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Haunted house on a hill with red lights shining inside and bats flying overhead
Cherries | Adobe Stock

The 6 Scariest Haunted Houses in America

SmarterTravel

What level of thrill are you looking for this Halloween? Scare yourself silly at one of these incredibly spooky haunted houses (or maybe just skim this story in the middle of the day with all the lights on). Featuring everything from tunnels filled with live snakes to real electric shocks—these six haunted houses are the scariest in America.

Eloise Asylum, Michigan

Eloise Asylum, Michigan
Eloise Asylum

You’ll certainly get your money’s worth at the Eloise Asylum. This former psychiatric facility has undergone a $1.2 million conversion into a haunted house that pulls out all the spooky stops using cold spark pyrotechnic simulators, a Tesla coil, advanced projection mapping technologies and over 100 actors each night. 

Brace yourself for a truly immersive scare at Eloise Asylum, as the actors are allowed to touch the victims (aka participants). 

Gates of Hell, Nevada

The owners and performers of Gates of Hell, Nevada haunted house in Nevada
Courtesy Anthony Mair | Gates of Hell

At Nevada’s only R-Rated haunted house, Gates of Hell, you’ll need to be 17 or older to enter (or with a parent/guardian). No one under 12 will be admitted at all, due to the intense nature of this exhibition. Put on by the appropriately named Freakling Brothers, the terror at Gates of Hell begins the minute you enter the park. 

You’ll need to sign a waiver to enter this haunted house, where you’ll then be treated to what the Gates of Hell describes as “a sadistic experiment in absolute sensory overload. You won’t be a spectator. Prepare for heart pounding, claustrophobic terror; face the reality of your own violent death… and finally, experience a slow and painful descent into cold, black nothingness to meet Lucifer himself.”

The 13th Gate, Louisiana

An interior room from the The 13th Gate haunted house in Louisiana
13th Gate

Step inside a real-life horror movie at the 13th Gate, where professional makeup effects, set design, and special effects will leave you wondering what’s real and what isn’t. This haunted house changes yearly, but for 2021 you can expect tunnels filled with live snakes, an outdoor zombie-infested graveyard, and a life-sized pirate ship. 

Sounds too tame for you? Visit during one of the Flashlight Fright Nights, when the haunted house experience happens in the pitch dark. 

Cutting Edge, Texas

Three people dressed as clowns Cutting Edge haunted house in Texas
Cutting Edge Haunted House

“Beware,” warns the website for Cutting Edge Haunted House. “You’ll receive electrical shocks.” Built in a 100-year old abandoned meat packing plant, this sprawling horror show holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s largest haunted house—so prepare for an extended amount of terror time.

In addition to real electrical shocks, you can expect live snakes, moving floors, and enveloping fog—and be sure to pack a change of clothes because you’re going to get wet in this haunted house. 

Asylum 49, Utah

Interior hallway at Asylum 49 haunted house in Utah
Asylum 49

Asylum 49 is held in what used to be Tooele Hospital, one of the most haunted places in America. Visitors can choose different scare levels when they purchase their tickets, ranging from “no-contact” to full-contact where you’ll be covered in “stuff” and have to “tap out” to end your tour. 

Be warned that full-contact means you can be separated from your group, “detained in small dark areas” and even strapped to a metal bed.

The Haunted Hotel, California

Clowns crawling up from behind a rainbow floor at The Haunted Hotel, California
Haunted Hotel

The Haunted Hotel is so scary that the venue has actually been sued by one of the visitors to the haunted house, who was so terrified that he injured himself attempting to run away from one of the actors. 

If you dare attempt the Haunted Hotel, you’ll head down to the hotel’s basement via the “hellevator”, visit the “spirit-saturated hotel bar” and stay in the “chainsaw bridal suite”.

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