Does hearing the sound of crunching leaves behind you send a chill up your spine? Do you feel uneasy when you come across an abandoned cabin in the middle of the forest? Are you afraid of what might be out there in the wilderness, just beyond your field of vision? You’re not alone. Many park visitors have seen, heard, and experienced strange and unsettling things in national parks across the country, so to get ready for the spooky season ahead, we’ve collected some that will make you think twice about walking around alone in parklands…



Location: Mammoth Cave National Park


Twisting, dark caverns and narrow passageways await those who visit the world’s longest cave system found in Kentucky. Back in the 1840s, the cave was home to a Tuberculosis sanatorium, used to treat 15 patients by Dr. John Croghan. A server named Alfred assisting Dr. Croghan reported, “I used to stand on [that] rock and blow the horn to call them to dinner. There were fifteen of them and they looked more like a company of skeletons than anything else.” Occasionally, visitors to the cave would encounter ghoulish patients in hospital gowns, coughing and shuffling along the passageways. Of the 15 that stayed in the cave, 5 would die. Their bodies were laid out on ‘Corpse Rock’ before being removed. Many have reported these patients never left their final resting place…



Location: Grand Canyon National Park 


There are many tales of women in white, known to haunt tragic locations across the country. The Grand Canyon is no stranger to these ghostly apparitions, having a permanent resident known as the “Wailing Woman”, said to linger along the North Rim’s Transept Trail. In the 1920s, tragedy struck—a father and son were hiking along the Transept Trail when bad weather caused them to lose their footing and fall to their deaths. The wife, so grief-stricken, took her own life so as to not live another day without her beloved family. Her ghost, said to appear in a white dress adorned with blue flowers, has been repeatedly reported by park rangers and hikers near the trail…



Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park


150 known cemeteries and 4,727 graves exist within this national park, and the highest concentration of burial sites exists along the Norton Creek Trail—where a malevolent spirit haunts the forests at night known to the Cherokee as Spearfinger. Spearfinger, or U'tlun'ta, is a female witch said to possess a long, spear-like finger made of stone or obsidian with skin as hard as stone. She disguises herself as a kind, elderly woman, then lures children away from villages in the dead of night, calming them before carving out their livers and consuming them raw. Defeated by a spear to her right wrist, her only weak spot, the monstrous spirit was vanquished, but it is wise to avoid solo trips at night… 



Location: Yosemite National Park 


Ever wandered a little too close to the edge of a lake and felt the sudden urge to dive in, even though you might not want to? Some visitors feel this way about Grouse Lake in Yosemite National Park. Wailing sounds, cries of anguish and pleas of aid can be heard coming from the lake, first reported by the park’s first ranger, Galen Clark back in 1857. Thought to be the oldest ghost in Yosemite, the ghost of Grouse Lake is said to be the spirit of a young boy who drowned in the lake. When Clark asked the local tribes about the sounds, it was said they warned him to  stay away from the lake, as the ghost would likely lure him to his watery death…



Location: Badlands National Park 

Badlands National Park is home to more than just rich fossil beds—there are plenty of spirits that haunt the region, but none as famous as the Badlands Banshee. When the fire dies for the night in the Watch Dog Butte area, keep your eyes peeled for a ghastly apparition of a woman in worn, tattered clothing with wild hair. Little is known about this spirit, but whoever she may be, the banshee is said to appear to hikers, gesturing and speaking undecipherable words. Frustrated with the hikers that do not understand her pleading, she is said to shriek violently and flail her arms before vanishing into thin air. Occasionally, she is accompanied by a skeleton playing beautiful music in an attempt to draw hikers away from their group, luring them further into the backcountry where they will eventually die...


There are many tales to be told about ghosts, monsters, alien encounters, and other haunting encounters within parklands. Next time you visit a park, be sure to ask about local legends, and who knows, maybe you’ll leave with a few stories of your own! 


A collection of spooky stories that will make you think twice about walking around alone in parklands.

Explore more from: In Park
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