EXPLORE THE AREA’S HAUNTED HISTORY.
By Natasha Bourlin
Historic destinations are often surrounded by lore of former residents “remaining” in spirit form. Whether you’re a believer in the supernatural or simply curious about the region’s historically significant creepier locales, we’ve done some investigating to help send you on some chilling experiences.
While you can take part in the tours or casually stroll into most places year-round, some by reservation only, Halloween certainly offers a bounty of hair-raising fun.
Hunting for hauntings
“In my career, I’ve done over 1,000 investigations, at least one in every state,” says Patrick McQueary, lead investigator for Reno-based paranormal investigation group The Haunted Side. “[In my experience] Northern Nevada is by far the most active region of the country.” thehauntedside.com
McQueary’s on-camera investigations have caught the attention of major networks and streaming online services who are now vying for the rights to air their eerie experiences. But visitors and residents can explore many on their own.
Virginia City is at the top of his spine-chilling list. “Nearly every building there is ridiculously haunted,” McQueary claims.
While you can contact The Haunted Side team on their website for private or group experiences, they say visiting the Mackay Mansion and Gold Hill Hotel are must-sees for some potentially unearthly encounters. therealmackaymansion.com; goldhillhotel.net
Another recommendation is to contact the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters. The group hosts at least one monthly tour of the Gold Hill Hotel outside Virginia City in an area dubbed Slippery Gulch, accompanied by a gourmet dinner. nngh.net
Curious visitors will explore the most haunted rooms in the historic hotel, imbibe at the 150-year-old bar once frequented by Mark Twain, dine on several delectable courses, hear tales of the region’s and hotel’s hauntings, and leave thoroughly spooked. They also host other experiences throughout the year.
Speaking of Virginia City, Bats in the Belfry also offers hour-long, weather-dependent walking tours of Virginia City’s most purportedly active haunts, along with special events around Halloween. Take in shared history and legends while attempting to make contact with spirits at places such as the Washoe Club and Silver Queen. virginiacityghosttours.com; thewashoeclubmuseum.com; silverqueenhotel.net
Nevada’s capital has a creepy side. Take a Carson City Ghost Walk with a professional actor playing the part of fictional character Madame Curry, named after the widow of the city’s founder, Abe Curry. Haunted histories beginning in the 1850s are shared during the family friendly tour of some legendary properties. carsoncityghostwalk.com
Not far from Carson City is the Genoa Bar and Saloon, residing in a structure built in 1853. While a favorite haunt for renowned musicians ranging from Johnny Cash to Willie Nelson over the years, others who have long-passed continue to frequent the bar to this day. genoabarandsaloon.com
Lindsey McInnerny, one of the owners of this family run bar, speaks of several regular spirits seen or felt there over the years.
For instance, there’s a ghost named Red that’s been identified by many paranormal groups investigating the property. He likes it there, fancying himself the caretaker and often hanging around the jukebox.
Nearly every building there is ridiculously haunted
An old green lantern belonging to the original owner turns on randomly and sometimes won’t come on at all when the tangible humans try. A spooky ice storage cellar still exists in its original shape down below. Though boarded up now, bartenders over the centuries used to chip their ice from blocks, and sometimes store bodies of those that passed during the winter but couldn’t be buried until the ground thawed.
Head over for a cocktail, take pics and watch for floating orbs, hear the bartenders’ or owners’ stories, and chat with Red. No one will look at you too strangely here.
If you’re seeking out spooky, there’s no shortage of places to explore, no matter the time of year.