Take A Drive On This Scary US Route And Experience One Of The Most Haunted Road Trips In America

The United States may be a relatively new nation, but it has taken less than 250 years to catch up with the Old World in terms of ghosts, unexplained mysteries, and terrifying legends and lore. In fact, in 2018, it beat the U.K., Ireland, Japan, and Germany to become the spookiest country in the world, based on factors such as haunted historic sites, ghostly phenomena, and UFO sightings, according to a "paranormal activity index." Many states in the union have plenty to offer the avid ghost hunter, and one of its most haunted, West Virginia, has the perfect road trip for lovers of things that go bump in the night.

Ghost tours have become increasingly popular in the U.S. over the past 30 years, spurred on by the popularity of reality shows like "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Asylum." Our favorite chilling tales and campfire yarns often become the subject of scary Hollywood movies such as "The Mothman Prophecies" and "Winchester," and haunted tourism now generates around $300 million annually. 

Nowadays, lots of haunted sites and historic buildings offer ghost tours alongside regular visits, and there are many abandoned places on the map associated with local legends and unexplained phenomena. This 700-mile road trip looping through West Virginia is a great way for ghost hunters to check out the Mountain State's scariest spots while also taking in the splendid scenery. Be warned: Some locations are not for the faint of heart!

From sinister tunnels to haunted hotels

Starting in Wheeling, West Virginia, the first stop is the Hempfield Railroad Tunnel, known to locals as Tunnel Green. The urban legend goes that green slime oozes from the walls of the tunnel, which is haunted by the ghost of a man brutally murdered in 1867. Next up is an 11-mile drive south along the Ohio River to Moundsville, where the looming Gothic towers of West Virginia Penitentiary now welcome visitors after it closed in 1995. With nearly 100 prisoners who died within its walls, the shuttered penitentiary has a reputation as one of the country's most haunted sites; the tours play up the paranormal angle, and the brave can even book an overnight stay!

After spending time in stir, you'll enjoy a pleasant scenic drive to Parkersburg, where you can check into the historic Blennerhassett Hotel & Spa. The impressive old building is said to be home to 13 ghosts, from an old sea captain to a classic Lady in White and a blood-curdling scream at night. The hotel embraces its association with the supernatural and offers monthly paranormal investigations including accommodation. The tour's first leg ends with Dingness Tunnel in Mingo County, another underpass with a very dark past. It earned its sinister nickname "Bloody Mingo" from the old days when locals would ambush and sometimes shoot emigrants passing through it. The tunnel's ghastly history has naturally led to rumors that it is haunted by the spirits of those who died there.

An abandoned amusement park and things that go Moo in the night

The second leg of West Virginia's haunted road trip begins with one of the most eerie locations on the tour: the abandoned amusement park at Lake Shawnee. It closed its doors in the '80s, but the rides remain, overgrown and forlorn. The site's backstory sounds like something from a horror movie, with murders, fatal accidents, and evidence to suggest it was once a burial ground for the Shawnee people. 

The next stop, the fine old historic General Lewis Inn in Lewisburg, looks far more welcoming but is said to have at least three permanent ghostly residents, including another Lady in White. From those cozy surroundings, it is a northward drive to another far less inviting place, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Originally built to house 250 patients, conditions became grossly overcrowded, and hundreds of people died inside before it closed in 1994. With a reputation as one of America's most haunted buildings, it is now open to curious visitors and offers overnight ghost hunts. 

From the crumbling wards of an old psychiatric hospital to a leafy campus, the last stop on the route takes us to West Virginia University. The school is home to a very unusual ghost. Legend says that the clock tower of Woodburn Hall is still haunted by the mooing of an unfortunate cow that was slaughtered by students after a practical joke went badly wrong. Pleasant dreams, everyone!