Ranking the 50 Most Haunted States in America for Halloween 2023

American dream? Let’s talk about American nightmares. This expansive and storied country is brimming with ghost stories, apparitions, haunted houses, and other hot spots of paranormal activity that date back centuries and persist to the modern day. In which states are horror aficionados most likely to get their fix of the heebie-jeebies?

With Halloween right around the corner, we wanted to find out which state will give you the spooks the most. We uncovered the most haunted hotspots across the nation with the highest potential for spooky and spine-chilling encounters, many of which are perfect for ghost tours and ghost hunts. Here’s how we scored each state:

Spook Score 🕸️😱⚰️

  • Number of haunted locations by population
  • Founding date of oldest town or city
  • Number of cemeteries by population
  • Age of oldest cemetery

Creep Score 🏚️💀🕯️

  • Number of unsolved murders by population
  • Number of abandoned buildings

Boo Score 👻👹🧛

  • Number of ghost towns by population
  • Number of reported ghost sightings by population


*Read more about our sources and methodology here.

Key findings

  • New Mexico is the most haunted state in the nation. Home to places such as the Acoma Pueblo, which is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited region in the entire Western Hemisphere, this southwestern state is the ideal location to commune with spirits of the distant past.
  • New York has the highest Creep Score of any other state, with a very high rate of unsolved murders and more notable abandoned places than anywhere else in the nation. 
  • Lovers of spooky cemeteries should head to West Virginia. This smaller state, with less than 2 million residents, is home to over 18,534 graveyards, the oldest of which dates back to 1734. 
  • Terror tourists will be thrilled to find over 290 ghost towns and almost 1,900 documented ghost sightings in the state of Oklahoma.

The Top 10 Most Haunted States of America

Whether it is ancient cemeteries, abandoned factories, or brushes with paranormal activity that really gives you the creeps, you’re sure to find a rush of adrenaline in one of these super spooky states and hot spots for horror.

Old-timey New England may be the most haunted region in the American imagination, thanks in no small part to ghost stories such as Sleepy Hollow, the horror writings of H.P. Lovecraft, and the notorious witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. But in terms of ancient history, rugged southwestern New Mexico has New England beat.

The most haunted state in America, New Mexico, has been home to human beings since 9200 BCE. Between abandoned adobe cities made by Ancestral Puebloans to the time of the colonial Wild West, New Mexico has plenty of fodder for ghost stories.

Tip of Terror: The Acoma Pueblo, 70 miles west of Albuquerque, maybe the oldest continuously occupied site in the Western Hemisphere. Acoma Indians lived in a village atop this sprawling mesa as early as 600 CE and Spanish missionaries arrived at the end of the 16th century. With thousands of years of history, including a brutal massacre of 800 Acoma Indians, the 2000 sq ft graveyard in the shadow of the mesa is among the most uniquely American haunted locations.

West Virginia is known among outsiders for its coal mining industry, but to local ghost hunt enthusiasts, this Appalachian state is home to an exceptionally high rate of cemeteries. This small state, with fewer than 2 million residents, has over 18,534 cemeteries, and each is seemingly the scene of ghost sightings. The Hatfield Cemetery in Logan County, for instance, is where many members of the Hatfield family (famous for their feud with the McCoys) are buried.

Tip of Terror: One of America’s most monstrous creatures has roots in West Virginia. The glaring red eyes of the Mothman were first spotted in 1967 near the abandoned WWII bunkers in Point Pleasant. Since then, the Mothman has evolved into the town’s most feared and beloved ghost story and urban legend. Point Pleasant is now home to a 12-foot steel statue and an entire museum dedicated to this humanoid creature.

If it is ghost towns that get your adrenaline pumping, then look no further than the plains of Oklahoma. With fewer than 4 million residents, the Sooner State has 290 ghost towns to explore and plenty of ghost stories to match. Many of these abandoned communities were oil boom or lumber mill towns that met their demise during the Great Depression. Tornadoes flattened others.

Tip of Terror: Located in between Stillwater and Yale, the town of Ingalls, Oklahoma, looks like something out of a classic Western movie. This ghost town, now home to just 150 people, was once a growing and thriving oil and coal mining town. But to the detriment of the town’s promising future, it was also a hide-away and criminal hot spot used by outlaws, including the infamous Doolin-Dalton Gang in the early 1980s. When the U.S. Marshals learned many members of the gang were convening at a local saloon, they sent 27 deputies and the Indian police to Ingalls. The ensuing gunfight resulted in the death of three deputies and two local bystanders and is memorialized on a plaque near the boarded-up Old West town center.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was loosely based on the crimes of murderer Ed Gein, but the plot was largely fictional. What may be scarier than the legendary horror film is the number of creepy sights you’ll see in Texas. There are plenty of haunted houses and locations in Texas, including The Alamo. The Battle of the Alamo had hundreds of casualties, and the iconic landmark is considered San Antonio’s most haunted location.

Tip of Terror: The Hotel Galvez in Galveston, Texas, is one of the state’s most haunted locations. “The Lovelorn Lady” is the primary ghoul of this haunted hotel, a soon-to-be bride who tragically ended her life after finding out about her fiance’s death. Guests who have stayed a night on the fifth floor of Hotel Galvez have reportedly heard footsteps running down empty halls and doors inexplicably slamming in the twilight hours. Stay at this haunted hotel if you dare.

Alaska is one of America’s most haunted states thanks to a high density of ghost towns. But one of the spookiest locations in Alaska is a historic site – The Alaskan Hotel and Bar in Juneau, one of the most haunted hotels in the state. Established in 1913, it’s the oldest operating hotel in Juneau and the alleged site of many ghosts and apparitions. One reportedly haunted room is Room 315. The legend goes that a sailor stayed in the room and was so terrified that he jumped out the window. Is Juneau the most haunted city in America? Probably not. But The Alaskan Hotel and Bar in the city is one haunted historic site that gives Alaska a high creep factor.

Tip of Terror: If you’re looking for a good Halloween season ghost tour, look no further than the majestic Baranof Castle in Sitka, one of the most haunted places in Alaska. The castle was the home to many Russian governors in the 1800s, and its history spans far longer than Alaska was part of America. Legends say many apparitions still haunt the historic site today, including the ghost of a Russian woman. Ghost tours and ghost hunts will tell you of the mysterious apparition, who they say wears dark colors and wanders the castle’s hill, mourning for her lost lover.

Pennsylvania made the list of most haunted states thanks to the high density of abandoned buildings throughout the large state. But another big reason Pennsylvania is one of the most haunted places in America is because of Gettysburg. Gettysburg is the well-known historic site of one of the deadliest battles of the Civil War, and many believe this hallowed ground is still haunted by the souls of Union and Confederate soldiers. With more than 50,000 estimated casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg, the historic site today has no shortage of ghost stories and ghost sightings for those who dare to tread the battlefield.

Tip of Terror: Gettysburg isn’t the only haunted location in Pennsylvania. Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is widely known to be one of the most haunted places in America. The penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, home to nearly 85,000 criminals in its long history, including the legendary mobster Al Capone. The Penitentiary closed in 1971 and is currently a historic site open to the public as a museum for tours, including many terrifying Halloween season ghost tours. Is there really paranormal activity within the walls of Eastern State Penitentiary? Check it out to find out for yourself.

Top 10 States That Will Give You the Creeps the Most

Not all fodder for ghost stories is ancient history. Many of the creepiest places in America are those where persistent housing and income inequality have been met with sharp economic downturns, leaving ruins and urban legends in their wake.

We developed a Creep Score for every state according to its rate of unsolved murders and noteworthy abandoned places noted by Atlas Obscura. Here are ten states where you can catch a ghostly glimpse of the broken dreams and crumbling buildings of America’s more recent past.

New York, especially its western and upstate regions, is home to more notable abandoned buildings than any other state in America. The perfect scene for ghost stories is the abandoned Wonder Bread Factory of Buffalo, which shuttered in 2004. Though the Wonder Bread brand has long been associated with images of homegrown American wholesomeness, the demise of this factory isn’t a particularly comforting one: the food processing facility was forced to close due to asbestos, eliminating 150 jobs.

Often described as a playground for America’s rich and famous, more people have seen their dreams crumble in California than come true. Many sites, such as L.A.’s Cecil Hotel, in which at least 80 people have died (some under very mysterious circumstances) since it opened in 1924, are still in operation today. The Cecil could be one of the most haunted hotels in America, but another example of a haunted California location is an abandoned waterpark in the middle of the Mojave desert, which seems a perfect metaphor for the ghosts of American hubris: Lake Dolores.

Illinois, Ohio, and Washington D.C. also appear among our top 10 creepiest states in America. Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and D.C. are some of America’s most haunted cities, with some of the highest rates of violent crime in the country. it’s a statistic that is intimately tied to persistent poverty and a history of housing discrimination. In these states, urban explorers and ghost tours will find plenty of abandoned buildings where they can commune with the apparitions of American industry.

Is Florida creepy, or is it just us? The St. Augustine Lighthouse is one notable haunted location in Florida. But another factor that adds to Florida’s high creep score is the massive amount of unsolved murders in the state: more than 19,000, to be exact. One of the most infamous of these heinous crimes happened in Tallahassee more than 50 years ago. On October 22, 1966, Robert and Helen Sims and their daughter Joy were found murdered in their home – and police have yet to solve the case. The murders have been the subject of a documentary called “641 Muriel Court” and too many true crime podcasts to name.

Georgia is another state with a high creep score. Savannah is known to be one of the most haunted cities in America.  But another infamously haunted location with plenty of ghost sightings is Atlanta Prison Farm, an abandoned penitentiary in southeastern Atlanta that was once the site of a Civil War battle. The site and property are now heavily decayed and covered with graffiti; trespassing is illegal, prosecuted, and dangerous. Officials have toyed with the idea of turning the abandoned penitentiary into a 500-acre park, but nothing’s happened yet. Perhaps everyone’s too scared of putting a park in such a haunted location.

Rust Belt Ohio also has a high creep score thanks to the number of abandoned buildings in the state. One of the creepiest haunted locations in the Buckeye State is the abandoned Cincinnati Subway, a relic of the city’s failed experiment to build underground transportation. An early 20th-century plan to finish the subway system was finally scrapped in 1948, but sections of the incomplete tunnels remain. All of the passages are today sealed off and illegal and extremely difficult to enter, but some ghost tour operators clamor to get down there. There are no reports of apparitions or paranormal activity in the Queen City’s long-forgotten subway system – but we imagine being in an abandoned underground spot is still pretty spooky.

Michigan is one of America’s most haunted states partly because it has one of the highest densities of haunted locations. Michigan is known to have some of the best haunted houses in the nation during the Halloween season, including places like Niles Scream Park. Another spooky spot in Michigan is the state’s First State Prison in Jackson. The prison closed in 1934 but housed some of Michigan’s worst criminals and was known for prisoner neglect, abuse, and torture. The penitentiary has since been renovated into a residence and studio for local artisans, but many have reported ghost sightings and apparitions over the years.

Washington, D.C., scores high in its creep factor due to having the highest density of unsolved murders in America. D.C. also has a high number of haunted and creepy cemeteries. One of them is Mount Olivet Cemetery, the resting place of Mary Surratt, who was convicted of being a co-conspirator in the assassination of President Lincoln. It may not be the most haunted location in D.C., but Mount Olivet has many ornate memorials, tombstones, and sculptures that look beautiful during the day but can give you spooks in the twilight hours. The historic site and graveyard is one of the largest Catholic burial grounds in Washington, D.C., and likely home to many haunted souls and apparitions.

New Orleans is a beautiful city known for its vibrant culture, but it has its fair share of haunted hotels and paranormal activity. Some of Louisiana’s most haunted locations are in NOLA, including the Hotel St. Pierre. This French Quarter hotel is said to be haunted by the tormented souls of a Confederate war veteran, among others. Another haunted hotel in New Orleans is Le Pavillion, where guests are warned to avoid room 301. Legend has it that the apparition of a young girl who was killed outside the hotel haunts room 301, along with other spectral entities.

Terrified that you live in one of the most haunted states in the U.S.? Use the moving cost tool to find the best way to pack your bags and head for a ghost-free state!

Sources and methodology

To find the spookiest states in the USA, we assigned each state with a relative score of 0-10 according to factors in three categories:

🕸️😱⚰️ Spook Score

🏚️💀🕯️ Creep Score

  • The number of unsolved homicides per capita, as compiled by Project Cold Case.
  • The number of notable abandoned buildings, as curated by Atlas Obscura.

👻👹🧛 Boo Score

  • The number of notable ghost towns (defined as a village, town, or city which has lost or experienced a steep decline in its residents but still features remnants of its buildings), as compiled on Wikipedia.
  • The number of ghost sightings per capita as reported to GhostsOfAmerica.com, a crowd-sourced supernatural sighting forum.

All state population data is based on the most recent estimations from the census.

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