Hiking with Casper the (Un)Friendly Ghost: Four Haunted United States National Parks

By:   Jocelyn Brown

Photo by Andrea Boldizsar

Photo by Andrea Boldizsar

The United States National Parks have a dark and brooding history. Many visitors mysteriously vanish on hikes through these parks, and over the past 100 years, there have been 1,100 missing persons cases that have never been closed. Unable to cross over, these restless souls continue to haunt the parks and if you’re hiking at night, you’d better watch out for these spirits. They’re not all as friendly as Casper.
Big Bend National Park
Everything is bigger in Texas, and the ghosts are no exception. Big Bend National Park, located in Brewster County, Texas, is the site of 200 murders. Native Americans, Spanish soldiers, and cowboys haunt the park’s trails and are just dying to join your hike. The Chisos Mountains, named after hechizos, Spanish for “bewitchments”, is said to be haunted by Chief Alsate, the last chief of the Chisos Apaches who was executed by firing squad in 1882. Hikers have also reported seeing a young girl who drowned herself to avoid capture by bandits, and an Indian warrior carrying a torch to light the way for the rest of spirits roaming the mountains. Emory Peak, one of the best hiking trails in Texas and the highest mountain peak in the range is a must-see if you’re in the park. Once you catch one glimpse of the view from the top, you might not want to come back again. However, the view is not the only thing that might keep you at the top. The trail to reach the peak is said to be haunted by a demonic entity. Some hikers have heard him cursing at them through EVP and once you escape his clutches, it’s hard to leave safely.
Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking across the Grand Canyon is a dream come true for most hikers, but watch out as you may not be hiking alone. The canyon is full of ghostly figures from phantom children playing on merry-go-rounds to lost hikers trying to find their way back home. The hiking trail is particularly haunted by a woman, appropriately named “the Wailing Woman”. According to legend, she committed suicide along the northern rim of the canyon – along what is now known as the Transept Trail – after discovering her husband and son died in a tragic hiking accident. Hikers have seen her dressed in a white dress with blue flowers crying along the trail. Since she lost her family to a hiking accident, it is a cautionary tale to those that hike these trails.
 Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains’ claim to fame is that it is home to some of the most terrifying spirits. One of the more prevalent ghosts stems from a Cherokee legend called “Spearfinger”. She was an old witch with one long, sharp finger made of obsidian. Spearfinger was also a shapeshifter who is said to have lured children away from their home to an area along the Norton Creek Trail. Once captured, she used her finger to take out their liver and eat it. The story ends with her defeat by some Cherokee Indians, but nevertheless the tale still haunts the trail today and if you listen carefully, you can still hear her. Spearfinger is joined by another restless soul – a murdered settler. This traveler has been seen holding a lantern used to lead hikers to safety. Whether you want to follow him to safety, is up to you.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park in California has the highest number of hikers to have gone missing out of any other US national park. This is probably because the park is full of traps for hikers – traps of the paranormal flavor. Old Native American tales tell of an evil wind that plagues the park called Po-ho-no. This wind lures hikers to the top of waterfalls and plunges them to their untimely demise. In 2011, three hikers fell off Vernal Falls in Yosemite Park, proving the power of the wind. There have also been reports around Grouse Lake of a young boy crying to hikers to help him out of the lake. However, don’t be fooled. It’s already too late for you to help him, and it will only result in your plunge into the lake.