Autumn has arrived in Arizona, along with all the hallmarks of fall: cooler temps, changing leaves (at least, in northern Arizona), and Halloween décor everywhere you look. If you’re trying to get in the spooky spirit, here are five places to go (or tours to take) that showcase Arizona’s most haunted scenes. From the site of one of America’s most infamous cowboy battles to the “Wickedest Town in the West,” these haunted experiences help tell the stories of some of our spirits—that may still be around.
The hilltop town of Jerome, located about 100 miles north of Phoenix, might just be the most haunted place in the whole state. In the late 1880s, Jerome was a booming copper mining town, home to about 15,000 people at its peak in the 1920s, according to the Jerome Chamber of Commerce. At one time, the town had the slogan of “The Wickedest Town in the West” due to all the debauchery that often came with mining towns. When the mines closed in 1953, much of the population left. At its lowest, the population got down to about 50 people, leading Jerome to become a ghost town—figuratively and literally.
If you want to take in some of its haunted history, you might as well start at the Jerome Grand Hotel. At one time, this served as the town’s hospital before being restored as a hotel. Perhaps the most notable ghost story is about maintenance man Claude Harvey, who was crushed by an elevator in 1935, according to a story from AZCentral. Another haunted spot? The aptly named Haunted Hamburger. According to the restaurant’s website, when owners Michelle and Eric Jurisin were restoring the place, hammers would mysteriously disappear. A door also slammed shut in Eric’s face without any explanation. If you’d like to do a deeper dive into this town’s haunted history, you can take ghost tours with Tours of Jerome or Jerome Ghost Tours.
Located just 30 miles north of the Mexican border, Tombstone is notorious for being the site of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which put this city on the map. It’s rumored that the cowboys who died in the fight still linger in this small southern Arizona city. If you’re searching for a haunted site, you might as well start with Boothill Graveyard, named such because many who reside there were buried in their boots. The literal tombstones will tell visitors just how each person died, including inscriptions like, “Tom and Frank McLaury and Billy Clanton killed in the O.K. Corral gunfight.”
If you’re interested in learning more about this historic gunfight, be sure to check out the Tombstone Epitaph Museum. You can read about the battle as it was written about in 1881 for free. The Bird Cage Theater is another famed and potentially haunted spot. This was a brothel at one time and even hosted what it claims was the world’s longest poker game, according to the theater’s website. You can still see bullet holes in the walls from the town’s rough-and-tumble days. The theater also offers its own ghost tours, in which you can learn more about the paranormal activity reported in each room.
850 S. Ash Ave., Tempe
One of Tempe’s most popular haunts may actually be haunted. This cozy Irish pub in downtown Tempe has seen a handful of reports of paranormal activity. The original owners of the historic home—William and Mary Moeur—have reportedly been seen dancing in the windows after hours. Rumor has it that the oyster house was once a boarding house and maybe even a brothel. A woman who was strangled by her boyfriend long ago may still linger in the bar. Her spirit’s presence can be felt via pictures flying off the walls and sightings of her, according to AZCentral.
The Spirit of Arizona offers three different haunted tours of the city. One tour is a pub crawl, if you’d like to check out even more haunted bars in town.
Located just above the border near Naco, Bisbee beckons with a vibrant arts scene and a bevy of haunted places, the most noteworthy one being the Copper Queen Hotel. This historic hotel is allegedly home to three ghosts, the most famous one being Julia Lowell, who even has a room named after her. Lowell was a prostitute who fell in love with one of her clients. When she confessed her feelings for him and he rejected her, she took her own life. According to Haunted Rooms America, guests have claimed to hear a woman’s voice in their ear or see her dancing at the top of the stairs. If you’d like to do a deeper dive into this towns’ spooky history, you can take a tour with Old Bisbee Ghost Tours. On the first and third Saturday of every month, you can even take a haunted pub crawl.
Distance from Phoenix: 232 miles or just less than a four-hour drive from Phoenix
The Gadsden Hotel, located in the border town of Douglas, has seen plenty of time go by, as it was first opened in November 1907. A fire largely destroyed the original hotel back in 1928. Guests have reported encounters with the paranormal ever since. According to Reuters, guests have reported televisions turning on and off in Room 333 in addition to knocks from the radiator. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, the lobby is a historic site to behold. The staircase is crafted out of white Italian marble, outfitted with pink marble columns and stained-glass skylights.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated to correct Jerome’s distance from Phoenix.
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