If you’re looking for real scares this Halloween, skip the slasher film and go somewhere with a truly chilling history. Ghost hunters and history buffs flock to these haunted places for the stories and the scares. And while exploring them takes some guts, sleeping in the vicinity of all that paranormal activity will earn you even more bravery points.
7 Campgrounds Near Haunted Places Across the Country
From a mining ghost town to a cursed mansion, we’ve compiled a list of the most haunted places in America and where to camp nearby.
1. Moundsville Penitentiary, West Virginia
While this prison closed it’s doors over 20 years ago, the nearly 1,000 tormented souls who passed through its cramped facilities still linger. Guests can tour the prison by day, or try to contact the great beyond during an overnight stay, where guests are advised to stay awake.
Spend the night at Ryerson Station State Park. If you make it through the night, you can clear your head with some hiking or mushroom hunting.
2. Villisca Axe Murder House, Iowa
A murder mystery. Eight people killed in the middle of the night. No suspect ever identified. Residents who moved into the house after that tragic night reported paranormal activity, including visions of a man holding an ax and the sound of children crying. The candlelit tour adds to the, um, ambiance.
Pitch your tent at Viking Lake State Park. The tranquil lakeside campground will be just the thing to calm your nerves.
3. Jerome, Arizona
Only about 400 people live there now, but this small copper-mining town saw it’s heyday during the wild west era, when the population reached 15,000. It’s now thought to inhabit more ghosts than people. Perhaps they’ve stuck around because so many of the 19th century buildings are still in use, giving the whole town the feel of being locked in time. Jerome’s community center is often referred to as “Spook Hall,” as it’s a popular spot for the local spirits.
Explore all of the haunted places in this wild west time capsule for yourself, then settle in for the night at Mingus Mountain Campground.
4. Fort Mifflin, Pennsylvania
This circa 1771 battlefield has 14 buildings intact, and is the only remaining battlefield from the Revolutionary War. Many spirits are suspected to inhabit the grounds, but one is particularly noteworthy: a woman whose screams once prompted a visit from the Philadelphia Police Department.
After the tour, keep the scares going with ghost stories around the campfire at Ridley Creek State Park.
5. Winchester House, California
Tortured by the guilt of the empire to which she married, Sarah Winchester sought to make amends through the construction of this bizarre mansion.
Despite the riches she inherited through the Winchester Rifle, Sarah Winchester’s life was plagued by tragedy — namely the death of her infant daughter, followed by the death of her husband. A psychic told Sarah that all this pain was earned because she was partially responsible for the deaths of “100 million souls.”
To cope with both guilt and heartbreak, Sarah Winchester began obsessively constructing the mansion with no blue print — just senseless scribbles that resulted in stairs and doors leading nowhere. The 38-year project includes over 24,000 square feet and 160 rooms, and the spirits of those killed by the Winchester still lurk in those rooms, seeking vengeance.
After touring so many haunted places in the house, escape the chilly space by camping at Sanborn-Skyline County Park.
6. Clinton Road, New Jersey
This spooky 10-mile drive is only for the committed seekers of paranormal activity. This quiet highway has no off-ramps or exits, so once you’re traveling down it’s darkening path, there’s really no escape.
The ghost of a young boy supposedly tosses coins back to anyone who drops them off a bridge. If you bend down to pick the coin up, be careful — the little boy might push you into the water.
Publisher Mark Morain of the Weird NJ Magazine says Clinton Road is like a dark highway into people’s innermost fears.”
See for yourself. Then hunker down for the night at Wawayanda State Park.
7. San Fernando Cathedral, Texas
The gothic architecture of the oldest church in Texas is stunning, but also a little unsettling. Renovations on the ground in 1936 uncovered bones, nails, and tattered military uniforms. Visitors report three soldiers — presumably from the Alamo — who wander the echoey halls of the cathedral. Some have even captured orbs and shadowy figures in photos they’ve taken from there.
Once you’ve snapped your own photos of unexplainable floating shapes, spend the night at Government Canyon State Natural Area.
After a close encounter with the paranormal in these haunted places, sleeping in a dark tent might make you jumpy. Lucky for us, our national partner, Ledlenser, makes headlamps and flashlights that are bright enough to scare away any spirits that might follow you back to your campground.
Good luck out there with the ghosts and goblins. And Happy Halloween!