Silver City, Idaho is really one of the coolest things to do in Idaho, whether you live here or are just visiting. There are so many reasons you should visit Silver City, Idaho.
Silver City was once one of the largest cities in Idaho, and is now considered a ghost town. The town is located at 6,200 feet above sea level elevation. If you are looking to visit Silver City, Idaho, you can only do so when the roads are open between May and October.
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Visiting Silver City
Silver City became most populated beginning in the 1860s, and during its peak, had around “a dozen streets, 75 businesses, 300 homes, a population of around 2,500, twelve ore-processing mills, and was the Owyhee County seat from 1866 to 1934,” according to Historic Silver City, Idaho.
Silver City was also were home to six general stores, eight saloons, two hotels, and a brothel.
There were also at least 25 different camps of people who came to Silver City to seek their fortunes.
There was a stage system that reached the town, a telegraph, and daily newspaper, as well as having history of telephones in the area as early as 1880 — all before Idaho became a state — and electricity in the 1890s. But now that the town has been all but abandoned, there is no electricity, no indoor plumbing, and no gas station nearby.
There were thousands of people who made the trek west to seek their fortunes during the gold and silver rushes of the 1800s. There are still “hundreds” of mines in the Silver City, Idaho area. According to HistoricSilverCityIdaho.com, there were more than 250 in operation between 1863 and 1865, with more than $60 million in silver and gold taken from the area (and that is before inflation).
The main mining era in Silver City lasted around 70 years. There were more modern mines, but none have operated since the year 2000.
Visiting Silver City
There are also more than 40 standing buildings that still exist in Silver City, all worth visiting (even if you cannot go inside). You can see some amazing photos at GhostTowns.com. It is a fun day trip from Boise, but (as previously mentioned) the roads to Silver City are only open mid-May to mid-October each year.
There are only three businesses that currently operate in Silver City, Idaho (as of 2023).
The Idaho Hotel is the one Silver City, Idaho hotel and was originally built in Ruby City, Idaho in 1863. But as the mining operations became more popular around Silver City, much of the hotel was actually dismantled and moved to its current location in Silver City in 1866, with additional wings built shortly after.
According to Historic Silver City, “Spring water was piped to the hotel by 1868. A bar room and ‘piazza’ were added in 1871. A commodious new kitchen was built in the basement ‘containing all the modern improvements and conveniences’, and a ‘new set of bathrooms were built so that hot or cold baths could be had at all hours everyday. The bar room was ‘ornamented with the costliest and handsomest mirror ever brought to Silver City’ in 1874, all of the interior woodwork was hand-grained in 1882, and a billiards parlor-gambling room was added in 1889. In front of the icehouse, ‘A fine stone cellar’ for storage of food and drink was completed in 1890. A five-story addition containing a new dining room with two stories of bedrooms above was finished in 1898, and a storage tunnel connecting the cellar with a mine tunnel beneath the street in front of the hotel was excavated in 1901.”
This Silver City, Idaho hotel, the Idaho Hotel, was closed in 1942, and not re-opened until it was purchased by Edward Jagels in 1972.
Pat’s What Not Shop
Pat’s What Not Shop is a mix of jewelry, books, souvenirs, local minerals, gold pans, T-shirts and more.
Because of the harsh winters and road closures, it is only open mid-May through mid-October each year,
Silver City Fire & Rescue Store
The Silver City Fire & Rescue Store is a similar sort of knick knack/thrift store, with local and regional art, antiques, books, T-shirts, and hats.
All proceeds from The Silver City Fire & Rescue Store go to the the Silver City Fire & Rescue. They are also only open June through October.
There is a lot of hiking in and around Silver City. From downtown Silver City, there is a popular eight-mile hike around Jordan Creek Road north of Silver City, called the Presby Creek loop.
If you are looking for a more difficult climb, you can follow Jordan Creek Road south of town, instead of north, around Sawpit Peak. This hike is also around eight miles.
The Skyline Mine Tour is a longer hike of 17 miles, and takes you above Silver City and around multiple mines.
You can also hike to the four burial areas close to Silver City, as well as more than 10 cemeteries in the area to see the gravestones remaining from this era. There are also remnants of the camps that existed during the mining era. Camps that “provided shelter, supplies and amusement for the thousands of people who came to the mountains seeking their fortunes in one way or another. The ruins of some of these can still be found though nature is reclaiming most of them at an accelerated rate.”
There have been multiple reports of Silver City being haunted, particularly the Idaho Hotel. Local TV station KIVI did a Halloween story in Silver City in 2022, and found out there are a number of ghost “regulars” at the hotel, including: a big gentleman with tux and tails, children, and the lady in the white dress named Screaming Alice.
Alice reportedly died by falling down the stairs, and hotel owner Jerri Nelson said many people see many orbs floating around, both in-person and in photographs.
Silver City was also featured on the ghost show “Haunted Highway.”
Here is an amazing article by the New York Times about a visit to Silver City.