10 Destinations to Visit for a Haunted Good Time

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America is filled with spooky little hidden corners and old colonial towns with legends, ghost stories and other lore. Old spirits, energies, tales, impressions or whatever you want to call them—even inhabit our wide open spaces.

Look no further for a rush of adrenaline and a few bone-chilling history lessons.

The Presidio and Alcatraz

California

A row of cell block and spiral staircase in Alcatraz prison.

Alcatraz Island, California (Matt Huntley, Share the Experience)

The U.S. Army built the Old Post Hospital in 1864. During the 1890s, the Spanish American War filled it beyond capacity with wounded soldiers, many of whom died there. Word has it their ghosts still haunt the closed building, which sits within the Presidio of San Francisco.

An excursion across the waters of San Francisco Bay will allow you to venture into dark corners of the infamous Alcatraz Island and the prison that once held some of the worst hoodlums in American history. Join the Alcatraz Night Tour offered by Alcatraz Cruises, an authorized operator of the National Park Service, for special topics, tours, and activities not available during daytime hours. The darkness adds a spooky feel!

 

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site

District of Columbia

President Lincoln's theatre box

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site (NPS)

Some say our nation is still “haunted” by the events of the American Civil War, including the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. After John Wilkes Booth shot the President at Ford’s Theatre and fled the scene, doctors cared for the mortally wounded president across the street at The Petersen House where Lincoln later died. Tour the theatre and house for free, or support Ford’s Theatre by purchasing a ticket for the History on Foot tour. Can’t make it to DC this Halloween? You can still view McDevitt’s eerie Metropolitan Police blotter entry from April 14, 1865. 

 

El Malpais National Monument

New Mexico

A summer thunderstorm and sunset view from a sandstone bluff.

El Malpais National Monument (Martin Wagner, Share the Experience)

Observe New Mexico's dark skies and stellar stargazing as you join rangers at El Malpais National Monument for a A Haunted Night Under the Stars on October 26, 2019. The event begins with a short hike as rangers share spooky stories followed by an indoor planetarium presentation and the opportunity to head back outside with volunteers from The Albuquerque Astronomical Society for telescope viewing. 

Interested in underground haunts found in this volcanic landscape?  Be sure to obtain a free caving permit at the El Malpais or El Morro Visitor Centers and start exploring! Above ground, learn about the region's rich history and culture including stories and ceremonies of past civilizations. Take time to hike the cairn-marked trails through the lava fields and discover historic remnants from the past, preserved in backcountry. 

Minute Man National Historical Park

Massachusetts

A park ranger in period costume exits the Hartwell Tavern.

Minute Man National Historical Park (Joseph Sirkovich, Share the Experience)

Minute Man National Historical Park preserves not only the battlefields and structures associated with the first battle of the Revolutionary War, but also the Wayside Home of Authors, where Nathaniel Hawthorne and other American authors once lived. One of Hawthorne's ancestors was a judge involved in the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, more than a century earlier. The kinship with the judge influenced Hawthorne's writings such as the spooky "House of the Seven Gables" as well as chilling short stories. Be sure to check out the park's popular Road to Revolution program.

Looking for a slightly spooky experience? Younger children can join interpreters for a Halloween Lantern Walk down the battle road to meet the spirits of 1775. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Michigan

Fog engulfs the shoreline at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Andy Shults, Share the Experience)

Canadian vocalist Gordon Lightfoot's haunting song may make "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" the most well-known shipwreck on the Great Lakes, but ghost legends and rumors surround dozens of Great Lakes shipwrecks. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a great place to learn about the history of Manitou Passage, one of "the busiest and most dangerous shipping channels on the Great Lakes." Visit the Maritime Museum to learn the history of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, U.S. Coast Guard, and Great Lakes shipping (whose members knew fall as "shipwreck season") or check out the ghost towns of North Manitou Island.

Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Missouri

Alley Mill with fall foliage beginning to appear.

Ozark National Scenic Riverway (Doug Busby, Share the Experience)

Most people know that the Ozarks are full of haunts and ghost stories. Each October the Ozark National Scenic Riverways presents The Haunting in the Hills Halloween event with Ozark legends, folktales, mysteries, superstitions and age-old storytelling. Join Rangers for this spellbinding event held October 12, 2019 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m.

Garnet Ghost Town

Montana

Faded wooden structures remain at the abandoned Garnet Ghost Town.

Garnet Ghost Town (Alyse Backus, BLM Montana/ Dakotas)

With tales of fresh footprints in the snow left by ghostly figures and the tinkling of piano keys from the saloon, Garnet Ghost Town will have you on high-alert. Garnet is an abandoned mining town managed by the Bureau of Land Management and located about an hour's drive east of Missoula. The Dahl Cabin and McDonald Cabin are available for reservation from December 1 through April 30 by applying for the lottery. The surrounding area contains more than 80 miles (128.7 km) of trails, including the 32-mile (51.4 km) Garnet National Winter Recreation Trail.

Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana

The Ranger's campsite decorated with lights.

Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana (NPS)

Located along the southern shores of Lake Michigan, the varied landscape of Indiana Dunes National Park offers a little something for everyone. Join rangers for a family-friendly Halloween event on October 19, 2019 in Dunewood Campground. Stop by the Ranger's campsite, alight with festive decor, and enjoy a treat and stay for a while – family-friendly movies will be showing.  If you're one of the lucky campers staying at Dunewood on the 19th, join in the fun!  You're invited to decorate your site and bring along a treat for the kids trick-or-treating that evening.

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site

Pennsylvania

Silhouettes of three men standing at the end of a tunnel

Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site (NPS)

At Allegheny Portage Railroad during October, contact the park to reserve your spot for the Staple Bend Tunnel Ghost Tour on October 26, 2019. In this family-friendly tour, historic characters will share, in their own words, the darker side of life and hardships on the Portage Railroad. 

Independence National Historical Park

Pennsylvania

Color image of the Assembly Room filled with wooden chairs and green baize-covered tables.

Independence National Historical Park (NPS)

Some people call Philadelphia "America's most historic city." Others claim it's America's most haunted. You won't hear about paranormal experiences from Independence National Historical Park rangers, but along the old city's cobblestone streets you might still get wind of ghostly tales. Of course, the "Spirit of '76" is always alive at Independence Hall, Carpenters' Hall, Old Pine Street Church and Cemetery, Christ Church Burial Ground, and the "ghost structure" marking Ben Franklin's home.

Nearby Independence Hall is the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, where the morbid writer spent six of his most productive years. Relive his spine-chilling tales like "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue." 

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