It comes to no surprise that there's an appeal to visiting ruins, especially if there's an eerie history. One fascinating ghost town in Utah is Thistle. It's a sunken ghost town that washed off the map due to a significant flood almost 40 years ago.

Back in 1983 and 1984, the Thistle Disaster was a massive mudslide that created a natural dam across the Spanish Fork River, according to the Utah Division of Archives and Records Service

After heavy rain, a giant mudslide dumped over one million cubic yards of soil and earth that destroyed the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad tracks. The natural dam that was created wholly submerged the town of Thistle under Thistle Lake. 

What remains of this abandoned ghost town is a couple of buildings submerged underwater and a few in ruins that still stand above ground. 

If you're in dire need of a road trip to visit a ghost town with a daunting history, this is the place. 

As your driving on U.S. Route 89, you'll stumble across the ruins about 1.5 miles onto the highway.

You'll see some buildings under muddy water, and since the land is on private property, it's best to view it from the highway.

We appreciate the zoom function on our phones now more than ever. 

Some of the foundations that still stand are even covered in graffiti. The entire area looks so abandoned that parts of it look like nature is taking over or reclaiming the land. 

Aside from the unfortunate history, parts of the town remain and will give you a glimpse into the past. 

If you're itching to learn some history and want to check out a ghost town, Thistle is only around a one-hour trip away from Salt Lake. 

Thistle, Utah

Location: Route U.S. 89, Spanish Fork, UT

Why you need to go: You can visit an abandoned ghost town that features sunken buildings in muddy water.


We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a site, respect the environment.

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