Skip to main content

Haunted Places in Arizona

Nathan enjoys researching forgotten and unusual historical and paranormal events.

Haunted hotels and other places in Arizona

Haunted hotels and other places in Arizona

Most Haunted Places in Arizona

Old hotels, abandoned mines, forgotten towns; these are some of the haunted places in Arizona. The name of Arizona itself conjures up the Wild West as well as any description you could provide. This state is full of natural wonders, treacherous terrain, rugged mountains, forbidding canyons, life-giving rivers, and scorching deserts. Legends and stories of Native American traditions and battles, hidden treasure, scorching heat, old west gunfights, and death. Many of the wagons rolling across the Arizona desert never made it to their destinations. The old route to California was filled with crosses commemorating those that perished in the attempt.

Old played-out mines dot the mountains all over the state. Some of the miners that worked in those mines never left them. Cave-ins, explosions, and pockets of poisonous gas took numerous lives. Many people passing by the old mines have heard sounds of picks hitting rock and even voices coming from the pitch black interior. And, of course, in the old west days, many died from the barrel of a gun. In more recent times, natural disasters, tragedies, and the ever-present heat have taken their toll.

Ever since the first settlers came through on wagons from the east, there have been tales told around the campfire of hauntings, ghosts, and phantoms in out-of-the-way places (and sometimes in not-so-out-of-the-way places). There are legends of ghostly sightings near lost trails and hidden springs. Over the years, new stories have been added to the old, enough to fill several books. Let's have a look at a few of the most interesting hauntings of the 48th state.

Tucson's Haunted Hotel

On December 20, 1970, while guests celebrated the holidays, a fire started in the Pioneer Hotel in downtown Tucson. The fire, which was reported to have started on the 4th floor, quickly climbed through the eleven-story landmark. 28 people lost their lives that night, most of whom were trapped on the 6th to the 11th floor. Most died from carbon monoxide poisoning, some from burns, and a few jumped to their deaths to escape the flames and smoke. One more victim died in the hospital afterward. That horrible night was national news and will be forever remembered in Tucson.

The Pioneer had been built in 1929 and was the gemstone of Tucson's downtown, dominating the skyline for decades. The hotel had a first-class ballroom and was the center of a growing city's social scene. Visiting dignitaries and celebrities stayed there during its heyday as did the Cleveland Indians during spring training for many years. After the fire, the hotel stayed open only a few more years before closing in 1974.

In 1977 the building was bought and refurnished into an office building. At that point, strange stories began to emerge from employees and visitors. Workers and visitors began hearing sounds of running footsteps on unoccupied floors. The smell of smoke would appear and become overwhelming. A bar which was located in the building had its lights turn on and off, and employees began to see apparitions. In recent years, people in nearby buildings have seen lights go on and off at night on the upper floors, which should have been unoccupied.

After the fire, a space on the second floor was used as a temporary morgue until arrangements could be made to move the bodies. Since that time, security and tenants have heard voices whispering in their ears as they pass through the empty area and occasionally feel a blast of cold air as they pass (even when the air conditioner is not on).

Today the bar is long closed, and the upper floors are used mostly for storage. Recently ghost hunters recorded running footsteps on the floor above them, which was empty, so it seems the old building is still actively haunted.


The Ghost Train of the Dragoon Mountains

Just outside of the isolated Dragoon Mountains on the alkali flats headed towards the town of Willcox, scores of folks claim to have heard a phantom train racing through the desert. Numerous people have heard it stretching back through the decades. What makes the story even odder is that no tracks have ever been laid in the area the witnesses claim to have heard the sounds. A handful of people claim to have even seen this ghost train rolling along the desert in the midday sun.

A Southern Pacific train now runs through Willcox on the way to Tucson; however, the ghostly train is reported in a spot far from the current railroad tracks. This area also seems to be a UFO hotspot, as is the southwest corner of New Mexico, which is right next door. This is also near the place where Chief Cochise had his stronghold against the U.S. Calvary. There have been reports of Native Americans traveling through the mountains looking as they did 100 plus years ago before they vanished into thin air.

The Jerome Ghost Hotel

The United Verde Hospital was opened in 1927 to serve the needs of Jerome's then booming mining town. However, as the copper deposits played out, the town shrank in size, becoming a shell of its former self. The big hospital on the hill closed in 1950. After sitting vacant for decades, the building was refurbished and became the Jerome Grand Hotel in 1996. The building was reported to have been haunted when the hospital was still open, and the activity continued at the Grand Hotel.

The medical staff, hotel employees, and guests have reported a ghostly bearded figure resembling an old-time miner drifting down the 3rd-floor hallway, sometimes turning off the lights as he goes. A woman in white has been reported as well, and the hotel staff have been startled by having their names called out when they are alone. Doors open and close of their own accord, and both employees and visitors have been pushed when no one else is present. Much of the ghostly activity seems to be focused on the old elevator, which has been there since the hospital days.

A man named Claude Harvey was found dead at the bottom of the shaft in the 1930s. Harvey was a maintenance man for the hospital and was well known in the area. Since that time, visitors and staff have seen light in the elevator shaft, and the elevator itself has been heard to be moving even when the power is shut off! The Grand Hotel is one of the most haunted places in the U.S. There are at least a half dozen reported ghosts there.

Jerome Mine Ghost

There is a longtime story about the now abandoned mines in Jerome. A miner was decapitated in an accident, and while his head was recovered, his body disappeared down the shaft. Ever since that time, miners reported seeing a headless miner walking through the tunnels with a bucket in his hand. The men who worked in the mine gave him the name "Headless Charlie." Many residents of Jerome believe that "Headless Charlie" still walks thru the dark, dilapidated tunnels below the town.

Yuma Territorial Prison

On July 1, 1876, the first convicts entered the brand new Yuma Territorial Prison to take up residence. The jail would house male and female prisoners for the next 33 years until its closing in 1909. Although ahead of its time in the humane treatment of its residents, life as an inmate could be brutal because of the horrendous heat. In the days before air conditioning, the place could be a hellish inferno with the buildings baking in the Arizona sun.

Long after the prison closed, it was turned into a state park, and it was then that stories began circulating about disembodied voices (including a female voice singing in the prison offices), a shadow pacing back and forth in a cell where an inmate had taken his own life, and all sorts of activity in the "dark cell"

The dark cell was exactly as described, a cell that admitted no light at all. It was used for solitary confinement, and visitors have heard voices and have been pinched in the cell when nobody else was present. Both park rangers and visitors have told of the overwhelming feeling of being watched and not being alone while in the cell. The Yuma Territorial Prison is open to visitors should you ever be in the area and want to experience it for yourself.

Crash Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful places on earth. A mysterious, mystical, awe-inspiring place to visit. It is also quite haunted. On June 30, 1956, United Airlines flight 718 which was called Mainliner Vancouver, had departed Los Angeles and was flying at 21,000 feet over the Grand Canyon, trying to avoid the towering thunderclouds. At the same time, TWA flight 2 with the name of Star of the Seine, which had also departed L.A., was at 19,000 feet over the Grand Canyon. A request to ascend to 21,000 feet to avoid thunderheads by the TWA aircraft was declined due to the proximity of the United jet. The captain of the TWA flight then requested to go to "1000 on top", meaning 1000 feet above the cloud tops. This was rather oddly granted, putting TWA 2 at 21,000 feet. This led to one of the most horrific accidents in aviation history as the two aircraft collided, resulting in both United 718 and TWA 2 crashing into the canyon with the loss of all 128 lives on board.

The crash site is accessible only by river and is somewhat isolated. Hikers and park rangers have seen and heard screams, garbled conversation, and cries for help. One ranger camping by the trail to the site saw a group of men and women coming down the trail. The men were dressed in suits, the women in long, old-fashioned dresses. they then disappeared in front of her eyes. People have also seen globules of eerie lights bouncing down the canyon. As of a few years ago, it was said you could still see pieces of aluminum from the crash on one of the cliff faces. Perhaps that particular area would not be the best place to pitch camp.

Do You like to Explore Haunted Places?

Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on September 13, 2014:

I live in Arizona but so far haven't seen any specters. Interesting stuff!

Nathan M (author) from Tucson on November 09, 2013:

@LluviaDeArte: Yes, Yuma Prison is a pretty eerie place. Along with the heat, I don't know how the prisoners and staff managed it. Thanks for visiting.

LluviaDeArte on November 07, 2013:

I have been to the Yuma prison and it is quite eerie. Thank you for writing this, it is so well put together and fun to read.

Max Globe on October 22, 2013:

Very interesting lens!

Angela F from Seattle, WA on October 17, 2013:

My favorite haunted site is the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee.

Nathan M (author) from Tucson on October 02, 2013:

@deified: Yes abandoned building are interesting. The past comes alive in those places.

deified on September 30, 2013:

i'm drawn to abandoned buildings, but i'll explore just about anything... :)

LaidBackGuy on September 10, 2013:

I love reading about haunted places but I'm just not brave enough to visit one ;-)

Marisa Horn from Rintown Pa on September 10, 2013:

I have never explored a place that I knew was haunted. I wouldn't let a little haunting keep me from checking things out. Cool lens I like this kind of stuff.


Judy Filarecki from SW Arizona and Northern New York on July 14, 2013:

I've never explored haunted places, but I live in southern Arizona and have been to several of the places you talk about. I really enjoyed reading their history. Thanks for sharing

ElaineK on July 12, 2013:

What an original lens! Found you through Bubblews!

shewins on June 08, 2013:

I don't really believe in ghosts, but it's fun reading about these haunted places. The only way I'd change my mind is to see a ghost with my own eyes.

renewedfaith2day on May 21, 2013:

Yes, because it means that the place has a history. And you are right. There is something about Arizona. With names like "Tombstone" and such, it is a really spooky place.

MythYes on May 19, 2013:

I have never explore haunted places but yours lens showe me it is very interesting.

DrLibby on May 17, 2013:

love this post, had no idea AZ had haunted places. I visit AZ regularly so I'll check out Jerome sometime. On YouTube there are past episodes of America Unearthed - one of the early season 1 episodes was on pre-Columbus burial place of a European near the mountains of Tucson. You might find it interesting.

L Olson from Northern Arizona on May 16, 2013:

I live in Arizona, not far from some of these places, but I can tell you I have heard more solid stories of hauntings in this state than anywhere in my life. Don't know why, just sayin..

Rose Jones on May 12, 2013:

Really fun and well written lens. I love Arizona, but I mostly have explored Sedona where the spirits are considered friendly. Pinned to my vampires, ghouls and ghosts board - out by digg and blessed.

anonymous on May 07, 2013:

I love spooky and abandoned places like these. A good kind of trip for the entire family!

Glory Miller from USA on May 05, 2013:

Exploring haunted places is fun. While I don't have any of the fancy equipment that a lot of the hunters use on the many TV shows currently airing, I still have fun taking pictures and occasionally using a voice recorder. I have never gotten anything odd or unusual on either photo or voice, but it's still fun to try.

CoeGurl on May 04, 2013:

We had lunch at the Jerome Hotel several years ago and the staff told us about the woman in white haunting the hotel.

Shelly Sellers from Midwest U.S.A. on May 04, 2013:

Thanks for sharing your creepy haunted photos of places in Arizona!

ConvenientCalendar on May 01, 2013:

Very informative! Funny the largest telescope in the world is in Arizona and the name of it is Lucifer! Irony!

anonymous on May 01, 2013:

I guess I'm a little extra sensitive this gave me goosebumps down to my toes! Can't say I've been out exploring haunted places but I do enjoy friendly orbs. That is one great intro to pull the reader in! :)

anonymous on April 28, 2013:

No I don't, I don't play around with the paranormal. Great read

Aunt-Mollie on April 24, 2013:

Sounds like a lot of mysteries in those hills.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on April 22, 2013:

Interesting, love reading about haunted places, but would sooner keep away from them. bit too scary for me.

anonymous on April 22, 2013:

I would like to explore a haunted location or do a "ghost hunt" but never really had the opportunity. Most people that I know would be too scared, and im sure not going alone ! :) Great lens !

WriterJanis2 on April 20, 2013:

I love to explore haunted places. I know that Arizona has its share of haunted locations. Pinned.

oooMARSooo LM on April 15, 2013:

I want to say "yes!" But the truth is that it may be that I only enjoy the idea of going to haunted places. I am very sensitive to certain things, and by that I mean I don't handle them very well. And the sensation of a haunted place is usually very unpleasant for me. The way it makes the hairs on your arms raise up, and then... whatever it is that inhabits a haunted location, whatever it actually "Is" - well, it seems to know when it is affecting you. Makes it all the more unpleasant. And yet, I sit here thinking "oh, that sure does sound fun," at the idea of visiting another haunted place. How strange, right

magicalfuture on April 11, 2013:

I don't but my mother does; I watch ghost shows on tv that is much saver ;-))

Takkhis on April 10, 2013:

I would like to go to Arizona! Thanks for the info. Yes, i do like exploring haunted places :)