I should have known better than to judge a book by its cover, as the saying goes. Sure, a gorgeous rose may sit in a garden, lusciously red and waiting to be picked. But once you enclose your fingers around the stem, your skin is met with vicious thorns ready to cut you and make you bleed.
I may be slightly overdramatic, but this is the exact analogy that came to mind once I glanced over these divine landscapes. They may be dazzling, but beware. The eerie stories associated with the scenery is enough to chill my bones.
1. White Sands, New Mexico
This sand appears so soft and pristine, with greenery peppered throughout the monumental dunes. White Sands National Monument's dunes may shift up to thirty feet per year, and is located near a short-living lake depositing minerals that evaporates as much as eighty inches annually. The deposits are dragged among the sands, but the legend behind the breeze is shocking.
According to the native tale of Pavla Blanca, the evening winds are the ghost of Mañuela. A lady who eternally searches for her long-lost lover, Mañuela wanders for her Spanish conquistador Hernando de Luna, who died at the hands of a group of warrior Apache. Many claim they see her spirit crossing the sand dunes dressed in her white wedding gown.
Another nerve-racking activity to look out for is a neighboring missile range, which causes the dunes to close down while testing is in progress. Bombs and ghosts? This is one place I'd be incredibly cautious when exploring.
[Source: The Wilderness Society]
2. St. Augustine Light House in Florida
Imagine if during a dark, stormy night you are sailing your boat as the harsh waves hit you from every side. As you attempt to maneuver through the dark merciless waves, you spot a light in the distance, your only glimmer of hope.
Sure, the bright glow of the lighthouse may seem comforting, but St. Augustine is notorious for being haunted by two girls who had tragically drowned by the lighthouse.
3. Lemp Mansion in Missouri
In the 1800s, this opulent mansion belonged to the Lemp family, whose brewing company was one of the most successful of its time. After the son, Frederick, died mysteriously, his father William was beside himself and committed suicide.
During the following years, for reasons unknown, the rest of Lemp's three children also committed suicide in the same house. It comes with no surprise that this house is considered incredibly haunted, and how could it not be? There was obviously a dark presence that affected this poor family in such a horrific way.
4. New York's Secret Burial Ground
While working on the new Federal office building in Manhattan in 1991, workers stumbled upon a lost graveyard containing remnants of nearly 15,000 free and enslaved Africans that had been buried in the 1600s.
Just to clarify, it's generally common knowledge NOT to construct a building over a burial, as it is just asking for evil and malevolent spirits to ruin your life. However, a wall of remembrance was forged to celebrate and honor their ancestry.
[Source: The Wilderness Society]
5. The Jersey Devil of Batona Trail
If you find yourself strolling through the New Jersey Pinelands on the Batona Trail, you might find yourself face to face with more than just the typical wildlife. The Jersey Devil is a kangaroo-like brute with the head of a dog, bat-like wings, horns, and a forked tail.
Many have claimed to have seen his appearance and hear his ghastly screams late at night, especially those who reside in the cities nearest to the Pinelands. I personally would be more than content with just spotting a few bunnies and a dear or two.
6. The Lizzie Borden House in Massachusetts
Lizzie Borden's father and stepmother were discovered to be brutally murdered with an axe in 1892. Although the murderer was never definitively found, Lizzie, was thought to be the culprit of this monstrous crime. During questioning, she behaved erratic, then calm and collected at other times, and also had an incredibly inconsistent story.
Lizzie was tried, but later acquitted, meaning no one was every fully charged for the murders. Lizzie lived out her days as a pariah by the Fall River town, until she died of pneumonia in 1927. The Borden House now operates as a Bed and Breakfast, and many report experiences of hauntings while staying overnight.
7. The Stanley Hotel in Colorado
This is the very hotel that inspired Stephen King's The Shining. And just look at it! Although handsome, you can't help but get the foreboding sense that something cadaverous lingers under the surface.
It is reportedly haunted by the ghost of Elizabeth Wilson, a housekeep who endured an electrical accident in 1911 that took away her ability to walk. She supposedly visits people who stay in room 217.
On one hand, I have the itch to travel and revel in some ghost hunting. The other part of me wants to stay in the comfort of my warm bed and sleep with the lights on.
The myriad of landscapes in America may make for some beauteous sight-seeing, but underneath the surface lies a more sinister story that can raise the hair on the back of your neck.