During my ride, I totally blew by Gold Point. That’s because it is situated 15 miles off the highway down a dirt road. It is easy to pass up. You can find it by turning onto the 266 junction from 95. Amina, the head honcho at the Beatty Historical Museum (see Beatty) told me that I MUST go there. So I turned around and backtracked about 60 miles. Gold Point is by far the best ghost town I have ever seen (goldpointghostown.com). It is the real McCoy and exposes the fake dust of all the other touristy-type old-west villages. The dirt road through town isn’t too bad. I had no problems riding down the streets on a fully loaded Victory Cross Country with trunk. The backroads surrounding it, on the other hand, are filled with deep and loose gravel and are not recommended for heavy touring bikes.
Gold Point is semi above-the-law. It has no local government or police. At this point, the land and century-old buildings are mostly owned by a guy named Sheriff Stone, a dude named Chuck, and his brother Walt. I met Walt. These men work hard to preserve the buildings, using their own coin and donations from people passing through. They let tourists stay in the cabins in town on Saturday nights for a donation. The local bar does not have a liquor license, but it houses more than 160 kinds of rotgut alcohol to please your intestines. All drinks are by donation. While serving me fire in a glass, Walt told me that Gold Point, formerly known as Hornsilver, remains lawless to avoid any political crap and building-code hoo-ha. Plus, with only a few residents, rules need not apply. Walt gave me the full tour of the town. It is better than any museum I have ever been to. Each building has been maintained and visually matches the original. Unlike a regular museum, nothing is under glass. I got to play with some old cards and chips on an antique poker table in the back of the post office. Everything in town is left out to explore. Walt invited me to stay the night. I was already behind schedule and had to sadly decline his offer. Plan on staying a day or two if you visit.
Stuff to know…
Everything in Gold Point is owned by someone, even a rusty old can. Don’t blame me if you get shot and thrown down a mineshaft if you try to take a souvenir home to your little sister. I warned you. This isn’t Disneyland.
Beatty and Rhyolite
Beatty is located on US Highway 95 at the junction of Highway 374. There is a 95-mile stretch between Tonopah and Beatty through hypnotic desert scenery across wide plains and distant mountains. Beatty is tucked in-between Death Valley and Nellis Air Force Base.
Make sure to stop at the Beatty Museum and Historical Society (beattymuseum.org) and ask the lovely Amina if you can see the can of jackrabbit milk hidden in an old refrigerator. I didn’t think jackrabbits made milk. Aren’t all jackrabbits male and the female versions are Jane or Jill rabbits? I wonder what part you need to milk on a jackrabbit?
Just west of Beatty, on the eastern edge of Death Valley, is Rhyolite, a ghost town located in the Bullfrog Hills that was founded in 1905. Rhyolite has a few cool buildings left and is probably one of the most photographed ghost towns in America. It’s been filmed for several movies—none of which I care about. But a house made out of empty bottles made me want to sing “99 Bottles of Beer” and then take a pee. Just outside of the town is the Goldwell Open Air Museum (goldwellmuseum.org). There you’ll find giant sculptures like Albert Szukalski’s, “The Last Supper,” which looks super creepy, and Dr. Hugo Heyrman’s “Lady Desert,” a naked cinder block chick, which despite her square boobies, looks oddly sexy.