Rhyolite Ghost Town (Nevada) and Goldwell Open Air Museum

Going back from Las Vegas to Los Angeles after the New Year’s Eve celebrations, my wife and I opted to go through Nevada and the Death Valley. We stopped at Rhyolite, a ghost town in West Nevada. The place is also hosting the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Let’s take you on this very special visit in my Pictured Story.


Rhyolite – Location & Transport

Rhyolite is located at the very West of Nevada, right at NV-374. The ghost town is just a few miles away from Beatty, which is offering all kinds of tourist services (at least in a limited volume). You need a car to go to Rhyolite, either by rental car or in an organized tour. Please note that the California border is just a very short drive away to the West. If you come from there or want to head on to the West, you enter Death Valley National Park, which is up to an access fee. According ticket machines are available at several spots in the national park.

The ruins of Rhyolite are open to visitors, there are no visitors. The outdoor exhibitions Goldwell Open Air Museum are open to visitors around the clock without limitations. According to their website, the visitor center and gift shop of the arts collection is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, 10:00 to 16:00. The area features burros, which might be a nice welcome for you as well. However, there are also rattlesnakes in the area. During our visit on New Year’s Day 2024, there were just very few other visitors.


Views of Rhyolite Ghost Town

Rhyololite’s bloom time was in the very early 1900’s as part of the gold rush. It had a quick raise around 1905, when the metal has been found in the surrounding hills. In peak times, the population was in the range of 3,000 to 5,000. However, around 1910, there were just some 1,000 inhabitants left. Since roughly 1920, the place is a ghost town and then turned into a tourist attraction. Most buildings broke down slowly since then. Unfortunately, some places like the 1906 built Rhyloite Mercantile have also been hit by natural impact – the building mentioned burned down after being hit by lightning in 2014.

The first building you reach likely, though, is in very good shape. The minor Tom T. Kelly built the Bottle House in 1906. It consists of 50,000 discarded beer and liquor bottles, stuck together by mortar. The building, especially the roof, has been renovated in the early 2000’s, which explains the excellent state the building is in. Due to vandalism, the building is fenced, but you can get rather close and also explore the smaller bottle houses around which have been added later. The building has been a museum in former times, but it did not operate profitably. There is also a car park close to the building.

Rhyolite Ruins

If you walk or drive further, you pass the other ruins of Rhyolite. As you see in the pictures, their condition is significantly worse. For example, the first pictures you see is the 1908 constructed Cook Bank building and the former school building.

One of the most striking buildings of Rhyolite is the former main station, which is also protected by fences. Still a ruin, the station has still been in quite good condition during my visit in January 2024. There is also an old caboose next to the building, which used to be a gas station. You cannot access it as well, though.


Goldwell Open Air Museum

Right next to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum. It is a private art exhibition originally driven by Belgian artist Albert Szukalksi. The oldest exhibits, both featuring ghost sculptures, are Ghost Rider (on the first picture) and The Last Supper, both dated as of 1984. The last exhibition is the set of letters, Keep Going (2023), which is only giving the right message by its shadow. Even when the visitor center is closed, some showcases give you basic information about the exhibits. The sofa Sit Here! did not survive and had to be put away in 2023.

The most popular exhibit on the Goldwell Open Air Museum grounds is likely The Venus of Nevada, which has been brought to the museum in 1992. It has been created by 1942-born Dr. Hugo Heyrman from Antwerp. The museum also drives the Red Barn Art Center, in which artists can be creative and work for a nominal fee.



Rhyolite – Services

There are two car parks, one close to the station and one close to the Bottle House. In addition, you can park your car in front of the Goldwell Open Air Museum. The car park close to the station features a public toilet. All over Rhyolite, there are information displays, which give you additional information about the history of the town and the buildings / ruins, which are very helpful.



Pictured Stories 2024

Here are all my Pictured Stories I released in 2024:


Open Air Museums

Here are all my postings about Open Air Museums:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *