National Park Ghost Stories

History of ghost stories, accidents, and creepy accounts from Olympic and Yosemite.

Spooktacular Stories for Your Boo-tiful Fall Getaway

There’s no better way to honor spooky season than with some scary stories of hauntings and ghost sightings in our national parks. Both Yosemite and Olympic National Park are home to multiple ghosts who wander the grounds. Get ready for some goosebumps and chills from these scary stories.

Hauntings in Olympic National Park

Each year, the living visit Olympic National Park to soak in its hot springs, explore the rainforest, and take a boat tour on Lake Quinault or Lake Crescent. Those who are truly in the know come for the ghosts. Olympic National Park is home to the Lady of the Lake and Goblins Gate.

Lady of the Lake

For many, Lake Crescent is all about boating, fishing, and paddleboarding. But, before it was a hotspot for fun, it had a troubled history. Lake Crescent holds many secrets, even to this day. An underground stream that runs between Lake Crescent and Lake Sutherland has never been explored. Experts believe it could be hiding the bodies of many missing people.

The most common ghost sighting near Lake Crescent is the Lady of the Lake. She is thought to be the ghost of Hallie Latham Illingworth, who disappeared in December 1937. When Hallie disappeared, her husband claimed she had run off with another man to Alaska. Three years later, her body was discovered in Lake Crescent, perfectly preserved. Her body had been so well preserved by the lake that the bruises around her neck where she was strangled by her husband were still visible.

To explore Lake Crescent and potentially see the ghost of the Lady of the Lake, you can hike around the lake. Along the trail, you’ll get beautiful lakeside views and can take breaks at the different waterfalls.

Goblins Gate

The hike out to Goblins Gate is as spooky as it sounds. You can join the trail at the Elwha River Trailhead. Head down the trail about a mile and you’ll run into a 90-degree bend in the trail. Continue to follow the trail along the bend in the river and start to take note of the rock formations along the base of the canyon. Notice anything interesting?

The rock formation peeking out of the water’s edge looks like curious little goblin faces. Goblins Gate was named by explorer Charles A. Barnes and his crew on the Seattle Press Expedition in 1889 and 1890. Enjoy this hike with fantastic river views, a spectacular 90-degree bend in the river, a spooky narrow gorge, and haunting goblin-faced rock formations.

Ghost Sightings in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most awe-inspiring creations of mother nature — including some spooky hauntings. In addition to waterfalls and giant sequoias, you can see cemetery ghost sightings, the inspiration for The Shining, and meet the ghost children.

The Ahwahnee Hotel and The Shining

No work and all play make for a spooky good time at The Ahwahnee Hotel

The Ahwahnee Hotel is well-known for its convenient location to Yosemite and its cozy guest rooms. What most people don’t know is that it was the visual inspiration for one of the best horror movies of all time — The Shining.

Stephen King’s famous book, The Shining, was turned into a movie in 1980. While the hotel’s exterior architecture was inspired by a different hotel, the inspiration for the interior design for the movie set comes straight from The Ahwahnee.

The hotel’s interior decor is based on a style known as Parkitecture, which was also used in the movie. During your stay at the hotel, we hope those red elevator doors don’t haunt your dreams.

In addition to inspiring the set designers for The Shining, the hotel is also thought to be haunted. Both guests and staff have reported seeing a female ghost wandering the halls and hearing the creak of a rocking chair in a fourth-floor suite. It’s believed that The Ahwahnee’s ghost is former hotel manager Mary Curry Tresidder.

Grouse Lake Ghost

The ghost at Grouse Lake is thought to be one of the oldest ghosts in Yosemite National Park. The oldest written record of the Grouse Lake Ghost is from 1857, written by the park’s first ranger, Galen Clark. 

In the report, Clark describes hearing a wailing sound near Grouse Lake. When he asked the local tribes about the sound, they warned him to stay away from the lake. The tribe also shared with Clark that a young boy had recently drowned in the lake and continues to call out for help to anyone who wanders close enough to the lake.

Yosemite Cemetery

Yosemite wasn’t always a destination for tourists. First, it was a place to live. The Yosemite Cemetery was first the burial grounds for the local Miwok Tribe and later used for burials by the Euro-American settlers who moved in. 

During your visit to the cemetery, you can see the final resting place of local celebrities. You can see the graves of Miwok families, the first person to climb Half Dome, and the first permanent settler of Euro-American descent. There are daily tours of the cemetery, but in the lead up to Halloween, you can take a special haunted tour — only if you’re brave enough to join.

Tenaya Canyon

Yosemite National Park is well-known for its hiking. There are accessible day hikes for beginners, and then there are the hikes that should be left to the professionals. Tenaya Canyon is best left to the most experienced hikers.

Tenaya Canyon has become known as the Bermuda Triangle of Yosemite. Over the years there have been strange disappearances and many stranded hikers in need of rescue. The written history of Tenaya Canyon dates back to the early 1850s. About this time, white settlers decided to remove local Ahwahneechee people from Yosemite. During the removal, Chief Tenaya cursed the canyon and stated he would haunt it forever.

Whether you believe in curses and ghost stories or not, many have disappeared or suffered unexplainable accidents in Tenaya Canyon. Even John Muir had a story of an almost fatal fall within Tenaya Canyon.

We hope these ghost stories sparked your imagination and gave you a spooky shiver up your spine. And, the next time you visit either Yosemite National Park or Olympic National Park, be sure to stop in and visit one the friendly hauntings.

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