A short trip from Vegas to Tonopah leads through the ghost town of Goldfield and into its Santa Fe Saloon

We set modest goals when we depart. Takes awhile to get it all together. Never plan to leave early. Never plan to go far.

So about a year ago, we pointed RVoyager in the direction of Tonopah. En route North and West into the desert away from Vegas, we eased onto the dirt streets of Goldfield and found, to our delight, an open bar…

Santa Fe Saloon, that is, not technically an open bar, but a bar that was open.

We welcomed a pre-sunset stop after the hectic checklist of leaving our long term spot in Las Vegas RV Resort.

LATER…
RVoyager Camped at Tonopah Station Casino RV Park

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
  • Roll to win your stay
  • Loose slots
  • Hookups

"Free cowboy hats" written on the seat cover dispenser
Crack up in the crapper at Tonopah Station Casino… a new use for toilet seat covers: Yay, ladies, FREE COWBOY HATS!

For this segment of the journey, our friends the Lewises joined as crew aboard RVoyager.

Mountain backdrop for dilapidated roadsie Motel with Desert Inn in white letters on a red board by a red door.
Not THE Desert Inn. A desert(ed) inn.
With pod like blooms on top, full moon in late afternoon sky beyond.
Joshua Tree along Rte 95

After enjoying desert scenery for the first three hours from Vegas, we steered into Goldfield to see sights.

In this ghost town of some fame, several decent early 1900s buildings remain, even the high school. Some of these sites possibly open for touring during regular hours, but we arrived for Happy Hour.

  • Adventure traveler AJ appears in the mirror above a worn mannequin of Wyatt Earp,
  • This room is equipped with Edison Electric Light. Do not attempt to light with match. Simply turn key on wall by the door. The use of Electricity for lighting is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep.
  • A mannequin of a woman in turn of the century attire, hand on hip, behind a giant mouse trap.
  • Like a museum, antique posters adorn the walls of the bar
  • Adventure travelers Bill and AJ in front of the Original Santa Fe Club Est. 1905 SALOON sign above the entrance

Supposedly the longest running saloon in the state, the inside of the ramshackle Santa Fe provided for us at least one inexpensive beer’s worth of entertainment as a mini museum of the turn of the 20th Century Wild West and its continuing saga of gold rushes.

This strange assortment of relics and memorabilia entertained us throughout the creaky watering hole. We learned that Wyatt Earp perhaps once called this town home. Certainly his brother Virgil did, and if you care, you can read more about that “conflicting story” on the Goldfield Historical Society website.

Across the street, we lingered around the rusting transportation hub that once hauled off 90M in gold. And maybe several bodies too, judging by the size of the hearse barn (in our header pic).

  • Zoomed in on the rusting train engine.
  • Bullfrog (another former town), Goldfield Railroad freight depot and repair yard sign with relics of past train items and tools, the larger engine and boxcars in background
  • Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company train engine with Tonopah and Goldfield box cars

A few years back, we bought a book about ghost towns. Goldfield made it into an entire Nevada chapter.

This map hanging in the Santa Fe blew us away with even more sites than our book.

Nevada Lost Mines and Ghost towns poster with a map of Nevada showing the locations
Click this image to download the full size version of this wall hanging, 4 mb

Zoom in and allow the mind to roam. Maybe even start a quest to find the “FAMED” Lost Blue Bucket of Gold…

After this bit of ghost town exploring, we tried but couldn’t beat the setting sun to Tonopah.

We pulled RVoyager into a slot in a decent lot behind the Tonopah Station Casino. Talk about a gamble. This place hands you the dice and gives you a chance to roll trips to win your hotel or campsite bill.

Our roll was like, awwww, craps.

So we had to pay the fee to camp overnight.

A reasonable fee, we thought, for a spot with hookups.

Next, we drove Delta Flyer for a quick bite and tour of the town.

On the outskirts, we spotted the Clown Motel.

A sign "bikers welcome" with a clown riding a motorcycle in front of the drive up old style roadside motel
Nothing at all creepy about the ‘World Famous’ Clown Motel.

Something about this place — proximity to the Old Tonapah Cemetery, perhaps? — evoked the visceral sensation of scenes from a Stephen King movie.

We snapped a couple quick pics and U-turned back to the Tonopah Station.

There, three of us tried a few slots to wind down before bedtime.

Perhaps clowns by cemeteries bring good luck because all three of us cashed out for a lot more than we put in.

Much better result than had we won the roll of the dice.

Goldfield, Nevada

Tonopah Station Hotel, Casino, RV Park
Tonapah, Nevada

775 482 9777

tonopahstation.com

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