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Tonopah Nevada

Tonopah Nevada

Exploring Old Mines Tips and Warnings

Wide view of dry desert floor and dirt road at abandoned mine with shaft tower and rusted metal shed under blue cloudscape.

Tonopah Nevada Overview

Tonopah, Nevada is a historic mining town that was one of the richest booms in the West when the discovery of gold and silver by prospector Jim Butler in 1900.

Today, the town is home to over 2,000 residents and offers explorers a view into our mining past and a few “haunted” attractions.

Add this town as a stop on your next road trip to spend the day exploring the historic town (and stay a night in one of the haunted hotels!)

Year Established/Founded


Tonopah Nevada History

There are a few stories about how Jim Butler discovered the ore that help establish Tonopah as a mining town. 

The version that is the most “accepted” is that his mule had wandered away from him and while searching for the mule, he appeared in an outcropping that appeared to be laced with silver. He gathered samples and took them to the Klondike assayer who told him that the samples were mostly iron and tossed the samples to the back of his tent.

Jim gathered more samples and placed them on his windowsill where Tasker Oddie (future Nevada governor) noticed the ore samples and told Butler that he would pay for another assay to review the samples. Jim accepted the offer and in turn offered Tasker a 25% interest. The samples were taken to an assayer in Austin, William Gayhart, to who Oddie offered 25% of this 25% of his interest. They found that the assay ran as high as $600 a ton! Oddie sent a runner to Butler’s ranch to give him the great news of their riches but Butler wanted to finish his hay harvest and didn’t file claims until August 27, 1900. Butler and his wife finally went to Belmont, Nevada to file claims near the springs and make eight claims six of them being Buckboard, Burro, Desert Queen, Mizpah, Silver Top, and Valley View.

Then, the area started growing and the town was renamed Tonopah.

Tonopah, Nevada – Old Tonopah Cemetery 


  • May 19, 1900 – Prospector Jim Butler discovered  silver-rich ore 
  • August 27, 1900 – Butler went to Belmont and he and his wife filed eight claims near the springs with six of the claims being Desert Queen, Burro, Valley View, Silver Top, Buckboard, and Mizpah – turned into some of the biggest producers the state has ever had
  • January 1901, there were 40 men in the camp.
  • March 24, 1901 – The first stagecoach, coming from Sodaville, arrived in Butler with seven passengers. It was a two-day trip, with an overnight stay at Crow Springs
  • April 10, 1901 – A post office (Willie Sinclair, postmaster), named Butler, opened at the booming camp
  • June 15, 1901 – A newspaper came to the town when W.W. Booth, who had published a paper in Belmont, set up the Tonopah Bonanza
  • February 1902 – Wyatt Earp, a Western lawman and fortune seeker, arrived in Tonopah and opened the Northern Saloon
  • 1903 – Miners rioted against Chinese workers in Tonopah. This resulted in China enforcing a boycott in China of U.S. imported goods.
  • 1905 – Construction began on the Mizpah Hotel
  • March 3, 1905 – The post office changed its name to Tonopah
  • 1908 – The Mizpah Hotel construction was completed after several delays
  • 1910 – Gold production was falling
  • 1920 – The town of Tonopah had less than half the population it had fifteen years earlier
  • 1968 – Howard Hughes and his Summa Corporation bought 100 claims in Tonopah, including the Mizpah, Silver Top, and Desert Queen mines

Tonopah, Nevada – Landscape Closeup of dark brown wooden shaft tower and metal shed of abandoned mine on the beige desert floor under blue cloudscape.



Area Size

9.26 square miles

GPS Coordinates

38.0692° N, 117.2306° W

The population of Tonopah, Nevada

As of the 2020 census, there were 2,179 people residing in the CDP of Tonopah, Nevada.

How to Get to Tonopah Nevada

  • Beatty, Nevada – 93 miles / 1 hour 25 minutes via US-95 N
  • Goldfield, Nevada – 27 miles – 27 minutes via US-95 N
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – 211 miles / 3 hours 7 minutes via US-95 N
  • Rachel, Nevada – 109 miles / 1 hour 34 minutes via NV-375 and US 6-W
  • Reno, Nevada – 228 miles / 3 hours 40 minutes via US-95 S

Adjacent Counties

  1. Churchill County Nevada
  2. Clark County, Nevada
  3. Esmeralda County, Nevada
  4. Eureka County, Nevada
  5. Lander County, Nevada
  6. Lincoln County, Nevada
  7. Mineral County, Nevada
  8. White Pine, Nevada

Tonopah, Nevada – Historic Mining Park. Sign with the name and logo of the open-air museum fixed on the fence under the blue cloudscape. Light brown desert floor.

Time Zone

Tonopah, Nevada is located within the Pacific Time Zone, the same as Las Vegas. 

The time zones change in the Southwest so be sure you know what time it is where you are: Southwest Time Zones

Tonopah Nevada Weather

The weather in Tonopah is milder compared to other areas in the state with the high temperatures in July and August in the high 80s to low 90s and December to January are the colder months with the high temperatures being mid-40s.

Stargazing at Tonopah Nevada

Tonopah is on the list for one of the top places with the darkest skies to stargaze. 

The Clair Blackburn Memorial Stargazing Park (“Tonopah Stargazing Park”) is located off Highway 95 at the end of Ray Tennent Drive. Turn by the Beans and Brews/ 76 Station and follow the road until the pavement ends. Continue onto the dirt road until you find the park located to your right.

Tonopah, Nevada – Rusted metal statue of Big Bill Murphy, hero of Belmont Mine Fire, bringing stricken miners up. Post office building in back.


  • Tonopah Station Hotel – Casino & RV Park – 1137 S. Main Street – Tonopah, NV 89049 – (775) 482-9777
  • Camping – There is also dispersed camping on BLM land – Phone (775) 482-7800 for information

Things to Do in Tonopah, Nevada

Tonopah, Nevada – Closeup of colorfully painted Dowtown sign for mine tours featuring older man and donkey against a gray stone wall.

  1. Central Nevada Museum
  2. Clown Motel
  3. Mizpah Hotel
  4. Old Tonopah Cemetery
  5. Tonopah Brewing Company
  6. Tonopah Historic Mining Park
  7. Tonopah Liquor Company
  8. Tonopah Stargazing Park

Things to Do Near Tonopah, Nevada

If you are road-tripping, be sure to add Beatty, Nevada, and Goldfield, Nevada to your list of stops. Goldfield is home to the Goldwell Open Air Museum and the ghost town of Rhyolite is near the town of Beatty.

Click here to view a list of hot springs in Nevada and Nevada swimming holes.

Places to Stay

Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah Nevada

The Mizpah hotel and the car park. This historic hotel was the tallest building in Nevada until 1929 and is still open for business.

  • Belvada Hotel – 101 S. Main Street – Phone: (775) 277-3950
  • Best Western Hi Desert Inn – 320 S. Main Street – Phone: (775) 482-3511
  • Clown Motel – 521 N. Main Street – Phones: (775) 624 9098, (775) 277 3046, (866) 887-1044
  • Comfort Inn – 890 N. Main Street – Phone: (775) 482-8883
  • Economy Inn – 826 S. Main Street – Phone: (775) 482-6238
  • Jim Butler Inn & Suites – 108 S. Main Street – Phone: (775) 482-3577
  • Mizpah Hotel – 100 N. Main Street – Phone: (775) 482-3030 – Toll Free (855) 337-3030
  • Old Brewery Hostel – 102 Mineral Street – (775) 482-3030
  • Rustic Air BnB – Phone: (702) 689-2684
  • Tonopah Station Hotel, Casino & RV Park – 1137 S. Main Street – Phone: (775) 482-9777
  • Travel Inn – 720 N. Main Street – Phone: (775) 482-8202

Electric Vehicles

Tonopah is part of the Nevada Electric Highway, connecting Reno and Las Vegas with electric charging stations.

There are “regular” charging stations at the south end of Tonopah, across from Raley’s grocery store, as well as eight “Tesla Supercharger” charging stations in the center of Town, in front of the new fire station.

The Clown Motel sign in Tonopah, Nevada is a kitschy roadside attraction and is said to be haunted. 

Places to Eat in Tonopah Nevada

  • A & W Restaurant – 112 N. Main Street – (775) 482-3842
  • Bamboo Chinese Kitchen (Inside the Banc Club) – 360 N. Main Street – (775) 482-9888
  • Beans and Brews – Coffee Shop – 1300 S. Main Street – (775) 482-5955
  • Belvada Coffee Shop – 101 S. Main Street – (775) 277-3950
  • Burger King – 1206 N. Main Street – (775) 482-3906
  • El Marques Mexican Restaurant – 348 N. Main Street – (775) 482-3885
  • Hometown Pizza – Pizza Restaurant, Delivery & Takeout – 222 S. Main Street – (775) 482-9998
  • Pittman Café (Located inside the Mizpah Hotel) 100 N. Main Street – (775) 482-3030
  • Stage Stop Cafe (Located inside the Tonopah Station) – 1137 S. Main Street – (775) 482-8502
  • Strawberry Hill Diner – 702 N. Main Street – (775) 277-7400
  • Subway – 1206 N. Main Street – (775) 482 3907
  • The Bug Bar – 319 Cross Avenue – (775) 482-0443
  • Tonopah Brewing Company – 315 S. Main Street – (775) 482-2000


The following hotels are dog-friendly and also offer “amenities” when you check in with your pooch.

  • Belvada Hotel – Amenities: “Doggie bag” with treats, puppy pads, waste bags, etc.
  • Best Western – Amenities: Treats, designated outdoor pet area
  • Clown Motel – Amenities: Treats
  • Comfort Inn – Amenities: Welcome Kits that include a treat, a welcome letter from GM, and waste bags. Pet packages available to book online that include amenities such as pet beds, water bowls, travel bags, etc.
  • Mizpah Hotel – Amenities: “Doggie bag” with treats, puppy pads, waste bags, etc.

References Used

Tonopah Nevada