Lifestyle

The Most Insane Abandoned Places in Arizona

If you’ve ever seen Mad Max, then you probably have a pretty good idea of what 1) a post-apocalyptic, abandoned Arizona would look like, and 2) what an ironically sane Mel Gibson actually did look like. Well, if you want an even better idea of what the former might resemble, check out these 10 hauntingly eerie abandoned AZ places:

Christmas Tree Inn

Santa Claus Acres
When you were a kid and you wrote letters to Santa, they probably ended up here. But a jolly old man in a red suit wasn’t on the receiving end of your Christmas wish list (that’s why you never got what you asked for). Originating in 1937, Santa Claus gained popularity as tourist spot, but by the ‘70s business had started to decline, and by 1995 the town was empty. Today you can still see Santa’s face plastered around town, accompanied by a lot of graffiti.

The Casa Grande Domes

Casa Grande
The super-creepy, super-cool Casa Grande Domes were first built back in 1982 by a California-based tech company. But, when the company when bankrupt more than 30 years ago, they abandoned shop. The domes attract quite a few interesting groups of people, from paranormal enthusiasts to ritualistic covens, and of course teenage punks who raided their parents' liquor cabinet.

The vacant dog track

Black Canyon City
Travel about 40 miles north of Phoenix and you’ll come up on the Black Canyon City dog track. Built in the 1960s for greyhound races where you could get seats for as little as $.50, the track fell into decay after it shuttered in the ‘80s. The building had a short-lived second life when it was transformed into swap-meet grounds, but that didn’t last either. Today the hollowed-out structure is overgrown with weeds and cacti, and the kennels are empty, aside from the nesting birds.

KOA’s desolate campground

Two Guns
East of Flagstaff, Two Guns was once a booming tourist stop off of Route 66 outfitted with a gas station, souvenir shop, and even a zoo that housed bobcats and panthers. The destination didn’t close down because one of the cats escaped its cage and had a tourist for dinner. Like many Route 66 stops that were bypassed by I-40, it died a quick death and today it’s in ruins.

Empty jailhouse

Salt River Canyon
There’s something really creepy about abandoned jails and prisons, Alcatraz, anybody? So, the empty jailhouse in Salt River Canyon didn’t actually house any Wild West outlaws, notorious killers, or criminals, it was just built as a fun spot for tourists to take photos while fueling up their cars. But it’s still pretty creepy.

Wupatki National Monument

Flagstaff
The protected site located near Flagstaff is home to a number of sandstone dwellings that were built by the Pueblo people. Evidence of the first inhabitants date way back to 500 AD. Wupatki is the largest building on the site, with more than 100 rooms. In the late 1960s it was added to the National Register of Historic Places to ensure that what’s left of the ancient site is preserved.

Twin Arrows trading post

Twin Arrows
The Twin Arrows trading post is just another abandoned pit stop along historic Route 66. Towering 25ft faded red and yellow arrows constructed from telephone poles neighbor the gas station, diner, and empty curio shop today. Twin Arrows is owned by the Hopi tribe and there’s been talk about restoring the area, but it still remains boarded up and in decay, overcome by Arizona’s harsh elements and weeds.

Trotting Park

Phoenix
The permanently closed Goodyear horse track was built in 1964. It seems like it was doomed to fail. The track opened in 1965 but shuttered shortly after just two seasons. It might have closed because the weather was just too hot for betting spectators and the horses, or it could have been because the area was prone to flooding. Others speculate that the track failed because it was just too expensive to run (we should mention it cost $10 million to build). Whatever the reason for closing, the track’s been sitting empty in the desert for almost 50 years.

Vulture Gold Mine

Wickenburg
Vulture City was established at the height of the California Gold Rush in 1863. After several years of success, Vulture Mine was shut down temporarily by a regulatory agency in 1942, and permanently soon after. The site is no stranger to legend and urban myths. Some say the property is haunted, and we’d take their word for it. Over a dozen men met their fate at the hanging tree, an old ironwood for theft during the mine’s heyday. Today you can take a tour of the mine for a donation of $10.

Tumacacori Mission ruins

Tumacacori 
Made up of adobe, wood, and plaster (Hey! This must be where modern-day architects found inspiration to build the entire of Phoenix!) the Tumacacori Mission ruins have been a Southern Arizona landmark since 1691, when the village was established. Missionaries, settlers, and soldiers have all passed through, making their mark on the rich culture that exists there presently. Not much remains of the early settlements, but today the historical site is preserved and protected by the National Park Service and it’s open to the public.

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Lauren Topor is a Phoenix writer who is pretty sure that at least ONE of those planes (in the main image) can still be flown. Tell her which one at @LaurenTopor.