About This Guide
|California and Hawaii|
|Carlsbad Caverns||New Mexico|
|Virgin Islands||St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands|
|Big South Fork||Tennessee|
|Great Smoky Mountains||Tennessee/North Carolina|
|Blue Ridge Parkway||North Carolina/Virginia|
|New River Gorge||West Virginia|
|Harper’s Ferry||West Virginia/Maryland|
|Northeast and Mid Atlantic|
|Cape Hatteras/Fort Raleigh||North Carolina|
|New Jersey Pinelands||New Jersey|
|C & O Canal||Maryland|
|Wind Cave||South Dakota|
|Great Sand Dunes||Colorado|
|Canada and Alaska|
Selected Bibliography and Sources
About the Author
If you’ve been to many national parks, you’ve probably noticed a few things. For one, each park has its own personality. Some are show-offs-their waterfalls, snowy peaks, and wild flowers displayed with a vain arrogance. Some are subtle-their unique charms hidden from the philistines. And some carry themselves with a courtly manner-their sublime majesty self-evident. Nearly all parks have a spiritual side. They are temples of trees and cathedrals of stone, and they redeem our distracted souls before we return to our frazzled, complicated world of interstates, office cubicles, and shopping malls.
Yet, when a predatory shadow follows a fast-moving cloud, when those strange noises begin just as night beats down the day, or when the noon sun allows no escape from its hot and piercing glare, even the most benign and enchanting landscape can turn on you. What was gorgeous and welcoming just a moment before suddenly seems vaguely disturbing, even menacing.
Park rangers are down-to-earth, practical people. Two thousand of them are law enforcement officers. Many have degrees in the biological sciences. As a rule, they aren’t prone to superstition. I believe I am no exception. For 12 years, I worked as a law enforcement/search-and-rescue ranger in some of the world’s busiest and most beautiful national parks. I have a science degree in Forestry. A fan of logic and critical thinking, I prefer cold, hard facts over warm, fuzzy sentimentalities.
But I have seen and heard things that have unsettled me. People I respect who claim to have seen a ghost. Natural phenomena that, although scientists have studied them for decades, remain unexplained. Savage murders that remain unsolved. Bizarre incidents so odd you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. And, most frightening to me, I know of places that seem to hold grudges-alluring, hypnotic landscapes that appear to be seeking retribution for trespasses made against them.
If a sudden and tragic death can leave its mark on a place, then national parks have earned the right to be haunted. Every year, people die inside national parks. Very few of these people are fortunate enough to go in their sleep. With the help of park rangers, historians, and local residents, I have tracked down the most intriguing paranormal and mysterious events that have transpired in North America’s national parks and compiled them into one book. There is no other hiking guide like it.
Whether you read this in your tent by the light of a headlamp or while curled up in a chair in a dark corner of the hotel lobby, Haunted Hikes has a trip to match your fitness level. A good number of trails are wheelchair accessible while a few require technical rock climbing skills and equipment. There are trails that can be traveled by bicycle, snowshoes, skis, four-wheel-drive, and by kayak. Some are even popular with kids. And, you’ll find plenty of multi-day treks for intrepid backpackers eager to spend a lonely night on a haunted trail. But when the sky goes black and the coyotes begin to howl, don’t say I didn’t warn you. There are things that go bump in the park.
Tenaya’s Spirit Stirred by Government Bureaucracy
In Yosemite Valley, there is a replica of a Miwok village where park visitors can learn more about the culture of the descendants of Chief Tenaya’s people. Today, there is only one living member of the Miwok tribe who was born in Yosemite Valley. His name is Jay Johnson. A former park service maintenance employee, Johnson lived and worked his entire life in Yosemite until he retired at the close of 1996. Park service regulations require employees to move out of their government homes once they quit or retire. Johnson warned park managers that when the last Yosemite-born Indian left the park, according to Ahwahneechee legends, disaster would follow.
Of course, the bureaucrats blew him off.
During the early morning hours of January 1, 1997, within days of Johnson’s December retirement and move to outside the park, a freakishly warm storm dumped inches of rain on the snow pack at the high elevations. The resulting snow melt created a massive flood that sent a deluge of water, rocks, and uprooted trees down the Merced River. The swollen river escaped its banks and all three roads leading out of the valley were blocked by downed trees, washed out roadways, and high water. Two thousand employees and park visitors were trapped for days. Sewer lines were destroyed. Electrical service had to be shut down. Nine road bridges suffered major damage. No one was killed, but 350 motel and cabin units, 450 campsites, and 200 employee quarters were flooded and had to be removed. It was the most damaging flood in Yosemite’s history. The cost of repair came to $178 million.
Ten months after the flood, the National Park Service entered an agreement with the American Indian Council allowing for the development of a traditional Indian Village in Yosemite Valley. After many frustrating years fighting a government bureaucracy for rights to conduct their tribal ceremonies inside the park, the Miwok joined park officials in celebrating the agreement. Tribal elder Jay Johnson was there for the ceremony.