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Visiting Sandon, a Cool Ghost Town in British Columbia

Visiting Sandon, a Cool Ghost Town in British Columbia

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If you’re a history buff, interested in abandoned buildings or love taking photos of old buildings, this ghost town in Canada should be on your bucket list.

There’s a ghost town in Sandon, British Columbia that was once a thriving mining community. At one point it was the largest community in the Kootenay Rockies.

If you’re travelling anywhere in this region during the summer, make sure Sandon is on your list of places to explore.

Sandon is located about 1.5 hours north of Nelson, BC, just off of Highway 6 and Slocan Lake. Plan to spend 1 to 2 hours when visiting Sandon. If you’re in a rush, you could likely cover it in about 30 minutes.

Or if you prefer to take your time, take lots of photos and spend some time in the museum, you could easily spend upwards of 2.5 hours.

Keep reading to find out what’s left of this almost abandoned town, some photos of Sandon and what else you should visit if you’re in the area.

Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means I may make a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. As always, all opinions are my own.

What’s left of Sandon Ghost Town Today

At its peak in 1898, it was home to 3 breweries, 29 hotels, 3 churches and 85 brothels!

an city mainstreet form the 1890s with wooden facades
What Sandon looked like in 1898

After a fire in the early 1900s and two major floods that later followed, much of the town was burned down and washed away.

Now, there are less than a handful of people who call this place home. The good news is that many old buildings remain for visitors to wander and explore.

black and white photo of a mountain valley with an old building in the distance
The same view of Sandon present day

Visiting this ghost town is an incredible glimpse into Canada’s history. You’re transported back in time as you walk passed the old fire hall and an abandoned building that was once a popular brothel.

According to

Sandon was renowned as a rollicking community of wild-eyed silver-seeking prospectors: a town where fortunes were gained in a week and then lost overnight, and where gambling and ladies of the night routinely dominated the night life.

Hal Wright, quoted on

While there’s a certain charm to this Canadian ghost town, don’t discount the creepy vibes that this place projects. Wandering by boarded up houses makes you wonder about its haunted past.

Sandon is a great stop if you’re visiting the west Kootenay region of the Canadian Rockies.

You might also like: The Best Spots to Explore in the Kootenay Rockies

A non profit society has restored several of the old buildings here so that visitors can learn and enjoy the history of this ghost town.

a lush mountain valley with some small old buildings in the distance

Sandon is located off Highway 6 near New Denver, BC. It’s free to walk around and visit the fire hall, the old abandoned busses, abandoned buildings and tour the operational hydro electric station.

Fun fact: the hydro station is western Canada’s oldest continuously operating plant.

a red wood building with white trim

During our visit to Sandon, there had been a powerful thunder storm the night before. While much of the power in surrounding areas was knocked out for several hours, Sandon was fully operational.

A true testament of the power this hydro station still produces today!

There’s also a museum on site that covers the entire history of the ghost town and is well worth the small admission fee.

Related Post: An Epic Farm Tourism Road Trip in Alberta

You’ll find a collection of vintage trolley buses that were once used in many Canadian cities. There’s a great write up about the history of these public transit buses on the museum’s website.

a row of vintage trolley transit buses from the 1950s

Another great historic gem is the outdoor display of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s steam train. This locomotive is massive and getting up close and personal with it is quite the experience.

What’s really cool is that visitors can ring the bell from the train!

an early 1900s steam train

The fire hall has been restored and is now a small souvenir and antique shop.

To the right of the fire hall is a group camping area if you’re looking for a unique place to camp in British Columbia.

an old two-storey firehall with a vintage pickup truck out front

The lush valley in which this beautiful ghost town lies also provides a source of fresh drinking water. If you visit, you should absolutely find the outdoor tap that pulls water directly from the glacier fed river on site.

Bring you water bottle, fill up and enjoy some of the freshest water you’ve ever tasted!

Budget about two hours to visit the area. That will allow you enough time to walk around and take photos, get a tour of the hydro plant and spend some time at the museum.

Want more ghost towns in BC? Kootenay Rockies Tourism has an entire list of all the abandoned communities you can visit.

Where to Stay if You Visit Sandon Ghost Town

New Denver, BC

The closest community is New Denver, BC. There’s an adorable little chalet in the country you can rent called Cottage In the Hills.

Whether you’re staying in town or not, be sure to stop for lunch in New Denver at the Apple Tree Sandwich Shop. Make sure you’re hungry for some giant homemade sandwiches on fresh baked bread. And grab a seat in the cute outdoor garden area.

Nakusp, BC

If you’re willing to travel a little further, Nakusp is less than an hour away and is an adorable small town right on the lake. The Lodge at Arrow Lakes is a great place for an overnight stay.

It’s only a few minutes to walk to the lake shore. Here you’ll find a beautiful public beach for swimming and a great main street and downtown.

a young adult couple poses for a selfie on a beach with a lake and mountains in the background
The beautiful quiet sandy beach in Nakusp.

Nakusp is also home to some great hot springs. You can visit the Halcyon Hot Springs which overlook Upper Arrow Lake and provides soaring views of the Monashee Mountains.

Or for the more adventurous, try finding the Halfway Hot Springs. These are closest natural hot springs to Nakusp.

Traveling around British Columbia? You might be interested in more posts like:

Hippies, Hikes and Hot Springs: 17 Things to Do in Nelson, British Columbia

3 Natural Hot Springs in BC that you can visit in one road trip

Kelowna to Osoyoos: the Ultimate Okanagan Road Trip

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Sunday 14th of April 2019

So cool, I love ghost towns. I wanted to visit a few in Alberta and Saskatchewan this summer but perhaps a trip to BC is in order. Great post Alyssa!


Sunday 14th of April 2019

Thanks for reading Crystal! Apparently there are quite a few more in the Kootenays as well, so it sounds like you could hit a few on your trip this summer :) I'm definitely going to be exploring some around Alberta this summer too!

Gemma Taylor

Tuesday 19th of March 2019

Wow! I have never heard of Sandon until now. I love the Slocan Valley area so this ghost town is definitely going on my to-do list next time I return. I find exploring ghost towns so fascinating. Also....85 brothels?! The mind boggles.


Tuesday 19th of March 2019

Definitely check it out next time you're in the area! This place has a lot of interesting history to say the least, haha. They hire fantastic University summer students who work at the museum, and they're loaded with all kinds of great stories from the past, so plan some time for a chat if you stop in. Enjoy :)

Jeannie Watson

Thursday 7th of March 2019

Great post Alyssa! Love the inner B.C. history and all it offers. Sandon sounds intriguing!

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