We know it’s early, but you know you want it to be Halloween already! Costumes, trick-or-treating, massive sugar consumption, cocktails and spooky adventures shouldn’t be confined to your neck of the woods -- spend the day (and night, if you dare) outdoors. There are a ton of national parks calling your name (perhaps literally)!
Here's your Top 7 Countdown:
7. Gettysburg National Military Park
The Civil War’s bloodiest battle occurred at Devil’s Den, resulting in over 51,000 casualties. That’s a lot of bodies! Many of them continue to haunt the area and many visitors have reported hearing phantom gunshots and drum rolls, while others have seen the infamous headless horseman among other soldiers. Vicksburg and Fredericksburg National Military Parks have said similar incidents have occurred as well.
6. Antietam National Battlefield
Bloody Lane, Burnside Bridge
The 12-hour Battle of Antietam took the lives of 23,000 soldiers in 1862. The road is now known as Bloody Lane and purported to be haunted by those who were lost on the battlefield. Among the reported spooks are phantom gunfire, shouting and singing. The old beat of the battle drum coupled with ghostly Confederates sounds like a good Halloween… for those that can stomach it! Historians say scores of those fallen soldiers were buried under Burnside Bridge, so perhaps that’s worth the trip in itself.
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Norton Creek Trail, Lake Fontana
On the north shore of Lake Fontana, rumors have it, a settler was murdered while in search of his daughter. Some who have lost their way speak of an ominous light that takes them back. But that’s not the best attraction! The Cherokee legend of Spearfinger has it that a witch with a sharp, long finger made of stone haunts the trails disguised as an old woman and lures children away from the trail. Once in her clutch, she’d use her sharp, stone finger to cut out their innards and eat! Eww! You’ll see a few cemeteries along the trail, so cross your fingers you don’t get eaten!
4. Grand Canyon National Park
El Tovar, Transept Trail, Phantom Ranch
Indian apparitions have long been a part of the canyon’s history with the sound of boys running through Hopi House. Another ghost in attendance is Fred Harvey dressed in a long coat and black hat (according to reports). His company used to manage various hotels and restaurants along the railroad and has been spotted at El Tovar. Lastly, the Wailing Woman, who goes by different names depending on who you ask, frequents the North Rim in search of her husband and son. They had both died in a hiking accident and the woman had committed suicide, as she was overcome with pain and anguish. Look for the woman dressed in white along the Transept Trail.
3. Yosemite National Park
Camp 6, Stoneman Bridge, Ahwahnee Hotel, Grouse Lake
A young couple who drowned at Stoneman Bridge are rumored to still be hanging around, while Native American apparitions are reportedly amongst the dense pine areas. Better yet is the Ahwahnee Hotel, which served as a naval hospital during WW2. Jeepers! Take the Chilnualna Falls Trail to Grouse Lake and you might hear the cries of an Indian boy who drowned in the lake. The legend states that anyone who goes into the lake will go under and drown. There’s one more attraction thanks to the Miwok Indians who believed in an evil wind Pohono. The spirit is said to draw in people to the falls’ edge and push them over!
2. Rocky Mountain National Park
On the edge of the park is the Stanley Hotel and has contended to be one of the most haunted hotels in the U.S. Score! Guests, including author Stephen King have heard voices and children playing on several floors. The original owner has been sighted around the lobby and his wife is said to play the piano in the music room. That’s too close for comfort in our opinion!
1. Mammoth Cave National Park
Old Guide Cemetery, Corpse Rock
Native American burial grounds bring about obvious apparitions, while explorer Floyd Collins, who died after being trapped, has been heard crying for help. That’s not it! A girl left her tutor (and infatuation) out of animosity and upon return could not find him again. Accounts say her ghost still continues to search. Even the park rangers have accounted for the ghosts of slave guides during the Civil War, and slave Stephan Bishop, in particular. It gets weirder: the cave served as a tuberculosis hospital for a short time in the 1800s. The remains of patient rooms are still there. Outside one of the cabins is a slab of stone, known as Corpse Rock, where dead patients awaited burial. People have heard coughing coming from the rock!