The Spirited Histories of Nevada’s Most Haunted Hotels - Atlas Obscura Lists

The Spirited Histories of Nevada’s Most Haunted Hotels

Because ghosts were people, too.

Tumbleweeds rolling down forgotten streets, once-booming mining towns abandoned. Nevada was built on the starry-eyed dreams of prospectors and pioneering figures who journeyed great distances to get in on the action. Many of them left forlorn after their fortunes went bust—others never made it out at all. Do you have what it takes to mingle with the ghosts of this storied state, and spend a night (or four) in their soulful company? You’re in luck, because Nevada boasts a plethora of paranormal activity, especially among the creaking floorboards, antique furnishings, and in one case in particular—glassy-eyed clowns—that occupy some of its most legendary lodgings. 

Opened in 1908, Nevada’s Goldfield Hotel was known to be one of the most spectacular hotels in the West, an opulent beauty with a mahogany-paneled lobby featuring gold-leaf ceilings and crystal chandeliers, an elevator—rare at the time—and 150 guestrooms, each with heating and electricity, and many with ensuite bathrooms. But over a century later, psychics are claiming this long-boarded property is more a portal to hell. While guided tours are available by appointment, these days the Goldfield’s only overnight guests are the spirits themselves. One of the most famous is “Elizabeth,” the reputed mistress of hotel owner George Wingfield. Many suspect that Wingfield, who is said to have chained Elizabeth to a radiator in room 109 when he found out she was pregnant with his child, murdered her. Of course, it’s a question you may want to ask Elizabeth yourself—and many have claimed they’ve had the chance to do so.

Not all of Nevada’s scariest properties are historic. Some, like The Clown Motel in Tonopah, simply tap into our fears. Anyone who suffers from coulrophobia, an extreme fear of clowns, may want to steer clear of this polka-dot covered motor lodge, where clowns peer out from seemingly every doorway, picture frame, and porcelain statue. Some sport maniacal smiles, others star-shaped eyes that tend to look on a little too long. What’s even more, the lodging happens to sit right next to an old miners’ cemetery where the body of the motel’s original patriarch, Clarence David, resides. Whether you’re spending a night in Nevada’s oldest existing hotel and sharing a room with the ghost of Rosie—known for slamming doors and the occasional apparition—or listening for the low whispers of Tonopah’s “Lady in Red” in rooms 502, 503, and 504 of the renovated Mizpah Hotel, the former courtesan’s haunting grounds, get ready to encounter some of the state’s most shadowy figures within the halls of these four peculiar properties.