Top 6 Abandoned Places In Idaho

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

Idaho is not the kind of state that most people think of when it comes to anything “urban.” This heavily rural state is mostly famous for potatoes, and not much else other than that. (Sorry, Idahoans.) However, this doesn’t mean that urban exploration is a no-go. The truth is that you can find a fair number of interesting, quirky, and spooky places that have been abandoned within the state’s borders.

You can check out a number of interesting places in Idaho that fit the “abandoned” bill. The most popular include:

  • Wild Waters
  • The Morely Nelson Petroglyphs
  • The Pioneer Cemetery
  • Roseberry
  • The Abandoned Gas Station
  • Old Idaho State Penitentiary
  • American Falls

Want to see if there’s a famous abandoned place near your spot in Idaho? We have a guide that will tell you some wild, fun, and fascinating stories that are guaranteed to thrill you…or at least educate you.

The Most Interesting Abandoned Places In Idaho

Don’t be too shocked when you hear about abandonia in Idaho. There are some pretty fascinating stories to uncover here, too…

1. Wild Waters – Coeur D’Alene

Cour D’Alene is a city that’s known for being pretty nice to live in. As a major resort city, the area is famous for its floating golf course and for having a floating golf course. One would expect there to be a water park somewhere in the area too. For a while, there was. It was called Wild Waters and was open every summer to much fanfare from locals and tourists alike.

Behind the scenes, Wild Waters was struggling to make ends meet. Once the Great Recession hit in 2010, the water park closed its doors in the winter. People expected it to open back up, but it never did. The park owners quietly declared bankruptcy and left the water park to rot there.

Though the water park can be clearly seen from the streets, there never was any effort to demolish it. You can still see the slides, the muddy water, and the broken pools.

2. The Morley Nelson Petroglyphs – Statewide

Most people forget that Native Americans were the first people to live in the state. The Morley Nelson Petroglyphs are some of the only remnants of the civilizations that lived here before us. The petroglyphs were painted and etched onto the stones we see today around 12,000 years ago. Not much is known about who made the glyphs, where they went off to, or what their culture was like.

The petroglyphs can be found throughout the Gem State, but that isn’t all. There’s a full-scale archeological park that you can go to in order to see some glyphs up close!

3. Pioneer Cemetery – Idaho City

During the days of pioneers and cowboys, life was tough in the Old West. This led the town of Idaho City to have a massive graveyard. Over 3,000 people were buried in Idaho City’s Boot Hill/Pioneer Cemetery at the peak of its use. Since those days, the graves have become abandoned and overgrown by the many vines, weeds, and trees that dot the landscape.

Though there are over 3,000 people here, only around 300 gravestones are actually legible. Many believe that the pioneers are upset that they were forgotten. This led to the area getting some pretty spooky rumors. There are many locals who claim to see shadowy figures of men in cowboy hats learning against trees at night. It’s not unusual to hear of cold spots or strange voices from the grave.

3. Roseberry – Roseberry

With Idaho being a major part of the Wild West, it’s not surprising to hear about ghost towns that dot the landscape. However, Roseberry isn’t your average Wild West ghost town. Roseberry was a ghost town that was established in the 19th century by people from Finland. As one can imagine, the idea was to create a place to pass through while others journeyed on their way to gold.

Roseberry fared well for a while, but the population wasn’t big enough to be sustainable for the long term. As a result, the entire town closed shop within a matter of decades. Despite the town being abandoned, the houses stayed in relatively stable condition through the years. Only eight different buildings exist.

Today, the local historical society helped refurbish the shops and stores. Though the area is still uninhabited, the truth is that there are moments where you are welcome to drop by and learn about the lifestyles of yesteryear.

4. The Abandoned Gas Station – Lewiston

Sometimes, what makes a place haunting isn’t some dreary history like what you might hear of with abandoned cemeteries or ghost towns. This old-fashioned gas station in Lewiston is a good example of what I mean by this. During what appears to be the 1940s, this gas station was a pretty successful place.

However, that’s not the case anymore. Watching nature reclaim what one might consider to be urban blight is pretty fascinating. With that said, the architecture wasn’t that bad. Why was this place abandoned, anyway? Well, we may never know.

5. Old Idaho State Penitentiary – Boise

The Wild West was truly a time where outlaws reigned supreme. This meant that the good guys had a little bad in them, and that the bad guys were really, really bad. Like, mostly murderers and killers. For law-abiding citizens of the West, this meant they often ended up living in fear. The jails had to be tough as nails to handle the hardened criminals this area bred. So, the Old Idaho State Penitentiary was born.

Idaho State was the kind of penitentiary that was second only to Alcatraz. The wardens were known for being tough, but crooked. Prisoners who went here often found dead in their cells, either from the wardens or the other prisoners’ decisions. There was no heat, no cooling system in the summer, and mandatory labor.

Prisoners didn’t take things lying down, especially after the 1960s got Civil Rights as a hot-button topic. The prison suffered from several deadly riots by the 1970s. By 1973, multiple lawsuits hit the prison and the doors were permanently closed. Shortly after, it was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Today, the prison is semi-abandoned. The local historical society does tours there, but no one really works there. Many people who visit the prison claim that they feel people staring them down. Some claim to see ghosts or even get pinched by unseen hands.

6. American Falls Reservoir – American Falls

American Falls was one of the larger towns in Idaho up until the 1940s. The town had an active factory, lots of stores, as well as a couple of neighborhoods. No one would have ever guessed that the town would end up being relocated. However, that’s exactly what happened. As a result of infrastructure needs, the state of Idaho needed to build a dam near the local falls.

To do this would mean to flood the entire city underneath a reservoir that would be used for electric and water needs. After heavy deliberation, the state decided to move the entire city a couple of miles away. It was considered to be the largest relocation endeavor in the state’s history, and it was a success.

Though the town was moved, there wasn’t an effort to demolish the city. So, as of right now, there is an entire city underneath the reservoir. Once in a while, you can spot the tops of houses and factory chimnies poking out of the water once in a while. Though people know about the lore, not many people have gone so far as to dive underneath and check the stuff out themselves.

Related Questions

Is Idaho City a ghost town?

It depends on what you mean by that, really. Much like other Wild West towns, Idaho City started off as a boomtown over 100 years ago. And, yes, it was sparked by a gold rush. However, that’s where the overall differences end. Idaho City, unlike most other “ghost towns,” is still inhabited by people. They still have a post office and they also have municipal facilities.While the population isn’t large, it’s still there. The city still is struggling to find its identity, which means that it’s not going to be super popular anytime soon. However, it’s still coasting along. Whether or not it’ll be here in 50 years remains to be seen.

How many ghost towns are there in Idaho?

While every state has its own set of ghost towns, Idaho has a lot more than most. Currently, the state has over 100 different ghost towns that are documented within the state’s history. Because Idaho has so many extremely remote areas, it’s important to remember that there is always a chance that you can stumble upon a settlement that no one knew about.There are plenty of lost and forgotten venues throughout the West. It’s safe to say that we don’t know all of the towns that have been abandoned yet.

Is Silver City Idaho a ghost town?

Silver City is considered to be a ghost town by most population standards. The former boomtown was abandoned once the gold rush ended. It is still up and running, though, as a historic museum of sorts. People can visit it and see the well-maintained, well-restored city. Like most other preserved ghost towns, the area has specific hours of operation.If you’re curious, the city is open during the day most days of the week. You can get a full walking tour, too.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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