Urban legends are stories we all love to hear—and love to be scared by. Everyone can relate to these spooky tales that send chills up your spine. They start early, too—as a teenager, you probably heard about that one desolate dirt road in your hometown that locals were convinced was plagued by witches or Satanists. Or there was that dilapidated house high on the hill that was rumored to be haunted.
Every person knows of at least one terrifying urban legend that they tell around the campfire late at night. In honor of this Halloween season, here are 16 of the scariest urban legends that are guaranteed to spook and thrill. Worst of all, some of these frightening tales may be true stories! Tell them to your friends on a dark night and see how long it takes for them to shiver in fear.
Creepiest Urban Legends
There’s an eerie town in Connecticut that locals refer to as a “dark vortex.” Rumor has it that if any visitor steals an artifact from the area, they will have a horrible curse put on them. Moreover, visitors have reported seeing orbs of light, wolfish black shadows, and hearing disembodied voices. The topper is a mysterious group that calls themselves the Dark Forest Association that regularly patrols the grounds.
2. Arizona’s Skinwalkers
Driving through a desolate desert at night is creepy enough. However, throw a shapeshifting, half-human monster into the mix and you’re bound to be scared silly. Arizona’s Skinwalker urban legend has become so entrenched in the state’s culture that, back in 1987, when a Navajo woman was found brutally murdered in Flagstaff, the defense team said that the gruesome attack could have only been committed by a Skinwalker.
3. Seven Gates of Hell
Though the state of Pennsylvania may be scenic, it can also be super spooky. The Seven Gates of Hell is a modern tale that centers around a burnt-down asylum in a heavily wooded area of York County. People claim that anyone who passes through all seven gates is sent straight to hell.
4. The Watcher
A New Jersey urban legend that crept its way to viral fame in 2015, the Watcher is the tale of a young family moving into their dream home in Westfield. Shortly after they had settled in, they began receiving anonymous letters signed by “The Watcher.” The writer claimed that it was his duty to “watch over” the house and filled the letters with chilling lines such as “Do you need to fill the house with the young blood I requested?” Even worse, the inhabitants of the house are still receiving creepy letters to this day.
5. Bloody Mary
One of the most famous urban legends is the myth of Bloody Mary. Go into a room, turn the lights out, and look into the mirror while saying her name three times. Your girl Mary will then appear!
In the earliest versions of this tale, the story goes that an unwed woman would see the face of the man she’d marry in the glass. However, if she were destined to die alone, she’d see a skull.
The story eventually evolved into something more sinister where participants would see the bloody face of the evil spirit. Do you dare summon her?
6. The 13th Child (Jersey Devil)
Way back in 1735, a woman who lived in the expansive woods of New Jersey’s secluded Pine Barrens cursed the birth of her thirteenth child. Born a freak of nature, the bat-winged and cloven-hooved creature has been terrorizing the area ever since. Sightings became so widespread that it’s rumored that the Philadelphia Zoo posted a $10,000 reward for the capture of the beast. For more info on the Jersey Devil, check out 8 of Our Favorite Monsters from Urban Legends.
This legendary monster is said to roam the deserts of New Mexico and resembles a bear-sized dog with spikes along its back and glowing eyes. It can fly and sucks the blood of cattle and other livestock. In fact, the name “chupacabra” literally translates to “goat-sucker.”
8. The Licked Hand
If you’re a pet lover, skip on to the next tale, please! This brutal urban legend depicts a scared, young girl who is spending the night home alone for the very first time. While trying to sleep, she hears an ominous dripping noise coming from her bathroom. Too spooked to investigate, she curls up under the covers, reaching down to find reassurance in her faithful dog who licks her hand from the floor. The next morning, she decides to investigate the strange sound only to find her beloved pet slaughtered and a terrifying message written in blood across the bathroom wall: “humans can lick hands too.”
9. Bunny Man
Despite the adorable name, Bunny Man is anything but. A dude from Virginia, Bunny Man, dresses up as a rabbit and kills people with an ax. There’s also an entire bridge named after the axe murderer (Bunny Man Bridge). Around Halloween time, this guy is said to go around skinning innocent rabbits and hanging the bodies on Bunny Man bridge. Feel free to see for yourself this October.
Vintage video gamers have been talking about this strange arcade game since the early 1980s. Called Polybius, this game supposedly has strange, and sometimes lethal, effects on its players. It can prompt feelings of amnesia, disorientation, and even suicide. Moreover, men would occasionally visit arcades to gather data from the game before vanishing. Was this game some type of awful CIA experiment? Sadly, since arcades are a thing of the past, we’ll never know.
11. The Hook
This creepy urban legend tells the story of a serial killer with a hook for a hand. This slasher would attack couples in parked cars in remote areas. One time, a couple heard a scraping sound on their car door and drove off in fear. When they were a safe distance away, they got out to inspect the car and found the serial killer’s hook lodged in the door.
12. The Spider Bite
If you hate spiders, KEEP SCROLLING. This one will surely keep you up at night. As the story goes, a woman traveling in some foreign land returns home with a big pimple on her face. Despite her many attempts to alleviate the zit, it turns into a huge boil. One night, the boil pops and hundreds of baby spiders emerge from the woman’s flesh.
13. Screaming Jenny
Jenny, a poor woman with no family, lived along the B&O Railroad in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. One day, she was warming up broth over a campfire. A spark flew from the fire and caught her dress. As Jenny screamed for help, the fire grew bigger, engulfing her in flames. In a last chance attempt, she fell onto the train tracks trying to get the attention of an approaching train. But it was too late, and the train hit Jenny.
Today, people claim that on the anniversary of her death, Jenny’s burning ghost can be seen on the very same West Virginia tracks. Some say you can still hear her screams late at night.
14. Mercy Brown and the New England Vampire Panic
In 1800s Rhode Island, people believed that tuberculosis was caused by the dead consuming their surviving family members. There was only one way to deal with this sort of vampire activity. They would dig up the remains of the dead and burn the bodies. The most famous instance would be that of Mercy Brown.
Mercy’s whole family got tuberculosis and it was assumed that she caused it to happen, so her grave was dug up. According to onlyinmystate.com, “there were little signs of decomposition and the body had appeared to have changed positions. Though there are several scientific explanations for these occurrences, there is still a popular opinion that she was indeed a vampire.” Mercy Brown’s gravesite remains one of the spookiest places in Rhode Island.
15. Petrified Forest
The Escalante Petrified Forest in Utah is one of the most beautiful state parks in the US. But like many beautiful places, it also has a truly sinister urban myth. People believe if you leave the Escalante Petrified Forest with a piece of petrified wood, you’ll be cursed with bad luck for the rest of your life. While there’s no proof that the legend is true, we advise leaving the petrified wood behind if you visit the park. Just sayin’.
16. Miniwashitu (Missouri River Monster)
Miniwashitu (or the Missouri River Monster) is one of many North Dakota urban legends. In the spring, the creature swims up river, breaking up the leftover ice from the previous winter. Sounds harmless, right? Wrong. The story goes that if you see North Dakota’s most legendary monster in broad daylight, you go insane.
While some of these conspiracy theories, urban legends, and paranormal beliefs are completely made up, others are true stories based on fact. However, all of them will keep you up at night! Want more info on the creepiest urban legends, ghost stories, and conspiracy theories? Check out Spirit Halloween’s blog and our social media outlets for the best urban myths and evil spirit ghost stories. If you’re into urban legends and paranormal beliefs, we’ve got the content you need.