Have you ever heard a strange sound when walking through the woods? Or come across an abandoned cabin? These are typical experiences when exploring the outdoors but they are also the root of many great scary stories. Here are some chilling tales to put you in the Halloween mood:

Galen Clark, known as Yosemite’s first park ranger, picked up a few ghost stories during his day.

Yosemite National Park – One of the nation’s most well-known parks is certainly not immune to paranormal reportings. In 1857, Galen Clark (the park’s first ranger) reported a strange wailing sound coming from Grouse Lake. Believing it was a puppy that was lost, he thought little of it. But when he asked a group of Native people at their camp, they told him that the sounds belong to a boy who drowned long ago and since that time howls at passers-by. To this day, tales of the Grouse Lake Ghost are still told within the park, with many fearing his harrowing cries. 

Grand Canyon National Park – During the 1920s, it is said that a father and son fell to their death after losing their footing on the Transept Trail, near Grand Canyon Lodge. The child’s mother, upon hearing the news of her husband and son, became so overcome with sorrow that she decided to take her own life. Known as the ‘Wailing Woman’, hikers have claimed to have heard her spirit howl as it roams the path her loved ones last took. 

Mammoth Cave National Park – The country’s biggest cave system has generated more than 150 paranormal reportings – not surprising given it makes up 400 miles of subterranean passages. Many reportings have come from park rangers who deliver tours, but one particular story is well known. It concerns the fate of Floyd Collins, a cave explorer who was pinned down by a boulder at the entrance to Sand Cave. Trapped and in pain, Collins waited for rescuers to arrive, but it was to no avail: four days later, a rockfall sealed him inside the cave and he starved to death. His fate has sparked claims that his spirit still lingers amongst the dark passages.

Pictured is William Floyd Collins, whose corpse used to be on display inside Mammoth Cave National Park.

Said to prowl the area along the Norton Creek Trail, Spearfinger was an old witch who had one long finger that was made out of obsidian and deadly sharp.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – If the misty mountains of this park weren’t eerie enough, wait until you hear this Cherokee legend. It concerns the haunting of an evil witch the Cherokee called Spearfinger who roams the Great Norton Creek Trail. Preying on children, the legend claims that she disguises herself as a grandmother to lure them away from their homes. Then, using her sharp knife-like finger, she cuts them up to feed on their body parts. While many believe this story to be a myth, Cherokee hunters claim to have spotted her on numerous occasions.

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Of course, no story about paranormal activity can be complete without discussing UFO sightings. In the sandy plains of southern Colorado, strange lights are commonly reported to appear across the night sky. Some claim that this phenomenon first began in the 1600s when local Native people first recorded seeing strange objects in the sky. To this day, there are still continuing reports of lights, ranging from patterned streaks to random dots, contributing to the unsolved mysteries of the area.

If these tales didn’t scare you enough, be sure to check out the following links:







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Kids to Parks Day is May 16, 2020! National Park Trust (NPT) invites students across the country to participate in the 10th annual Kids to Parks Day, a nationwide grassroots movement to celebrate America’s parks and public lands.

In honor of this day, NPT is once again hosting the Kids to Parks Day National School Contest to help educators engage their students with their local parks. This national contest is open to all Title I schools in the United States (grades pre-K through 12). Classes can receive funding for a Kids to Parks Day event at a local park or public land/waterway in their community.

Students must research and write the proposal themselves. (Though we encourage teachers to provide support and feedback!) Teachers and staff will also have a short section to complete as well. Your entries should explain how your experience will promote education, health and wellness, and park stewardship. NPT will award park grants up to $1,000 to winning entries. We encourage schools to implement their Kids to Parks Day event during the month of May 2020 but exceptions can be made based on school schedules.

The Contest opens October 23rd, 2019 and all entries are due by February 14th, 2020.

To learn more, or to apply, visit https://www.parktrust.org/kids-to-parks-day/school-contest/

NPT and Partners Add 1,495 Acres to the Appalachian Trail

If you’ve seen the pristine waters and lush terrain at Maine’s Bald Mountain Pond, you’d understand why National Park Trust (NPT) worked with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), National Park Foundation (NPF), Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), The Conservation Alliance, and Elliotsville Foundation on the acquisition of an adjacent 1,495-acre parcel of old-growth woodland to benefit the National Park Service’s Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT).

The remoteness and scenic views make the property an iconic destination for backcountry adventures that combine paddling and hiking on the AT into a single day’s outing. Preserving this land from development also protects the nearby Bald Mountain Pond which is one of the few bodies of water that holds landlocked arctic char in the lower 48 states. The federally-listed threatened Canada Lynx also roams nearby, along with moose, fisher and black bears. It is one of the largest 150-year-old forest blocks in central Maine.

On September 20, 2019, National Park Trust and our partners held a dedication ceremony in Monson, ME to unveil a new plaque that is now displayed in the Monson Maine Appalachian Trail Visitor Center to honor the contributions of two career National Park Service employees, John Kauffmann and Ben Thompson, to the NPS science program.

This land protection was made possible thanks to an extraordinary bequest from John Kauffmann to NPT and the National Park Foundation and wind mitigation funds received by TPL, a generous gift from The Conservation Alliance and grassroots work by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. TPL bought the land and in June 2019 officially transferred ownership to the National Park Service.

NPT board member Elizabeth Ulmer and Howie Thompson, son of Ben Thompson, check out the newly unveiled dedication plaque that is now displayed in the Monson Maine Appalachian Trail Visitor Center.

Discover the mysteries of Lake Superior’s shipwrecked coast at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

UPDATE – this project was completed in October 2019.

Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, measuring over 1,300 feet deep. Its size gives it the power of an ocean, which has shaped the geology and history of the land along its shores. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, a unit of the National Park System, would not be what it is without the lake.

Ancient layers of sediment laid down by the Lake over the eons turned into brush-stroked sandstone cliffs – these stunning colors occur when groundwater and minerals ooze out of cracks and trickle down the rock face. On one section of the shore, the wave action eroded sand-sized particles, and the wind blew them up onto shore forming the Grand Sable Dunes that rise 300 feet above the lake.

Inland from the shore is the wind twisted forest – part of what is often called “The North Woods”. The combination of hardwoods, pines, and hemlocks are home to deer, bears, coyotes, fox and porcupines. You may see moose in the spruce and cedar wetlands of the park, particularly in the more than 11,000 acres set aside as official federal wilderness. 

The history of the Lakeshore includes the stories of over 20 shipwrecks, many of which are still visible along the shore. With the shipwrecks came the U.S. Lifesaving Service in the 1870s and, in 1915, the U.S. Coast Guard. Lighthouses, Coast Guard stations, and a “harbor of refuge” house in the park serve as historic reminders of efforts to warn and protect sailors on the Great Lakes. 

Look into the Munising Range Light or the Lightkeepers House Museum if you have an interest in unique navigation aids and the people who ran them – in 2018, National Park Trust acquired land adjacent to the Munsing Light, and removed a non-historical building from the property to restore the historic value of the land before donating it to the park.

This park offers something to everyone, including many outdoor activities. So, walk the dunes, hike over 100 miles on the lakeshore and park trails, camp, fish, kayak in the summer, and discover the ice caves in the winter. 

Enjoy this north county park, which is protected permanently for you and future generations by the National Park Service!