Most Haunted Campsites in the U.S.

by Amy Myers
most-haunted-campsites-in-the-us
Photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

If watching horror movies on the couch just isn’t giving you the chill you’re looking for, you might consider upping your Halloween festivities with a stay at one of the country’s most haunted campsites.

From military pasts to horrid murders to just overall spooky atmospheres, these spots are just as much feared as they are admired. Locals and visitors have shared their unexplainable sightings and encounters with odd energies and creatures. For some places, like Antietam Creek and Big Moose Lake, the nature of these hauntings is pretty obvious. But there are others, like Bannack State Park and the Humboldt Redwoods, that have a much more obscure history, and therefore evoke as just mystery as they do excitement.

Whether you end up exploring for the day or braving the night at one of these campsites, you’re sure to feel a few goosebumps run down your spine. As always, though, whenever exploring our country’s natural lands, be sure to pack all the essential gear, including plenty of water, a light source, navigation equipment and plenty of layers. Otherwise, you, too, may become a ghost story…

Antietam Creek, Maryland

For Civil War ghost stories.

  • Location: Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, Sharpsburg, MD 21782
  • Campground Contact: 301-739-4200
  • Campground Website

An incredibly popular military attraction, Antietam Creek pays tribute to the bloodiest battle in American history. Following the thousands of Union and Confederate casualties, the day of the battle became known as “the day Antietam Creek ran red” with the blood of the soldiers. Naturally, following such a devastating event, the air of the small town began to feel much heavier, as if the fallen still wandered the battlefield through the early morning fog.

Today, the campsites that sit along the C&O Canal bring visitors that much closer to that fatal day in Civil War history. Many have even sworn to see the silhouettes of men holding bayonets, dressed in uniform, forever reliving that infamous battle.

Campground breakdown:

  • 20 tent-only campsites: $20 per night ($10 per night during off-season)

Antietam Creek amenities: fire pits, grills/fire rings, picnic tables, quiet area, direct access to Potomac River

Reserve an Antietam Creek campsite here.

Big Moose Lake, New York

For lakefront ghost hunting.

Situated in the Adirondacks, Big Moose Lake is a scenic and serene location at first glance. But once you dig into the area’s history, sinister darkness is revealed. Back in 1906, an unwed pregnant woman named Grace Brown believed that her lover, Chester Gillette, was whisking her away to a romantic getaway, complete with a proposal. Unfortunately, Gillette had a much different intention in mind.

As the story goes, Gillette didn’t think that Brown held up to his family’s expectations of a bride but couldn’t leave her with a bastard child. So, he took her to Big Moose Lake, knowing well that she couldn’t swim, and rowed her out to the middle of the body of water. Once away from the shoreline, Gilette hit the four-month-pregnant woman and she fell into the water, where she and the fetus soon drowned. Just two years later, a court found Gillette guilty of Brown’s murder and executed him.

The few campsites that remain near the lake today are popular attractions for ghost hunters. Visitors have continued to report sightings of Grace Brown around the premises, particularly at night. The lake is still open to the brave canoers and kayakers that dare to venture onto the same waters of the brutal murder.

Campground breakdown:

  • 3 primitive tent sites: no fee
  • scattered lean-to’s: no fee
  • backcountry camping permitted

Big Moose amenities: boat launch, waterfront sites, wooded sites

Big Moose Lake campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Braley Pond, Virginia

For the bravest of Halloween campers.

  • Location: Braley Pond Day Use Area, West Augusta, VA 24485
  • Campground Contact: 540-432-0187
  • Campground Website

While you can set up camp throughout the area, there is no dispersed camping allowed in the picnic area.

With glassy waters, a thick treeline and a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Braley Pond is truly what paintings and postcards were made for. Of course, it wouldn’t make the list of most haunted campsites without a sordid history of its own. 

Sadly, the murder at Braley Pond was not that long ago. In 2003, two local gang members lured 19-year-old Christopher S. Kennedy to the landscape where they stabbed him 13 times before dumping him in the water. Since then, the atmosphere surrounding the pond just hasn’t been the same. 

Campground breakdown:

  • dispersed camping: no fee

Braley Pond amenities: vault toilets, trash containers and picnic area with tables

Braley Pond campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

 One of the most startling encounters at Braley Pond was from an experienced, self-claimed supernaturally adept camper who wanted to document her experience in the notorious spot. From mysterious lights to splashing to actual physical contact, her brief visit to the lake was nothing short of traumatizing. Even after she returned home, the camper reported bizarre happenings that she couldn’t explain.

You can read the full encounter from The Dyrt here.

Bannack State Park, Montana

For ghost town enthusiasts.

  • Location: 721 Bannack Road, Dillon, MT 59725
  • Campground Contact: 406-834-3413
  • Park Hours: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. during summer; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during winter; 8 a.m. – sunset during “shoulder” season
  • Campground Website

During the same year as the Battle of Antietam, Bannack was founded by a group of Manifest Destiny-driven miners struck gold in what they originally knew as Grasshopper Creek. The earth was fruitful until hundreds of other settlers caught wind of the treasure and began stripping the land. Unfortunately, though, these new westerners weren’t equipped for the harsh winters Montana sees. Today, Bannack is a ghost town, and its eery emptiness extends into the neighboring state park, especially the Road Agents campground. Visitors that have spent the night on these grounds reported feeling an “evil presence” surround them during their stay.

Campground breakdown:

  • 4 hike-to/bike-to tent-only campsites: $18-28 per night
  • 23 standard non-electric sites: $18-28 per night
  • 1 tipi: $30-42 per night

Bannack amenities: fire pits, firewood, ice and drinks for sale, gift shop, grills/fire rings, restrooms with flush and vault toilets, potable water, trash containers, picnic tables and area, horseshoe pits, information station and interpretive exhibits

Reserve a Bannack campsite here.

The site of the town is today Bannack State Park and National Historic Landmark. (Jordan McAlister / Getty Images)

Holy Ghost Campground in Sante Fe National Forest, New Mexico

For totally secluded, spooky adventures.

  • Location: Forest Service Rd 122, Tererro, NM 87573
  • Campground Contact: 505-438-5300
  • Campground Website

Of the most haunted campsites in the country, the one place that truly embraces its supernatural qualities is the Holy Ghost Campground in Sante Fe National Forest. However, the actual origin story behind the campground’s spookiness is a bit blurry. The tale is split between two versions – in the 17th century, either a priest had killed the Pueblo people that settled onto the land or the Pueblo people killed the priest while defending themselves and their land. Whoever the perpetrator was, locals believe that the priest’s spirit still travels along the treeline.

More recently, paranormal activity has been blamed for freak car accidents, fights between visitors and the disappearance of state police officers. Gorgeous as the landscape is during the day, one night falls, you’ll be watching the shadows a little more closely.

Campground breakdown:

  • 19 single, nonelectric campsites: $8 per vehicle per night
  • 4 double, nonelectric campsites: $8 per vehicle per night
  • 1 group campsite: currently unavailable

Holy Ghost amenities: vault toilets, picnic tables and area

Know that there is no potable water at the Holy Ghost Campground, so don’t forget to pack your own. A good rule of thumb for water in the backcountry is to bring at least one gallon per person, per day. Additionally, there are no trash containers at these campsites. Any trash you produce during your stay you’ll need to pack out.

Holy Ghost campsites are available on first-come, first-serve basis.

Albee Creek Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

For Bigfoot fanatics.

  • Location: Burlington, California 95554
  • Campground Contact: 707-946-2409
  • Park Hours: 8:00 a.m. – sunset, daily
  • Campground Website

Rather than ghosts and ghouls, Humboldt Redwoods State Park holds a much different supernatural creature within its dense forests. Situated in the storied redwoods of northern California, visitors here swear they’ve seen a 10-foot, two-legged, fur-covered creature lumbering between the towering trunks. Yes, the Humboldt Redwoods is a prime spot for Bigfoot sightings.

Bigfoot sightings have been recorded in the Redwoods National and State Parks since the 1950s, and one of the most popular spots to hunt for this creature is in the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

In fact, one camper caught audio of a strange call in the dark that gained the approval of Matt Moneymaker of Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet and president of BRFRO.net. The Bigfoot expert said there are some discrepancies between the audio and the typical Bigfoot call, but for the most part, “this does sound like one.”

Campground breakdown:

  • 19 tent-only campsites: $35 per night
  • 31 standard, non-electric sites: $35 per night

Of the campgrounds in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Albee Creek is one of the best places to set up shop for Bigfoot sightings. After all, sound carries much farther across bodies of water.

Albee Creek amenities: fire pits, grills, food lockers, restrooms with pay showers, flush toilets, picnic tables

Reserve an Albee Creek campsite here.

North America, USA, California, Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Avenue of the Giants. (Photo by: Bernard Friel/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Fort Worden State Historical Park, Washington

For ghost-chasers of all kinds.

  • Location: 200 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368
  • Campground Contact: 360-344-4412
  • Campground Website

Forrmerly a military site, Fort Worden State Historical Park was created in the early 20th century as a part of the “Triangle of Fire” defense system. During its operation, Fort Worden didn’t seem to have any spooky stories or accounts, but it did become a treatment center for troubled teens from the 50s to the 70s. Then there’s Alexander’s Castle, the oldest building in the park, that a man built for the woman he loved. She ended up marrying someone else, though, perhaps leaving his spirit to haunt its halls. Between the onsite military cemetery, treatment center and heartbreak castle, it’s quite possible that there are some lost souls still wandering the woods.

Throughout the park, you’ll find miles of buried tunnels that lead to old bedrooms and strange corridors. Campers have reported hearing moans coming from the abandoned buildings, and a few have seen strange lights appear in front of the barracks where no electricity runs.

On a cloudy day, you may even catch sight of purple-clad soldier that a Seattle paranormal investigator encountered during his stay.

Campground breakdown:

  • 50 full hook-up, beachfront campsites: $40-50 per night
  • 30 partial hook-up wooded sites: $35-40 per night

Fort Worden amenities: potable water, picnic tables, restrooms with showers, trash and recycling containers and beach shelter

Reserve a Fort Worden campsite here.

Sand dunes with dune grass at the beach near the Point Wilson Lighthouse at Fort Worden Historical State Park in Port Townsend, Jefferson County, Washington State, USA. (Photo by Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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