For a ghost town, Gold Point is surprisingly alive. This tiny town in Esmeralda County only boasts about nine year-round residents, but it sees about 12,000 visitors each year! Gold Point is one of many mining towns that came and went the boom and bust cycle of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Nevada. But unlike some of those other camps and towns, Gold Point never quite disappeared. It has always kept a small, but devoted population.
Today, a lot of visitors come to Gold Point to walk its dusty streets and see the well-preserved buildings. Others visit because Gold Point makes for a unique basecamp from which to access public land. But the town hasn’t been discovered by equestrians… yet. I spent a weekend in Gold Point to see what this off-the-beaten-track ghost town has to offer for a horse and rider.
Lodging and Accommodations
Gold Point isn’t even a one-horse town, so there are no corrals available. However, the folks that live there are very open to equestrian visitors. They will let you set up your own portable corral on one of the empty lots right in town and there is plenty of parking for a rig. I was offered a nice lot behind the saloon, with room for my truck and trailer, corral, and tent – and it even had a fire ring.
If you don’t have a trailer with living quarters and you don’t want to tent camp, there are several rustic options for rent, depending on your comfort level. The miners’ cabins are sparse – a single room with a bed and a table, no running water, but they do come with a camp toilet. Or you can rent one of the houses. Each one has two bedrooms, a living room, dining room, bathroom, refrigerator, microwave, and sink. The cabins and houses are original to the town! Rentals start at $120 a night.
There’s no official restaurant in Gold Point, but for an extra fee you can get a home cooked breakfast and dinner, and eat family-style with some of the residents and other visitors. The saloon is fully stocked and is opened for visitors to have a drink. There are no services in Gold Point such as stores or gas stations, so you’ll want to come prepared and as self-sufficient as possible so as not to impose on the residents.
Why it’s Worth a Visit
Gold Point is remarkably well-preserved for a town whose heyday has long since passed. About 50 buildings are still standing, including the post office and telephone office. Over the years residents have lovingly restored many of the buildings, but the weathered exteriors are all original. You’ll truly feel as though you’ve traveled back in time as you ride down the handful of dirt roads that make up the core part of the town. There are also old cars, wagons, and “desert art” strewn through town giving it a distinct Nevada feel.
Equestrians will love Gold Point because of the nice country for riding. Ride right out of town and choose from countless roads and trails that weave through the desert, or just ride cross-country or in one of the many washes. There are great views of mesas and mountains, rolling hills, interesting rock formations, nice footing, and lots of options for riding. I spent several days riding around the area and never took the same trail twice.
There’s a lot of history to see outside of town too. You’ll find dozens and dozens of mine shafts, headframes, mills, cabins, and ruins of other camps all along the trails surrounding Gold Point. There’s a quiet stillness when you ride through today, but it’s easy to imagine the hustle and bustle of the mining district at the peak of its operation. Of course, you don’t want to ride too close to any of the mining ruins – in addition to unsafe shafts, there is a lot of debris strewn on the ground.
The terrain around Gold Point has that wonderful southwestern vibe where sagebrush has given way to Joshua Tree forests, cholla, and beavertail cactus. (A word of caution for northern Nevada readers: You’ll want to give cholla a very wide berth. My northern NV dogs immediately ran right into cholla and I spent the first day picking barbs out of their skin.) Wild horses and burros can be found in this region, though I didn’t see any sign of them during my visit.
I didn’t find any water during my riding, but I wasn’t really looking for any. Topo maps do show quite a few springs in the area, but you’ll want to pack plenty of water anyway. I’m also told there are petroglyphs, fossils, and petrified wood to see in the area. Temps were in the low 70s when I visited mid-April, and summer highs can reach the upper 80s.
I only explored a small fraction of the trails around Gold Point, but I thoroughly enjoyed riding there. The preserved history, the desert scenery, and solitude on the trails make this a worthy destination. I could see this becoming a popular riding spot, especially for endurance riders.
If You Go
Advance reservations are a must, especially if you are coming with horses. Weekends can be surprisingly busy with groups and campers so be sure to call ahead and find out who else is booked. (OHV groups love Gold Point!) Well-behaved dogs are welcome but know that there are some free-roaming town dogs who will come visit you. Cell service is spotty at best in Gold Point, so just plan on being off the grid during your stay.
Gold Point is located about 284 miles south of Reno and 184 miles north of Las Vegas. It is about 10 miles from the California border, about 30 miles south of Goldfield. It sits at 5,700 feet on the south side of Lida Valley. Once you turn off Highway 95, the road is paved or gravel the whole way into town, making it very easy to get in with a horse trailer.
Learn More: www.goldpointghosttown.com
Story and Photos by Samantha Szesciorka
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Story and Photos by Samantha Szesciorka