• Graveyard Shift

9 Haunted Caves You Can Actually Explore (But You Shouldn't)

What could be creepier than exploring a haunted house? A haunted cave, that’s what. Caves have always instilled a sense of mystery and fear. They’re dark, cold, and, in theory, they could be home to scary creatures. They can extend underground for miles, and many have yet to be explored, so what’s living down in the inky darkness is anyone’s guess. No one wants to think about being stuck underground, especially since you can’t always see what’s down there with you.

The 2006 cult hit The Descent might be the best illustration of spelunking's unique horrors. The cave-set thriller strikes chords of primal fear in its audience by plopping them in an underground, claustrophobic environment and introducing an unknown predatory breed of creatures. Who can say for certain that man-eating cave dwellers aren’t down there? And who can say the spirits of cave explorers who never emerged again to see the light of day aren't still haunting the cursed depths of popular underground tourist locations?

Who knows what’s living deep in the scary underground labyrinths of the world? Perhaps ghosts, specters, or other supernatural no-goodniks? Several caves have reputations for being hotspots of paranormal activity. This list contains some caves that are open to the public and are believed to be extremely haunted.

  • The Cave Hotel At The Grand Canyon Caverns

    It’s no secret that the Grand Canyon's nooks and crannies have long been subjects of haunting rumors. The fact that someone created a cave hotel in such a place is equal parts awesome and terrifying. 

    While there's evidence these caverns may have been discovered by members of the Hualapai tribe a decade earlier, the official discovery is credited to Walter Peck in 1927. Obviously, Peck wasn’t the first to stumble upon the cave system, as he found the remains of two brothers who fell to the flu. Both brothers and even Peck himself are among the ghostly apparitions visitors claim to see at the Cave Hotel. Another source of paranormal activity in the Cavern Hotel is former manager Gary Ringsby, who took his life in what’s known as the “Bunk-House” back in the 1970s. 

    Those brave enough to sleep in the hotel's suites have reported the distant sound of Native American chanting and shadowy figures dancing along the rocks. Other claims include whispering sounds, the elevator door opening and closing without cause, and the image of a person dangling from the top of the cavern.

    Tours of the cavern are available, and those who dare can book the cave suite to spend the night with subterranean specters.  

  • The Hellfire Caves

    Also known as the West Wycombe Caves, England's Hellfire Caves form a network of chalk and flint caverns extending a quarter of a mile underground. The caves were excavated by Francis Dashwood in the mid-1700s. Dashwood was also the co-founder of the Hellfire Club, a secret society said to have held meetings in the caves.

    Members were all politically and socially influential throughout the 18th century. The group’s reputation is steeped in tales of dark rituals, debauchery, and devil worship. While the Hellfire Club dissolved by 1766, it’s believed that the ghosts of its members still linger. The caves began operating as a tourist attraction back in 1951 and visitors routinely report strange echoes and mysterious apparitions that appear and disappear in front of them. The reported activity is so frequent that Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and Syfy Channel's Ghost Hunters have conducted their own paranormal investigations.

    The caves can be toured for anyone looking to capture evidence of their own.

  • The Moaning Cavern

    As one could guess, the Moaning Cavern in Vallecito, California, is named after the creepy moaning sound air makes within the cavern. In addition to mournful wailing, witnesses have also heard echoes of what sounds like a hammer knocking up against rocks. Because of this, the Moaning Cavern is thought by some to be the home of mythical leprechaun-like creatures known as Tommyknockers. Some believe these mischievous cave dwellers are the spirits of those who perished in cave-ins and that their knocking warns of imminent collapses. Others say that they're malevolent spirits whose knocking actually causes cave-ins.

    Others claim the cave is haunted not by Tommyknockers but by prehistoric people whose remains were discovered at the bottom of the cave. Three other ghostly apparitions are gold miners that fell into caverns. Allegedly, a prehistoric saber-tooth tiger also plummeted through the cave’s opening and some witnesses claim to have seen the beast’s ghost staring at them. One of its large fangs is noticeably chipped, which locals speculate happened in the fall that finished the spectral tiger now known as "Chip."

    Various tours are available, including public walking tours and tours that include gold panning or geode cracking.

  • Bell Witch Cave

    According to the legend of the Bell Witch, in 1804, a farmer named John Bell moved his wife and kids to a farm along the Red River in northern Robertson County. The property also included a cave, which became known as “The Bell Witch Cave," believed to be haunted by the spirit of a witch named Kate Batts, who felt that she was cheated by the Bells in the land purchase. 

    Strange animal sightings began in the summer of 1817. Late at night the family would hear strange noises, such as knocking on the door and all along the walls outside the house. At one point, the noises made their way inside the home and also included gnawing, choking, and dragging sounds. Vicious incidents by an unseen force plagued Betsy, the youngest Bell daughter, who suffered scratches, hair pulling, and physical beatings. John himself was prone to choking fits and illnesses until he finally passed in 1820. Once John passed and Betsy called off her engagement, the witch apparently felt her vengeful work was done and returned home to the cave for years.

    She returned to the home in 1828, allegedly speaking to John Bell Jr. and promising to return 107 years later. Considering all the paranormal activity locals reported near the witch cave and even throughout the town in the interim, however, many believe she never left.

    Anyone who wishes to take a peek inside the Bell Witch Cave or the replica of the old Bell Cabin can do so via a variety of official tours during the day or night.