Ghostly Tales from Four Haunted National Parks

When you think of national parks, you probably think of pristine beauty and family road trips, not ghost stories and haunted hikes. But some of the most popular national parks in the United States come with a haunted tale or two. Think about it... Some national parks have been around for nearly two centuries, and millions of people visit these parks each year. It would be strange if they weren't haunted.

Take a look at some of the most haunted national parks in the country and read their ghostly tales, if you dare.

1. Grand Canyon National Park

A number of chilling stories can be told about the Grand Canyon, including one of a ranch worker crushed by a boulder and one involving two colliding passenger jets. But the most well-known Grand Canyon ghost story is that of the Wailing Woman. Also known as the Wandering Woman, this apparition can be seen haunting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Most stories claim this woman committed suicide in the 1920s after learning her husband and children died in a tragic hiking accident. Another story suspects this to be the spirit of a Native American who drowned her two children after learning their father married another woman. Either way, rangers and park guests alike have reported hearing wailing and moaning along the Transept Trail when no one was around. Some have even reported seeing the glowing figure of a woman in a white dress with blue flowers floating and disappearing along the trail.

Photo by Frank Pierson Photo by Frank Pierson

2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to two famous hauntings, one good and one evil. It's been said that on Lake Fontana, a settler was murdered while searching for his daughter. On trails near the north side of this lake, hikers claim to see a mysterious light that leads them back to the trail head. The light is thought to be the spirit of the settler trying to prevent hikers from having the same fate as his lost daughter. The more ominous tale involves a witch disguised as an old woman. Cherokee legends say that U'tlun'ta, or the Spear-Finger, is a shape-shifting creature with skin as hard as rock and one index finger made of sharp stone. This creature is said to grab children and lull them to sleep by brushing its fingers through their hair while singing lullabies. Once the child is asleep, Spear-Finger uses its stony finger to cut out and eat the child's liver. The Cherokee were especially weary of this monster in the fall.

Photo by Ernest Duffoo Photo by Ernest Duffoo

3. Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is one of the most haunted natural wonders in the world, earning this honor with the occurrence of over 150 documented paranormal events. Native Americans buried in the caverns can account for many of these hauntings. Also helping raise the spooky thermometer is the fact that the cave served as a tuberculosis hospital in the 1800s. This hospital wasn't very successful; a stone known as Corpse Rock can be found outside the remains of one of the cavern's "consumptive cabins," marking where bodies of patients killed by the disease were placed before burial. Some people say they can hear mysterious coughing near this rock and throughout the cavern. The most famous Mammoth Cave ghost story belongs to one of the cavern's guides during the Civil War. Cave guide Stephen Bishop was a slave who intended to buy freedom for himself and his wife, but he tragically died before having the chance to do so. Stephen Bishop is now buried in front of the cave's entrance. People have reported his spirit showing up during Violet City Lantern Tours, a ranger-led tour lit only by kerosene lanterns.

Photo by Jeff Kubina Photo by Jeff Kubina

4. Yosemite National Park

If you expect to be haunted at Yosemite National Park, I hope you're a good swimmer. The Miwok Native Americans believe that an evil wind known as Po-ho-no entices people to the edge of the park's waterfalls and then pushes them over the edge, leaving them to plummet to their deaths. Another water-dwelling spirit allegedly haunts Grouse Lake in the form of a young Native American boy. Visitors claim to have heard the puppy-like cries of a small child who drowned in the lake. According to legend, anyone who dares help this little boy will be pulled into the lake and drowned. Yosemite National Park guests also claim to have seen a number of Native American spirits lingering within the park's pine forests.

Yosemite National Park Photo by Mark Crawley

*Featured image photo by Esther Lee. This photo was modified.

Know of any other chilling National Park tales? Tell us your ghost stories in the comments!
posted by
Lauren Seidl
Blogger at Sierra Trading Post
Lauren enjoys hiking, camping, climbing and exploring the outdoors. She's always up for trying something new, especially if it involves getting outside. When Lauren isn't out finding adventures in her home state of Colorado, she can be found writing as Sierra Trading Post's blogger.
Comments (2)
9/18/2016 at 6:27 PM
Beverly @ Quinault Lodge in Olympic Natl Park
9/26/2016 at 2:15 AM
The plane crash in the Canyon involved two propeller driven aircraft, a DC-7 and a Super Constellation. Not jets.
Join the Conversation