Nelson Ghost Town

ghost town searchlight nevada

Top ways to experience Nelson Ghost Town and nearby attractions

ghost town searchlight nevada

Nelson Ghost Town - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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Nelson Ghost Town Information

Places That Were

Every abandoned place has a story.

  • Places I've Been

Searchlight, Nevada: A Living Ghost Town

Abandoned buildings in the living ghost town of Searchlight, Nevada

  • George Frederick Colton, while lighting his pipe with a Searchlight brand match (manufactured. by the Diamond Match Co.) discovered rocks containing flecks of gold.
  • While looking for gold in the area in 1897, Colton, in a moment of frustration, remarked that it would take a searchlight to find gold ore there.
  • Searchlights were once used to guide patrons to the brothels in area.
  • Searchlight was named after a riverboat with the same name that transported ore along the Colorado River. 

Abandoned buildings in the living ghost town of Searchlight, Nevada


ghost town searchlight nevada

Fascinating history and so awesome that you stopped there by chance. It has a real ramshackle feel to it I think!

ghost town searchlight nevada

Thank you! I love unexpected finds like this.

Thanks for sharing. I do miss the west, where the old is still mixed with the new and not demolished.

I'm constantly amazed that there are so many awesome abandoned places in the West. There are are a lot of great little towns, especially in the Mojave, with old rusty buildings from the early 1900s right next door to modern homes. I love it. Where in the West did you live?

Hi Jim. Thank you for sharing Searchlight's history. The town was named after a box of Searchlight matches. It is documented in one of our family mining books dated 1926. My great grandfather, George R. Colton, states that his dad went back to his house and questioned what he would name his claim and he happened to see a box of Searchlight matches and he decided to call it searchlight and the town bares the same name. Just thought I would share the truth as we know it documented in 1926. Thank you again for the nice article. Searchlight is a wonderful place of history with amazing people. - Kim Colton

Thanks for sharing, Kim! I love that you still have your family's old mining books! Did you family manage to hang on to a lot of other artifacts from that era? If you have pictures of them online, please share a link. I'd love to see them, and I bet a lot of other people would love to see them too.

was there a jail house in searchlight in 1900s when people got out of hand because of the gold mineing

and when was it active and built

Went there a few years ago. Great visit. I urge anyone to visit their museum, in the municipal building. VERY INTERESTING!

I didn't realize there was a museum. I'll have to check it out. Thanks!

I remember as a young guy back in the early 70's, hitchhiking from Las Vegas to Needles, Ca... and going by Searchlight. I thought I was on US 78, but I guess it 95. Searchlight was a tiny speck out in the Nevada desert back then. Seeing this brought back some old memories.

Great site you have and lucky you found the town. We also love it when we find an unexpected jewel. They probably don't mention it but the troubled actress Barbara Payton that I just read about lived in the town for a short time.

ghost town searchlight nevada

I stayed at the El Rey in searchlight. Thanks for telling me it was a whorehouse back then. Nothing has changed!

Local Adventurer » Travel Adventures in Las Vegas + World Wide

Nelsons Landing + Ghost Town – What You Need to Know Before You Go

  • Las Vegas / Nevada

Visiting Nelsons Landing and Ghost Town? We run down everything you need to know before you visit.

As we came over the hill, we could finally see a steeple, then the barn. We were racing the sun to get there before it closed and felt relieved when the full ghost town came into view.

I can’t believe it’s taken us this long to make it out to Nelsons Landing / Nelson Ghost Town. It was such a fun place to shoot that I didn’t mind coming  out of retirement  for a friend’s elopement and BIL’s engagement session.

Nelsons Landing

This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure  for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.

Last Updated: January 19, 2023

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About nelson ghost town.

  • Hours and Fees
  • How to Get to Nelson NV
  • Nelson Ghost Town Rules
  • Nelsons Landing
  • Essential Tips for First-Timers
  • Where to Stay Near Nelson Ghost Town

Planning Checklist

  • What’s Nearby

A lot of people in Vegas refer to the whole area as Nelsons Landing, but Nelsons Landing is actually the cliff jumping area not too far from Nelson Ghost Town.

Nelson Ghost Town, on the other hand, is a mix between a junkyard, outdoor art display, and burning man tribute. It’s easy to see why it’s popular among photographers and videographers because it looks like a movie set, except it’s the real deal (minus the planes). In both our visits, we saw several photoshoots.

Located just five miles away from the Colorado River, Nelson was known as El Dorado by the Spaniards who discovered it. It is home to the Techatticup Mine (or El Dorado Canyon Mine). It was once home to one of the largest booms in Nevada, which also resulted in bloody labor disputes and ownership disagreements.

But because of its location in the El Dorado Canyon, it was susceptible to flash flooding making it uninhabitable. The remaining weathered buildings, machinery, and Texaco station are what’s left of the boomtown.

There are also some really popular crashed planes on-site, but those aren’t historical but rather movie props from  3000 Miles to Graceland .

Local Tip: You can easily get around the Grand Canyon Village with the free shuttle bus.

See More: 101 Things to Do in Las Vegas

ghost town searchlight nevada

Visiting Nelson Ghost TOwn

Nelson ghost town hours.

Hours:  Open Daily from 8 AM – 6 PM

Arriving before or after hours is strictly prohibited. Plus, the owners live on the property.

If you arrive before 6 PM, you’re typically welcome to stay until sunset, but they ask that everyone be off the property by dark.

Regardless of what you are doing, always stop by the store first to sign their waiver and get a better idea of what to check out while you’re there. Plus, there’s a ton of fun items to see inside (we still don’t know what’s inside the freezer).

Nelson Ghost TOwn Fees

  • $2 per person to walk around and hang out
  • $10-20/hr to take photos depending on whether it’s just for yourself or professional

When you check in, explain what you plan on doing, and they will let you know the fee.

In addition, you can also rent out their BBQ area or even have events or weddings there. Contact them for pricing.

Local Tip: If you’re just making a quick stop to walk around for 10-15 minutes, they don’t charge anything. But no photos.

See More: 25+ Best Photo Spots in Las Vegas You Shouldn’t Miss

nelson nv ghost town

El Dorado Canyon Mine Tours / Techatticup Mine Tour

Since the Techatticup Mine is the oldest and richest gold mine in Southern Nevada, the mine tours are very popular. 

The tour runs roughly 1 hr 10 minutes and you’ll walk about 1/4 mile. They run tours at 9 AM, 12 PM, and 2 PM (when they have 4 or more adults). The best thing to do is make a reservation ahead of time at 702.291.0026

Tours are: $15 for Adults $10 for Kids (5-12) Kids under 5 are Free

Local Tip:  It will be much cooler in the cave so it’s always good to have a light jacket.

nv ghost towns

Directions to Nelson’s Ghost Town

Nelson’s Ghost Town is 45 minutes away from Las Vegas. Their address is:

Nelson Cutoff Rd, Searchlight, NV 89046 ( map )

Parking:  As soon as you pull up, you’ll see a bunch of buildings on the left and right of you. Park on the right side, then walk over to the store to check in, sign the waiver, and pay your fees.

Local Tip: You will have service up until the last few miles, but if you start your Google Maps navigation in town, you should have no trouble getting there. When you leave, just back track until you have service again.

See More: 49 Best Places to Eat in Las Vegas

ghost town near las vegas

Nelson Ghost TOwn Rules

We loved these rules posted on large signs on both sides of the road.

  • Everyone must now check in at the store FIRST .
  • This is not Disneyland, A Theme Park, or A Playground.
  • Due to the abundance of Stupid People, you can no longer just walk around here.
  • This is NOW a FEE AREA.
  • PARENTS – Stray children and teenagers will be shot on site.
  • If we are open, check in at the store First.
  • If we are closed or after dark DON’T STOP… GO AWAY.
  • Store (702) 291-0026 / or after hours (702) 318-1758.

This is Private Property. We Live Here.

Besides that, when you check in, they remind you to:

  • Respect all the signs that say “Stay Out” or “Don’t Go Beyond This Point”.
  • Don’t climb all over the old equipment.
  • Beware the Cholla Cacti – they will get you if you’re too close and it isn’t pleasant.

ghost town searchlight nevada

Nelson’s Landing

If you drive 5 miles down the road to the Colorado River, you’ll find yourself at Nelson’s Landing. It’s a popular spot in the summer to cool down, and you’ll find a bunch of people with tents set up.

The cliff jump is the most popular part of Nelsons Landing. There are varying heights but the main jump is 60 feet and is considered dangerous. Jump at your own risk.

If you plan on visiting, pack out everything that you pack in (and some extra trash if you see any if you want to go the extra mile).

Local Tip: There are a lot of loose rocks in the area so having comfortable  water shoes  is helpful.

See More: 15 Bucket List Worthy Experiences in Las Vegas

Essential Tips

  • Arrive during business hours  to check in. If you arrive anytime before or after, do not stay on the premises. They typically allow you to stay after closing the store as long as there is still light out.
  • Light for Photos:  Since it’s located in a canyon, direct sunlight will be gone before sunset making it nice even light for photos.
  • Beware the Cholla Cacti.  They’ll show you photos of what happens to the people and animals that get too close. So sad for the cat!
  • Bring Layers:  It’s the desert and once the sun sets, the temperatures go down significantly.
  • Don’t forget to check out the store inside.
  • If you have any questions about what you can or can’t do, just ask them.
  • Calling ahead to schedule shoots  is always helpful.

Best Places to Stay

  • Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.
  • Download these helpful language apps .
  • Find a great deal on Las Vegas hotels .
  • Arrange a rental car for your trip.
  • Book a tour for your visit.
  • Get airport lounge access .
  • Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.
  • Get a new backpack for your trip.
  • Buy a Las Vegas travel guide .
  • Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.
  • Don’t forget your in-flight essentials .
  • Save money on attractions with Go City .

What’s Nearby

  • Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon Zipline  (24.9 mi N, 35 min,  map )
  • Lake Mead  ( 32 mi NE, 40 min,  map )
  • Gold Strike Hot Springs  ( 33.6 mi N, 40 min,  map )
  • Hoover Dam  ( 35.9 mi N, 45 min,  map )
  • Las Vegas   (45.2 mi NW, 55 min,  map )
  • Red Rock Canyon  ( 57.7 mi NW, 1 hr,  map )

Have you been to Nelsons Landing or Nelson Ghost Town? What was your favorite part?


See more las vegas guides.

















“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes ” – M. Proust

Esther and Jacob

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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Nelson Ghost Town: You’ve had the glitz. Come experience the grit.

Nelson Ghost Town Wedding 2

Explore the Wild Wild West with private tours, weddings & photography

When was the last time you tapped into your wild side? Walk in the footsteps of outlaws and create your own legend at Nelson Ghost Town .

This immersive southern Nevada landmark is steeped in Western lore and scenery. It’s the perfect desert adventure for anyone looking to add some thrill to their Vegas vacation. You’ve had the glitz. Come experience the grit.

Just like Lewis and Clark needed Sacagawea, every Western expedition needs a trail guide, and that’s where Scenic.Vegas comes in.

Forget sitting on a bus and watching out the window. Our custom tours get your boots on the ground in Eldorado Canyon, where many of Nevada’s most notorious desperados collided in the Mojave Desert. You’ll visit the Techatticup Mine, where the action started in 1861. Along the way, you see many artifacts and curiosities from the last 150 years. Ready to hitch a ride? Get your posse together and call (702) 515-1100 to schedule your tour today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How far is nelson ghost town from the strip.

Nelson Ghost Town is close enough for the perfect day trip from Vegas. Depending on when you leave, it can take you roughly 45-60 minutes to get from one to the other. But once you’re here, it’ll feel like you traveled back in time.

Can I get married at Nelson Ghost Town?

Yes, cowboys and cowgirls get hitched all the time at Nelson Ghost Town. We’ve photographed weddings at this location for more than a decade. Wedding couples love the combination of the natural views with the rustic features.

Is Nelson Ghost Town good for photos?

Yes. You’ll find many picturesque locations that can serve as a backdrop for your group or family photos. The area is especially popular for weddings because it offers a perfect blend of desert landscape and American charm.

How did Nelson Ghost Town get its name?

The area first landed on the map as the Techatticup Mine in 1861, but when the precious metals dried up, so did the population. For years, the area was considered uninhabitable. The town of Nelson is nearby, and the two became associated together over time.

Do you offer private tours?

Yes. Our tours are private and can be customized to fit your schedule. There may be other groups in the mine at the same time, but our packages are designed for maximum exploration. Bring along as many people as you want. We can accommodate groups up to 20.


Latlng: (35.7094544, -114.8030831)

ghost town searchlight nevada

Nelson Ghost Town

Abandoned ghost town in clark, nevada, united states, jan 26 2022.

Nelson ghost town is a deserted mining town in Clark County, Southern Nevada. It is known by many names Nelson ghost town, Eldorado canyon, and Nelson landing just to mention a few. It was located in Eldorado canyon in the Eldorado Mountain hence the name “Eldorado canyon”. Nelson landing is a cliff just past Nelson ghost town.

 Rise of the Nelson Ghost Town

Nelson ghost town was discovered in late 1970 by Spanish explorers. Struggles to occupy the town started 8 decades later after the first gold and silver ores were recovered. Soon mining companies flocked to the region and several mines were established to exploit the rich canyon. Mining started soon after and the town became the first-ever major gold strike in the whole of Nevada. A steamboat called “Colorado city” was also introduced. It provided transportation from the canyon to other neighboring towns and cities.

Role of Nelson Ghost Town to national security and civil war

Nelson town was known for its notoriety as being lawless and rough. One would say it was the wild west kind of town. Several killings were recorded in the town that it became normal. One of which was the constant killing of owners of the Techatticup mine. Its owners had internal disagreements that were taken too far to an extent of killing each other. Union and Confederate armies during the civil war also used the canyon as a hiding place from the military,

Fall of the town

The introduction of railroads in the early 1900s accelerated the death of the town, the year it became operational, the steamboat went out of business. Most people preferred comfort offered by the train both in long and short distances. Closure of most mines followed afterward. Nelson town was completely deserted when a new town “Nelson town” as it is currently known was established and the Eldorado post office was relocated to the new town. Floods that hit the canyon in 1974 drove the nail home to the existence of the town. The remaining diehards in the town were forced to relocate. The floods claimed at least 9 lives of the locals that still lived in the town.

What is the current condition of Nelson town?

Most of the Nelson ghost town was destroyed by the floods and the remaining sections that never got much impact are still accessible. It is currently owned by Tony and Bobbie Werly who purchased the property in 1994. They renovated most of the salvageable buildings that were still standing after the floods including Techatticup Mine. The family offers tours at the Techatticup Mine for free of 15 dollars. The land is privately owned therefore no one is allowed to trespass unless given permission or is on a tour.

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Nelson Ghost Town: Everything you need to know

Nelson ghost town.

Deep in the Mojave Desert sits Nelson Ghost Town, one of the most famous ghost towns near Las Vegas .

This historic landmark is considered to be one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas . 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.

How to get to Nelson Ghost Town From Las Vegas?

Nelson Ghost Town is literally in the middle of nowhere, and it is not served by public transportation. To get here, you will have to rent a car .

Las Vegas is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. To avoid paying high fees on the spot, book your car in Las Vegas ahead of time.  

One of the websites that I use for booking cars is Discover Cars . They have great inventory, affordable rates and no hidden fees. All you need to do is type in your travel dates and browse hundreds of available vehicles! It’s that easy 😉

Book Your Rental Car in Las Vegas  here  to save money and skip the hassle!

Check my complete guide to  renting a car in Las Vegas  to avoid mistakes and save money  😃

Nelson Ghost Town

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

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 area attracted plenty of outlaws and has seen many disputes, some of which even resulted in bloody disputes.

Nelson Ghost Town

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. 

ghost town searchlight nevada

What you should know about visiting Nelson Ghost Town

Nelson Ghost Town is open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you arrive before or after hours, leave. Do NOT stay on property.

The owners do live on premises. Although they will not kick you out if you show up before the sunset, they will ask you to leave after dark.

When you arrive, stop at the front office to sign the waiver and ask any questions about what you can see here. You can also ask questions about fees and tours.

Nelson Ghost Town Fees

  • $2 per person to walk around the area
  • $10-20 per hour to take photos. The price depends on whether you are taking personal or professional shots.

If all you want to do is to check out the site quickly, you typically don’t need to pay anything. However, you are not allowed to take photos.

Techatticup Mine tours

Reservations are required ahead of your visit and can be made either online or by calling ahead of your visit. Call 702-291-0026 to make a reservation to avoid conflicts, as this place is popular for events and photo shoots.

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.

What to know about Nelson Ghost Town Tours

Techatticup tours are private and can be customized to fit travelers’ schedule. There may be other groups in the mine at the same time, but packages are created so you can explore without bumping into other travelers. Group tour can have maximum 20 people.

How much does the Nelson Ghost Town Tour cost?

The tour runs just over one hour, and require a minimum of four people. Tours take place at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m.

Prices are $15 for adults and $10 for Kids from 5-12. Kids under 5 get to enjoy the tour for free.

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 Photography

Tips for visiting Nelson Ghost Town

  • Bring plenty of water and some snacks – there are no stores or restaurants in the area
  • Put on some sun screen – there’s a lot of sun here and no shade
  • Take your camera – this place has so many beautiful corners
  • Wear layers – the desert can get cold once the sun goes down. It’s especially true in winter
  • Don’t rely on your cell phone service – the coverage in the area is spotty at best
  • Arrive during business hours. You shouldn’t be on premises if you arrive before or after business hours

Nelson Ghost Town

How far is Nelson Ghost Town from Las Vegas?

Nelson Ghost Town is about 45 minutes away from Las Vegas.

It’s located at Nelson Cutoff Rd, Searchlight, NV 89046

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. 

How to get to Nelson Ghost Town

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. 

Nelson Ghost Town

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. 

ghost town searchlight nevada

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.

Where to stay near Nelson Ghost Town

There are no hotels near Nelson Ghost Town. The closest hotels to Nelson Ghost Town are in Boulder City or Las Vegas. Here are a couple of options:

  • Quality Inn in Boulder City
  • Hoover Dam Lodge in Boulder City
  • Excalibur in Las Vegas

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through the links in this article. 

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