10 Destinations to Visit for a Haunted Good Time

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America is filled with spooky little hidden gems, ghostly battlefields, old colonial towns with legends, ghost stories, and other lore. Spooky spirits and eerie energies even inhabit some of our federal public lands, from historic battlefields that come alive with the ghosts of America’s past, to national forests and wildlife refuges where millions of bats ‘hang out’. Let the spirits guide you with this list of haunted destinations to inspire your Halloween. Happy haunting!

Bone-chilling history and spook-tacular sites await on your public lands

Death Valley National Park


Ruins of an old processing plant in the desert at sunset

Death Valley National Park (Nathan Traxler, Share the Experience)

Death Valley is famous for being one of the hottest places on Earth... but it's also a hot spot for ghost towns. During your next visit to Death Valley, be sure to check out some of the spooky sights at different ghost towns in the area. While many of the original foundations have crumbled, use your imagination to imagine what kind of residents moved to the scorching heat for a good old-fashioned American fortune in gold! Many who came for the gold never found it... and they left their towns behind, empty on the desolate landscape.

Gettysburg National Military Park


The silhouette of a statue of a soldier in a foggy fieldat Vicksburg National Military Park

Gettysburg National Military Park (John Guluzian, Share the Experience)

No list of spooky sights is complete without mentioning Gettysburg National Military Park, one of the most haunted places in the United States. Climb to the top of the Pennsylvania Memorial or Culp’s Hill Observation Tower for a birds-eye view of the battlefield, distant mountains, and surrounding communities that all bore witness to one of the Civil War’s greatest – and deadliest – battles. Wander among more than 1000 monuments, memorials, and historical markers and gaze towards the haze of blue and purple mountains in the distance. The quiet hush of autumn and the softness of orange and yellow foliage amplify the sense of loss and solemnity and make for a truly unforgettable experience.

Ouachita National Forest


A thin, bare forest with lingering fog

Ouachita National Forest (US Forest Service)

Does the phrase "dozens of abandoned mines" send a chill up your spine? While the old mines in Ouachita National Forest are closed to visitors, they're home to many tricolored bats. Due to the balmy temperatures, these bats are able to hunt year-round, so keep an eye peeled to the skies as you hike through the forest on one of the many hiking trails available to the public.

Remember, entrances to abandoned mines may or may not be blocked. Either way, they are not safe spaces for people to explore and it is best to avoid venturing inside. 

Minute Man National Historical Park


A person in colonial military dress crosses a smoky field

Minute Man National Historical Park (Jane Gladitsch, 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.

Looking for a slightly spooky experience? Attend the Lexington’s Lost Battlefield guided program to unveil the long-lost second battle at Lexington. Celebrate Halloween Eve with Minute Man National Historical Park and the Friends of Minute Man National Park by attending a slew of spook-tastic events throughout October.

Vicksburg National Military Park


A rosy red moon rises above a Civil War cannon in a field

Vicksburg National Military Park (National Park Service)

Known to many a history buff as the turn of the Civil War, Vicksburg National Military Park was ultimately seized by General Grant... but not without significant losses. After a defeat at Champion Hill, Confederate troops were forced to retreat to Vicksburg for over a month. Civilians were deeply affected by this siege; many were forced to seek shelter in self-dug caves, hungry for the supplies the Union troops withheld. A 47-day siege of the town led to over 20,000 casualties.

Paranormal enthusiasts report hearing phantom gunshots on the battlefield... and many have seen specters in Vicksburg houses. For those looking for a historical haunting, Vicksburg is a hot spot!

Carlsbad Caverns National Park


A portion of a cave is illuminated, revealing hundreds of vertical stalactites

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (Lisa Schuth, Share the Experience)

While nearly nothing is as scary as being quizzed on the difference between stalactite and stalagmite structures (hint: stalactites hang from the ceiling while stalagmites rise from the ground), traveling down into the bowels of the Earth is definitely up there! With over 100 caves below ground, Carlsbad Caverns National Park is home to the largest chambered cavern in North America. 

If you don't want to pay homage to Jules Verne and journey to the center of the earth, you can also remain aboveground and see the bats take flight from late May through October! Join a ranger for a pre-flight conversation about bats and then watch as hundreds of bats leave their home in search of delicious insects. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore


A person using a headlamp climbs up the side of a steep sand dune at night

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (Rob Stark, 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.

Salem Maritime National Historic Site


A large, three-masted wooden ship moored at a wharf

Salem Maritime National Historic Site (Richard Matthias, Share the Experience)

If the name Salem rings a bell, you’re probably remembering the infamous 1692 Salem Witch Trials, one of the darkest and most frightening chapters in American history. Salem, however, has an even longer and more storied past to share. Due to its prominent role in early maritime trade, Salem became host to a variety of communities – tradesmen, the enslaved and freed, and a significant Polish population.

Seafaring in the 1800s was a dangerous task – often leaving women widowed and children fatherless. Take the time to wander among historic homes and teeming cemeteries… if you dare. Enjoy two self-guided walking tours available on the National Park Service (NPS) Mobile App to learn more about the history of slavery and important places in Salem’s maritime history.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve


Two openings let in sunlight in a rocky cave formed by lava

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (Tomasz Smialkowski, Share the Experience)

The vast, historic ocean of lava flows that characterize Craters of the Moon looks nothing short of supernatural. Unusual lava formations and lava tubes create an ancient, eerie atmosphere… almost extraterrestrial. Legends from the Shoshone and Bannock tribes describe what witnessing these cataclysmic eruptions was like.

This place is no stranger to departed souls. From the 1840s through the 1860s, tens of thousands of emigrants passed through southern Idaho along the Oregon Trail, on their way to fertile farmland to the west or to the gold fields north of Boise. Navigating around the lava flows was slow-going and circuitous; some did not survive the journey.

Hanford Reach National Monument


Sandy beige cliffs exposed along a meandering river under a blue sky

Hanford Reach National Monument (National Park Service)

Born of fire, ice, and flood over millions of years, and preserved through the war and conflict of half a century, Hanford Reach National Monument is a prime Halloween-time destination. Plutonium reactors stand along the river, remnants of WWII and the Cold War. Plutonium from B Reactor fueled "Fat Man," the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9, 1945.

Halloween at the Monument is also a great time to spot creepy crawlies and howling wolves. The Creatures of the Night are spellbinding—and now you can be caught up in their web. Screech at the Reach is a great way to learn more Washington's Halloween creatures—bats, spiders, owls, toads, and wolves. There will be other frights on hand, too—snakes and bugs and lampreys. You won’t want to miss it!

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