Ghost Town, head east toward Nelson’s Landing at the end of Eldorado Canyon.
Unfortunately, Nelson’s Landing was destroyed during the 1974 flash flood. But you can still enjoy the scenic views from this spot. From here, you can either go toward Old Nelson’s Landing Road to the Colorado River or continue to Nelson’s Landing Cliff Jumping area where you can enjoy the views of the water.