The Best Place to Scare the Crap Out of Yourself & Add a Little Spook to Your RV Travels

Now that it’s October, a month where people actively seek out the best places in America to terrify themselves for some reason, you’ll have lots of options for scary places

October’s the only time of year when people applaud you for showing up to a party with an ax in your head. It’s an entirely themed month in which normally staid drugstores fill with Dracula puppets shriek-laughing on an endless loop. It’s also the best time of year to step beyond mere horror movies to try and scare you silly, just ‘cause you can.

Halloween is upon us now! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

America is filled with spooky lore, and there’s no better time to embark on a ghostly road trip then Halloween season. Here are some of the best stops.

Arizona

Yuma Territorial Prison © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona is terrifying. Between its creepy-crawly rattlesnakes, horrid Gila monsters, unnerving black scorpions, and almost-unbearably high temperatures, the Copper State is a pretty scary place to live. And as if that is not frightening enough, Arizona’s Wild West past and haunted history gives us even more reason to go hide under the covers. Sure, you can stand 120-degree heat and ride out haboobs, but can you brave these Arizona haunts?

Cell 14 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ask yourself whether if you’d want to be locked up in anything called a “territorial prison” and then jump ahead a hundred years to haunting the hell out of the place—like 100+ inmates, you died inside those walls. Not one to shy from a locking people into hot, dark places, Arizona has designated Yuma Territorial Prison a state historical park—easily one of the creepiest in the nation, and one of the most haunted spots in Arizona.

Rattlesnake in the Superstitions © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Guides report feeling chills when they pass Cell 14, where an inmate doing time for “crimes against nature” killed himself. In the so-called dark cell, prisoners in pitch-black solitary went mad chained to ring-bolts in the walls.

Kentucky

Buffalo Trace Distillery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Its whiskey spirits with a side of ghostly spirits at Buffalo Trace Distillery’s ghost tours. One of the biggest and most well-known distilleries in Kentucky bourbon country, most visitors are unaware that Buffalo Trace has ghostly ties, let alone nighttime tours through the Stony Point Mansion.

Buffalo Trace Distillery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Ghost tours are an hour long and take place at 7 p.m., led by guides who wax poetic on supernatural spirits said to frequent the grounds. The most notable is Colonel Blanton who died in the on-site Stony Point Mansion which feels like a real life version of the Clue board game. At the end of the ghostly portion of the tour, guests will get to taste a series of Buffalo Trace’s potable spirits.

Georgia

The Okefenokke is errie! © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The South is known for its southern charm, especially in places like Charleston, New Orleans, and Savannah. The latter was founded in 1733 which means thousands flock to Georgia every year to take in the old buildings, walk the historic streets, and get a little taste of what colonial living might have been like. Underneath all the charm, however, there are stories of murder, tragedy, and mysterious hauntings.

The Jekyll Island Club © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Jekyll Island Club, whose members included some very famous last names—the Morgans, the Vanderbilts, and the Pulitzers—the spot for super-rich folks from 1886 until World War II. The Club still stands as do some of the cottages of the wealthy in Jekyll Island’s historic district.

The Annex © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Naturally, with all the wealth that’s passed through its doors, the club is haunted, namely by the ghost of a former railroad magnate, who apparently gets his morning coffee and kicks back with the newspaper just to mess with your mind. Room 3101 of the Annex is also said to be haunted, but by a friendly ghost (yay!) named Charlotte Maurice, who advises visitors on how to live their best lives.

New Hampshire

Mount Washington Hotel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For a real-life version of Stephen King’s Room 237, look no further than the Mount Washington Hotel. The tale of Carolyn Stickney sounds like the worst Disney princess story ever: she married the hotel’s founder, who died right before construction was completed. She then remarried into European royalty, but alas, she too passed soon after.

Mount Washington Hotel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

She never checked out of Mount Washington, though; she appears in people’s photos as a hazy apparition, floats around the hallways, and is a regular fixture in room 314, apparently her favorite place to challenge the notion of 5-star accommodations. The four-poster bed she slept in remains in the room, where you can still hear her voice, some say…

Texas

The Alamo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The long, violent, and controversial past of Texas combines with its imaginative and adventurous population leading to a lot of unexplained phenomena popping up across the former republic’s deserts, hills, and pine forests.

The Alamo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In its 300 years, the Alamo has shaped the city of San Antonio, ignited the battle for Texas independence, and influenced American history. It might seem obvious, but the Alamo isn’t only a revered historic shrine. During the infamous siege of 1836, thousands of men were killed and their bodies dumped unceremoniously into mass graves, so it’s no wonder a few of their disembodied spirits are pissed off.

The Alamo © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Several security guards have reported hearing footsteps in the middle of the night, some have seen a small blonde-haired boy in the gift shop, and a ghastly John Wayne—yes, John Wayne—reciting lines from his 1960 film on the subject.

Worth Pondering…

Werewolves howl. Phantoms prowl. Halloween’s upon us now

—Richelle E. Goodrich

Explore Arizona’s Spooky, Haunted Ghost Towns

You need not travel far in Arizona before encountering a ghost town or two. These quirky towns make the perfect spooky road trip.

Arizona’s 19th-century mining boom gave rise to numerous towns that bustled with near-instantaneous commerce, but whose rapid growth ended abruptly when precious metals were depleted.

Today, many of these outposts are little more than abandoned buildings. Yet others have taken on new life, drawing artists and free spirits who embrace their town’s haunted past and welcome visitors in search of spooky tales and Old West lore.

In a state full of ghost towns, you have your pick from the famous (Bisbee) to the infamous (Tombstone). Below are some of Arizona’s most distinctive ghost towns, each with its own quirks and curiosities.

Bisbee

Bisbee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Delve deep into Arizona’s mining past in Bisbee, a town of colorful architecture and equally colorful characters, and a ghost or two—many of the town’s locales are rumored to be haunted.

Bisbee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As you stroll through Bisbee’s winding, narrow streets and alleys, the town’s historic mining role resounds through remarkably preserved architecture, museums, and the underground Queen Mine Tour. Beautifully landscaped parks, cultural activities like the Bisbee Farmers Market and Arizona’s oldest baseball park, along with unique events like the Bisbee Stair Climb, Sidepony Music Festival, and Alice in Bisbeeland embody a community dedicated to entertainment for locals and visitors alike.  

Bisbee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Those interested in the town’s spookier side, an evening walking tour with Old Bisbee Ghost Tour will introduce the towns dearly departed.

Oatman

Oatman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This tiny town in a rugged area carved out of the wilderness by determined miners is now populated by more wild burros than people. Good-humored shops line the street and the furriest residents—small donkeys descended from miners’ beasts of burden—contribute to the annual fall Burro Biskit Toss.

Oatman Hotel © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

More than 500,000 visitors are drawn annually to Oatman’s gold mine history. The town prides itself on maintaining a Wild West feel, down to the wooden sidewalks, staged shootouts, and kitschy shops.

Oatman © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard allegedly honeymooned at the 1902 two-story adobe Oatman Hotel after marrying in nearby Kingman. Some say the lovebirds’ spirits as well as other former lodgers still vacation there.

Jerome

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Founded in 1876, Jerome was once home to the wealthiest mine in the world owned by one man; the whole town was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1967.

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The third largest town in Arizona at its peak, the boom town was called the Wickedest City in the West in 1903. A local count showed 37 bars, 13 bordellos, and four churches. Jerome was the largest producer of copper, gold, and silver in Arizona in the 1920s before the mines closed in 1953 and it became the largest ghost town in the west.

Jerome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Beginning in the 1960s, the town was restored with historic accuracy and revitalized as an arts community.

Jerome and the red rocks of Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nestled a mile high on the side of Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley with spectacular views of the Red Rocks of Sedona and the distant San Francisco Peaks above Flagstaff, Jerome is a clear ‘don’t miss’ stop in Arizona.

Tombstone

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The spirits of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Clanton Brothers live on in the authentic old west town of Tombstone, home of Boothill Graveyard, the Birdcage Theatre, and the OK Corral.

Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After getting its start as a silver mining claim in the late 1870s, the settlement grew along with its Tough Nut Mine, becoming a bustling boomtown of the Wild West. From opera and theater to dance halls and brothels, Tombstone offered much-needed entertainment to the miners. In 1886, the mines flooded and the miners moved on to the next claim.

Boothill, Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But the “Town Too Tough to Die” didn’t earn its nickname name for nothing. Now a tourist hotspot, you can still hang up your cowboy hat and dust off your chaps in the numerous saloons, restaurants, and shops that line Allen Street.

Worth Pondering…

The undiscovered places that are interesting to me are these places that contain bits of our disappearing history, like a ghost town.

—Ransom Riggs