Trips & Trails: Delmar Ghost Town

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If you’re looking for ghost towns and off-road adventures, there is no better place to set your sights on than Nevada. Nevada has more ghost towns than any other state in the US and the Delamar Ghost Town makes for an excellent journey into some remote high desert. Deep in the heart of Nevada BLM land, the roads around Delamar provide ample exploring and wild camping to suit your off-grid inclinations.

Delamar was a mining town that produced millions of dollars in gold for a handful of years in the late 1800s and became infamous for the high number of mining-related fatalities during its heyday. If you’re actually hunting ghosts while on your overland journey, Delamar might just deliver. Remote and eerie, the town earned the nickname “The Widowmaker” because of the silica dust created by ore production and its effect on the miners in the area. I won’t go into any gorey details, but at one time, there is said to have been hundreds of townspeople who lost their loved ones in an untimely fashion because of the mine.

Even if you’re not hunting ghosts, Delamar is a relic of the past that harkens back to the boom-and-bust development of the American West. The rocky foundations and crumbling ruins make for interesting exploring, but please note that getting too deep into mines can be dangerous. Travel Nevada warns that between “shaky timber, cave-ins, dangerous air quality and old explosives, exploring in and around old mining sites is extremely unsafe. Do not attempt to enter old mine shafts or adits when exploring Nevada ghost towns.”

The off-road routes around Delamar are plentiful and you’ll want to be fully self-sufficient for the trip, especially considering how tempting all the detours will be. To get to the ghost town, head north out of Las Vegas up Highway 93 for about an hour and a half, where you’ll arrive in Alamo to stock up on gas, food, and supplies. 

Going south of Alamo on Highway 93, you can turn onto Alamo Canyon Road for a 30 mile drive to the ghost town or continue further south to Kane Spring Road to make a longer, 100+ mile loop. 

If you take the Alamo Canyon Road route, don’t miss the petroglyphs at 13.7 miles into the drive, just as you’re entering the Delamar Lake area. The ancient petroglyphs are on the north side of the road in the jumble of rocks. Also note that Delmar Lake is typically dry, but it could certainly be an axle-swallowing mud pit if there’s been any rain. 

No matter which route you take to the ghost town, you’ll traverse the classic basin and range Nevada landscape as you amble into the middle of nowhere. Between the Joshua Tree forests, the occasional sighting of wild horses or bighorn sheep, and the endless expanse of high desert, the Delamar Ghost Town area is overlanding at its finest. 

WHAT TO KNOW:

Time: 2-7+ hours

Distance: 30-130 miles

Fuel: Gas is available in Alamo, NV, though it’s always a good idea to bring along an extra liter or two, just in case.

Highest elevation: 7400 feet

Water: There is no water along the route and the desert is hot. Plan to carry one+ gallon of water per person per day.

Permits: No permits are required.

Other considerations: Camping is ample around Delamar on BLM land. There are no services in this remote region and all the standard rules apply: dispersed camping is allowed free of charge, for up to 14 days in any one spot, and practice LNT every chance you get.


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Header image: Travel Nevada

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Photo by Brett Willhelm

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