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“Fascinating, but use caution when entering the store”

Ballarat Ghost Town
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Attraction details
Owner description: This town was once a supply town for mines in the region and is a good stop during a driving tour of the valley.
Saint Louis, Missouri
Level Contributor
152 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
“Fascinating, but use caution when entering the store”
Reviewed 9 October 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed all that this place had to offer. Founded in 1897 as a supply point for the mines, but then quickly faded when the mine closed in 1917, it was a true form of a ghost town; ragged bedraggled, with signs of an interesting history from its former glory. I especially appreciated that it has not been re-created or painted over in a Disney fashion for tourists. It's decrepit state tells the true history of the faded town in the middle of Death Valley. You will find a broke down truck said to have been abandoned there by the Manson family after getting stuck, frames of bedraggled homesteads, the local jail and hotel, abandoned rusted out jalopies, items riddled with bullet holes, and an old cemetery where people were often burried by their pets. There is also a currently running motor-home park for camping and a general store. The caretaker of the property is an interesting fellow, but you should be warned, it is NOT a family friendly environment inside the store. It is decorated with highly visible nude centerfold pictures of women in various sexual poses throughout the store. The caretaker lives in the store and though he may have some interesting stories, as a woman I felt pretty uncomfortable being in the store with him, given his clear lack of socially appropriate boundaries with the pornography, and he is kinda rough looking to boot, though friendly and talkative. It actually seemed like something you would see in a horror movie when the unwitting teens bump into the eccentric caretaker of the town they are about to enter just before someone comes out to torture them for the next hour and half onscreen.

The most difficult thing about the visit was getting there, the signs are pretty unclear and not marked well. You may have to double back a couple times before you find it, but don't give up! It is worth it. It is down a long dirt road and to the far back by the mountains. You will think you are driving to nowhere when you will turn and see the tiny town and signs of life. It is fascinating to see the dessert mirage of water from the intense heat...it is just like in the cartoons. Don't forget to bring your camera, and if you are worried about becoming a victim like in a horror movie, be sure to pack your safety gear too!

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
7 Thank megan g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Chester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
175 reviews
91 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 133 helpful votes
“Not a town so much as a couple of buildings”
Reviewed 13 September 2013

I'd always wanted to see an actual ghost town, so I was pretty excited about Ballarat, given that we were already going to be driving through Death Valley and this was practically on the way. Unfortunately I was left very disappointed.

After driving the 3.5 miles down a bumpy gravel road that seemed determined to break our car and leave us stranded in the desert, we arrived in Ballarat, quickly realising that it's not a ghost town, it's just a couple of buildings, one of which is almost collapsed, the other of which has clearly been renovated, which kind of defeats the purpose. There's also a campsite here, several burned out cars, and some threatening glares from people who may or may not have decided to live in Ballarat now.

If you want to see an actual ghost town, do some research and go elsewhere - there are several in the Death Valley area. But if you want to spend 15 minutes feeling like the family in The Hills Have Eyes, then pop along to Ballarat!

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank Scruff_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
35 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Living Ghost Town”
Reviewed 3 February 2013

Ballarat Ghost Town on it's own is ok but the lake near it is really cool. The lake in the cloudy skies looked deep blue with white salt all around it. Very picturesque. Also, we spotted a few wild donkey's with their offspring.

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank Mell72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
los angeles
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Pretty big Creep Factor”
Reviewed 18 January 2013

Have you seen THe Hills Have Eyes? This place is freaking scary. I had to camp there overnight and I didn't get one wink of sleep. 'Also check out the my picture of the sweet bathroom we had to use. I think I peed next to it instead of in it.

Enough said...

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank bluebondy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Napa, California
Level Contributor
133 reviews
78 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 198 helpful votes
“Great for Photography!”
Reviewed 8 April 2012

Okay, so there isn't much of a "town" left.... that being said, I had a great time photographing what was there. In addition, I totally enjoyed chatting with Rock, the caretaker. If you were thirsty, he had sodas, beer, and water for sale. There are also restrooms which can be a welcome sight if you've been driving in the desert without one. There were about five motorhomes in the parking lot. These belong to people who are still mining for gold and silver. I was greeted by his dog who was just as friendly as can be. I did leave $2.00 in the tip can for his hospitality and taking the time to chat with me.

I thought it was well worth the stop but I was also looking at everything from a photographers view. I can understand some of the negative reviews since this isn't as well preserved as others. All that was left were four buildings, some old beat up rusted vehicles, and lots of desert. I totally enjoyed photographing it and would recommend stopping if you are passing by.

Visited March 2012
Helpful?
7 Thank WorldWanderer99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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