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Nelson Ghost Town - Las Vegas Day Trip

An overview of what you'll find on a visit to Nelson Ghost Town in Nevada as well as the surrounding Eldorado Area. Travel further to Nelson's Landing and get a majestic view of the Colorado River and Arizona.

15 minutes

Just under an hour away from the Las Vegas Strip sits Nelson, NV. This ghost town is a quirky spot that sits conveniently along a nice drive to the Colorado River along Rte 165. Just a few miles after Nelson you'll reach the end of the road and will be greeted with an incredible view across the Colorado River and into Arizona. When you arrive in town, you'll want to refresh yourself with the rules. The owners point out that this is all private property and that you need to abide by some guidelines. Fair enough.

Rules of Nelson Nevada Ghost Town
No Reports of Children Actually Being Shot
Gangster, Gangster, Muppet

Pretty simple rules with a spattering of sarcasm. Regarding Rule #5 regarding stray children being shot on site. At this point, there's yet to be a shooting of a stray child so I can safely say this rule is not very firm. When browsing local social media groups online to find interesting things to do around Las Vegas, when Nelson, NV came up it was clear that many people are offended by the nature of the language of the rules. I imagine the people who own this town are happy to keep their interactions separate so I guess it all works out.

The fee seems to vary a bit. If you're just picking up a quick snack, there's no fee. If you're taking photos like me in the hopes to use their attraction to attract people to something I'm working on, then it's $20. The photographer pass grants you access to go in the buildings as well where others are not allowed. I felt uncomfortable though crossing under the chained barriers to the buildings with so many people around. They were without cameras so I doubt they would know I had permission and who knows what kind of chaos might ensue. So I kept to the common spaces.

Rule 3 has me incredibly confused though. I didn't want to be stupid, so I tried my best to avoid walking. After trying all other methods of travel available by foot, jogging, skipping, sprinting I came to the conclusion that just walking was the most intelligent option. I'm not quite sure what stupid people are doing that is ending the practice of walking, but it still seems like the way to go go for me.

This ghost town has a lot of life to it and with guided tours and even weddings, if you're looking for a ghost town experience that looks like an untouched time capsule, you're not going to get it in Nelson. What you are going to get is a collection of old buildings, war planes and vehicles that looked like they came from either a Mobster or a Muppet Movie set. Perhaps it's just my age, but when viewing all these monstrous buses I just couldn't get the image of Animal, Kermit, Fozzy, Ms. Pinky, Gonzo and others with their heads piling out of the windows just singing and having the best time ever. Not exactly a ghost town image.

This town was called Eldorado when it was discovered by Spaniards in 1775. Nearly 100 years later (1859) gold and silver were discovered and the more aggressive miners of the day took over the town where the mines ran until 1945. From historical accounts this mine seems to be one of the most violence ridden mining areas as people fought for the millions of dollars in gold and lead that was being produced. It became home to Civil War deserters on both sides because of it's isolated location.

5 miles beyond Nelson Ghost Town is Nelson's Landing where you will have an incredible vantage point for viewing the Colorado River as you look across into Arizona. The oasis of water nestled in the scattered jagged peaks is a breath taking sight. One that I have yet to create a picture that does justice to how majestic a sight it all is.

Nelson's Landing was once a village but was wiped off the landscape on September 14, 1974 when a flash flood came tearing through the area with waves as high as 40 feet and carrying vehicles and even houses to Lake Mohave 15 miles down river.

Directions:

  • From the Vegas Strip you'll take I15 South to I215 East to Rte 11/95 South.
  • I215 East to Rte 11/95 South
  • After 10 miles on I95 you'll see signs for Nelson. Make a left on to Rte 165
  • You'll climb a mountain/hill for 15 miles and then start your descent into Nelson

What to Bring:

  • Water. It's the desert. Take water everywhere with you.
  • Comfortable walking shoes that don't let debris/sand in
  • A camera for fun pictures. You'll pay a little extra to visit but the pictures are worth it
  • A comfy collapsible chair if you're continuing the Nelson's Landing for the view of the Colorado River. It's a great place to read.

For a more rugged experience, there are some dirt roads that can take you from Rte 95 to the Colorado River. A 4WD vehicle is required for this option, but there are many dirt roads here that can easily be handled by a stock Jeep. And there are many Jeeps available for rent from Enterprise, Budget, etc... Look forward to a post on the dirt road way through Nelson, or hit me up in the meantime and I can help out if I haven't posted a map yet.

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