Halloween is coming! Read on for the best Halloween Haunts, Supernatural Ghost Stories, Wild West and Weird Wonders Across the Deserts and Mountains of San Bernardino County, California.

Weird and wild stories can be found throughout Joshua Tree, the Mojave Desert, Calico Ghost Town and the vast badlands between the California and Nevada borders.

PC: Sienna Spencer

Let’s start with some scary Death Valley spots: Hell’s Gate, Devil’s Hole, Furnace Creek, Dante’s View and Old Woman Mountain. Boo!

Abandoned Desert Legends

PC: Sienna Spencer

Zzyzx

Right off Highway 15 in the Mojave Desert between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, you may have seen a strange exit sign for a place called “Zzyzx.”  Well, Zzyzx is more than just a sign and it’s definitely worth a stop. Now a Desert Studies Center for local students, it used to be known as the “Zzyzx Mineral Springs and Health Resort.” This bizarre desert retreat was founded in 1944 by Curtis Howe Springer. Springer was an American radio evangelist, self-proclaimed medical doctor and Methodist minister, not certified or trained in any of these practices.  He named the settlement Zzyzx as a marketing gimmick to ensure that it would be “the last word” in health.  

Springer recruited Los Angeles workers to build the resort and offered room & board in exchange for labor. Along with this, came his requests that listeners send him “donations” to get his special cures for everything from hair loss to cancer. The potions were actually little more than a juice blend.

PC: Sienna Spencer

In 1969, the American Medical Association labeled him the “King of Quacks” and in the early 1970s, the federal government discovered that Springer held no legal rights to the land where Zzyzx stood; consequently, he was evicted and briefly imprisoned.  Legend has it that “Dr” Springer held some of his “guests” hostages and refused to allow them to leave the Zzyzx.

Visitors can stop by this strange abandoned desert town anytime for a photo-worthy tour.


PC: DJ Emma Peel

Roy’s Cafe and Motel

Roy’s Cafe and Motel is located on Route 66 in Amboy.  Just down from Amboy Crater which is one of Southern California’s most amazing natural wonders. Amboy Crater is a 7 million-year-old volcano, surrounded by black lava rock for miles.

Roy’s is a sightseeing destination that has been replicated in movies, TV shows and the site of an infinite number of fashion shoots. The Cafe is a tiny drugstore diner with a small counter selling souvenirs. Next door to the working cafe, is an abandoned motel that is reminiscent of the movie, Psycho.  It has original furniture and decor in a state of disrepair wrecked which visitors see up close.  

Ghost Towns and the Wild West


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Calico Ghost Town

Calico Ghost Town is a tourism draw for families and offers a similar experience to Ghost Town at Knott’s Berry Farm.  In fact, Walter Knott purchased this town in the 1950’s.  It was the largest silver mining town in California from 1881 to 1896 and abandoned in the late 1800s. With its 500 mines, Calico once produced over $20 million in silver ore.

Now part of the San Bernardino County Regional Parks system, Calico Ghost Town is a registered national historic landmark. Calico received State Historical Landmark 782 and in 2005 was proclaimed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to be California’s Silver Rush Ghost Town.

Living up to its name, there are three main haunted sites within Calico. Visitors to Calico have reported seeing the ghost of Lucy Lane, the one-time owner of the Calico General Store, in a black lace dress both in and outside of her former store. Former teachers and students have been spotted at the old school house and the ghost of the former Marshall of Calico has been seen wandering around Main Street.

Calico offers fun activities like Ghost tours, Panning for Gold, Lucy Lane Museum, Calico Railroad, the mystery shack with optical illusions and more. Along with its history and attractions, Calico Ghost Town has shops, restaurants and offers camping and outdoor recreation; plus the popular Ghost Haunt Event during the last two weekends of October.  


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Bagdad 

Bagdad is a ghost town in the Mojave desert, off Route 66. The town was founded in 1883 when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway railway line between Barstow and Needles were built. The town has been razed and little trace remains of the former boom town. Check out the Bagdad Cafe in Newberry Springs, where international tourists flock to see the set location of a famous 1980s movie of the same name.


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Daggett Pioneer Cemetery

Located in the ghost town of Daggett the cemetery is believed to be one of the oldest cemeteries in the area with nearly 300 gravesites dating back to the 1880s when Daggett was a booming settlement. Dedicated to the early pioneers and miners of the region, some graves have bed-frame like structures around the burial plots. This old cemetery is evocative of life and death in the old west.


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PC: Sienna Spencer

Pioneertown

Pioneertown is an old Wild West set for Hollywood movies located near Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley. In 1946, Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors, including actors Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. They dreamed of creating an Old West set that was actually a town worth visiting, with 1880s-style false-front facades but interiors that had stuff for visitors to see and do too. More than 50 films and television shows were filmed here in the 1940s and ‘50s. You can still see mock gunfights on Mane Street but the most happening is Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, with fantastic live music seven nights a week.

Weird Wonders


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Near Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley, there are plenty of sights to see along the desert. We recommend stops at Desert Christ Park, Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum and the Institute of Mentalphysics aka Joshua Tree Retreat Center.  All are open to the public, free and offer fantastic photo ops.

PC: Sienna Spencer

PC: Sienna Spencer

Integratron

Just outside Joshua Tree in Landers, CA lies the structural wonder known as The Integratron.  Its creator, George Van Tassel began building this one-of-a-kind 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all wood dome in 1959 after telepathically communicating with extraterrestrials – as the story goes.  Tassel designed it to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel. The location of the Integratron is an essential part of its functioning. It was built on an intersection of powerful geomagnetic forces that, when focused by the unique geometry of the building, concentrate and amplify the earth’s magnetic field.

Scientists, musicians, sound therapists, meditation/yoga folks, spiritual seekers and tourists love to visit The Integratron for the unique sound bath sessions that the owners provide.

PC: Sienna Spencer

PC: Sienna Spencer

Haunted Mountain Manor

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Bracken Fern Manor

Located in Lake Arrowhead, just minutes from the village, Bracken Fern Manor is a large property built in the late 1920s. Legend has it that the house was run by the notorious Chicago mob boss Bugsy Siegel as a gambling destination for the Hollywood elite. There are many reports of hauntings on the property (also including the connected Tudor House across the street.) The manor is allegedly haunted by a woman named Violet who killed herself there in the 1930s and a six-year-old boy named Brian who was killed by a car in front of the inn. There are creepy basements and secret tunnels that run from the Tudor House to the manor, used during prohibition.

The hotel has been featured on Ghost Adventures on the Travel Channel and ghost tours have been hosted on the property. The Tudor House hosts Halloween events every October.

Death Valley Ghost Stories


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Death Valley 

Death Valley received its English name by gold prospectors after 13 pioneers perished from one early expedition of wagon trains. Death Valley is one of the lowest, most arid and hottest places on earth and boasts an inordinately high number of ghost towns. The town of Death Valley Junction has a well-known haunted reputation where fans of the paranormal flock to the town to encounter the spirits of prospectors, miners and their mistresses. (The fall, winter and event spring are a great time to visit Death Valley as cooler temperatures prevail and make outdoor exploring more comfortable.)

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While in Death Valley Junction, visitors love to stay at the Amargosa Opera House and Hotel which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Opera House and Hotel were built between 1923-1925 by the Pacific Coast Borax Company after borax was discovered in the area and the town was built. In 1967 famed dancer, actress and artist, Marta Becket, restored the opera house and hotel which still welcomes guests.

The property has been featured on tv shows Ghost Adventures and the Dead Files. Legend has it that a few ghosts still reside on the property. A few particular rooms have had reports of paranormal activity: there have been reports of a child crying in room 24, even when there are no children staying on the property, rumored to be a child who drowned in the bathtub in the room in 1967. An old malevolent mining boss who was hanged in room 32 is said to still be there.  Room 9 seems to have the most spooky activity with people waking at night with the feeling of being held down, a doorknob jiggling and sounds of children giggling. The theater is said to be haunted by a cat that would interrupt Marta’s performances and her former partner that would watch her dance in the theater.

An un-renovated section of the hotel is known as “spooky hollow” – it used to be a dormitory for miners, a hospital, and a morgue. Other activities include strange noises coming from the walls, shadows dancing across the stage, and disembodied footsteps in empty rooms and hallways.

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