The Mountain State offers numerous eerie surprises along its winding roads.
Home to mountains, diverse hardwood forests, and the oldest river on the continent, West Virginia is known for its outdoor recreation. But did you know this state has a high concentration of terrifying places to visit? Apparently, there are ghosts galore tucked in the hollows here in this state born of the Civil War. Gather your bravest friends and head out on the ultimate road trip through The Mountain State to experience these frightening locations for yourself. If you plan a visit around the Halloween season, the vibrant fall foliage will welcome you kindly. While you’re here for spooks, other popular events in October include Bridge Day, the Apple Butter Festival, and the West Virginia Black Walnut Festival.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
WHERE: Weston, West Virginia
This National Historic Landmark opened in the mid-1800s to serve people with mental illnesses and now hosts ghost hunts year-round. This seriously has to be one of the scariest places on Earth and makes binge-watching American Horror Story all by yourself in the middle of nowhere during a thunderstorm look like child’s play. The structure itself is quite impressive and lays claim to being the largest building in North America built of stone masonry cut by hand. The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum has been featured on numerous TV shows, including Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. Halloween events include The Asylum Ball and a Hospital of Horrors haunted house.
WHERE: Point Pleasant, West Virginia
Hear the eerie stories of Point Pleasant, where several sightings of a giant, red-eyed, winged “mothman” occurred in the 1960s prior to the tragic collapse of Silver Bridge that killed 46 people as their cars poured into the Ohio River. Take your picture with Mothman and be sure to watch The Mothman Prophecies, starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney, before your trip. Additionally, Mothman Festival is the third weekend in September and serves up plenty of folklore along with Mothman-shaped pancakes and cookies, live music, and cosplay.
INSIDER TIPStop in Counter Point Cooperative for one-of-a-kind finds made by Appalachian creatives.
Archive of the Afterlife
WHERE: Moundsville, West Virginia
You’ll discover haunted relics like antique dolls, an embalming table, and a funeral mask with enough energy to give you chills at the Archive of the Afterlife in Moundsville, a town built over ancient burial grounds. Nicknamed “The National Museum of the Paranormal,” this ghoulish place is prime for the curious and those in search of the next Annabelle. Join in one of the museum’s public paranormal explorations, or, if you’re really brave, book a private overnight investigation of the Archive and The Sanford Center (a former elementary school building that houses the museum). Owner/curator Steve Hummel is also a host on the Paranormal Quest YouTube Channel.
West Virginia Penitentiary
WHERE: Moundsville, West Virginia
This castle-like stone prison, built in 1876 using the Gothic architectural style, once housed some of history’s most notorious inmates and is now known as one of the most haunted places in America. As you approach the daunting building, you feel as if you’ve arrived at Frankenstein’s house. Once inside, you’ll only wish the stories of this place were fiction. Take a day tour, book an overnight paranormal investigation, or play Escape the Pen. Halloween season here includes the “Dungeon of Horrors” and “Ghost Adventures.”
Lake Shawnee Abandoned Amusement Park
WHERE: Rock, West Virginia
If you dare, visit this ghastly, haunted amusement park in southern West Virginia where vines grow up the Ferris wheel and rusty swings sway all by themselves. The park was built in the 1920s atop a large Native American burial ground and abandoned in 1966 after several visitors died here, including a young boy who drowned in the pond. Make an appointment to take a day tour of the park. If that’s not spooky enough for you, they’ll let you camp here overnight—though most leave early. The “Dark Carnival” every October is not for the faint of heart and includes campfire storytelling and the Lake Nightmare haunted house. Bring flashlights and ghost-hunting equipment and be prepared to be scared like you’ve never been scared before.
Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry
WHERE: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Take a walking tour of the historic Harpers Ferry, a significant location in the American Civil War with a violent past. Historians Rick and Amelia Garland own and operate Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry and entertain travelers with local lore while in full period costume. Tours are family-friendly and begin at 8 pm, Monday through Saturday. Advance reservations are required Monday through Thursday.
INSIDER TIPHarpers Ferry is also home to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. This is a great place to hop on the A.T. for a refreshing hike.
22 Mine Road
WHERE: Holden, West Virginia
Legend has it that if you put your car in neutral at the bottom of this haunted hill, the ghost of Mamie Thurman—who was murdered and dumped here in 1932—will push your car uphill. You can watch videos of this happening to others on YouTube, but that’s not near as fun as driving out to 22 Mine Road in Logan County and experiencing it for yourself.
All the Haunted Houses in West Virginia
You’ll find a ton of haunted houses throughout the state that will scare the bejesus out of you. These are destination-haunted houses, worthy of a road trip with your best friends—which is how every horror movie begins. Nightmare in The Gorge at Ace Adventure Resort has terrifying clowns, butchers, and monsters that won’t let you escape the 6,000-square-foot Warehouse of Terror. Visit an abandoned homesite where evil lurks at Miller’s Nightmare Haunted Farm. Encounter your biggest fears and morbid characters at Fright Nights haunted house, and step into the Haunted Majestic vessel for scares and to meet special guests.
The Famous Pumpkin House
Okay, the Famous Griffith Pumpkin House is not creepy—but it will give you serious fall decoration envy. Long before Reese Witherspoon posted a picture of this place on Twitter, visitors from near and far made it a tradition to drive out to this house with more than 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins for C-K Autumnfest. Enjoy food, family fun, and an orange glow that can likely be seen from outer space.