Rhyolite, Nevada

Rhyolite is a ghost town on the California Nevada border. It is an excellent late afternoon subject. Do not arrive too late or the sun will go behind a ridge and you will miss the best light. It works well at dawn also, especially in spring and summer when it gets light just after sunrise. The ruins of the Cook Bank and the largely intact Bottle House are my favorite Rhyolite subjects. You may want to clone out some of the telephone lines, barbed wire fences, and other objects occasionally interrupting the scene. When shooting Cook Bank keep perspective in mind, either by shooting from a distance, by correcting the perspective in Photoshop, or by using a tilt shift lens. To correct perspective in Photoshop use the Edit Transform Perspective or Edit Transform Distort tools.

My gallery shows images of an old car, unfortunately there was a fire in 2014 and the car no longer photographs as well. Most of the buildings in Rhyolite are surrounded by barbed wire fences and there are warnings that the ruins are not safe. If you ignore the warnings and enter the ruins you will find that the interiors are often covered in graffiti and are not good subjects. There are also warnings about rattlesnakes.

Another favorite Rhyolite subject is the old Union Pacific Railroad car, on my last visit the side door was open so you could enter the somewhat unsafe car. If the side door is closed you can shoot from either end of the car.

Rhyolite is also a very good area for star trails and light painting. Milky Way images of the buildings are also possible but you will be capturing the northern end of the Milky Way and not the more dramatic southern end. Both the Photographers Ephemeris and Photopills are great applications for planning Milky Way and Star Trail images. See the Sunrise/Sunset page for information on how to import Rhyolite locations into these applications. Unfortunately Rhyolite is closed at night. I have heard of one professional photographer being ticketed. Conversely a Beatty resident of 15 years told me he has never seen or heard of the police being in Rhyolite at night. Don't blame me if you get ticketed for being there at night.

The Rhyolite cemetery has many wooden markers mixed in with more recent headstones; for me the mixture does not photograph well. Zooming in on individual graves is probably your best chance of getting a good image.

I have seen wild burros in Beatty at dawn and Rhyolite at dusk, and I would not be surprised to see Big Horn Sheep in the area. Big Horns are sometimes found near Daylight Pass Road.

On your drive into Rhyolite you will pass the Goldwell Open Area Museum which contains many sculptures. The best of these is the "Last Supper" by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski. The sculpture shows only the robes of the the twelve apostles and Jesus and is very eerie. It photographs well at night when light painted or under a full moon.

The semi ghost town of Goldfield is about an hour north of Beatty and is worth a visit. The 2010 population of Goldfield was 268 people so it is not quite a ghost town; hence the "semi". Things to see include the unusual International Car Forest which is best at night, the photogenic "Subway Station to Nowhere", and the Dinky Diner. Unfortunately tours of the interior of the Goldfield Hotel are no longer being given as of March 2020.

Getting there

Rhyolite is about 2 1/2 hours from Las Vegas, take I-15 North to US-95. Continue on US-95 about 115 miles to Beatty, Nevada. In Beatty turn left on NV-374 S (Main Street) and go four miles to the turnoff for Rhyolite. 374 becomes Daylight Pass Road in California.

Rhyolite is less than 45 minutes from Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. Stovepipe Wells is a good late afternoon stop-over if you are traveling back to Las Vegas from Death Valley, or are staying in Beatty.

Rhyolite and Goldfield Map

Google Map of Rhyolite and Goldfield

To view the map in Google Maps please click anywhere on the map above.

The Cook Bank in Rhyolite ghost town, Nevada

The Cook Bank

The Bottle House in Rhyolite ghost town, Nevada

The Bottle House

Union Pacific Railroad Car in Rhyolite ghost town, Nevada

Union Pacific Railroad Car

Old Truck in Rhyolite ghost town, Nevada

Old Truck

Cook Bank Startrail in Rhyolite ghost town, Nevada

Cook Bank Star Trail

Wooden Marker in Rhyolite Cemetery

Rhyolite Cemetery

Wild Burros in Rhyolite ghost town, Nevada

Wild Burros

The Last Supper by Albert Szukalsk at Goldwell Open Air Museum, Nevada

The Last Supper

Subway Station in Goldfield semi ghost town, Nevada

Subway Station to Nowhere