If you take a slight detour from the main road between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, you will find intriguing remnants of the old mining city – Calico, now a ghost town. And if you’re a fan of stories of the Wild West, you won’t be able to resist the temptation to check it out.
The town was founded in 1881. In the days of glory, more than 3000 people lived in it; however, after the rapid boom, the settlement came to a rapid decline when silver and borate mining became less profitable until it became almost deserted by 1907.
At its peak, you could find over 500 separate mines scattered around nearby hills. At that time, Calico had ~22 saloons, its own Chinatown, a red-light district, a post office, a school, and many shops. Nowadays, only six of the buildings are almost unchanged from the mining era. The city itself became a tourist attraction, with new buildings built in old western style and false façades, looking more like a movie set.
Even though the town might not be “real”, you can still see parts of old history scattered around. The town offers various attractions, like gold panning, a ride on the mine train, and a visit to the mine tunnels, where you can see in which conditions miners had to work. There are also some historical reenactments and special events.
We spent around two hours in Calico, checking out stores and taking pictures. When we reached boiling point, we returned to our air-conditioned bubble to continue on the road to Las Vegas.
The entrance costs 8$. However, some attractions, like the train or access to the mine, are paid extra. Check this website for current pricing.
There is ample parking space available. I have also read online it is possible to camp in the area. Follow this link for more.