Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bayhorse: A Well Preserved Ghost Mining Town

We're spending a couple of nights in Challis, ID at the Challis Valley RV Resort. It's a no frills RV park with huge sites, friendly hosts, inexpensive laundry, and hardly anyone staying at this huge park (36 acres and only a handful of RV's). At the Passport America rate of $18/night it's been a very quiet and convenient place to stay.

Hans is riding the bucking bronco stationed at our site!

As we approached Challis we could see smoke in the mountains West of town. Turns out it is the Lodgepole fire and has burned about 20,000 acres so far. Even though the fire is about 10 miles North West of us, we've only smelled smoke twice when the wind changed direction for a bit.

Challis is situated along the Salmon River and nestled up against the Salmon/Challis National Forest. Fishing, hiking and ATVing are popular in the area. Having only one day to explore and some roads being closed due to the fire, our best option turned out to be an excellent one: Bayhorse Ghost Town.

Bayhorse historic mining town is just a few miles South West of Challis, up a narrow canyon on a good dirt road. The site was discovered in 1864, though lead-silver ore was not successfully mined until 1872. Mining in the area was most profitable between 1882 - 1899, once charcoal kilns were built to better process the ore. Mining continued sporadically into the early 1900's. Today, the state of Idaho has preserved (not restored) the buildings and mining equipment for our viewing pleasure.

Bayhorse Mill

Charcoal kilns. These were originally beehive shaped.

Bayhorse Hotel
One of the earliest structures in the canyon.

Residence that was added on to over the years.
The towns doctor lived here. He was originally an orderly in the Civil War
and did not have full medical training.

After touring the town site, we continued up the dirt road towards Bayhorse lakes. Along the way, more mining ruins were perched on the hillsides and along the creek.

Much of the ore processing was accomplished using gravity, as is evidenced by these buildings
perched precariously on the mountainside.

At Upper Bayhorse Lake we hoped to do some hiking. We were able to find an ATV trail and followed it for a while, but the expected hikers only trail never materialized. Luckily, there were no ATV's around during our visit. The fishermen on the lake seemed to be having lots of luck.

Back on Hwy 75 heading towards Challis we admired the rugged mountainsides and searched for bighorn sheep.

Salmon River on the right.

The farm land along the river is a big draw for the bighorn sheep.

Challis turned out to be a nice stop over. It's worth a longer visit, and perhaps we'd stay at the Challis Hot Springs next time (it's more expensive than our current RV park).

Today we're off to Montana for the next few weeks. First stop, Hamilton, MT.


  1. Loved the ghost town!!!
    Box Canyon Mark

  2. Great little ghost town. I love visiting these type places. I assume there were signs or something explaining the structures!?

    Glad a least one Big Horn showed up for you to photograph.

    Hope that bronco didn't throw Hans too far!!!

  3. Ha! We stayed at Challis Valley RV Resort last October. Hosts were great! We also toured Bayhorse. Here is the link to our posts about the area.

    1. How funny! Challis was a neat stop over. Glad to see you drove that whole big loop! We intend to hit Stanley some time in the looks amazing!

    2. Yes, put Stanley on your list. It's location is indeed amazing!

  4. We sure live a lot better these days - your RV is nearly as big as the hotel.