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The National Parks are usually seen as happy places for people to explore the outdoors and enjoy being in nature while learning a bit of history. Most park visitors have a safe and wonderful time. A few lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) souls have an otherworldly encounter. Here are a few spine-tingling ghost stores from America’s most haunted national parks.
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- Acadia National Park
- Antietam National Battlefield
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Badlands National Park
- Fort Laramie National Historic Site
- Gettysburg National Battlefield
- Grand Canyon National Park
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Mammoth Cave National Park
- Olympic National Park
- Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
- Yellowstone National Park
- Yosemite National Park
Haunted National Parks Stories
Acadia National Park
Hidden along the shoreline of Acadia’s Mount Desert Island is a sea cave known as The Devil’s Oven. The Devil’s Oven has been a strange and mysterious place since humans arrive on Mount Desert Islands. Legends tell of a portal to the underworld.
The cave’s name comes from the ancient rituals. The Devil’s Oven was used to roast people. The sea cave was the site where evil or dangerous people were burned alive. It was thought that the cave would devour their soul and pulled it into the underworld.
Nighttime visitors have seen lights gleaming and flashing from the cave. Daytime visitors have reported hearing with cries and strange chants.
It is possible to hike down to this sea cave. The cave is only accessible during low tide. Due to an increase in drownings and dangerous sea rescues, the National Park Service removed all railings and signs leading to the cave. Please consider your own personal safety and skill level before attempting to find this cave.
Related Reading – Ghosts of Acadia by Marcus LiBrizzi
- National Parks of Maine
- All about Acadia National Park
- 5 Books to Read Before Visiting Acadia National Park
- The Ultimate Guide to Camping in Acadia National Park
Antietam National Battlefield
The Civil War Battle of Antietam was one of the bloodiest battles in American history. Almost 23,000 Union and Confederate men were killed or wounded during the 12 hours of fighting. During the battle, the Confederates took a defensive position in a sunken road. The fighting was fierce and deadly. By the time the road was overrun by Union soldiers, there were bodies on top of bodies. It is estimated that over 5,000 casualties this short stretch of road. Today, this sunken road is known as Bloody Lane.
Visitors to the Antietam and Bloddy Lane often report hearing screams of the dying, smelling gunpowder and a few even report seeing men in uniform walking around.
The scariest report of the haunting along Bloody Lane comes from a group of reenactors who decided to illegally enter the park and spend the night sleeping along Bloody Lane. They entered the park in their uniforms and prepared to spend the night along the road. Quickly, the men started to bail on spending the night one by one. Each man complained about hearing whispers and moans along with feeling a cold chill. This continued until only one man was left. He laughed at the others for letting their imagination get the best of them. He wasn’t laughing long. His buddies headed for their cars. Just as they reached their cars, they head a bone-chilling scream and a stumbling figure headed towards them. It was their companion.
He had the fright of his life. Like the others, he heard the moaning and felt a cold chill. He ignored these signs. Then he heard a rustling sound, out of the grass came a human arm which pinned the reenactor to the ground.
Related Reading – Civil War Ghost Trails: Stories from America’s Most Hunted Battlefields by Mark Nesbitt
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley’s Canal Visitor Center and Museum is a former tavern. The tavern was patronized by the canal boat captains and their crews. There are records of a fair amount of unsavory hijinks involving the men and occasionally prostitutes. The area of the tavern was often referred to as Hell’s Half Acre due to the rowdy crowds.
Visitors ofter report hearing knocks, bangs, and voices from the men who spent many hours at the tavern.
The most haunting reports from the area are of a Union Soldier who walks along the canal attempting to find his sweetheart. His sweetheart is often seen on the other side of the canal waiting for him to come home from war.
Related Reading – Ohio Ghost Hunting Guide by Jannette Quackenbush
- National Parks of Ohio
Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park has a kind of otherworldly feel to it. The park is full of colorful cliffs and formations. The park is a treasure trove of prehistoric fossils but a small area on the west edge of the park is known for a little more than its fossils.
Hikers in the Dog Watch Butte area often report seeing a lone female gesturing at them. When they approach the female, she opens her mouth and issues shrill shriek that can be heard echoing through the area. Early Irish settlers called this apparition the WatchDog Banshee.
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
Fort Laramie National Historic Site is the remains of a 19th-century trading post and diplomatic site in southeast Wyoming.
In the bachelor officer’s quarters, Old Bedlam, visitors have reported being told to “be quiet” by a cavalry officer who walks throughout the building. When the visitors, try to ask the reenactor questions they have found that he has disappeared and NPS doesn’t have reenactors at Fort Laramie that day.
Gettysburg National Battlefield
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is one of the most haunted places in the United States. The 3-day Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Over 51,100 men were injured or lost their lives on the battlefield at Gettysburg.
Stories abound about the ghostly apparition, voices of people not there, and strange happening. Author Mark Nesbitt has written 7 books on the Ghosts of Gettysburg.
A boulder-strewn area known as Devil’s Den was the site of heavy fighting during the battle. The turning point in the battle for Devil’s Den was when the Confederate 1st Texas regiment managed to silence the Union’s heavy artillery guns and install sharpshooters in the rocks.
One of the ghosts of Devil’s Den is named the “Helpful Hippy.” The Hippy often appears to visitors who have gotten turned around in the maze of rocks. The Hippy is described as a disheveled man with a floppy hat, bare feet, and shoulder-length hair. It is thought that he was a member of the 1st Texas regiment due to his affinity for people in Texas shirts.
Visitors to Devil’s Den are warned that their phones may experience a technical glitch while in the area. One poor soldier had his body drug at least 40 yards and staged in several positions for morbid photos just after the battle.
Take a guided ghost tour of Gettysburg and learn all about the spooky happenings of this battlefield.
Related Reading – Ghost Soldiers of Gettysburg: Searching for Spirits on Amercia’s Most Famous Battlefield by Patrick Burke
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the world’s largest and deepest canyons. The park is considered one of the Wonders of the World. The rocks of the Grand Canyon are upwards of 2 billion years old and human history dates back at least 4,000 years.
The canyon is full of stories of strange sightings and sounds. The most terrifying is of the Wailing Women. She is often seen along Transept Trail during stormy nights. The poor women is said to have committed suicide in the Grand Canyon Lodge after learning that her husband and son died in the canyon.
She is often seen in a white dress with blue flowers between the lodge and the campground. Campers have reported hearing her wailing for the husband and son she lost in the Grand Canyon.
Related Reading – Ghosts of the Grand Canyon: Personal Encounters that Will Have you on the Edge: Brian-James Martinez
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park. It has its fair share of legends and stories. The park is home to numerous commentaries and abandoned homesteads.
One of the most storied trails is the Norton Creek Trail on the North Carolina side of the park. The trail has two interconnected stories.
The Cherokee Indians tell of U`tlun’ta (spearfinger), a woman whose skin was made of stone and her fingers were as sharp as a knife. She would lure unsuspecting children away from their villages. She would sing them to sleep and then cut out their livers.
A more modern tale tells of a settler whose daughter had disappeared. He went into the woods searching for his daughter. He was never seen again.
Hikers in this area have reported seeing lights that guide them back to the trailhead. One can’t help but wonder if the settler is trying to prevent U`tlun’ta from taking new victims.
Related Reading – Smoky Mountain Ghostlore by Juanitta Baldwin
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is the world’s longest cave. There are more than 400 miles of passageways. One of the earliest cave explorers Stephen Bishop called Mammoth a “grand, gloomy, and peculiar place.”
Stephen Bishop was a 17-year-old African slave brought by the cave’s owner Franklin Gorin. Bishop’s job was to guide wealthy white tourists through the underground passageways of Mammoth Cave. When Gorin sold both the cave and Bishop to Dr. John Croghan. Bishop was a skilled spelunker by this point and Croghan turned Bishop loose to explore the cave. Bishop would discover many of the cave’s most famous features such as Echo River and Cleveland Avenue. Bishop was granted his freedom a year before his death and was buried near Mammoth Cave.
During the Violet City Lantern Tour, the rangers will speak to the group by lantern light similar to Bishop. Rangers have reported having been shoved, hearing footsteps, and on occasion seeing a man in a droop-style hat similar to Bishop’s.
Related Reading – Smoky Mountain Ghostlore by Juanitta Baldwin
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is known for its mountains and its rainforest. The park is breathtaking and often feels like it is in a whole other world than the United States.
Lake Cresent is a hauntingly beautiful lake. Its beauty hides its dark past. Hallie Latham was working at a tavern near the lake. She met and married one Montogomery J. Illingworth. On December 22, 1937, Hallie disappeared and Montogomery claimed she ran off with a sailor to Alaska. Few people believed him, but nothing was found for three years. In 1940 an almost perfectly preserved body surfaced in Lake Cresent. It was Hallie’s body. She had been beaten and strangled.
Visitors to Spruce Railroad Trail along Lake Cresent have seen a woman wandering the trail looking for help. They call her the Lady of the Lake.
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve protects a marble cave. The park is one of the few non-national parks that has a hotel in the park. In 1934, the Oregon Caves Chateau opened. This six-story high chateau was built near a ravine in national park rustic style by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Shortly after the Chateau opened, a young couple was honeymooning. They were staying in the attic Room 310 (the sixth floor). The husband disappeared one evening. His new bride came to look for him. She found him in an embrace of another woman. In her anguish, she fled to her room where she jumped from the 6th story window.
Guests staying on the sixth floor have reported seeing a room in 1930’s dress wandering the hallways and hearing her cries.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is a wonderland of natural wonders. The park has a rich and colorful history in terms of visitors. The historic hotels are ripe for legends of ghosts and haunting.
The most famous haunting of Yellowstone is about the headless bride. In 1915, a New York shipping magnate was applied to learn that his young daughter planned to marry a servant. The magnate was sure that the servant was only interested in money. He gifted the couple a large dowery with the condition that this was all the money the couple would get from the family, EVER.
The couple married and headed west. By the time, they reached Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn, the servant had drank and gambled away the dowery. The bride reached out to her father and was turned away. The couple had a huge argument and the husband stormed out. Later the staff entered the room to check on the bride. She was found in the bathroom in the bloody mess and no head. Her head was found in the Crow’s Nest.
Guests have claimed to have seen a woman in a white dress walking down from the Crow’s Nest while carrying her head.
Related Reading – Yellowstone Ghost Stories: Spooky Tales from the World’s First National Parks by Shellie Larios
- National Parks of Wyoming
- National Parks of Montana
- National Parks of Idaho
- All About Yellowstone National Park
- How to Get to Yellowstone National Park
- 10 Things to Know Before Visiting Yellowstone National Park
- 11 Books to Read Before Visiting Yellowstone National Park
- One Day in Yellowstone National Park – Yellowstone’s Grand Loop Highlights Driving Tour
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous and iconic of the national parks. The granite cliffs stand proudly over the valley. The park is home to numerous alpine lakes and waterfalls full of cold snow meltwater.
Yosemite’s first park ranger, Galen Clark, recounted his hike along Grouse Lake. He shared with the Yosemite Indians that he had heard the sounds of a dog wailing. The Indians shared that it wasn’t a dog he had heard near Grouse Lake. It was the sounds of a young boy who are downed in the lake. The boy hopes to lure people into the lake so he can drag them into the lake and make them join him. Clark dismissed this story.
Hikers throughout Yosemite’s history have claimed to have heard the boy’s cries while hiking in the area.
Related Reading – Ghost Stories of Calfornia’s Gold Rush Country and Yosemite National Park by Antonio R. Garcez
- National Parks of California
- 10 Books to Read Before Visiting Yosemite National Park
- One Day in Yosemite Valley
My Spooky National Park Story
I hope you have enjoyed these haunting tales from our national parks. I cannot speak to the factual truths of these stories. I personally do not believe in ghosts and figure most encounters are simply figments of overactive imaginations. But then again I had my own spooky National Park experience.
I once got lost on a lesser-used trail hiking in the Smokies. I thought I heard a voice and headed toward them. I then saw a man walk into the woods across an open space. I yelled and tried to catch up with him. He was always just out of range. I never caught up with him but I found my way back on to the trail.