Reasons to Visit Silver City, ID



by Lewis Fonner,

Deep in the legendary haunted hills of southwestern Idaho lies a place shrouded in mystery and fear. Barren and remote, populated only by unnaturally large rattlesnakes and coyotes. A place whereof strange stories are whispered around campfires at night. Tales of lost treasures and tormented souls wandering in search of them, of ghostly gunfire and blood curdling screams in the Stygian darkness. Rumors of a place where the very laws of physics and time seem suspended, where the slightest misstep can lead the unwary to an agonizing death and eternal damnation. Many have ventured there, never to be heard from again anywhere in God’s creation. They call this place Silver City.

Ok, so maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but only a little. Silver City, Idaho lies not far from the Oregon border in Owyhee county at an elevation of a little over 6,000 feet. Classified as a ghost town, it really is a trip back in time, preserved almost exactly as it was in the 1800s. The beauty of the surrounding area and the variety of the terrain rank it as one of America’s great off-road adventures. Whether you’re a seasoned off-roader or you’re looking to rent or buy reliable used ATVs at for a first-time adventure, Silver City offers a great experience for all.

Fascinating history

Silver City was founded in 1864 when Idaho was still a U.S. territory after silver and gold were discovered nearby. It rapidly grew to be one of the largest towns in the territory and boasted the first newspaper and telegraph office. Eventually the mines ran out and the town experienced an inevitable decline but managed to avoid destruction or modernization, the fate of most of the boom towns in the area. Silver City stands almost exactly as it was in the late 19th century. The area surrounding the town is riddled with abandoned mines and the remnants of mining camps, and many historic cemeteries illustrate the colorful lives of the people who lived and worked there. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Great off road terrain

These are the foothills of the Owyhee Mountains and the area offers some challenging ground. There are hundreds of miles of trails in the surrounding area and the Owyhee Front ATV Fun Run isn’t far away. This is a summer trip though, the roads are closed by heavy snows from November through May.

There’s gold in them hills

Whether you use a metal detector or a pan, prospecting is a major hobby in the area, and rock hounds and fossil hunters will have a field day too. Maybe you can even pay for your trip or buy a new all-terrain vehicle.

Awesome scenery

From desert buttes and plateaus to mountain vistas, forests and streams this area offers some of the most fantastic natural beauty in America. Be sure to pack a durable outdoor camera.

Lots of snakes

Ok, maybe this isn’t a draw for most people, but the territory boasts a rich diversity of wildlife. Not only a colorful array of snakes, but also coyotes, eagles, mountain lions, bobcats, deer, elk and more bird species than you can shake a stick at. Just don’t shake one at a mountain lion.

These are all reasons that Silver City offers one of the best off-road adventures in the country. Before you go, don’t forget to check out the weather and equip yourself with some quality wheels to enjoy this “blast from the past.”

Lewis Fonner Lewis specializes in travel writing and hopes to spend his future retirement abroad. At the top of his list are Vietnam, Moscow, and Egypt.

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