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Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive

Ruins at Hamilton Ghost Town
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The Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive is a gorgeous high-elevation drive to the ghost town of Hamilton. The drive provides sweeping views of the Mokomoke Mountains, Mt. Hamilton, the White Pine Range, and numerous mountain ranges and valleys located far away in the distance. Best of all, this scenic drive is simple to access, as the drive begins right at US Highway 50, thirty-nine miles to the west of Ely.

From US Highway 50, the Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive crosses high-desert terrain toward the Mokomoke Mountains. From there, the road begins to gain elevation and curves around the flank of open, wind-swept mountains. The traveler has superb views here of the White Pine Range, Mt. Hamilton and distant mountains and valleys that march off into the distance.

The drive passes by the old Hamilton cemetery, which is located about one mile from Hamilton itself. From the cemetery, the visitor will have excellent views of the snow-capped peaks of the White Pine Range.

After ten miles, the scenic drive reaches the ghost town of Hamilton. Following the discovery of silver in 1867, the population of Hamilton swelled from 30 people to over 12,000 people by 1869. However, Hamilton was doomed to follow the path of other Nevada mining boomtowns. Once the silver ran out, so did the people. Then fires swept through the town in 1873, and again in 1885. These two fires destroyed most of the buildings. Today, little remains standing in Hamilton, although the foundations of many buildings dot the landscape.

Mt. Hamilton and the White Pine Range
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The drive to Hamilton Ghost Town is just ten miles long. However, the traveler will need to allow plenty of time to make the trip. The road is gravel and dirt for its entire length. The road also has plenty of twists, turns and ruts – keeping travel slow for most of its length. On a topographic map book such as the Nevada Atlas & Gazetteer (suggested for this trip), the road is labeled Forest Road 401. However, signs do exist both on US Highway 50 and along the road itself that point the way to Hamilton, although these signs are easy to miss.

During good weather (aka…the summer), a normal passenger car shouldn’t have many problems reaching Hamilton, although some ruts will have to be gingerly drove around. However, during the spring/early summer or following a rainy period, the road to Hamilton likely will become a muddy and slick mess. During such weather, a passenger car has little chance of reaching Hamilton. As such, when the road is wet a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended. Additionally, the road to Hamilton is a seasonal road, and during winter is closed.

There are no services along the road, nor are there any services near where the road begins. A traveler wishing to venture up to Hamilton is advised to get whatever they need in either Eureka or Ely.

The Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive passes through public lands for its entire distance. Primitive camping is allowed anywhere, and there are many “informal” camping spots to pull over and park a trailer, too. But there is no developed campgrounds along the road itself. However, just down US Highway 50, a few miles east of where the scenic drive begins, a developed campground is located at Illipah Reservoir Recreation Site.

Overall, anyone driving down US Highway 50 who has a few hours to spare should consider taking this beautiful drive.

Quick Facts About the Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive

  • Trip Length : 10 miles, one-way. Starts off of US Highway 50 thirty-nine miles west of Ely and ends in the ghost town of Hamilton. Travelers can continue to follow the road south toward Duckwater and State Highway 379.
  • Road Type - The road is gravel/dirt for its entire distance. During wet conditions, the road will be muddy, rutted and slick. During normal conditions, a normal passenger car should have no problems on the road. But during so-so conditions, a high-clearance vehicle is needed. Road is also closed in the winter.
  • RV's / Campers? - Yes.
  • Services Available - Gas and supplies can be found in Ely and Eureka. There is no place to buy supplies or gas on the scenic drive or anywhere close to it.
  • General Location - Central Nevada, just off US Highway 50.
  • Camping - The drive passes through BLM public lands for its entire length. Primitive camping is allowed everywhere. A developed campground is found at Illipah Reservoir Recreation Site, a few miles east on US Highway 50.

Photos of the Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive

White Pine Range Sweeping Views Hamilton Ghost Town Ruins

More Photographs of the Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive

Map of the Hamilton Ghost Town & Nearby Scenic Drives

Suggested Books

Benchmark Nevada Road & Recreation Atlas : This topographic map book shows ALL roads in Nevada. This book is a mandatory requirement if you'll be venturing off the main highways shown on the tourist map. Additionally, this book shows many historical sites, points of interest and recreation areas.

More Info at Amazon

Where to Stay When Driving the Hamilton Ghost Town Scenic Drive

Bring your tent or camper, as there is no lodging or services of any kind on this scenic drive although there is lodging in the town of Ely. The drive passes through BLM lands for its entire length, so primitive camping is allowed everywhere. Additionally, a few miles from the scenic drives beginning on US Highway 50, a developed campground exists at Illipah Reservoir.

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