Rhyolite, Nevada

Rhyolite is a ghost town on the California Nevada border. It is an excellent late afternoon subject. Do not arrive too late or the sun will go behind a ridge and you will miss the best light. It works well at dawn also, especially in spring and summer when it gets light just after sunrise. The ruins of Cook Bank and the largely intact Bottle House are my favorite Rhyolite subjects. You may want to clone out some of the telephone lines, barbed wire fences, and other objects occasionally interrupting the scene. When shooting Cook Bank keep perspective in mind, either by shooting from a distance, by correcting the perspective in Photoshop, or by using a tilt shift lens. To correct perspective in Photoshop use the Edit Transform Perspective or Edit Transform Distort tools.

My gallery shows images of an old car, unfortunately there was a fire in 2014 and the car no longer photographs well. Most of the buildings in Rhyolite are surrounded by barbed wire fences and there are warnings that the ruins are not safe. If you ignore the warnings and enter the ruins you will find that the interiors are often covered in graffiti and are not good subjects.

Another favorite Rhyolite subject is the old Union Pacific Railroad car, on my last visit the side door was open and you can enter the somewhat unsafe car. If the side door is closed you can shoot from either end of the car.

Rhyolite is also a very good area for star trails and light painting. Unfortunately Rhyolite is closed at night. I have heard of one professional photographer being ticketed. Conversely a Beatty resident of 15 years told me he has never seen or heard of the police being in Rhyolite at night. Don't blame me if you get ticketed for being there at night.

The Rhyolite cemetery has many wooden markers mixed in with more recent headstones, for me the mixture does not photograph well. Zooming in on individual graves is probably your best chance of getting a good image.

On your drive into Rhyolite you will pass the Goldwell Open Area Museum which contains many sculptures. The best of these is the "Last Supper" by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski. The sculpture shows only the robes of the the twelve apostles and Jesus and is very eerie. It photographs well at night when light painted or under a full moon.

Finally I have seen wild burros in Beatty at dawn and Rhyolite at dusk, and I would not be surprised to see Big Horn Sheep in the area. Big Horns are sometimes found near Daylight Pass Road.

Getting there

Rhyolite is about 2 1/2 hours from Las Vegas, take I-15 North to US-95. Continue on US-95 about 115 miles to Beatty, Nevada. In Beatty turn left on NV-374 S (Main Street) and go four miles to the turnoff for Rhyolite. 374 becomes Daylight Pass Road in California.

Rhyolite is less than 45 minutes from Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley and makes a good late afternoon shot if you are traveling back to Las Vegas from Death Valley, or are staying in Beatty.

Map of Rhyolite

To view the map larger please click on the box in the upper right corner of the map.


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Cook Bank in Rhyolite

Cook Bank at Dusk

Bottle House Porch

The Bottle House

Union Pacific Railroad car seen from the open side door

Union Pacific Railroad Car

Rhyolite abandoned car

Abandoned Car before the fire

Cook Bank Star Trail

Cook Bank Star Trail

Wooden Marker in Rhyolite Cemetery

Rhyolite Cemetery

The Last Supper by  Albert Szukalski

The Last Supper

Wild Burros in Rhyolite

Wild Burros