Chills and thrills: 9 haunted places around Arizona

The spirits of dead inmates are said to haunt the Territorial Prison in Yuma.
The spirits of dead inmates are said to haunt the Territorial Prison in Yuma.(AZ Highways TV)
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 9:31 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona is known for its scenic deserts, majestic mountains, and stunning canyons. But did you know that the Grand Canyon State also is also known for having its fair share of haunted places? That’s right, we said haunted. From ghost towns to gold mines to graveyards and beyond, Arizona is chock full of landmarks sure to scare up some thrills and chills. Check out some of these popular haunts around our state.

1. Hotel San Carlos - Phoenix

This downtown-based hotel in Phoenix has seen many famous guests. They include Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard. But the hotel is now known to have a few ghosts rumored to haunt visitors. According to legend, a woman by the name of Leone Jensen jumped to her death from the hotel roof back in the 1920s. Some say it was due to a broken heart but other stories say she had an illness. Some people even say she was pushed.

Another ghost often mentioned by hotel employees is that of a little girl, who is rumored to visit hotel rooms at night and sit crying. Some believe she was one of the area children affected either by the school’s closing or the flu epidemic. On Dec. 9, 2004, yet another death happened at this hotel, when an unidentified man jumped to his death from the hotel’s roof.

Location: 202 N. Central Ave., Phoenix

2. Superstition Mountains - near Apache Junction

Located outside of Apache Junction, the Superstition Mountains are a popular hiking destination for many folks in the Valley. But the mountains also have their share of horror stories. According to tales from visitors, the mountains are said to be where the “Lost Dutchman’s Mine” is located. Visitors say that while they are in the mountains, they have seen a mysterious light in the distance.

Location: Near Apache Junction

3. Hotel Congress - Tucson

Located in downtown Tucson, the hotel was a favorite place for gamblers and gangsters during the 1920s. The hotel is also known for being haunted. If you go there, we’re told rooms 219 and 220 are the ones with tales to tell. According to Haunted Rooms, there have been numerous reports of paranormal activity in the hotel over the years.

One of the ghost stories involves a spirit by the name of Vince, who died in the hotel from a heart attack. Past visitors say he is often seen in the bar area. “Our ghosts aren’t scary, necessarily, but they are tricksters,” we’re told by hotel staffers.

Location: 311 Congress Street, Tucson

4. Copper Queen Hotel, Restaurant and Saloon - Bisbee

This Bisbee-based hotel is one of the most popular haunted places in Arizona. The hotel has appeared in many paranormal television shows. The hotel reportedly is host to different ghosts. According to Haunted Rooms, one of the spirits is an older man who is seen wearing a top hat and cape. Visitors say they usually smell cigar smoke around the ghost. Past hotel guests have also said they heard a little boy giggling and footsteps running in the halls by their rooms.

Location: 11 Howell Ave., Bisbee

There are also walking tours of Bisbee, focusing on the history and ghosts of the town. If you’re not too creeped out, you can tour the town and visit a cemetery in a hearse. There’s even a haunted pub crawl!

5. Vulture Mine - near Wickenburg

The Vulture Mine provided a reason for the founding of the town of Wickenburg and its existence led to the development of central Arizona’s agricultural communities, including Phoenix. There are also several areas of the old mine that are reportedly haunted. Past visitors report that they could smell food being cooked and hear the sounds of pots and pans clanking in the background.

Location: Near Wickenburg

6. Territorial Prison - Yuma

The spirits of dead inmates are said to haunt the Territorial Prison in Yuma. There were 111 deaths at the Territorial Prison, and 104 of those are buried in the prison cemetery. The main cause of the majority of deaths was consumption, better known as tuberculosis. Eight inmates were shot while trying to escape. Two were killed by falling rocks. Some drowned in the river. A couple was murdered by their cellmates.

Two areas are supposedly haunted at the Territorial Prison. One is the main cell block area where cell No. 14 is located. Supposedly the ghost of John Ryan haunts this cell. He was in prison for a crime against nature and disliked by the guards and convicts. Not being able to handle this, Ryan allegedly hung himself in this cell. The other area that is haunted is the dark cell, where a little girl lived in the 1930s during the Great Depression. According to lore, her spirit never left.

Location: 220 Prison Hill Road, Yuma

7. Boothill Graveyard - Tombstone

The Boot Hill historical cemetery served as the burial ground for all of Tombstone's earliest...
The Boot Hill historical cemetery served as the burial ground for all of Tombstone's earliest pioneers.(Tombstone Chamber of Commerce)

The Boot Hill historical cemetery served as the burial ground for all of Tombstone’s earliest pioneers. The name Boot Hill comes from the fact that many of these graves were filled with people who died suddenly or violently with their boots on. “Victims of violent deaths and seedy lifestyles are buried here,” the caretaker tells us. Some 250 people were buried in Boothill before it officially closed its doors in 1884. There are more than 250 graves in the graveyard.

408 AZ-80, Tombstone, AZ 85638

Phone: 520-457-2540

More information is available online.

8. Wigwam Village Motel - Holbrook

The Wigwam Village Motel in Holbrook still provides Route 66 aficionados the opportunity to “Sleep in a Wigwam!” Actually, the rooms are more like teepees, but it’s still quite an experience. Arizona motel owner Chester E. Lewis built this Wigwam Village in 1950. It’s a place steeped in history and quite a bit of superstition. “There are 15 wigwams but they’re numbered 16 because No. 13 is a superstitious number,” says Elinor Lewis of the Wigwam Village Motel.

811 W Hopi Dr, Holbrook, AZ 86025

Phone: 928-524-3048

9. The Jerome Grand Hotel

The Jerome Grand Hotel is a historic hotel that used to be a hospital. The building was originally constructed in 1926 under the name United Verde Hospital. It was closed in 1950 as the mining operations began shutting down and medical services were available in the neighboring community of Cottonwood. Many alleged hauntings have occurred here and it has become a popular destination for amateur ghost hunters.

Guests that have stayed at the hotel reported hearing coughing, labored breathing, and even voices coming from empty rooms. Guests also reported smells coming from rooms, such as flowers, dust, cigar smoke, and whiskey. Others report lights going on and off and the television sets turning themselves on with no explanation.

More information is available online.

P. O. Box H, 200 Hill Street, Jerome, Arizona 86331

Phone: 1-888-817-6788