Haunted Wasatch: Spooky Thrills for the Fearless Outdoor Adventurist


Sepulchral winds and the discarded leaves of dying trees mark the gloomy insurgence of fall, beckoning intrepid fright-seekers towards eerie locations of urban legends. While the essences of revenants in discord typically dwell within the decaying walls of their places of demise, several outdoor excursions are said to serve as refuge for lingering entities. Each slice of northern Utah wilderness in this list is within driving distance and ripe for spooky exploration before the snow falls — if you dare.

Moon Lake

Nestled within the High Uintas of Duchesne County, Moon Lake is an opalescent alpine lake heavily frequented by hikers and campers alike. While the area is one of unique natural beauty, frightened visitors have reported their stays at Moon Lake to be cohabited by the shivering apparition of a drowned young girl. Typically appearing in broad daylight, the phantom is said to have blue lips and be adorned in soaked clothing, approaching only those who are alone. Bewildered campers have also attested to inexplicable sounds of splashing or sobbing after dark, even the rapid patter of footsteps through the campground despite the absence of other [living] visitors.

Gobbler’s Knob

Since its initial monetary exploitation at the hands of prospectors nearly two-hundred years ago, this Wasatch peak has become a hot spot for inexplicable occurrences and disappearances. Legend has it that “Dirty” Joe Taylor, the Knob’s name-giver and one of the original miners to extract the mountain’s natural resources, conceived the name in reference to a series of encounters he supposedly had with an otherworldly entity that has inhabited the mountain for millennia. Entries recovered from Taylor’s enigmatic, nearly illegible journals describe the creature as a gargantuan turkey, adorned in golden jewelry, silk, and a luminescent crown. In its telepathic mode of communication, the fowl monarch instructed Taylor to abandon his mining operations at once (lest he is gobbled into oblivion). Later in life, Taylor wrote extensively about the mountain’s existence as a spiritual refuge for the droves of turkeys massacred at the hands of human beings near Thanksgiving—a knob at which the birds could gobble freely in the next life. It is advised that non-vegans avoid the area after nightfall.

Mercur Cemetery

Among high desert sands and scrub oak lies the Mercur Cemetery, approximately 10 miles south of Tooele. This decaying burial ground is like something from an old western film, and is said to be the haunting grounds of the dead of decades past. Witness accounts of this place are multiplicitous as they are varied, ranging from the chance sighting of a phantom rider prowling the grounds after dark to the inexplicable conjurations of shadowy figures and sounds of scampering footsteps.

Fremont Island, Great Salt Lake

Along the foul-smelling, foggy banks of Fremont Island, individuals have sighted the ghost of late 19th century gravedigger, Jean Baptiste, wandering on moonlit nights. A pathological tomb thief, Baptiste was accused of disturbing the graves of over 300 deceased Utahns, specializing in the collection of their clothing. For his protection from vengeful family members of the deceased, the rouge was transported to Fremont island to await trial before mysteriously vanishing shortly thereafter. The curious specter carries a loose bundle of clothing in virtually all sightings.

Photos by Dalton Rees
Photos by Dalton Rees

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