STAYING THE NIGHT? Utah's Haunted Campgrounds

Anyone who has ever spent time camping has felt it. That feeling that something isn’t quite right. The thoughts go racing through your head. What was that sound? Is there something outside my tent? Did I just see that? For most of us, at least speaking from my own experience, it’s usually a raccoon that has absconded with a loaf of bread from your poorly secured camp bin. Sometimes though, when you slowly unzip that tent fly, there is nothing out there, you’re alone.

In the spirit of Halloween, here is a short list of 5 campgrounds in Utah where you might have a brush with the veil, or at least totally creep yourself out. Staying the night? Enjoy!

Photo credit: Kyle Simple

Photo credit: Kyle Simple

  1. Cottonwood Canyons

    As the snow melts, the canyons creeks flood with swift water and debris making them incredibly treacherous. Over the years several people have drowned in the icy waters of Big and Little Cottonwood creek. People have seen a young woman, dripping, standing along the side of Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, but when they stop to assist her, she disappears. As you hunker in for the evening at Spruces Campground, listen close to see if you can hear the voices of people coming from the creek, or just put in your earplugs as soon as you can.

  2. The Great Salt Lake

    You can’t talk about Utah ghosts without mentioning John Baptiste. It’s always been hard to make a living on the frontier, and living in the late 1800’s was no different. Grave robbing was a common practice in some areas, with the growing field of medicine, came a high demand for corpses. In addition, people were often buried with valuables which would be of little use to them in the afterlife. John Baptiste was of the first of his kind in Utah, a professional grave robber. When his grim pastime was finally uncovered, his house was full of the possessions of people passed, as well as 350 corpses! As punishment he was marooned on an island out in the Great Salt Lake where he disappeared ands never seen (alive) again. Of course visitors and campers around the Great Salt Lake was reported seeing a ghastly, wet man lurking around the campgrounds.

  3. Bottle Hollow Reservoir

    A lot of Utah was once Ute territory, and Bottle Hollow Reservoir is located in the heart of this ancient boundary. Campers near the reservoir are often visited by a group of Ute men wearing traditional clothing a past time. Adorned with leather and furs this small hunting party will sometimes join campfires. They are silent only watching the flames flicker, until they eventually disappear.

  4. Zion National Park

    From deserted ghost towns nearby to the afterlife lighthouse of The Watchman, Zion is full of history and ghost stories. Hikers often report seeing lights flickering in the distance where no one could possibly be (or maybe they don’t know how crazy rock climbers are), and there seems to be a distinct chill in the air some nights. Whether the ghosts of the abandoned mining town of Grafton are parading around the park looking to strike it rich of not in the afterlife, Zion is always worth a visit. Not a bad place to hang around if you’re a ghostie stuck on earth.

  5. Dead Horse Point State Park

    The wild west was a time of cattle rustling, bandits, and the heavy hand of the law. Getting caught with stolen loot was punishable by death, so the cattle rustlers did what they could to not get caught. However, the law was on their tales, and rather than get caught with the cattle, they stranded the animals in a canyon, hightailed it out of there, and left the animals to die. A sad story that shows the ruthless nature of the desert and the time period. While camping in the park, listen close at night to hear the neighing of horses and keep an eye out for the ghostly specters of the mustangs left behind, forever roaming the prairie.

Photo credit: Bill Radcliffe

Photo credit: Bill Radcliffe