Scary stories are the preferred method of entertainment around the campfire or during sleepovers. But what if the stories are true? We’ll explore some of the creepiest and scariest stories about the US National Parks, that have been shared by rangers, hikers, or that have been portrayed in the media.
Gary Michael Hilton
Dubbed as “the national forest serial killer”, Gary Michael Hilton became famous for the six grisly murders he carried out in the various national forests. Before he was convicted and put on death row, a group of hikers met him in the Apalachicola National Forest living in a camper. Little did they know the ragged man was a serial killer, finding out about it only when he appeared on TV after his arrest. His best know victim, Meredith Emerson, was hiking with her dog on Blood Mountain in Georgia. She, unfortunately, met Hilton and passed as a result of blunt trauma to the head after four days of being held captive.
Burned alive in the hot springs
The hot springs of Yellowstone National Park have been taking their toll on human lives for hundreds of years. There are 40 recorded cases since 1905, but people claim it happened way before that as well. Young David Kirwan was one of these people, who in 1981 was walking his dog in the area. The pet fell in the Celestine Pool and David jumped in to rescue it. Unfortunately, he was burned so badly, that he died the next day in the hospital.
In 2000 a group of friends went swimming in the Firehole River but, because they had no light source, and it was dark outside, they dived into the Cavern Springs. One man died the next day after suffering third-degree burns on his whole body. His friends spent months in the hospital, recovered, but were left with terrible scars.
National Parks are favorites when it comes to disposing of dead bodies. Serial killers and other murderers try to get away with their crimes by throwing their dead victims in inaccessible places, in hope that nature and wildlife will take care of the problem. Unfortunately, many succeed, as many of these murders go unsolved even after the bodies are found. The rangers are the ones that usually stumble upon skulls, bones, and clothes. A ranger from South California found the decomposed body of a man who had taken his own life in the area. After the police investigated the case they discovered the body had been there for more than a decade.
What is worse is that the number of unsolved cases from bodies found in National Parks and forests is not even disclosed in full, and not everyone reports finding bones.
Crater Lake Mystery
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is the center of many weird stories, myths, and legends, but one thing is for sure. The lake is known for quite a few mysterious deaths over the years. Some people think it’s a gateway to the underworld, others believe it has strong spirit activity. There are a few cases of people who had committed suicide by jumping in the lake, but there are some mysterious disappearances as well.
19-year-old Charles McCullar was a photographer who disappeared in mysterious circumstances and his remains were found almost two years later. Even though the authorities have searched for him when the event happened, they couldn’t find any trace of McCullar. He was eventually found by two hikers. The rangers who were first to get to the scene reported something bizarre. They found his socks and jeans. The socks had foot bones inside, but the jeans were empty. They also found another bone and a piece of his skull, but the rest of his clothes and remains were nowhere to be seen. His death was assumed to be from natural causes, but nobody really knows what happened.
If you’re interested in the history of Crater Lake, including disappearances and murders, you might enjoy the Smith Chronological History of Crater Lake with hundreds of stories.
The list wouldn’t be complete without some ghost stories from the US National Parks. With so many murders it’s no surprise.
The shrinking woman in Badlands National Park is a frequent occurrence when it comes to the stories the hikers tell after their adventures. Grand Canyon National Park has a similar ghost called the Wailing Woman. The story says that she committed suicide after her family fell in the canyon and that she still wonders the Transept Trail, crying.
Gettysburg National Battlefield is considered to be one of the most haunted places in the US. Thousands of people have died here during the Civil War in the Battle of Gettysburg. People have reported voices of men in the night, as well as cannon blasts and the smell of gunpowder.
Do you have any weird or scary stories about the US National Parks? Share them with me!
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