50 of the Most Terrifying Places on Earth from 50 of the Most Terrifying Places on Earth
50 of the Most Terrifying Places on Earth
Planet Earth is home. But it’s not always home, sweet home. In fact, some areas are downright deadly. Others, while not deadly, will give you goose bumps and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up at just the thought of them. These aren’t the places you see on postcards or in calendars. They’re not the place to propose to your partner, be alone at night, or frankly, be alone at any time of the day. From harsh, natural elements that can inflict all kinds of harm to manmade places featuring human bones, or worse, doll parts, these are some the most frightening spots in the world. Visit if you dare.
North Yungas Road, Bolivia
Aptly nicknamed “Death Road,” this winding one-lane dirt and in some places, paved, road in South America is considered the world’s most dangerous. About 200 people die each year on this rural road running from the Andes down into the Amazon. Not only does the road lack guard rails while fronting 2,000 feet drops, but it’s also commonly covered in fog so visibility is poor, at best.
Half Dome Cable Route, Yosemite National Park, California
Half Dome is about a 15-mile round trip hike with incredible views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra, but what it is most famous for is the cable section of the hike. The Half Dome Cables are two metal cables that help you to climb the last few hundred feet to summit. Injuries are common.
Hua Shan plank walk, China
The plank walk on Mount Hua may be the most notoriously terrifying mountainside trail in the world—and that reputation is well deserved. The rickety old boards and steep rock face trails have led to many deadly accidents in the past. Improvements have been made and the risk of death is now a little lower.
Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
The pilgrimage site is spooky to just look at, but it’s chilling when you know the story behind it. There are about 200,000 crosses, cravings and shrines. People first started bringing crosses on the hill in 1831 in memory of the rebels killed in an uprising against the Russian tsar. Ever since people, even from all over the world, have been bringing crosses with names, intentions, and pleadings for clemency to the sacred place.
Via Ferrata, Italy/Austria
Instead of using ladders to cross like people did centuries ago, adventurers now use steel cables, ropes, suspension bridges, and wooden footpaths. No wonder the route is called Via Ferrata, meaning “Iron Street” in Italian. The walkways get extremely icy when it snows; a woman died in 2009 after slipping and falling 600 feet.
The Lost World, Waitomo Caves, New Zealand
James Shook/Wikimedia Commons
The Lost World is a deep, dark ancient cavern in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves, known for their most famous residents, arachnocampa luminosa—glowworms. The caves are also covered in fossils, a reminder of the organisms—some as big as whales—who once perished here. If you just want a peek down into the cave, a nearby sinkhole called The Window offers a nice view.
Thrihnjukagigur Volcano, Iceland
Even though it’s been dormant for a few thousand years, Thrihnjukagigur Volcano in Iceland is hard to visit without wondering “What if?” As in, what if it decided to erupt again? This ancient volcano, which is 700 feet deep, is the only volcano in the world where you can go inside. The seven-minute elevator ride down into the magma channel is not for anyone who is claustrophobic.
West Coast Trail, Vancouver, Canada
Hiking the West Coast Trail guarantees you an encounter with wild animals, especially bears, a walk through narrow gullies, and climbing shaky wooden ladders. The place is so dangerous, it is illegal to stay overnight in the off-season between October 1 and April 30. Technically, though, it can be done. But many expert hikers advise against it. Currents are too strong. Also, you can’t just leave the trail. Are you going to swim? There is no easy way out. Winter storms there are dangerous.
Aokigahara Forest, Japan
Commonly known as the “Suicide Forest,” it lies in the shadow of Mount Fuji and it’s perhaps the most haunted forest on Earth. Since the 1950’s, anywhere between 30-150 people a year have gone into the forest with no intention of ever coming out. According to National Geographic, there was one period where officials found 36 bodies in a span of 37 days. The Japanese believe the souls leave the bodies and then actively work to trap others in the forest as well.
Island of the Dolls, Mexico
Known as Isla de las Munecas (Island of the Dolls), the island is dedicated to the lost soul of a poor girl who died in strange circumstances. Thousands of people live in the region south of Mexico City, but the tiny island is just home to hundreds of petrifying dolls with severed limbs, decapitated heads, and blank eyes. A local legend says that the dolls move their heads and arms. People have said that they heard the dolls whispering and telling them to come down to the island.
Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden, Finland
This big park has many sculptures, some even in yoga poses. Veijo Rönkkönen was a Finnish artist and sculptor. He worked at a paper factory when he was young where he started to make sculptures, according to Big in Finland. He had made around 450 statues, all of which are now in the park-like garden of the house where he lived.
Titlis Cliff Walk, Switzerland
Set alongside the tallest mountain in the Swiss Alps—Mount Titlis, this incredible bridge is a whopping 1,640 feet up from the ground below. Said to be the highest suspension bridge in all of Europe, the views are absolutely stunning, but crossing is frightening, to say the least. “To cross the bridge, you'll need nerves as strong as the steel cables from which it hangs,” according to its website.
Cahills Crossing, Australia
Crocodile-infested is the perfect way to describe this popular feeding ground for saltwater crocodiles. In a stretch of only three miles, more than 120 of the world’s largest reptiles roam, or more often than not, pretend to be logs until prey lands on them. Despite the prevalence of 14-foot-long “salties”—sometimes in groups of several dozen—some people can’t resist the temptation to try to wade across the murky river. The unfortunate ones end up having their bodies discovered, if they’re that lucky, by national park rangers.
The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
This is one of the most mysterious places on Earth. More than 40 years ago, a gaping, fiery crater opened up in the desert of northern Turkmenistan, most likely after a drilling mishap, according to the National Geographic. The Darvaza Crater, known as the Door to Hell, is still burning. Rumor has it that Soviet scientists set it on fire to burn off noxious gases after the ground but underestimated the amount of fuel that lay below. Turkmenistan has the sixth largest natural gas reserves in the world.
Travel News Digest/YouTube
The tiny and shrinking village located in the valleys of Shikoku is populated by creepy dolls. More than a decade ago, when a woman went back to Nagoro, she felt lonely and started making dolls and placing them all over the village as a replacement for those who have left or died. There are about 350 life-sized dolls all over Nagoro.
Cliffwalk in Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, Canada
Take a walk alongside a vertical rock face, over the top of mature rainforest vegetation and the Capilano River and across suspended bridges. The Capilano Cliffwalk, which opened in 2011, brings visitors deep into the park and far over the forest—reaching 300 feet high at points. Some points of the novel walkway are transparent, made of reinforced glass, for a memorable (and frightening) view.
Beelitz-Heilstätten Hospital, Beelitz, Germany
This 60-building hospital was constructed in the 20th century to accommodate many tuberculosis patients. It eventually became a military hospital, and young Adolf Hitler was treated there for a thigh injury. Now entirely abandoned, the hospital first began to decline in 1995 and was closed down completely in 2000. The smell of disinfectant still lingers in the operating rooms.
Mary King’s close, Scotland
The Real Mary King’s Close/Wikimedia Commons
You can book a tour to see the 17th century streets hidden under Edinburgh. They were a breeding ground for the Black Death. The place has had a reputation for hauntings ever since. “Closes” is the Scots term for ancient alleyways.
Capuchin Catacombs, Palermo, Italy
The catacombs were built as a cemetery where bury the monks of the monastery. However, the Capuchin community grew quickly and the first room, the pit/tank, became insufficient. People expanded the cemetery. When they tried to exhume the corpses and move them they saw that many were naturally mummified and magnificently preserved. Their faces were still recognizable. People believed this to be an act of God and decided to display the bodies.
The small city of Pripyat was home to 49,000 residents until it was evacuated and abandoned following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Although the area remains uninhibited, the ghost town is overrun by nature and has been deemed safe to visit. Some outfitters there offer guided tours of the site. Trees grow in schools, piles of books can be found in libraries, and dolls can still be seen in kindergarten’s floors.
Villisca Axe Murder House, Iowa
At night, when no lights or sounds can be seen or heard, you get a very eerie feeling. This is the “Murder House.” The walls still protect the identity of the murderer or murderers who bludgeoned to death the entire family of Josiah Moore and two overnight guests on June 10, 1912. Day tours are now open. Overnights are 7 nights a week all year.
The Narrows, Longs Peak, Colorado
If you decide to conquer the peak, be prepared for lightning strikes, narrow ledges, and rock slides. An experienced hiker became the 59th fatality on Longs Peak, which is one of the most— if not the most —dangerous peaks in Colorado. Two-thirds of all deaths were the result of a fall — roped and unroped.
Sichuan-Tibet Highway, China
Face your fears on The Sichuan-Tibet Highway. It is full of rock slides and has great risk for avalanches due to its high-elevation. The number deaths due to car accidents have nearly doubled in the past 20 years.
Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic
Many people admire the art decorating churches and temples. Some many feel a bit differently upon visiting this Gothic church where bones of about 40,000 plague victims serve as decoration. No wonder so many people call it the Church of Bones or the Bone Church. The big chandelier of bones that lies in the center is an absolute work of art.
Aonach Eagach Ridge, Scotland
The Destitute Cemetery City of Guatemala
Unfortunately, the city needed a new kind of cemetery due to a high death rate. People couldn’t expand outwards, so they had to build upwards. The tombs are built vertically and stacked upon each other. What’s terrible is the fact that the families of the deceased have to pay a fee so their dead loved ones are undisturbed. Only the first six years are free of charge.
The Qeswachaka Bridge, Peru
This unique handwoven grass bridge across the Apurimac River, set at about 12,000 feet, is rebuilt every one or two years as communal effort. The weaving and construction techniques have been passed for generations since the bridge was first built by the Incas. It is the only remaining example of an “Inca” hanging bridge today.
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland
This famous bridge originally consisted of a single rope and hand rail, but has been replaced by a two-hand railed bridge. It links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. The bridge is approximately 66 feet and 89 feet above the rocks below. If you dare to look down, you’ll see ancient caves and caverns.
Bell Witch Cave, Tennessee
This is the subject of one of the most famous supernatural stories in U.S. history. Betsy Bell was tortured by the Witch for several years of her childhood. The Bell Witch claimed to be the spirit of Kate Batts, an old neighbor of John Bell, Betsy’s father, who said she was lied to over a land purchase. On her deathbed, she swore she would haunt him and his descendants. The Historic Bell Witch Cave, Inc has preserved some of the artifacts from the original cabin such as a chimney stone and an iron kettle.
Snake Island, São Paolo, Brazil
Ilha da Queimada is an island ruled by snakes. Popularly known as Snake Island, it is home to thousands of the some of the most venomous snakes in the world, Golden Lancehead Vipers. The Brazilian Navy has banned all civilians from the island, which is just 20 miles off the coast of São Paulo. There are between one and five snakes per 3 square feet.
Lake Natron, Tanzania
This is the lake that turns birds into stone. The temperature can reach 140F and its pH level is 10. The water is so caustic it can burn the skin and eyes of animals that aren't adapted to it, according to Live Science. And deposits of sodium carbonate also act as a preservative, leaving the dead animals looking mummified. The lake is, however, a safe breeding place for flamingos.
Gomantong Caves, Malaysia
If you want to be guaranteed to see bats, this is where you should go. There are millions of bats during the day and just as many swiftlets at night. The “terrifying” factor is the fact that the feces of these birds are food for millions of dung beetles and cockroaches. Imagine how a walk through the caves will feel like then…
Hussaini Hanging Bridge, Pakistan
If somebody was looking at you walking on the bridge, it might look like you were walking on thin clouds unsupported. The Hussaini Hanging Bridge is often referred to as the world’s most dangerous one. This perilous rope bridge will have you risk your life with every step. Many of the wooden planks are missing, and the wind, even if it’s not very strong, shakes the bridge.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Kentucky
Kris Arnold/Wikimedia Commons
Interested in paranormal investigations? They run from March until August every year. Many locals believe the former tuberculosis hospital, which was established in 1910, is among the most haunted places on the planet. Tens of thousands of people died bloody, excruciating deaths there because there was no TB cure at the time.
This is a near-ghost town in Columbia County. The place is known for its underground mine fire that has been ongoing since 1962. Touch the ground and you’ll see that it’s still warm, even in the winter. Only a handful of residents still live in this once-prosperous mining town. Poisonous smoke seeps up from the ground, killing any sign of plant life on the surface. The deadly carbon monoxide led has left nothing but a barren wilderness.
Lake Shawnee Amusement Park, West Virginia
The park was abandoned in 1996 after two young guests died accidentally. Though many of the old, creaky rides still stand, what was once a lively play place is now a decrepit plot of land that many say is haunted. Those who’ve dared to explore the deserted site say they’ve seen the ghost of a little girl.
Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines
The Igorots are an indigenous tribe with unique funerary customs. The dead are buried in coffins which are tied or nailed to the side of cliffs, according to Ancient Origins. This tradition is said to be over 2,000 years old. A common belief is that moving the bodies of the dead higher up brings them closer to their ancestral spirits, according to Rough Guides.
The Sanctuary of Tophet, Tunisia
GIRAUD Patrick/Wikimedia Commons
This is where the remains of a lot of children’s graves dating back to the Punic period of Carthage are found. Many historians have said that the Carthaginians practiced child-sacrifice during times of hardship, even though this is still disputed. The spooky site also contains a Roman necropolis.
U Bein Bridge, Myanmar
The world’s longest teak footbridge gently curves 1,300 yards (0.7 miles) across shallow Taungthaman Lake, creating one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites, according to Lonely Planet. In the dry season it feels surreally high and mostly crosses seasonal vegetable gardens. It’s about 200 years old. The ageing wood used to be part of the Royal Palace.
Ed Gein's home, Plainfield, Wisconsin
Edward Gein is more famously known as The Butcher of Plainfield. Hi house was bulldozed after it burned down in 1958, but people still seek the spot where he practiced his carnage. The shed is the only thing still standing. Authorities had found in the house human skulls, skullcaps used as soup bowls, a human heart, a person’s head, socks made of human flesh.
Canopy Walk, Ghana
The Canopy Walk, the only one in the Kakum National Park or any national park in Africa, links several treetops and lets visitors see endangered animals. The swinging bridge is up to 100 feet above the ground. You may feel like you’re skywalking and about to flip over. The views of the rainforest, unique monkeys, birds and elephants looking for fallen fruit, are mesmerizing.
Hotel Cecil, Los Angeles, California
The mysterious death of Elisa Lam, a 21-year-old student, who was visiting L.A. alone, is just the latest example of what gives the hotel an eerie feeling. Her body was found decomposing in one of the rooftop water tanks in 2013. Her death was ruled accidental drowning but many still wonder how she was able to close the lid behind her or how she got to the roof in the first place. The hotel has had a dark history, with many strange deaths and suicides, ever since it opened in 1925.
Monte Cristo Homestead, Australia
This is Australia's most haunted house. The Victorian mansion was built in 1884. Some of the victims are said to include a baby thrown down the stairs, a stable boy burned alive, and a mentally disabled man tied up for 30 years. Some visitors say they still haunt the house’s halls.
The Tower of London, England
This is one of the most visited tourist spot in the English capital. But the stronghold, which was originally designed as a castle for William the Conqueror in 1078, has a very dark past. The innocent people that were executed, including wives of the king and the disappearances of young princes, is just one example. The place has also been a place of imprisonment and torture over the centuries.
Holy Land USA, Connecticut
This Christian-themed park was built in the late 1950s and initially thrived as a Connecticut attraction, according to Atlas Obscura. In the mid-‘80s, the park’s owner closed it down to work on expanding the site, but he died in 1986 and it was never reopened. Now long-abandoned, Holy Land USA has been widely vandalized and was even the site of a murder in 2010.
Kenmore Insane Asylum, Australia
Some call it Australia's most terrifying place. Some horrific deaths, including a few murders, took place in the many buildings that are not empty. A pneumonic influenza epidemic killed more than 20 people in 1919. Shock therapy was used to treat homosexuality. Fingernail scratches can still be seen on doors.
Catacombs, Paris, France
The City of Lights sits above over 200 miles of tunnels. Some are even lined to the ceiling with skulls and bones. Paris was too overcrowded by the 17th century and the solution to overflowing cemeteries was to bury the corpses in the tunnels that have existed since the 13th century, according to Smithsonian Magazine. About 7 million bodies were moved into the catacombs. The oldest date back to 1,200 years ago.
This is a town riddled with rumors of haunts, chemical spills, and serial killers, according to Atlas Obscura. The official name is Boston Township in Summit County, Ohio. According to rumors and legends there are hauntings and satanic activity in the area. Most rumors and myths have never been proven.
The Chapel of Bones, Portugal
When the Chapel was being built between 1460 and 1510, the city’s two cemeteries were overflowing. Remains had to be exhumed to create more space. So the monks in charge of the construction thought to create a chapel with the bones and skulls serving as decoration for the walls, columns, arches, and domes, according to Ancient Origins. More than 5,000 cadavers were used in construction.