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16 Creepy Stories And Urban Legends From California

Updated June 25, 2020 929.3k views16 items

When you think of California, you probably don't think of creepiness. Hippies, surfers, beaches, Hollywood... it's all pretty weird, sure, but not scary or spooky, right? Well, believe it or not, creepy California does exist, if you know where to look. The state has ghosts, legends, and monsters, and you might be surprised to see that some of them are about as scary as you can get.

Between ghosts and creepy serial killers, California has a genuinely bloody history dating back to its formation. It could be the home of Big Foot, and Old West ghosts are around, shooting it out in some of the nation's finest ghost towns. If you're all about the weird and paranormal, look no further than the Golden State.

You don't have to read this at night, and you don't have to turn off your lights. But with the scary stories and terrifying urban legends in California that we're about to delve into, we definitely recommend it. 

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  • There's A Burning Creature Stalking Camp Comfort County Park

    There's A Burning Creature Stalking Camp Comfort County Park
    Photo: Interpretive Arson / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    The legend of the Charred Man is one of the darker and more well-known in California lore. Camp Comfort County Park hardly seems like a scene of horror and violence, but that Ventura County park has numerous ghosts, the king of which is The Charred Man. The story goes, in the woods, you can sometimes see a horrifying shape, not quite beast, not quite man. If you stop your car near those woods, this burning, disfigured thing may charge out to try to kill you, roaring like a raging inferno. People who have gotten away report ash marks and dents on their vehicles. 

    No one knows where he/it came from. Some say he was a child, burned in a fire. Others say he was a bus driver who went mad and crashed, killing all his passengers. Some say he is a beast or demon. No matter what he is, you can be sure you don't want to mess with him.

  • The Billiwhack Monster Would Send Big Foot Running For Cover

    It's been said Big Foot roams the hills of northern California, but the state has another monster with more fear factor. The legends dates to World War II. As the story goes, the Billiwhack Dairy was once a thriving, state-of-the-art farm with a dark secret. In rooms under the dairy, an OSS officer named August Rubel conducted horrifying experiments, trying to make a super-soldier to help the war effort. Unfortunately, he did not succeed, but created a monster, which was left behind when he went overseas to fight. 

    The monster, left alone, escaped, and now terrorizes high school students in the area, or anyone who dares to stop their car on a farm road late at night. 

  • Gravity Doesn't Always Work Right In California

    We're not just talking about the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot, pictured. In California, phenomena called "gravity hills" exist. For unknown reasons, gravity works differently in these spots. For example, on gravity hills in southern California, you can put a car in neutral on the hill and the car will inexplicably appear to roll uphill. Many gravity hills have spooky stories, such as horrific car accidents or roadside deaths.

    Is it some supernatural force at work? Or just a trick of perspective, as many suggest? Well, you'll just have to try it and find out.

  • Joshua Tree Is Home To Skinwalkers

    Joshua Tree Is Home To Skinwalkers
    Photo: Jarek Tuszyński / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    If you ask Native Americans of Joshua Tree about Skinwalkers, you're unlikely to get answers. These not-quite-human exiles of the native faith are said to be malicious witches or medicine men who don't like being looked at or intruded upon. Even speaking of them brings bad fortune, thus the silence on the matter. Sometimes, they shapeshift, taking the form of coyotes or wolves, or imitate injured children to lure people in. At night, they're known to terrorize campers and kill people. They've been rumored to frequent Joshua Tree National Park.

    All this wouldn't be so terrifying if it wasn't for the fact people are found dead in Joshua Tree fairly regularly, and some go missing without a trace. Is it heatstroke, or maybe something a little darker?