From pop-ups to all-in and interactive, haunted houses are a Halloween staple. But have you ever considered visiting some of the more “naturally” creepy locales around the country? We’ve got a few ideas to give you the willies….
Skull Rock in Joshua Tree National Park is a rock formation that definitely resembles a skull. Just a short walk from the parking lot, it’s a great photo op and, by the way, you can climb into the skull’s eye. Toss in a big October moon and you have the makings for a frightful hike. Or you might bump into the ghost of legendary guitarist Gram Parsons, who died at the Joshua Tree Inn at the age of 26 in 1973. He is said to have been cremated (his wishes) at the Park’s Cap Rock so it makes sense he’s still hanging around.
There’s something about a disembodied doll’s head that can definitely give you the creeps. What about a whole trail of them? If you’re up to it, check out Doll’s Head Trail in Constitution Lakes Park in Atlanta. This trail – which some call creepy and some call whimsical – is a 1.5-mile loop trail decorated with doll parts and other bits of “trash.” The idea to create the trail came from a local carpenter who was sick of all the trash around the park and the trail, so he put it to better use. If you dare to say “hello dolly,” head to 1305 South River Industrial Boulevard SE in Atlanta.
If you take the roughly 4-mile hike to Grouse Lake in Yosemite National Park, you’re heading into ghostly territory. Legend has it that the spirit of a Native American boy who fell into the lake and drowned cries out to anyone that comes near – some have even said if you get too close, he grabs your ankles! The story dates back to 1857 when the Park’s first ranger heard cries from what he thought was an injured animal, but hunters assured him it was no animal, but instead the spirit of the little boy.
If you want to see something really scary, head to New Jersey’s Batona Trail. Aside from the possible encounter with the infamous Jersey Devil on this hiking trail through New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, there are plenty of other things to scare the daylights out of you, if you’re the skittish type. For example, old cemeteries, abandoned towns (check out Ong’s Hat), and whatever else your imagination might scare up. (Note: this is a long-distance hiking trail but can be split up into day hikes – for details, check out southjerseytrails.org). Oh, and if you happen upon a hiker with wings, horns, and forked tail, well, then say hello to the Jersey Devil.
A visit to Florida’s St. Augustine Lighthouse in the country’s oldest city might be met with the smell of cigar smoke. Pay no mind, it’s not a rude tourist, just the ghost of the lighthouse’s longest lightkeeper Peter, who was fond of cigars. He’s still roaming around watching over the lighthouse. Then, there’s the ghost who opens and closes windows at random or the full-figured ghost thought to be the wife of one lighthouse keeper who fell to his death here. And then there are the Pittee Sisters, who tragically lost their lives while playing at the construction site of the lighthouse. Those who have encountered them say they are friendly ghosts who giggle loudly while playing hide and seek!
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