Exploring Idaho’s Ghost Towns on ATVs

Idaho is full of historic ghost towns, thanks to the Gold Rush and exhausted mining efforts in the 1800’s. What better way to explore the remnants of wealth-seeking western explorers than on an all-terrain vehicle!

All-terrain vehicles, also known as ATVs and four-wheelers, are small, sturdy vehicles with low pressure tires and handlebars for steering control. Lots of local outdoor companies rent ATVs to visitors and very little experience, if any, is required to rent one.

Rental packages generally include helmets and pick up and drop off service. One company, Snowmobile and ATV Rentals (SAAR) , accepts reservations by phone or fax and charges $30 per hour for a minimal of two hours or $129 per day during peak season.

The Bayhorse Pacific Mine Loop is a great place to take your ATV out for a spin. This 15-mile loop will introduce you to the old mining town of Bayhorse and around the mountains where the Pacific Mine once produce silver ore.

Take a walking tour of the 1880’s era ghost town when you arrive in Bayhorse. The trail system is open to the public seven days a week from late-May to mid-October. Entrance fees are $5 per vehicle and parking and vault toilets are available on site.

Then follow the trail route uphill and through the switchbacks to check out the mine. You’ll also pass by a calm, flowing creek on your way back to Bayhorse on the return trip. Alternate route options are also available to make your trail longer or shorter.

According to Park Manager, Dan Smith, over 90 miles of trail are available for ATV excursions in the adjacent area as well. Nearby town, Challis, and areas of Custer County have designated streets and roads, which are open to ATVs as well. You’ll see old mills, charcoal kilns, mine tunnels, and other building remnants along the way.

Want to see what you’re getting yourself into before committing to an ATV trip? Check out this video from history buff, trail enthusiast, and Boise resident, Ernie Lombard, and decide your level of adventure!