Scary Camping Stories Are Creepier When They’re True
Camping is one of my favorite things to do in the summer. But I camp at a grounds were there are hundreds of other people. The real outdoorsy people camp or hike out in the deep woods. The type of area where you wipe your butt with leaves and bury your poop to avoid attracting predators.
Weird and scary shit happens out in the woods. I don’t mean scary camping stories you make up at a campfire. I mean finding dead bodies, bear attacks, and something hitting the outside of the tent then disappearing without trace. Some campers, hikers, and park rankers took to Reddit to tell their scariest, creepiest, or weirdest tales. Some of the best are below.
This ended up being funny but at the time freaked me out at first. My wife and I were camping in one of the National Forests in the mountains in NC. We were in a camp ground but not a lot of people there and the spots were semi private because of trees and foliage. So we had just settled down in the tent and I was just falling asleep when through my eyelids, the whole tent lights up. I jump up and go out of the tent thinking someone is messing around. Not a soul or any noise, nothing.
I go back in lay down, and just falling asleep again, when it happens a second time. Same routine jump up check and nothing.
So this time, I lay down but stay awake and have the tent unzipped ready to jump out and catch whoever is shining a light on the tent when it all lights up again. And I saw what was doing it right away. Fireflies were landing in mass on the tent and then they would all light up at once. I guess when I would jump up, they would fly off, then settle down again after I got quiet.
I had a good chuckle over that one in the end.
On a road trip with a friend, and we hiked into a trail in Colorado one evening to camp so we wouldn’t have to pay for a campsite. Found a little clearing by a stream, my friend set up a tent while I decided to sleep under the stars. Right as we were getting ready to go to sleep, another woman showed up and pitched her tent in the clearing as well.
I hadn’t been feeling well that day plus we had the hike in with all our stuff so when I slept I slept hard. Woke up to a ranger shaking me and asking if I saw where the bear went. Bear? What bear? Then I look up and see the woman’s tent just shredded. Turns out she had left her food in her tent that night (we hung ours from a tree), and a curious bear came by at like 4 in the morning to have a snack. In tearing in to her tent, it ended up raking its claws across her forehead as well. She decided to gtfo, though why she didn’t bother waking either me or my friend up to let us know about this very hungry bear nearby, I don’t know.
Anyway, pretty freaky thing to wake up to.
I used to spend a lot of time solo camping in and around the Indian Peaks wilderness in CO and experienced some weird stuff. Nothing that was outright supernatural, but just unsettling. I love those woods but they give me the creeps. Here are some notable examples from 4-5 trips up there in all seasons.
1 – After thinking that a particular area under a tree and against a rock looked like a great place to set up for the night, I found a shredded sleeping bag and old (must’ve been 20 years or more) camp supplies. Found a lot of bones around the site too, ribs and vertebrae — probably elk, but maybe not. I camped elsewhere.
2 – Found a deer skull out in the middle of a (recently) frozen over lake/pond. Major snow the night before, and the skull was sitting on top of the fresh powder with no tracks anywhere I could see and no other bones. Odd.
3 – Woke up to a squirrel literally nailed to a tree outside my shelter. I had made camp late and tired and in dying light, so I might not have noticed it the night before, but I think I would have, which means it happened sometime while I was asleep.
Buddy and I were hiking at dawn during a camping trip. Walking along a path and I hear a zing like a bird chirp by my ear. A second or so later a tree kind of pops next to my buddy. It’s at this point we realized there was an accompanying crack and we’d been shot at. We informed the park ranger around noon he ended up finding an old guy hunting illegally. Not sure if he was charged with anything.
Camping with 2 friends, middle of the night, all 3 of us inside square dome tent, just chilling out, chatting, lights are on. One side of wall begins to cave inward, as if there’s strong wind or something/one pushing on the side of the tent. Everyone is freaking, but I assume wind, “Chill the fuck out guys!” proceeds to jump up and punch tent wall… connect with something/one – feeling of punching flesh is unmistakeable. Now I freak the fuck out, what/who did I just punch through the tent wall?! Convince friends it’s smartest to have a look outside the tent, but it’s 15 minutes later by the time they agree, and there’s nothing there.
When I was a kid, about 12 or so, my dad would always wake me up in the middle of the night to go hunting. I fucking hate hunting.
A few weeks prior to this night I saw an episode of “are you afraid of the dark” about the jersey devil. I was on edge because I knew my dad would make me go hunting soon and we sometimes hunt in Jersey.
Sure as shit, he wakes me up one morning at like 3am and we are off to the woods in Jersey in pitch black so that he could be there and all set up before the deer come out.
I’m up in the stand, starting to calm down, when I see a little figure on the ground. It’s human, with a face I can barely make out since it’s a bit far in the distance, but I know it’s human, and it’s like 2-3 feet tall.
I’m losing my shit but don’t want to say anything because I know my dad will just tell me to suck it up.
I stare at this fucker for at least 4 hours until we get down from the stand and walk towards it to leave.
It’s a fucking lawn gnome. Miles and miles into the deep woods. There’s no roads for a looooong while and certainly no houses. How the fuck did a gnome get there? The stand we were in wasn’t even a permanent stand. It was one we put up when we got there.
Just a few weeks ago we were on a roadtrip from BC to San Diego and we came upon a campsite just outside of crescent city California. We drove through, one side of the campground was relatively empty, I noticed a few scattered tents but nobody close to the location we ended up picking. We had tons of space.
We wanted an early night so I started a fire while my girlfriend started cooking. We ate, had a few beers, and climbed up to our rooftop tent (tepui) with our dog by 9pm or so. I had a rough time sleeping and woke up a few times but finally fell into a decent sleep.
In the pitch dark with all of our tent windows and canvasses closed i was awoken at 1am by someone whistling outside of our tent the tune of “when the saints come marching in”. After a few minutes of this repetitive whistling I nudged my girlfriend who awoke and was obviously freaked out as well. The whistling then turned to chanting things like “when you sleep here you disrespect me, and when you disrespect me you disrespect the US Marines!” The person would then start spelling out words like “F.L.E.E”. The verbiage and tone kept getting more aggressive so we decided we had to make a move. I slowly unzipped the tent while our guard dog was snoring and got my head out if the tent. I took a few seconds to let my eyes adjust and figure out where the person was. I felt more confident once I could somewhat see and hear so I climbed down and the girlfriend passed me the dog and she climbed down too. We flipped the tent up without securing it and we jumped into a truck (while the person was still whistling) to a motel in crescent city.
The next morning we drove back to get the few belongings that weren’t in the truck and a family who had been camping a few sites over said it went on for another 2-3 hours and it was the scariest thing their family had ever experienced.
Was solo backpacking and decided to stop for the night as it was right around sunset. Got everything set up and I heard a car on a road about 1500 ft. from my position. Honestly, I didn’t even realize there was a road there because it was up a steep embankment and I couldn’t see it. So I hear this car, then it slows, then it stops, then the doors open and close and the car drives off. I hear a group of men talking, but they were too far away to make out what they were saying. By now the sun has set and the men begin using flashlights. They appear to be descending the steep embankment towards me. I’m not a little concerned as nothing about this is adding up. I figure if they get any closer I’ll try to quietly escape and leave my gear. They stop about half way down and then. They start fucking digging, with shovels. Now I’m shitting my pants, they dig for about an hour, then stop, then I hear the car return. They begin to ascend up the embankment but before they do, they shine their flashlights down on to my position. I don’t move a muscle and they didn’t seem to notice me. I just sat there, didn’t move a muscle for at least an hour after they had gone. I packed up and moved about a 1/4 mile away, deeper into the woods and well of the trail, just in case they had seen me and were going to come back for me. The next day I hiked out, found a park ranger and gave him a map that I had drawn of the area and where the digging had taken place. He asked me to accompany him to the spot, but I refused.
2 tents, next to each other about 5 feet apart, in the middle of the mountains. Had my 3 little brothers in one tent and me and my gf in the other.
Its night time and we have just put the fire out, so its dark. Everyone is in their respective tents snoozing off into dreamland. About an hour later im the only one awake just day dreaming.
Suddenly I hear soft human-like foots steps circling our tents over and over. Confused, I ask whose there with no response but continued footsteps so I stepped outside.
No one, footsteps stop. I go back into my tent. Foot steps start again….I make my presence known and go back out. No one, footsteps stop. Of course I check on my brothers but they are asleep and sound. I repeat this same process about 4-5 more times believe it or not, lol. Footsteps always stopped. Ended up just going to sleep to the footsteps and not giving a fuck.
When morning came I asked my brothers how they slept and they responded with: “Fine, except for you walking, loudly, all around the god damn campsite all night!”
Camping in a national park up north a few weeks ago. I was sleeping in a tiny cabin, two friends outside in their tent, friend’s dog sleeping on the ground outside the tent. Around 2 or 3 am my friend started hearing a yipping sound. A coyote was trying to get her dog to come to it so the whole pack could jump in and eat the dog. Fortunately the dog was dumb/smart enough to stay where he was, and the friend put him in the cabin with me. Coyotes didn’t like this at all, and started howling and howling all around us for several minutes. It creeped me the fuck out, but at least the dog is okay.
My dad was up camping in Canada. He was sleeping naked in his tent in a patch of woods near some train tracks. A bear cub came rustling up and messing with the tent. My dad who had long hair and a beard at the time grabs a long bowie knife and runs outside the tent, notices the bear cub. Where bear cub is, mama bear is near by. He backs up near the train tracks just as an early morning freight train comes by. He could see the engineer looking at him in horror thinking this long haired bearded hippy with a big knife was gonna try to hijack the train. He got a visit from the mounties later that day inquiring on if he had seen any angry hippies with weapons around.
Had lions, leopards, and elephants outside the tent. Lions seem to think of tents as solid objects so they’re not much of a worry, which is small comfort when one is coughing two feet from your head. Elephants are a real worry and dangerous as fuck, but they had no reason to do anything but saunter by. Never saw nor heard the leopards, they’re like ghosts, but they leave tracks. Apparently they gave my supply tent some attention but thought the better of it. We mostly stay in the tent at night, and if you have to take a piss, you don’t go far from the fire.
Went camping with my girlfriend last year. We arrived to the camp site only too see the ranger putting up signs stating that this was the last weekend the camp sites were open due to the end of the season. That night we decided our tent was not going to keep us warm enough so we slept in the car.
The next morning we woke up and noticed a huge paw print on the back window right above where our heads were. Thankfully we didn’t have any food in the car but still creepy finding the bear paw print.
When I was about 18 me and some friends took a road trip about 7 hours or so down to the Apilachicola National Forest near Tallahassee FL. We were going to do a little car camping, drink a few ice cold Natty Lights. You know, 18 year old stuff. As such we didn’t want to be bothered by any park rangers so we drove waaaay deep into the woods.
Got there, set up camp, had said Natty Lights, and me and a guy decided to go do a little exploring, so we walked about 100 yards from our site back to the main road, saw another path directly across from us, and started walking. Immediately we started seeing signs that someone had lived there for a while. Big bags of trash, stuff like that. Should have been a huge red flag to turn around. But you know. 18. Nothing could hurt us. So we get to this camp site of an older white guy living out of his van. Clothes lines strung up, coolers places around it, and a big gorgeous dog, I think maybe a golden retriever. We tried to back out, but he sees us and starts talking. He’s friendly enough, asks us where we’re from, tells us about some cool spots to check out in the park, we end up chatting for ten minutes and going on our way. I kept thinking to myself how odd it was that he gave directions in steps, not yards or miles. Guy always seemed to be off balance. Not stumbling drunk, but like he was walking on a balance beam, swaying side to side. Oh and he was SUPER excited to talk about national parks and forests where we were from.
Ok. Camping part over. We went back to our tents. Fast forward two months, same buddy calls me late at night and tells me to turn on TV to the news, I oblige. I see an old dude with a van. You see where this is headed but I didn’t, so I get pissed at my friend for waking me up. “No, WATCH.” And then I see the golden retriever and it all clicks. What the fuck. That man’s name was Gary Michael Hilton, convicted of at least four murders. He kidnapped and murdered a girl on Blood Mtn GA, an older couple in the Pisgah NC, and a girl in the Apilachicola at that camp site not long after we left. Yes, the very same places he had been talking to us about.
Obviously we call the cops, they put us in touch with the FBI (F is for Florida), and we get flown down to take investigators to the camp site. Point out every spot we saw anything, tell them exactly what he told us, and show them the places he described to us. I didn’t find out until after the trial, but apparently they found what appear to be partially destroyed human finger bones in an area near the site. Had to fly down again to testify.
Not me but my parents. They went camping on there honeymoon 20 years ago (still married). They went to The Garden of The Gods. This is in Hick country. Southern Illinois everyones related type place. But they’re walking the trails they and stumble upon a dead body. Thinking it was a joke they walk over and immediately realize that this is in fact a real dead body. My mom pushes my dad over and gets the fuck up out of there. They go to town which is like 25 minutes away and tell the chief police man there. He thinks there just fucking with him since there both young at the time. (18 and 19) anyways he finally decides to check it out after them hounding him. They get there and turns out that the man was laying there dead for 4 days. He had been stabbed or something like that. Not sure on the details of how he died. But I have heard that story a million times growing up and thought I’d share it with Reddit. Tl;Dr my parents found a dead body on there honeymoon.