Fees for Parking, Admission, & Attractions varies by event and year. Call ahead.
Calico’s Haunted Ghost Town
Calico is built on the bones of the abandoned ghost town established 1881…and every October the ghosts come back to haunt the remnants. Calico is open year round, but if you’re going to go to a ghost town, might as well go when it’s haunted. The whole town is decorated: silver mines are turned into haunted mazes for various ages, the panning for silver is dyed blood red, and variety of mediocre shows provide entertainment throughout the day.
Both the boys are now old enough that a “ghost town” sounded like a pretty cool excursion for Halloween. We had learned some lessons from our last outing six years ago, so we arrived close to opening time to beat the crowds and the heat, and visited the major attractions before the lines formed.
An unexpected discovery to beating the crowds was that you can actually get through Calico in about an hour. Which doesn’t justify the six-hour round trip. And because all attractions cost extra (train ride, mine tours, panning for silver) we couldn’t repeat anything without breaking the budget. We saw the mines, rode the train, panned for gold, poked in a few stores…..and we were done. So we spun our wheels, watched a few shows, and made the most of it try and justify the drive.
The mines converted into haunted houses for Halloween. The really scary versions go live after dark, but our boys were scared enough as it was, so we opted to go early and request to walk through without actors. Even without the Halloween decor, walking the tunnels of an actual mine is very cool. The main tunnel leads all the way to the top of the town. From there you have the choice of walking back down through main street or hiking up around the original homes cut into the rocky mountain side. We chose to explore the dusty paths.
We ate lunch in the main restaurant. The foods alright, but what makes this place special is smashing peanuts and throwing the shells on the ground…which the boys thought was pretty cool. J even smuggled out some peanuts to throw on the floor at home.
The shows that erupt on Main Street are loosely planned with some form of plot, but they’re largely winging it. Stage performances were weak as well. But again, we’d gotten there early and done everything, so we didn’t hang around for a lot of the entertainment or shows that were scheduled to take place after dark.
As we were leaving, the hordes were coming in droves.
Beat the Crowds
Boy scouts and other organizations tend to camp in the area and visit the attraction. So go early before the heat hits, and see what you want to see first. The wait for the haunted mine can get pretty long.
Seriously, it’s hot. You’re in the middle of the desert in October. If you bring your kids in costume for the parade and contest, keep in mind it’s about a thousand degrees.
San Bernardino County own Calico, but a separate entity runs the attraction. Therefore, SBC charges for admission to the city and parking, but all of the attraction inside are an extra cost. The haunted houses/mines, train ride, and panning for silver all cost extra.
The real scary stuff starts after dark; the daytime attractions seemed to be just right for young kids.