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This Road Trip Will Take You To The Most Epic Abandoned Places Around The US

Urban exploration has become more popular than ever in recent years. There’s something so romantic about crumbling ruins and silent ghost towns. This road trip will take you to an amazing, abandoned site in each of the 48 contiguous states. It’s sure to make for an album of amazing travel pictures, and plenty of incredible memories.

Please note: We’ve tried to include only abandoned places that permit visitors, but some sites may limit how much you can explore due to safety or legal issues. If you do visit any of these places, please use good judgement and obey all laws.

For Google Map directions, follow these links to the eastern, western, northern, midwestern, and southern portions of our trip.

Alabama: Old Cahawba

Cahawba was actually the capital of Alabama from 1820 to 1825. Today, it’s an archaeological park filled with huge columns and decaying antebellum structures. Be sure to visit the dramatic remains of Chrocheron House.

Arizona: Two Guns

Two Guns was once a tourist trap along Canyon Diablo, but it was abandoned about fire swept through the area. Today, the crumbling remains of the old stone structures (as well as a colorfully painted roof) remain.

Arkansas: East Calico Rock

This is the only ghost town in America located within the city limits of another town. You can check out more than 20 buildings using the on-site map guide. All but two of the buildings can be seen and admired from the street.

California: Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge

At 600 feet long and 186 feet high, the Goat Canyon Trestle is the largest wooden railroad trestle bridge on Earth. It was built in 1919 and abandoned after Hurricane Kathleen damaged the bridge in 1976. For more information about hiking to the bridge, go here.

Colorado: Crystal Mill

It’s no wonder this picturesque mill is one of the most photographed abandoned spots in the country. Located just seven miles southeast of Marble, this gorgeous structure once drew power from the rushing waters below.

Connecticut: Holy Land USA

This abandoned Christian theme park features miniature buildings and representation of events from the Bible. It is currently being restored, but you can catch a glimpse of the bizarre assortment of crumbling structures from the road.

Delaware: Fort Delaware

Located on Pea Patch Island, Fort Delaware was built 1859 and used as a prison camp for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Over 2,700 people died in the camp, leading to its reputation of being one of the most haunted places in the world. Legends say that guards would toss bits of bread into the crowds of prisoners and watch them scramble for the scraps.

Florida: Stiltsville

These bizarre ruins are clustered one mile south of Cape Florida on Safety Valve. They are the remains of a seabound community started in the late 1920s used to skirt prohibitions on gambling, which was legal one mile offshore. Today, they’re protected by the state and viewable from the shore.

Georgia: New Manchester Manufacturing Company

Tucked away in Lithia Springs within the Sweetwater Creek State Park, these crumbling ruins were once a cotton mill used during the Civil war. The structure was abandoned after a fire swept through the building. You can explore the ruins on foot.

Idaho: Old Idaho Penitentiary

This old prison was actually built by the inmates housed within its cells. The ruins are crumbling, but countless visitors tour the grounds of the prison each year. The weathered architecture is truly gorgeous.

Illinois: Shawneetown

Founded in 1748, Shawneetown is the only town in the nation chartered by the U.S. government, other than D.C. It was a booming community that was even praised by Lewis and Clark. Today it has a piddling population of 278 people, largely due to repeated flooding. Many of the buildings are abandoned and the town is definitely an eerie place to take a drive.

Indiana: Elkinsville

The remains of this former town are situated within the Hoosier National Forest. You can explore around a cemetery, a post office and a handful of old houses. The gorgeous wilderness is also more than enough reason to head to this spot.

Iowa: Squirrel Cage Jail

Located in Council Bluffs, this bizarrely named former prison consists of three floors of 18 revolving or circular jail cells. The jail is open to the public for tours, and you’ll definitely want to peek inside.

Kansas: Diamond Springs

Considered the “Diamond of the Plains” during the 1800s, this town was a bustling community that played host to many travelers moving along the Santa Fe Trail. After the state station manager was murdered by Quantrill confederate Dick Yeager, the station was moved out of town and Diamond Springs began to crumble.

Kentucky: Eastern Cemetery

Located in Louisville near Cave Hill Cemetery, this graveyard has been abandoned since the 1980s. It is hugely overcrowded; though it originally had room for about 18,000 bodies, over 51,000 bodies were actually buried here over the years. The New York Times reported that some bodies, mostly those of infants, were only buried about 10 inches below the earth.

Louisiana: Six Flags New Orleans

This amusement park was gutted by hurricane Katrina, and never recovered. There have been several failed attempts to breathe new life into the park, but nothing has come to fruition. Today, you can check out the eerie loops and twists of the coasters from a distance.

Maine: Battery Steele

This massive and abandoned military fort on Peaks Island was originally built in 1942 to serve in World War II. Today, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and open to exploration by the public. Its many tunnels, bridges and trails are both beautiful and a little creepy.

Maryland: Daniels

The town of Daniels, formerly known as Elysville, was established in 1810 and centered around a thriving textile mill. Today, this little town is hidden away in the woods just north of Old Ellicott City. Two different churches can be explored, as well as multiple abandoned vehicles.

Massachusetts: Boston Bear Cages

Located on the grounds of the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, these long-forgotten bear cages were once a huge attraction. Beginning in 1912, wild bears would roam freely around open-air enclosures. Today, the bear pits are a secret abandoned site, complete with elegant stone sculptures and a grand staircase that leads to the bear dens.

Michigan: Northville Regional Psychiatric Hospital

This old mental asylum opened in 1952, and has become known for its reports of paranormal activity. It’s a popular spot for urban explorers, but those who wish to avoid a trespassing charge should keep their distance and admire from the outside, or obtain permission to photograph the site.

Minnesota: Taconite Harbor

Erie Mining once established a village on the Taconite Harbor that provided its workers with a convenient place to live. Unfortunately, hundreds of employees were laid off in the 1990s, and the place was abandoned almost overnight. Today, you can explore the remains of this harbor settlement.

Mississippi: Stuckey’s Bridge

This bridge is named after a notorious local innkeeper. Legend has it once “Stuckey” had seen that his guests settled in for the night, he would murder them, steal their possessions and throw their bodies into the river. Today, this rusted bridge is thought to be haunted by the ghosts of his victims.

Missouri: Iron Furnace Company Store and Warehouse

This abandoned store and warehouse in Irondale was constructed in 1886, and has been overtaken by nature. Ivy covers the old brick buildings, and railroad tracks from the now-abandoned nearby line are still visible.

Montana: Garnet

Garnet was established in 1895, and is Montana’s best-preserved ghost town. It features a hotel, stores, saloons and homes. You can view the two dozen remaining buildings and see the belongings of those who once lived in the town.

Nebraska: Pineview Drive-In

This drive-in movie theater in Long Pine opened in 1954. It was a popular local venue, attracting moviegoers of all ages on summer nights. The theater closed in 1995, and the remnants of its screen and box office are beautiful decaying. If you visit this site, please be sure to admire the massive screen and ruined structures from a distance.

Nevada: International Car Forest of the Last Church

These abandoned cars in Goldfield have been turned into a strange roadside attraction. Looking as if they’ve fallen from the sky, the vehicles have been spray-painted and arranged in bizarre configurations.

New Hampshire: Madame Sherri’s Forest

The ruins of a grand home are decaying on this 513-acre wilderness in Chesterfield. Built in the 1920s, the structure’s foundations, chimney and sweeping stone staircase still remain and are fully explorable.

New Jersey: Weymouth Furnace

This abandoned spot is located in a public park. This 19th-century iron furnace has decayed into a towering smokestack and several arches, bridges and interesting ruins. The park also features walking paths, trails and areas where visitors can paddle along the Egg Harbor River.

New Mexico: Dawson

This ghost town is dominated by a massive cemetery peppered with unsettlingly uniform metal crosses. The graveyard holds the remains of hundreds of residents who died in explosions in the local coal mines. Dawson is located on private property, but you can get close enough to the cemetery to see the rows of disconcerting grave markers.

New York: Overlook Mountain

This abandoned spot requires a bit of a hike, but it’s worth it. The remains of a large hotel have been left to crumble about halfway up the mountain (2.3 miles) and are fully explorable. The hotel was abandoned after several fires damaged the structure beyond repair.

North Carolina: Carbonton Dam

This eerie, abandoned dam was built in 1921. It once spanned the river, but all that remains today is the looming powerhouse. You can explore the aging structure and picnic at the nearby tables, but watch your step.

North Dakota: Lincoln Valley

This abandoned community was first settled in 1990. It’s composed of about four square blocks of ruined homes and structures such as a post office and gas station. The town cemetery is also abandoned, and nature is reclaiming many of the historic buildings in the area.

Ohio: Moonville Tunnel

The Moonville railroad tunnel once led to the the abandoned coal mining town of Moonville to the rest of the world, and is rumored to be haunted. Locals say that the spirit of a man killed by an oncoming train in the tunnel will harm those who pass through. Even without the ghost story, this spot is definitely creepy.

Oklahoma: Ralston

Located just off of State Highway 18 in Pawnee County, Ralston was founded in 1894. This town is filled with old saloons, banks and shops that have been shuttered and closed down. Though some people still living in Ralston, the community is well on its way to becoming a proper ghost town.

Oregon: Vernonia Mill

This old mill in Vernonia closed in the 1950s, and has crumbled into a sort of open-air cathedral in the woods. The floor is a carpet of leaves, and trees have grown right up and out of the structure.

Pennsylvania: Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike

Two hours outside Pittsburgh, you’ll find 13 miles of abandoned highway. This stretch of road looks eerily post-apocalyptic, but is actually a great place to hike and take in the autumn foliage. Check out Rays Hills Tunnel for a bit of shade.

Rhode Island: The East Side Railroad Tunnel

The East Side Railroad Tunnel opened in 1908 and is about 5,000 feet long. This Providence tunnel was once a popular hangout for college age locals, but was sealed up after a group of Brown University students gathered for a party in the tunnel and refused to leave when the police showed up. Today, you can still explore around the outside of the tunnel.

South Carolina: Fort Moultrie

Located on Sullivan’s Island, this abandoned military fort was built in 1776 and was not decommissioned until 1947. Today, it’s operated by the National Park Service and is an amazing place to explore.

South Dakota: Scenic

Despite having a name like Scenic, this town is in total disrepair. It was purchased for $799,999 in 2011, but no renovations have been made to the dilapidated storefronts and homes.

Tennessee: Minister’s Treehouse

Located in Crossville, this massive structure is considered to be the largest treehouses in the world. It was built as a labor of faith by a local minister. You can’t walk through the structure because it has been deemed unsafe, but admiring it from a distance is just as fascinating.

Texas: Baker Hotel

Head over to Mineral Wells for a peek at the historic Baker Hotel. It was once a luxurious destination for the wealthy, but now is a faded shell of its former opulence. Ghost stories abound about this place, and you may even catch a glimpse of a phantom figure looking out a dusty window. You can’t enter the hotel, but the grounds are just as interesting to see.

Utah: Ceder Mesa

This area is home to hundreds of ancient Puebloan homes and structures. You can explore the site, but be careful not to cause any damage to the buildings.

Vermont: Woodbury County Store

This dilapidated shop in Woodbury features rusty gas pumps and an old-timey storefront. You can’t browse the wares, but it would make a great backdrop for some artsy photos.

Virginia: Fleetwood Church

This beautiful church in Brandy Station was built in 1850. The land it sits on was the site of the largest mounted battle of the Civil War. The peeling paint and creeping ivy make this spot very picturesque.

Washington: Govan

This old ranching community was founding in the late 1800s, but the grisly murders of local Judge J.A. Lewis and his wife Penelope in 1902 led many residents to relocate. Today, the picturesque Govan schoolhouse and a handful of other structures are still standing.

West Virginia: Thurmond

The ghost town of Thurmond currently has only five residents to its name. It also has an unusual claim to fame: the hotel Dun Glen, which was once the site of the world’s longest-lasting poker game. The game continued without interruption for 14 years.

Wisconsin: Badger State Trail

If you’re ready to stretch your legs a bit, the Badger State Trail is a 40 mile rail-trail that features old, abandoned railroad tunnels and bridges. In addition to the abandoned sites, you’ll see plenty of farmland, rollings hills and glacial rock outcroppings.

Wyoming: Van Tassel

Located in Niobrara County, this town is teetering on the edge of total abandonment. It has 15 residents and a slew of beautiful ruins that date back over 100 years. Many of these charming spots can be viewed from the road.

Sophia
Massachusetts native. Freelance writer and strawberry eater. Visit my site here or get in touch: smitrokostas@onlyinyourstate.com.