Empty Bisbee street
Bisbee, Arizona

Haunted Arizona

Head to the state's storied towns for autumn nights filled with eerie tales and ghostly apparitions.

Wait...did you hear something? That creak? That rattle? That ghastly groan?!

In Arizona, you'll find plenty of creepy noises—not to mention hauntings and paranormal activities—guaranteed to give you goosebumps.

Travel the state north to south to uncover everything from haunted hotels to ghost walks and ghost towns—then see if you can still sleep with the lights off.

Frights in Flagstaff

Take a spooky, self-guided haunted tour down alleys and past old buildings in historic downtown Flagstaff. You might catch a glimpse of the shadowy spirit said to haunt the balcony of the Orpheum Theater. Or spend the night at Hotel Monte Vista, which boasts a number of strange happenings courtesy of its resident ghosts.

Monte Vista's cocktail lounge is a popular Halloween haunt with locals. Have a few cocktails and you, too, might see the vaporous couple who dance eternally in the lounge.

Be brave and try a special evening tour of the beautiful Riordan Mansion, a sprawling 1904 arts and crafts estate in Flagstaff that's now an Arizona State Park. The popular tours, held annually in late October, include ghost stories aplenty.

Feel jumpy in Jerome

Today, Jerome is known more for its liquid spirits, in particular, its award-winning wine; however, it remains one of Arizona's most famous ghost towns, and hauntings come with the territory.

During the annual October Jerome Ghost Walk, for one weekend only you can wander the narrow passageways and steep streets to find costumed performers reenacting the shootings, mysteries and love triangles that marked this former mining town.

Can't make it? Book a night at the Jerome Grand Hotel, which opened in 1927 as the town's hospital.

Guests of the 25-room hotel have reported strange occurrences and occasional sightings, including those of a bearded miner and a specter since dubbed "Claude" who met his demise in the elevator shaft.

Want dinner and drinks with more of the Jerome ghost town flavor? Enjoy a meal at the Haunted Hamburger, followed by a nightcap and live music at the Spirit Room, a favorite watering hole where all the spirits are friendly.

Prescott's phantoms

Ghosts talk, and you walk, in Prescott, as you learn about this charming, pine-scented town's ghoulish past.

In late October, a crypt keeper welcomes you to the annual Ghost Talk at the Prescott Center for the Arts, during which costumed spirits tell their tales as you walk the grounds. The arts center's building—a 19th-century gothic former church—provides an ominous background.

During A Haunting Experience, a weekend walking tour of historic downtown Prescott, explore the town's less holy side at such places as haunted saloons and hotels. One such scene is that of the elegant, Trost & Trost-designed Hassayampa Inn where a young bride—abandoned by her husband on their honeymoon—hanged herself in the hotel's bell tower.

Things that go "bump" in Bisbee

Halloween is one roving street party in eccentric, artsy Bisbee. You could just throw on a costume and fit right into this southern Arizona town, once a copper mining center.

If you want something a tad more organized, join one of Old Bisbee Ghost Tour's numerous offerings, including a walking tour of haunted spots, a ghost hunt and a haunted pub crawl, during which "spirits" are guaranteed.

After all the walking, spend the night at a Bisbee haunted hotel, such as the circa-1902 Copper Queen Hotel. Guests and ghost hunters often try to prowl the upper floors in search of the hotel's resident spirits—a tall caped gentleman, an ethereal dancing woman and a young giggling boy.

Southern Arizona spooks

Want more southern Arizona ghosts? Have a drink to calm your nerves at the tavern of The Gadsden Hotel in Douglas. The hotel, built in 1907, features a magnificent lobby and Italian marble staircase, not to mention a few live-in ghosts, including the members of a love triangle.

In downtown Tucson, Hotel Congress was built in 1919 and is best known for the capture of the notorious Dillinger gang. Although the gangster John Dillinger isn't one of them, ghosts do seem to roam the hotel, including a woman who smells of roses and a gentleman who peers out the windows of the second floor.

Perhaps ghosts are to be expected here—the hotel offers plenty of reasons to linger, from live music at Club Congress to drinks in The Tap Room to a meal at Cup Café.

One final note of caution before you head out in search of Arizona's ghosts: Many events and activities are not suitable for young children or have age restrictions. Be sure to call ahead for details.

About the Author

Nora Burba Trulsson

Nora Burba Trulsson is a long-time Arizona resident and a freelance writer specializing in travel, food, lifestyle, architecture and design topics. Her articles have appeared in Sunset, Arizona Highways, Vegas Seven, Houzz.com, Valley Guide, Scottsdale Magazine, United Airlines Hemispheres, Westjet's Up!, Renovation Style, Beautiful Homes and other publications and websites. She can be reached through noraburbatrulsson.com.