Goldfield Ghost Town Apache Junction, Arizona
By AZ Leisure Staff Writers
Once upon a time, Goldfield sat atop a hill near the Superstition Mountains and Goldfield Mountains and was a bustling town that had struck gold in 1892. Today, travelers to the area can revisit this old western past and see an authentic ghost town brought back to life. Located about 35 miles southeast of Phoenix just outside Apache Junction AZ, Goldfield Ghost Town has been called the gateway to the Superstition Mountains . The attractions of town paired with the incredible mountain scenery make Goldfield a must-see destination when traveling through the legendary Valley of the Sun.
Goldfield’s history begins with that historic 1892 gold strike that put this town on the map. The initial strike is believed to have been worth as much as three million dollars which was a huge amount of money in the days of the Wild West. Subsequent strikes continued to support a vibrant population of four thousand people. During its heyday, the town boasted a general store, post office, several saloons, blacksmith, meat market, school house, boarding house, hotel, and brewery. The hearty Goldfield folk led colorful lives in the midst of all that gold.
A growing Arizona town, Goldfield appeared to be a rising star that even threatened to outshine and outgrow nearby Mesa and the fifty mines within its district appeared to have lasting promise of wealth. However, a break in the gold vein caused the town to decline. Although the people made attempts to reopen the town from 1910 to 1926, they were not ultimately successful and the mines never came back to life.
Visiting Goldfield Ghost Town Today
The Goldfield of today promises visitors a rich experience steeped in western history. Vacationers can relive the early experiences of the miners by viewing the town and participating in its various activities. As the only true-blue ghost town in the Valley, travelers can expect to tour the underground mines, take ride on the only narrow gauge train operating in Arizona, stroll down Main Street, hit the many shops, view the old buildings, pan for gold, and even watch a rendition of a gun fight. Many visitors also come to visit the Goldfield Superstition Museum which showcases various exhibits related to both the town and the nearby mountains. Perhaps the most popular exhibit is the one featuring the Lost Dutchman Mine . Children will love the ice cream parlor!
Various shops like the Bordello offer visitors a chance to shop in a delightful atmosphere filled with historic décor. The recreated brothel is also accompanied by a leatherworks shop, bakery, saloon, and many unique shops that cater to vacationers. The nearby Goldfield Livery also offers horseback riding activities and carriage rides. Camping is available and the Phoenix New Times has called Goldfield as the best place to take children in the Phoenix area. Goldfield is unsurpassed for fun and old western charm.
Directions To Goldfield
Goldfield Ghost Town is located off Mammoth Mine Road near Apache Trail at the foot of the Superstition Mountains, some of the state’s most picturesque. The location also provides a terrific view of the legendary Superstition Mountains. Goldfield is only four miles northeast of the town Apache Junction which is about 35 miles southeast of Phoenix.
More Information And Maps
Goldfield Ghost Town
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Goldfield, Arizona: Legends and History of the Wild West
Sitting at the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, Goldfield is a well-known attraction in the vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona, a perfect day trip destination from the city. One of the few ghost towns in the Southwest, it showcases buildings and a main street that would fit in the old Wild West.
But is it a real ghost town or an artificial attraction, a town re-built as a tourist trap? I’ll just tell you its story, then let you decide.
Table of Contents
The Story of Goldfield, a Mining Town in the Wild West
Back when the area was still the Wild West, a prospector found gold in the Superstition Mountains. It was a high-grade ore, worth a lot. Word spread about it, attracting more miners. Soon, they opened Mammoth Mine. Around the mine, a new settlement was born.
The new mine added to the legend of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine that had been circulating in the media. The story brought more miners, more settlers. Goldfield soon grew to a town with a population of over a thousand.
This mining settlement eventually got its own post office, in 1893, which marked it as an official town. Around this time, the settlers built a church, a schoolhouse, a general store, and a meat market. A blacksmith came to town and opened shop. A brewery, a few saloons, a boarding house, and even a hotel followed. The town and population continued growing and growing. But eventually, the gold vein dried up.
Goldfield Becomes a Ghost Town
As the mines closed, the town declined, until the last of its population left. In 1898, just five years after its inauguration as a town, Goldfield was abandoned. It became a ghost town, with the wind blowing through its buildings.
But the legend of the lost Dutchman’s gold mine continued circulating.
Some prospectors stayed, trying to find it. Others tried to reopen the old Mammoth Mine. Although they found gold, it wasn’t enough to live off of.
Then, in the early 1900s, a wealthy prospector named George Young brought in modern mining equipment and reopened the mines. Attracting settlers once again, he revived the town in 1921 and renamed it Youngsberg.
However, Youngsberg lasted no longer than Goldfield, and five years later it became a ghost town once more.
Many years later, Goldfield reopened as a tourist attraction.
A Ghost Town and Mine Enthusiast Buys and Rebuilds Goldfield
In 1966, a ghost town and mining enthusiast, Robert Schoose, moved into the area with his wife.
When they heard about the stories of the lost gold mine and the town built around it, they went out into the area to investigate. Visiting the remains of Goldfield, they came across a few foundations and some shacks that were left of the town.
After more searches, they also found the Goldfield Mill’s location. They bought the mill and the surrounding area and set off to rebuild the town.
It was a lot of work and they took over twenty years to do it, but they succeeded.
First, they reconstructed the mining tunnel, then the buildings in town, and they opened it all up for business as a ghost town attraction in 1988.
Historical Site or Tourist Trap? Maybe Both
Today, Goldfield is one of the main tourist attractions around Phoenix.
Some of the old buildings host tourist shops, a few cafés, and an ice cream shop.
Visitors can pan for gold, take a narrow-gauge train ride to the mines, and even take a zip-line ride.
One of the main attractions is a show, repeated every hour on weekends. Actors dressed in old Western clothes replay a gunfight in the center of Main Street.
During the days on weekends, the town seems as busy as it must have been in its heyday. Parking lots are full, families stroll through the town and stop at the various shops. The train is full as it leaves the station; people are standing in line to pan for gold.
The recreated brothel, the Bordello, houses various shops that sell tourist souvenirs.
Another old building is home to a bakery and cafe.
You can stop at a leather works shop, a jail, livery, and other stores that cater to tourists.
The newest attraction in town is the zip-line. You take a ride overlooking the Superstitions and the town.
Goldfield mine tours are also popular. The underground guided tour takes about 25 minutes.
The Superstition Narrow-Gauge Railroad takes about 20 minutes to circle the town. While on board, the conductor entertains visitors by talking about Goldfield and the surrounding area.
Horseback rides, and carriage rides, are available through the livery.
The reptile museum behind the bordello is also worth a quick stop.
Those interested in the town’s history would enjoy a visit to the Goldfield Superstition Museum.
The exhibits relate to the mines, the town, and the surrounding mountains nearby.
But the most popular one is about the Lost Dutchman gold mine.
The Legend of the Lost Dutchman and His Gold Mine
Most locals of Arizona know the legend of the Lost Dutchman well. How much of it is fiction, as opposed to reality, is hard to tell.
Though the Dutchman was a real person, he wasn’t Dutch at all. A German prospector, he came to the Superstitions to search for gold, like many others. According to the legend, he found an ore but kept its location a secret. Did he? Or was it wishful thinking from those who heard of him? Or an opportunity for a good story?
Living in the area, I heard a few different versions of this legend. Which one I like best? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you a few.
Jacob Waltz Lives Off His Gold Mine but Keeps It Secret
Jacob Waltz, the German known as the “Dutchman” immigrated to America in the 1830s. A plausible explanation of people thinking him as Dutch might come from linguistics. Germans call themselves Deutsch. With the wrong pronunciation, this could sound like “Dutch”.
Once in America, this Deutsch-man dedicated his life to searching gold. He traveled through the country, staying for short times in different places. But he didn’t find enough gold anywhere to live off of. So he kept moving on.
Then, in the 1860s he came to Arizona. Here, he found enough gold in the Superstition Mountains to realize his dream. He opened a small mine and lived off of it for the rest of his life. All alone, as this story goes.
But he kept the mine’s location hidden. As he got old, he needed a caregiver. Still, he kept the his mine’s location hidden even from her until his deathbed. When he finally told her about it, he left clues of how to find it, but they proved unreliable time after time.
Believe it or not, some hikers still hope to find the mine in the mountains.
The Lost Apache Gold
Another version of this legend includes Apaches. They lived in the area and knew about a place with a lot of gold. But since they considered it a sacred place, they kept it a secret. Not only that, but they prevented anyone who traveled in the area from finding it.
More Versions of the Story
Some versions of this legend place another German in the story as Waltz’s partner. He helps Waltz mine gold, but later gets killed either by the Apaches or by Waltz himself. On his deathbed, Waltz tells his caretaker about his mine and its location. Since he can’t go there himself, he leaves clues or a map, but nothing leads to a gold mine.
All versions agree that no one ever found the lost mine again. It is supposed to be cursed or protected by guardians who keep its location a secret. Only one person, this Dutchman ever found it. He was allowed to use it as long as he kept its location a secret.
What is true and what is fiction in this story is hard to tell. In fact, the making of the legend was most likely due to the media.
The Making of a Legend
Rumors of “lost gold mines” used to abound through the Wild West. This was one of them and it would have remained an anecdote, like the rest, if it wasn‘t for the media. It started with the death of another prospector, Adolph Ruth, during his search for this “lost mine”.
The story of his death got picked up by the media of the time. The media, being what it still is, made it a huge deal, a murder mystery. Though no one ever proved that someone killed Ruth, his story became a sensation. This started a new flood of adventurers and gold seekers.
None of the prospectors who went off into the Superstition Mountains in search of the mine ever returned, and no one ever heard from them again. Some of them turned up dead, others just disappeared.
Is the Apache Thunder God Protecting the Gold? Or simply Mother Nature?
Is someone or something protecting the gold? Some think the Apache Thunder God does. Or maybe the gold fever drives people mad and gets them to kill each other.
But living in the desert, and understanding its dangers, I think the explanation is much more mundane. It is easy to get lost in the wilderness of a desert mountain. And even easier to get dehydrated, and dying of heat exhaustion. To this day we have hikers getting lost, dehydrated and in the hospital while hiking in the Superstitions. Hiking alone in the desert might still get you killed if you run out of water.
So, my guess is, these gold seekers simply didn’t understand the desert wilderness, and died of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Coyotes and other predators might have finish those who were never found.
Whatever it may be, to this day, some people believe the story about a hidden gold mine that surpasses anyone’s expectation. Never mind that geologists proved that there is no gold in the Superstitions. What do they know?
Some historians believe the Lost Dutchman’s mine is the Mammoth Mine in Goldfield, the one that brought the town to life.
How much of these stories is true, we might never know. But the legend still lives, and it is a great addition to the Arizona lore.
Should You Visit Goldfield?
If you are in the area, why not? Though it is a bit of a tourist trap, it’s a fun one. Besides, if you care at all about the Wild West and gold prospectors, or ghost towns, and the history of that era, chances are, you’ll learn some more.
One might argue that isn’t not a true ghost town, since most of the buildings are reconstructed, not standing as they were built. Still, the town existed in the same place. Twice, in fact. And the buildings are historically accurate, even if they are not used for the same purpose.
Just don’t go off into the Superstitions in search for the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine. Instead, pan for gold in town to live the experience.
But if you want to hike the Superstitions , it is worth the hike. Just make sure you go with a friend, carry enough water, and stay on a trail. And, whatever you do, don’t hike there in the middle of the summer. Instead, go in the winter, or the shoulder seasons.
How to Get to Goldfield
Goldfield is on the Apache Trail, in the town of Apache Junction, off the US I-60 Superstition Freeway.
From Phoenix, either take US 101 to I-60, or 51 to 202 to I-60.
Once on the Superstition Freeway (I-60) East, go to Exit #196- Idaho Road/AZ-88 East
Turn left on Idaho Road and drive 2.3 miles
Turn right at North Apache Trail, and drive 4 miles.
Goldfield Ghost Town is on your left.
Besides being the owner and editor of Wanderer Writes, Emese-Réka is a travel writer with bylines in online publications like Lonely Planet, Travel Awaits, Matador Network, RoadTrippers, GoNomad, among others. A native Hungarian from Transylvania, she is also a translator and teacher of Hungarian as a foreign language.
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A lovely article with great detail. I agree it is a tourist trap, but the reality is that “real” ghost towns cannot sustain themselves. It requires tourist dollars to build, maintain and improve any attraction. The fact that the buildings are historically correct makes a big difference already. I would visit if I was in the area.
Thank you, Chris. You are right about “real” ghost towns not being able to sustain themselves. As a tourist attraction they can thrive and add to our understanding of history. Goldfield is worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
What amazing history and views off in the distance! With all those tourists though it doesn’t look much like a ghost town anymore haha! I went to one in Alaska and it was really dead as a door nail! #FeetDoTravel
It kind of reminds me of Tombstone. I think it’s worth a visit just for the scenery alone. It does make for wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard
As Chris has already said, a real ghost town won’t be able to continue as a business so they have to make it a tourist trap in some way. Reading your post and looking at your photos, I wouldn’t say it’s too bad though, OK there is a shop and there are a few cheesy things, but people like cheese (and I’m not talking Cheddar haha). As long as it’s not over-touristy, it works fine for me. Pinned #feetdotravel
Curious, so had to see what this was all about. Unfortunately not my cup of tea, but now I know, thanks 🙂 #theweeklypostcard
I love a bit of hype and legend so I’d visit if I was in the area. From your pics they’ve done a great job of authentically rebuilding the town and who can stay away from a gunfight 😉 Great info!
Goldfield may be a tourist trap, but I still love visiting it. There is something so appealing about this ghost town with the Superstition Mountains as a backdrop. My son loved to pan for gold here. #TheWeeklyPostcard
I have visited Calico ghost town in California and it looks similar. But Goldfield looks more like a town from wild west movies thanks to the surrounding mountains and it offers more attractions and the shows. Thanks for the post #TheWeeklyPostcard
Really delightful post! I learned a lot. I like how this couple restored the town over many many years and now have made a success of it. In a way the whole town is a big museum, telling a story about a period in history. I can see why it’s a big attraction, the staged gunfights and so on sound like a lot of fun. I’d go! #feetdotravel
Even if it’s touristy, it is quaint and appealing. It doesn’t seem like a ghost town, with the people there and the gunfights. But it does sound like a fun place to visit!
Nohát, ez nagyon tetszik! Jó volt olvasni! Egy hasonlót láttam eddig, Calico-ban, nagyon hasonló dolgok jutottak eszembe.
Nagyon örülök, hogy tetszett. Nem jártam Calico-ban ugyan, de mindig jó amikor az ember hasonlót lát különböző helyen… Köszi, hogy olvastad s szóltál.
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Hidden Gem reveals darker side of Apache Junction's Goldfield Ghost Town
APACHE JUNCTION, AZ — An Arizona Hidden Gem reveals a much darker side of Apache Junction's Goldfield Ghost Town: paranormal activity.
Goldfield Ghost Town is home to several attractions centered around Arizona's rich mining history.
It's a popular daytime stop in Apache Junction for tourists that includes period characters, a mine tour, a mystery spot, a reptile museum, and legends of a lost treasure.
But the town's newest attraction features an Arizona Hidden Gem. You'll find it below the town of Goldfield and the only group that can get you there is Fear Frontier.
Matt Mason guides this paranormal tour and says, "We're proud of the town. It's a great place to see by day. But you might want to leave at night unless you want to venture in with us."
Mason's lantern guides you through the town — and below it.
"We will take you into the mine where most activity has been seen, that's where a lot of activity happens because, after all, in 1897 they actually struck an aquifer that flooded the underground making it unusable," he added.
He also shares where the paranormal activity is strongest.
"We've seen people run. We're always the ones... the guys who stay behind in the dark and see what they're running from we want to find what it is they saw... why did it reach out?"
For roughly 90 minutes, Mason and his team will share skin-crawling details about the miners, cowboys and prospectors who were killed, searching the Superstition Mountains for gold.
"The Apache had a special name for the Superstition Mountains. They believe this was the literal portal to hell. They also believe that the Superstition Mountains were protected by a thunder God and that anyone who dared trespass or dare disturb that sacred mountain, this God that guarded the portal to hell would literally choose your fate. A lot of people think it flooded because the land is cursed," Mason said.
Mason says the tour with Fear Frontier clearly isn't for those who scare easily.
"We like to tell people often that it's not a book tour so if something does happen to frighten you, we didn't plan it — it's completely natural," he added.
He shares that those in search of the most haunted place in Arizona will find it here.
"So not only do you walk cursed grounds, you go under where the curse might have literally been struck in 1897 and that is probably where most people feel tampered with, touched, and grabbed. We probably see the most people run from there."
Fear Frontier 4650 N Mammoth Mine Road Apache Junction, AZ 85119 https://fearfrontier.net/
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Goldfield Ghost Town
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Goldfield Ghost Town
Apache Junction, Arizona
We'll say it: Goldfield is a dazzling nugget of desert entertainment. This roadside reconstruction of a gold discovery boom town delivers period characters, a mine tour, a mystery spot, a reptile museum, and legends of a lost treasure.
The original town sprang up in 1892, peaking at 28 buildings, with a community of up to 4,000. Five years later, after prospectors had dug out all of the gold, the population deflated, and Goldfield went ghost dark. It had a sputtering revival between 1910 and 1926 (renamed as Youngsberg), then waned again. In 1943, a fire accidentally caused by an errant military training flare burned down 60% of Goldfield. Eventually all of the buildings were gone, and parts were salvaged and carted off elsewhere.
Now Goldfield booms once again -- as a commercial Ghost Town, with a sprawling array of recreated buildings, and Wild West trappings that tourists crave.
The unofficial mayor of the privately owned town is Bob Schoose.
"I've been at it for 32 years," Bob told us. Bob is one of the owners and was a powerhouse behind the resurrection of Goldfield in the 1980s. "I'd been doing construction work and earthwork and demolition all my life -- jobs all over with crews," Bob said. "Those kind of jobs are affected by downturns in the economy. After one job in San Diego, on our way home we got to thinking of some things the economy won't affect so much -- talked about ghost towns and gold mines that tourists visit. By the time we got home, we had some good ideas for a business."
In 1983, Bob spotted a For Sale sign on five acres in Apache Junction, the site of the gold mine and historic Goldfield. While that property had little to offer, the partners bought the Goldfield Mill site, a nearby 5-acre property in 1984, and spent nearly five years doing painstaking reconstruction of the 1890s version of the town. "It's laid out exactly the same" as the Goldfield site, Bob said. "We used some of the original foundations -- the snack bar is on the site where Doc Waterbury lived -- he was the last owner of the mine -- until the 1970s." Schoose wrote a book about the site's history: Goldfield Boom to Bust - Arizona Territory 1893 .
Goldfield differs from large, commercial pay-to-enter attractions. There's no charge to park and walk its streets and enter stores and restaurants, with an a la carte approach to individual points of interest. Visitors pay to enter the Mystery Shack or a museum, or to ride a horse or Arizona's only narrow gauge train . Or they buy a souvenir magnet or an ice cream cone, and watch men shoot guns at each other. The shops close at five, but the Mammoth Saloon glugs along until 9 pm.
"I'm not greedy," Bob said, "I want people to see the history of Arizona, and have a good time. Some just come in for the gunfight, but many buy a meal and go to some of the attractions."
As a kid growing up in southern California, Bob witnessed this approach working spectacularly at Knott's Berry Farm. "They didn't charge to get in." And he's also seen Wild West attractions become ghost towns after changing admission strategy: "The original Rawhide was free to enter; then they started charging to come in, and that really hurt them." Rawhide was eventually sold off and moved.
Wandering Goldfield visitors are forewarned by liability waiver signs that the site is frontier-rugged -- wooden walkways, rickety steps and handrails, uneven slopes, and the occasional confused rattlesnake. The town is built on a hill, and there are nooks to explore along with the mercantile, apothecary, bordello, and an olde timey photo salon. A miniature "Tiny Town" along the train tracks is next to a gag outhouse inhabited by dummies, which is next to a graveyard ("The Last Dig"). There are ample photo opportunities (for personal use only; Goldfield prohibits photos for commercial purposes without permission).
Loud, choreographed scuffles occur hourly during the day, announced over speakers. Crowds are confined to building boardwalks and the ends of the street as a crusty assemblage of outlaws, troublemakers, and lawmen -- the Goldfield Gunfighters -- wander onto the dirt main drag, shout at each other, and then, reaching no amicable solution, blast away. (Free)
Goldfield Superstition Museum
The local historical society has assembled lots of artifacts - Native American arrowheads and pottery, dollhouse versions of town buildings. They're the kind of items encountered at a western town or county history museum, but mining-skewed, along with several notable celebrity items, including Doc Holliday's dress coat, and the buffalo robe worn by Robert Redford in the movie Jeremiah Johnson . (Admission)
Lost Dutchman Hunter Hall of Fame
Within the Goldfield Superstition Museum, the Lost Dutchman Hunter Hall of Fame chronicles notable characters who "have been integral to the Legend of the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine ." Starting in 1891, with the clearly imperfect deathbed directions to the mine provided by Jacob Waltz, countless hunters have sought the treasure. The Hall of Fame is a wall of bios and photos, "a good cross-section of the Dutch Hunter society," the display informs us -- from those who went broke from fruitless searches, to an eccentric writer who lived in a cave, to those injured or killed in the dangerous Superstition Mountains.
The Mystery Shack
All laws of gravity and common sense vanish when visitors enter this classic tourist structure of optical illusion and perceptual distortion. Water runs uphill, objects change size. A "ghostly pool table" draws every ball irresistibly to the same pocket. (Admission)
Mammoth Mine Tour
There's a mine conveniently tunneled under the town. The underground guided tour in the Mammoth Mine is the place to learn about late 19th century ore extracting and processing. The tour takes less than a half hour. (Admission)
Superstition Reptile Exhibit
Scaly, crawly creatures of the Sonoran Desert were Goldfield's most numerous inhabitants after the people left. Visitors see them up close (but safely) at this indoor reptile attraction, and ask the reptile expert any question that crosses their minds about spiders, snakes, and lizards. Is the gila monster really a monster? (Admission)
The zip line is a relatively recent addition to Goldfield. The line is, no surprise, gold mine-themed -- based on the old tram that hauled ore from the top of the mountains. Mayor Bob recommends it for our next visit.
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Established in 1893, Goldfield Ghost Town near Apache Junction, Arizona, is a historic Old West adventure destination reviving the mining and gold prospecting days of the past.
This unique little old town brimming with recreated early times type entertainment and fun for all ages touts it’s the “Gateway to the Legendary Superstition Mountains,” indicating its proximity to and extraordinary views of the infamous mountain range.
Attractions at Goldfield Ghost Town
Many exciting and fascinating tourist attractions live and breathe at Goldfield Ghost Town within Apache Junction, AZ’s city limits. The once-thriving mining town now named a ghost town caters to high adventure seekers with a zipline providing an aerial view of the Superstitions. There are train rides on a narrow-gauge railroad, goldmine tours, and jeep tours for the more casual explorers and sight-seers. As well as a reptile exhibit, gunfighter shows, shooting gallery, a historical museum, horseback riding, panning for gold, and even a tour of an Old West bordello.
Superstition Zipline | Superstition Narrow Gauge Railroad | Goldfield Mine Tours | Apache Trail Tours | Superstition Reptile Exhibit | Goldfield Gunfighters | Eagle Eye Shooting Gallery | The Mystery Shack | Goldfield’s Historic Museum | Superstition’s O.K. Corral Stables | Lu Lu’s Bordello at Goldfield | Gold Panning at Prospector’s Palace
Merchants at Goldfield Ghost Town
Shopping for the perfect Arizona souvenir, taking home a piece of the Old West, and experiencing the Southwest’s culinary contributions is abundant at Apache Junction’s Goldfield Ghost Town near the Superstition Mountains. Visitors can enjoy a variety of tasty sweet treats in the desert, including ice cream, homemade fudge, and old-time candy convections. Other noshable options include a full-service coffee cantina and bakery, burgers, hotdogs, refreshing cold drinks, and a salsa shop filled with spicy, mouthwatering, hot pepper filled delights of the Southwest.
Along with attending to your snack and refreshment needs, Goldfield Ghost Town offers unparalleled shopping experiences with local cultural treasures from the Southwest. Including an old-time photoshoot complete with all sizes of Victorian & Western-styled costumes, beautiful custom Native American turquoise & sterling silver jewelry, cacti & desert plants, hand-blown glass items, botanical organic handcrafted small-batch skincare, local artisan-made pottery, and imports from Mexico like blankets, dolls, knives, and metal artwork.
Time after Time | The Blue Nugget | Miner’s Grill & Ice Cream Parlor The Living Desert | Mother Lode Mercantile | Coffee Cantina & Bakery | Border Town | Church on the Mount | Siphon Draw Apothecary | The Mudslinger Pottery | Gidy-Up Gourmet
Goldfield Ghost Town Grub | The Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon
You’re bound to get a hankering for some good old fashioned grub while exploring Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction, Arizona. With all the gun slingin’, gold diggin’, and all, it’s no wonder, you’re hungry and parched. The Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon is onsite servin’ up your favorite fixins. Here’s a sampling of some menu options to please your palette.
- Giant Mammoth Burger, a half-pound burger with pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, and mushrooms
- BBQ Beef Sandwich served with fries
- Deep-Fried Cod Filets served with baked potato, roll and vegetables or beans
- 16-ounce T-Bone Steak served with baked potato, roll and vegetables or beans
- Kid’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich served with fries and vegetable, “For little miners 12 years old or younger.”
- Homemade Apple Dumplings with Ice Cream
Cowboy Dan (the grub slinger) can also accommodate your private party and cookout needs with The Mammoth’s onsite catering service.
Groups & Private Events at Goldfield Ghost Town
The folks at Goldfield Ghost Town grant a unique scenic indoor and outdoor venue and are ready to help with your special private event. With 7500 square feet of entertainment space, the Mammoth Steakhouse and Saloon at Goldfield Ghost Town can accommodate your celebration specifications and group size, by customizing packages that fit any occasion.
Goldfield Ghost Town Location & Hours
Discover the Old West’s grandeur at Goldfield Ghost Town off of Arizona State Route 88, the historic North Apache Trail, approximately four and a half miles from Apache Junction, AZ to the northeast.
The Merchants are open daily from 10 am to 5 pm, the Bakery is open from 9 am to 5 pm, and the Saloon’s hours are from 11 am to 9 pm. Be sure to call the venue when planning your travel to ensure certain attractions and shops you are interested in at Goldfield Ghost Town are officially open and available.
If you and the family are looking for a Wild West experience in the heart of the Arizona desert, Goldfield Ghost Town, with its not-too-far-away-from-modern-civilization locale, is ready to serve up some fun. Behold the breathtaking views of the Superstition Mountains to boot. Speaking of boots, don’t forget to strap those puppies on along with your ten-gallon lid and giddy up partner, yee-ha!
Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours Inc. 4650 N Mammoth Mine Road Apache Junction, AZ 85119
The Bistro | Queen Creek, AZ
The Bistro offers delicious fare of flatbread pizzas, paninis, tasty grilled sandwiches and is one of my favorite neighborhood places in QC. They also offer a full-service coffee bar! Support local Queen Creek and check out The Bistro when you get a chance.
- Apache Junction , Things To Do
- apache junction things to do , contributor: amber henrickson
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Goldfield Ghost Town: Top Things to Do in AZ’s Old West
Step Back in Time into the Old West at Goldfield Ghost Town
For those looking for a wild west adventure through the scenic desert, Arizona is your place to go. This large state is not just full of beautiful desert terrain but also numerous abandoned, or “living” ghost towns.
One of the best, possessing both authentic old west appeal and stunning natural landscapes, is the charming Goldfield Ghost Town. Resting in a breathtaking location, this old western town sits just a few miles away from the epic Superstition Mountains of Arizona.
Out of the many historic towns we’ve seen throughout the state, Goldfield Ghost Town certainly stands out above the rest for its beauty and historic charm.
A Quick History of Goldfield Ghost Town
So what’s the story of Goldfield and why is it here? Well, similar to many other mining towns, the answer is simple – gold !
Gold was discovered here in this area between the Superstition Mountains and Goldfield Mountains back in 1892. After gold was found, the town sprang up and boomed, reaching a total of 28 buildings and 4,000 residents.
The boom lasted for about 5 years until prospectors dug out all of the gold ore.
Once the gold was gone, the town’s population and community quickly collapsed eventually going dark. Miners moved on to new boomtowns and by 1898, the post office was closed and Goldfield officially became a ghost town.
Although, the town saw a short revival in 1910 when George Young brought new mining methods and equipment to Goldfield. But sadly once again, the town dwindled in producing ore and became a ghost town permanently in the mid-1920s.
Today, Goldfield Ghost Town is alive once again, but now as a commercial, or “living” ghost town. Bringing in travelers, tourists, and historic enthusiasts to escape into the well-loved wild west experience of the old mining days.
Details/Info – Goldfield Ghost Town
Goldfield Ghost Town is located 4.5 miles east of Apache Junction off Highway 88, right next to the popular Lost Dutchman State Park and Superstition Mountains.
Parking is available in a large parking lot right past the main entrance.
Actual Address: 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Rd, Apache Junction AZ 85119
- Merchants – 10AM – 5PM
- Bakery – 9AM – 5PM
- Saloon/Restaurant – 11AM – 9PM (daily)
- No admission or parking fee
- Bathrooms located on-site
For overnight lodging, the closest place to stay would be in Apache Junction . There is a good variety of hotels, restaurants, groceries, and shops to choose from.
Although, if you’re looking for a larger city, then your 2 next closest options would be the cities of Mesa or Gilbert just past Apache Junction.
We stayed in a charming Airbnb in Apache Junction during our visit. If we can, we always choose an Airbnb over hotels as they’re often similar in price, but offer a much more unique experience.
Feel free to use our Airbnb coupon code which saves you $55 of your first night’s stay!
TOP THINGS TO SEE & DO AT GOLDFIELD GHOST TOWN
Despite being a smaller ghost town compared to Tombstone or Jerome , there are still tons to do at Goldfield. This also depends on how much money you want to spend as the commercialized ghost town has to stay financially afloat somehow!
We broke down the top things to do & see for both Free(ish) Things to Do and Paid Attractions.
Best Free(ish) Things to Do
When we say free(ish), we mean things to do that are either completely free or require a small purchase. Mainly things outside of tours.
WANDER THE HISTORIC ROW
The main and most common thing to do when visiting any ghost town is to simply wander the town’s historic rows. Since Goldfield Ghost Town is a smaller town, the majority of the roaming will take place along the central main street.
First thing you will notice is the incredible Superstition Mountains that lay as a wonderful backdrop against the town. Pair that with a wide valley of Saguaro Cacti that surrounds the town, and you have one outstanding western landscape to say the least.
Honestly, one of the most scenic we’ve seen in the entire state.
As you wander the streets, you will see many reconstructed historic buildings that line the row. These buildings now house commercial shops, museums, a small grill, ice cream parlor, coffee shop & bakery, and other miscellaneous western-themed attractions.
Of course, shopping may involve some spending, but hey that’s why we said “free(ish)!”
Follow the main row up till you reach the top of the hill where the church resides. This is basically the end of the town, at least the main walking area.
Wandering through the town is the most “free” thing you can do, anything more will require some spending.
PEEK INSIDE THE CHURCH OF THE MOUNT
What’s neat is that Goldfield Ghost Town’s Church of the Mount is actually still active. Services are available on Sundays for those who want to attend.
Although on the other days of the week, visitors can still take a peek inside the church for a quick look.
In general, the church is a quaint feature at the end of the row.
ENJOY THE 360° VIEWS OF THE DESERT LANDSCAPE
As we previously mentioned, Goldfield Ghost Town has amazing natural views of the Superstition Mountains. Amazingly, there are also many other incredible viewpoints of the desert valley from multiple points of the town.
We found ourselves stopping at least 3-4 times at different spots throughout town just to marvel at the beautiful scenery.
Saguaro cacti, yucca plants, and mountain ranges spread across miles of land. The Superstition Mountains obviously holding the spotlight and being the most iconic feature of the grounds.
If you can, stay till sunset to see the desert light up in new colors of pinks and purples as the sun slowly sets over the horizon.
Romantic? Unforgettable? Absolutely gorgeous? Yes to all three!
WATCH THE GOLDFIELD GUNFIGHTERS
Photo Credit: GoldfieldGunfighters.com
Every Saturday and Sunday, you can catch a free show from the Goldfield Gunfighters .
They perform every hour from 12pm – 4pm out on the main street of town. A fun show that appeals to the old west vibe of the era for all to enjoy without spending any extra cash!
Best Paid Attractions at Goldfield
Now for the other attractions that will require spending some money. All are fairly affordable and can really add to your Goldfield experience.
However, we still recommend visiting Goldfield Ghost Town even if you don’t wish to partake in any additional purchases. These are just listed for those who want to dive deeper and don’t mind spending the extra cash. Prices below are all subject to change.
Since there are so many to choose from, we simplified it in the bulleted list below!
Mammoth Steakhouse and Saloon
- Best place for food & drinks within an authentic decor of an old west saloon filled with western artifacts
- 25-minute underground tour that showcases the history of the mine, town, and gold mining equipment
- $10 Adults / $9 Seniors / $7 Children 5-12 / Kids 4 and under are free
- Small diesel train that takes you along 1.5 miles of railroad track which circles the town. All while learning the history of Goldfield, the Superstition Mountains, and the desert from the engineer
- See Goldfield from a tall zipline that stretches above the town
- $12 per person / Additional Rides $6
- A small museum of many reptiles and invertebrates on display
- $5 Adults / $4 for kids 17 and under / Kids 6 & under are free
- Educational exhibits on the history of the area and the Lost Dutchman Gold Mine with a movie museum
- $4 Adults / $1 Children
- A unique shack that defies gravity by using fun optical illusions
- $7 Adults / $6 Seniors / $5 Children / Kids 4 and under are free
- Shoot interactive targets from a selection of various historic guns
- $2 per game
- 10-15 min tour from the girls or “Floozy’s” that explain the history of the women of the 1800’s. Both good and bad experience of what it was like living as a woman in the west
- $4 Adults / $3 Seniors / $2 Kids
- Pan for gold and be taught by a gold historian who will show you how it was done in the old west
- $9 Adults / $6 Children 12 & Under
- Horseback ride with a guide into the incredible mountainous region of Goldfield
- Call for reservations and price options
During our visit, we mainly stuck to the free(ish) options as well as enjoying lunch and a nice cold beer at the saloon.
Sitting on the outdoor patio of the saloon gives an amazing view of the Superstition Mountains. It was easy to spend a couple hours here relaxing and taking in the majestic desert scenery.
Goldfield Ghost Town is One of Arizona’s Most Charming Old West Towns
So there you have it! As you can see there is so much to do at Goldfield Ghost Town that it’s easy to spend several hours enjoying this piece of old west history.
What we love about Goldfield is that you really don’t have to spend money to enjoy your visit. While the extra attractions are fun to participate in, the simplicity of the western vibe paired with the gorgeous desert scenery is enough to feel instantly fulfilled.
At least that’s how we felt from just our first few steps into town!
If you have the time and money, then we do recommend taking part in a few of the attractions here. The tours are rich with knowledge and lead by wonderful tour guides who know much about the town’s history.
If not the tours, the small rides on the train or zipline are great for the little ones or those looking for something with more action.
However you choose to spend your time in Goldfield Ghost Town, we know you will come home with some great memories. For those who are looking to embrace in a part of old west history, Goldfield is your place to find it.
Looking for more nearby adventure? If visiting during the warmer months, enjoy a day of swimming and “beach-side relaxing” at Canyon Lake . You can find this picturesque lake just 20 minutes north of Goldfield in the Superstition Wilderness of Tonto National Forest.
Or for a more “mobile” swimming activity, don’t miss the popular attraction of Salt River Tubing , about 30 minutes away.
Have you been to any of Arizona’s ghost towns? Which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!
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Goldfield Ghost Town
Top ways to experience Goldfield Ghost Town and nearby attractions
Goldfield Ghost Town - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)
Manufactured home communities in apache junction, arizona.
Nestled at the base of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction, Arizona, offers a serene yet vibrant living experience. This desert city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with easy access to hiking, biking, and exploration in the Lost Dutchman State Park and the scenic Apache Trail. The city's Old West history is celebrated at the Goldfield Ghost Town, and its proximity to Phoenix ensures a blend of peaceful living with urban sights.
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La Casa Blanca
Apache junction, arizona.
Enjoy a community library, clubhouse, heated pool, card tables, shuffleboard, and your charming manufactured home in Apache Junction at La Casa Blanca. Explore nearby Mesa and Phoenix with friends or take an evening walk in the beautiful desert surroundings.
Live your retirement dream at Lost Dutchman immersed in Southwestern flavor, blue skies, and desert adventure. This 55+ community offers vacation-style living with outstanding amenities, such as a spacious clubhouse, a fitness center, and a heated swimming pool, amidst the breathtaking backdrop of the Superstition Mountains.
Live at the foot of the Superstition Mountains at our manufactured community in Apache Junction. With our clubhouse, heated pool, and variety of activities — from quilting and crafting to dancing and woodworking — you're sure to make lasting friends.
Explore The Area
Apache Junction, Arizona, is a charming desert oasis surrounded by the Superstition Mountains. Residents of this wonderful city can explore exciting attractions, including Goldfield Ghost Town and the Superstition Mountain Museum. Discover it all from your convenient Sun community.
- Things to Do
- The Flatiron
- Hackberry Spring
- Goldfield Mine
- Treasure Loop Trail #56
- Siphon Draw Trailhead
- Apache Plaza
- Ironwood Plaza
- Apache Junction Goodwill Retail
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The Official Goldfield Ghost Town Ghost Tour!
The ghosts of goldfield are eager to meet you. , reserve now.
Resting at the foot of the Superstition Mountains, experience a tour through the once rich mining town like never before! Unearth Goldfield's darker secrets, by taking a walk with host Matt Mason as he guides you through the historic town, as well as under the town, by the light of his lantern. Featured on Ghost Adventures, Paranormal Files, and many more. It is now your turn to see why many have called Goldfield and the Superstition Mountains, the most haunted place in Arizona.
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Goldfield Ghost Town in Apache Junction
- Apache Junction , Day Trips
- April 29, 2015
Above: A view of the town from the train ride.
The town overlooks the beautiful Superstition Mountains and is literally 5 minutes from the Lost Dutchman State Park (great hiking place). The views will not disappoint, and you can get some absolutely beautiful sunset photos along the road.
The train ride
The train ride takes about twenty-minutes and completes a full circle around the town. During the Goldfield train ride you are welcome to stand, walk around, and take pictures as much as you wish.
Watch the train ride video.
The train itself is a slow-moving old train. Which is why you can walk around during the ride.
One other thing I liked about the train ride besides the amazing view of the Superstition Mountains, were the way he conductor pointed out the various species of desert plants.
The story goes that about one-hundred years ago a gold miner’s home collapsed into a huge pit, and his home was still intact except for being at an angle.
Above: The author in the crazy house.
The miner decided to continue living in his home, despite the fact that his home was steeply angled and lived there for another 35 years, or so.
Everything in this re-created home is bazar! Since the home is angled, but the furniture is designed to be level, your perceptions are thrown off. Completely wacky experience, and lots of fun! We loved it so much we took the tour twice. Everything in the home is designed to be an optical illusion: from the pool table, to the chair in the corner, to the rolling metal balls on the wall. It’s a mystery!
There are several shopping options here where you can buy souvenirs, fudge, jewelry, clothing, custom old fashioned photos, and much more.
There are several places to get food, and quite good food if I might add. We ate at the restaurant overlooking the main entrance (near the parking lot) and loved the hamburgers, sandwiches, and french fries. Nearly everybody was ordering an ice cream cone, as well. There is a fancier steak house which we haven’t tried situated further up the walking path.
Above: The menu at the sandwich counter.
Check out the view from the lunch patio!
The saloon is another place where you can get lunch or dinner!
Panning for Gold
This will delight the kids! So here’s how it works: You get a pan and the attendant will fill it with dirt and water. Then, you take your pan outside and swish it around and extract the gold using tweezers.
Panning for gold at Goldfield Ghost Town.
Above: Panning for gold.
I’ll tell you what’s missing from this gold panning experience? More water. Since they send you outside without the ability to dip for more water, you’re unable to pan for gold in the traditional sense. Typically, when panning for gold, you’ll swirl the pan, and continually move the dirt and water out of the pan until the gold remains.
This, by far, was my favorite exhibit in the whole place. One woman owns all of the snakes and reptiles and cares for them independently. You can tell she has a huge appreciation for snakes because she has nearly every species found in Arizona on display! From the Arizona Diamondback to smaller less known rattlesnakes, they are all on display. She also has a few turtles, and a Gila Monster, as well as several lizard species.
Snakes at the reptile exhibit.
Underground Mine Tour
The underground mine tour explores a recreated gold mine from the 1800s. If you’ve ever been in a cave, or in a real mine, you’ll probably be slightly disappointed since this exhibit doesn’t go that far underground, and you can see the concrete they poured to build it in several places.
Even so, they have lots of original mining equipment in place and the design is realistic. They turn out the lights at one point, and it is entirely dark.
This area was used for mining gold more than one-hundred years ago, and the tour guide gave us quite a bit of history about the area, and about the mining operations that continue even to today.
So, that’s the main parts of the Goldfield Ghost Town. There is an old hotel you can tour, as well as horseback riding, and several other shops to tour.
Goldfield Ghost Town is beautifully landscaped, and is free to enter and walk around. Pretty much all of the attractions cost money to view, so bring some cash. They sell an “all access pass” which we purchased for around $30.
Goldfield Ghost Town 4650 N. Mammoth Mine Rd. Apache Junction, AZ 85119 (480) 983-0333
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Welcome to Phoenix With Kids, a place where we share the cool activities we do with our children around the state. I live in Phoenix with my wife Jana and our three kids. I design and build websites for select clients.
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- apache junction , Day Trip , ghost town , Outdoor , western , wild west
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Goldfield Ghost Town Campground
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Features & Amenities
Connectivity, park features, hookups & connectivity.
- Pull-thru Sites
- Pets Allowed
- Big Rig Access
- Tent Camping
- Kid Friendly
- Cabins & On-site Rentals
- Dump Station
- Group Camping
- Dispersed Camping
- Class A Only
- Full Hookup
- Electric 50 AMP
- Electric 30/20/15 Amp
- Cable/Sat. TV Hookup
- Central Water Spigot
- Public Phone
- Propane Available
- Cafe / Snack Bar
- Firewood Available
- Group Kitchen
- Landing Strip
- Picnic Shelter
- Restrooms: vault
- Church Affiliated
- Clothing Optional
- RV Dealership
- Specialty Park
- Permanent only
- Members Only
- Recreation Trails
- Gym/Workout Facilities
- Outdoor Courts
- Water Access
Goldfield Ghost Town Campground Review & Ratings Overview
Based on 2 Reviews
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Reviews by RV Type
- Motorhome 2
These reviews are the opinion of RV LIFE's members and not the views of RV LIFE
“Yeehaw! What a fun area! Beautiful surroundings too”
This park is first come first served. It's no-frills camping - water/elect sites are booked out for over a year, so we pulled up hoping for one of the few dry camping spots. The host indicated that so...
Come in midday when spots tend to open up, if there are any (have back-up plans). Make sure and visit Goldfield next door - it's free to explore, but tours cost just a little. Come with full water & empty tanks. Spectacular sunrises over the mountains. There are stores, gas, restaurants in nearby Apache Junction, but the restaurant food is good in Goldfield....
“Could be nice, if all customers were treated equally.”
My son and I stayed here for the winter (November 24, 2022 through April 1, 2023), only because we were too late to find anything else. It helped that Amanda, who ran the campground, and tour guide Da...
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Save the Apache Trail
In 2019, the Woodbury Fire and Tropical Storm Lorena closed the Apache Trail at Fish Creek hill. One of the most scenic parts of the Apache Trail. Request ADOT repair and re-open the Apache Trail. Sign the petition at Save Apache Trail.com .
Step Back in Time at the Mother Lode Mercantile
No trip to Goldfield Ghost Town would be complete without stopping into the Mother Lode Mercantile and sampling some of our world famous home made fudge creations. Whether it’s one of our signature creations like Prickly Pear fudge, made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, or our Gold Nugget fudge topped with real 23K gold, we carry a full line of incredible flavors that will satisfy your sweet tooth!
Goldfield Ghost Town
Mother Lode Mercantile is located in Goldfield Ghost Town, just north of Apache Junction, Arizona. Goldfield is an authentic 1890s gold mining town situated on the historic Apache Trail and at the base of the Legendary Superstition Mountains. With activities for the whole family, a trip to Goldfield is sure to be one of the highlights of your Arizona adventure!
The Historic Apache Trail
The Apache Trail was a stagecoach and wagon trail which runs through the Salt River valley and along the boundaries of the Superstition Mountains. The Apache Trail was named after the Apaches who traveled this route during their earlier migrations, and whom also helped build the roadway and Roosevelt Dam during the early 1900s.
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