Facing Fears in the Scariest Haunted Campgrounds in America

I talked in my book Adult Halloween: Taking Back the Season! about how we can push our tolerance for creepy things as adults. It's the end of summer and yet not quite Halloween, so it might be the ideal time to use a camping trip as a way to face some fears. I'm going to give five scary campgrounds you might want to try out and some very real ways at each one to face your fears. Do you dare?

Big Sur, California

It has the right setting to be unsettling, as Fernwood was supposedly built atop of Native Land that was taken over for public use. A Native man in a corn mask is said to wander the property among the cabins and tents, an apparition from the past history of the land. 

This is a picturesque forest to camp at with lots of facilities including hot showers, a fire ring and picnic table for each camp.

Scare: You won't feel like you're all alone in the woods, but you will feel how ancient the land and trees are. In a location like this, with a supposed apparition wandering around, I'd suggest you push your limits of tolerance by setting up a folding chair near the cabin area between 2-3 am when the Native ghost is seen wandering.  

Marfa, TX

It's hard to have missed hearing about the Marfa lights. This strange and unexplained phenomena in Marfa, Texas has made for some curious lookie loo's and a great lookout spot near the highway to allow for people to just go gaze. Yes, the lights show up that much!

You can rent a safari tent, trailer, or Yurt. They also have room for self camping. The good news is you're right near the viewing area. Imagine the creepiness of knowing that this strange phenomena is happening in the area? 

Scare:  Try some communication with the lights. See if you can will the lights to come and go. It is a good experiment to see if we have any psychic connection to the source of the lights, whether we can predict them or send a message to will them. If you want, video the lights and tell the lights out loud when to "light!" See if there is something to it. Try turning your flashlight on and off three times rapidly, then wait. See if you can get reciprocation as a sign of interaction. 

Yermo, California

The campground has facilities for rigs, tents, electric, restrooms, etc. What is exciting about this one is the ghost town's reputation for ghosts. 

The town once produced silver, not far from Barstow. It was inhabited by many foreigners employed to work there. But, the silver market fell and the town emptied out at the turn of the century.

It is said that the couple that once ran the store still haunt the place and spooklights are seen at night. 

Scare:  Spooklights are interesting things. They look like a lantern light but when you go to chase them, you can't seem to find their source. I wouldn't want to amble around in the desert chasing them, but I would consider making a little communion with any ghosts in the town. You might consider a Ouija board session if you are comfortable with that tool. 

Otherwise, I would suggest you plant yourself in a good spot to see much of the location and wait it out. It can take hours for ghostly specters to show themselves and you need to get used to the normal shapes and bits of light in the location in order to really make out a form. Consider bringing a camera that can zoom well or binoculars to view the town from a distance that is not disturbing for any activity. 

Another option is to hit the cemetery near sunset. Shadow people show up a lot in cemeteries, especially just after dark or when it's turning dark. They may peek out around headstones or trees. You will likely first feel a strange foreboding and see something from the corner of your eye - turn your head slowly. If you turn too quickly, they seem alert to the movement and rush off. 

Southeastern Massachusetts

Of all the locations, this one is probably the most scary because it is smack dab in an area known as the Bridgewater Triangle that is super high strangeness; UFOs, poltergeists, orbs, spooklights, cattle , thunderbirds, and more. 

Scare:  There are a lot of potential ways to face your fears in this region, but given that there is also a fairly high count of people missing here, be sure you are equipped for the situation with GPS and a phone that is charged. If you are keeping some of your friends/family at the campsite, consider a walkie set. I would personally give spooklights a chase here and see what I can find. You need to get into the woods, turn your light out, look around. See if you find any odd lights to investigate. Don't do it alone. That would be dangerous and dangerous is different than scary. Differentiate the two. 


Anywhere you camp, there are plenty of chills and thrills, whether it's fear of the bears or Bigfoot lurking around, UFOs in the dark night sky or ghosts wandering the pathways. It becomes even more spooky when you sit in absolute darkness and just listen and let your imagination run wild, or perhaps form a campfire and sit around it telling stories. Have an end-of-summer sojourn into the spooky woods and scary wilderness. A little darkness and silence might bring your imagination to life and it just might keep you up all night long.