When visiting other states in the US, I love asking people where they are from. After a brief discussion about their hometown, they usually ask the same question of me. When I tell them I’m from Arizona, I tend to get a similar response from those who have never visited the state.
Their first thought is that it’s nothing but a hot, dry desert wasteland where it never rains. While that isn’t true of every area in Arizona, it is fairly accurate when describing a small area, about an hour east of Phoenix, called Goldfield Ghost Town.
Goldfield is your prototypical Wild West mining town. Back in the 1890s Goldfield had a large community including saloons, boarding houses, a general store, blacksmith, school house, and church.
While it lives up to the well-known dry Arizona heat (with summer temperatures averaging above 100 degrees), it does cool down during the winter months to the 60s.
Yes, that’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit at the peak of winter…It is Arizona after all.
If you look beyond the warm temperatures though, you will find an experience unlike any other in the US. From train rides to gold mines, you can mosey around the town, learn all about its unique history, and experience some of the lifestyles of people who once lived there.
My family and I have been a few times before but recently took a trip to visit and had a great time!
What to Do in Goldfield Ghost Town, Arizona
Coffee Cantina & Bakery
When we arrived at the town, we were ready for breakfast and made our way over to the Coffee Cantina & Bakery. The smell of fresh baked goods filled the air as we opened the front door. My son immediately had his nose pressed against the glass display looking at a large, frosting covered cinnamon roll.
After placing our order, we realized they only accepted cash, which we didn’t have. Luckily there was an ATM down at the Railroad station, so we quickly withdrew some cash and made our way back.
We were able to get our cinnamon rolls, which my wife and I both thought were comparable to the flavor of Krispy Kreme donuts.
Right next to the Goldfield entrance is the Superstition Railroad station. Riding in a passenger car pulled behind a Plymouth diesel engine, we took a 20-minute train ride across the desert landscape and around the town.
I highly recommend keeping your hands inside the train to avoid getting stuck by a cholla (“jumping cactus”). Don’t worry, they don’t really jump. That’s just what you’ll be doing if you touch one.
As we travelled around a mile and a half of track, we got a narrated look at Superstition Mountain, 500 year-old giant Saguaro Cactus, and a skyline view of the town. The train conductor’s dry sense of humor shines through as he shares stories about the mining town and some of the surrounding areas that are still finding gold.
Goldfield Mine Tour
One way to escape the desert heat is to take a trip underground. We decided to go on the Goldfield Mine Tour which guides you through the mine’s history, while also getting a close look at the equipment used to extract over $4 million dollars in gold. The tour guides are highly knowledgeable of the area and were happy to answer any questions about the town.
After exiting the mine, we stopped by Prospector’s Palace to do some gold panning of our own. A gold historian taught us the correct way to pan for gold and everything we found we were able to keep. Unfortunately, we didn’t find a big enough haul to retire early.
Mammoth Steakhouse and Saloon
Once lunch rolled around, we headed over to the saloon for some grub. On the menu, we found an All-American spread of burgers, BBQ, steaks, and sandwiches. The Giant Mammoth burger is definitely worth a try.
Normally I’d order a Dr. Pepper to drink, but the best way to quench your thirst in Goldfield is with their prickly pear lemonade. It’s made with real juice from a prickly pear cactus fruit and is absolutely delicious. If you’re looking for something a bit stronger, you could always try their prickly pear margarita instead.
As we looked around the interior of the saloon, we found it adorned with authentic old west décor including photographs, mounted trophies, and hundreds of cowboy boots hanging from the ceiling. The mood was set by live country music performed by a local artist. This Goldfield Ghost Town restaurant was the perfect place to take a quick break from the heat.
I’m always looking for a way to get the adrenaline pumping. When we saw the Goldfield Ghost Town Superstition Zipline, we knew we had to give it a go!
Speaking to the zipline operator, we found out it was designed by world renowned thrill ride inventor, Stan Checketts, who has created rides all over the world at theme parks such as Cedar Point, Six Flags, Knott’s Berry Farm, and even Disney California Adventure Park.
The Superstition Zipline joins Checketts’ collection with a drop from 115 feet in the air and speeds of over 30 miles per hour, making it one of the most exciting ziplines in Arizona. Strapped in next to my four year old son, we flew over the desert landscape with a great view of the surrounding area. Don’t drop your camera!
Superstition Reptile Exhibit
Have you ever wanted to see a rattlesnake up close? Hopefully not out in the wild, but behind a glass window, they weren’t so bad. We got that chance at the Superstition Reptile Exhibit. There we saw numerous species of snakes including vipers, cobras, and of course, rattlesnakes.
We also got a close look at Gila Monsters, lizards, turtles, scorpions, desert tarantulas, and other creepy crawlies. It was a fun place to see some truly unique desert wildlife in a safe, controlled setting.
Other Goldfield Ghost Town Attractions
These are just a few of the many things we did in Goldfield Ghost Town. If you’re looking for more, be sure to check out their other attractions:
- Goldfield’s Historic Museum
- The Mystery Shack
- Peterson’s Mercantile
- Eagle Eye Shooting Gallery
- Apache Trail Tours
- Horseback rides
- And much more
If you ever find yourself around the Phoenix valley in Arizona, make sure to look up this small town. You could easily spend an entire day living like a cowboy or cowgirl in the wild, wild west of Goldfield Ghost Town. Grab your cowboy hat, leather chaps, and a canteen of water (or two) and go check it out!
(As a side note, there are some package options, but the Goldfield Ghost Town experience is not all inclusive, so be aware many of the attractions have their own separate cost. Also, keep in mind that except for the saloon, plastic cards are no good here. Cash is the currency of this western town, so make sure to come prepared. They do have ATMs at the train station and saloon, if needed. For pricing and hours, feel free to check out their website)