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By Amy Clausen
I consider myself an adventurous traveler, but I have to be honest about my squeamishness. I can do backpackers hostels, I can camp in the rain, and I can survive for days on cold peanut butter sandwiches. But I draw the line at spooky, dusty, abandoned buildings and graveyards. And my partner Jon is always trying to get me out of the car to check out abandoned churches, cabins, and rickety little enclosures. Yes folks, as much as I wish I could hack it, I just don’t have the stomach for Ghost towns. Unfortunately for me, BC is full of them.
Ghost towns seem to sneak upon us everywhere we travel in BC. We’ll be driving along, minding our own business and enjoying the quiet afternoon sun, when bam, all of a sudden, the car screeches to a halt, and my partner grabs his camera and leaps out of the car towards certain death. At least, this is my impression as I bar myself in the car, lock the windows and doors and wail at him to return this instant to the car so we can drive away to safety. I barricade myself for what feels like eternity while Jon happily creeps around the spooky old building, sometimes even opening creaky doors – the worst! I am certain there are ghosts behind every curtain and some kind of skeletal remains just waiting to be tripped over. Incidentally, I have been told I have an overactive imagination….
Perhaps October is the best time of year to torture your loved ones with visits to local ghost towns. If you have a scared-y-cat in your life, feel free to spook them out with a visit to one of the hundreds of ghost towns in BC. Here are two of the best/worst worst places you could drag me to.
Phoenix BC: One of the province’s most interesting (read: terrifying) abandoned mining towns, Phoenix is tucked off of Highway 3 just west of Grand Forks. Give yourself a few hours of daylight to explore as I am sure the ghosts of miners come out at sundown. Make sure you see the ski hill (!), the Cenotaph, and the graveyard. The only access from the east is by dirt road, so this increases the creep factor a hundred fold. The road west from Phoenix to Greenwood is paved.
Sandon BC: Sandon is just off the road between New Denver and Kaslo, and, okay, it’s totally charming by daylight. Who can resist the adorable community museum and the collection of BC Transit trolley buses? But see those little shacks in the woods? Notice the remaining timber-frame foundations of what used to be cabins in the woods? Yeah, those are freaky. Better hightail it out of there, sister.
Google “Ghost Towns BC” for lists of dozens more sites all around the province. Happy haunting!
Published: October 10, 2013
Last Updated: June 1, 2023
Amy Clausen is an avid camper and the blogger behind ladycamping.com. She is an arts and outdoor educator, and a UBC student. She hikes and kayaks with her family, and enjoys road trips to historic BC towns. She lives in beautiful Port Coquitlam with her partner and young child.