Ghost Stories That Get You Thinking
Here's a disclaimer: Don't read this if the idea of poltergeist makes you uneasy. O.K., with that out of the way, let's take a little tour of places in Wisconsin Dells that are purported to be haunted. First, there's the historic Showboat Saloon, a 100-year-old wedge-shaped building located at 24 Broadway in downtown Wisconsin Dells. It's long been regarded as haunted by a past resident – her name is Molly – and she favors the upstairs kitchen, opening and closing doors and fiddling with appliances. Her appearances became so regular that the current owner no longer allows people to rent out the upstairs apartment. The bar area has apparently been the scene of some supernatural activity too, with stories of human forms in turn-of-the-century clothing materializing in mirrors. Some say a strange voice has been heard numerous times near the stage area. In the cellar, unusual cold spots are apparent and employees have been known to experience feelings of nausea and sudden anxiety in this area.
Others in the community say the ghost of lumber rafter turned riverboat captain Leroy Gates haunts the waters of the Wisconsin River. Gates was one of the first entrepreneurs to see the potential in sightseeing tours for the area and in 1856 he took out an ad declaring he had purchased a boat for the purpose of touring occult caves of the Dells. Gates met his death on September 8, 1895, but his apparition apparently didn't get the memo.
Then there's Belle Boyd, famous Confederate spy who spent her final days in Wisconsin Dells. As the story goes, Boyd, who hailed from Virginia, aided Confederate generals using her flirtatious charms to get information from a Union general's aide. At the end of the war, she traveled the country to present dramatic narratives of her spying adventures. On June 9, 1900, she arrived in Wisconsin Dells to give a speech to veterans of the Union Army. Two days later, at the age of 56, she suffered a fatal heart attack. Her gravesite in the Wisconsin Dells Spring Hill Cemetery was completed with stones from each of the Confederate states. Some claim her ghost wanders the paths of the cemetery yet today.
Frighteningly Good Times
If all that ghost talk gives you the heebie-jeebies, perhaps you'd have more fun exploring manmade attractions dedicated to scaring visitors. Ghost Out-Post Haunted House has more than a dozen bone-chilling animatronics-filled chambers. It's open daily through the end of October, then on the weekends after that. Note – this attraction is not intended for little ones afraid of the dark.
The October calendar looks eerily appealing at many of the Wisconsin Dells waterpark resorts. Throughout the month there are various haunting activities such as hayrides, mazes, trick or treating and more.
One other not-to-be-missed attraction is the vampire exhibit at Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. Look for the secret passageway and also allot time to work on your vampire trivia while you're there.
Ghost Tours by Land and by Sea
Ghost Boat "Journey to Haunted Canyon" - Season of the Witch takes passengers on an eerie after-dark excursion to Witches Gulch. Boats depart from the Dells Boat Tours® main dock at 11 Broadway in Downtown Dells, where even the historic ticket building will be decked out for Halloween. Upon arriving at Witches Gulch, passengers will disembark and snake along a narrow boardwalk leading deep into the darkened gorge. This after-dark tour, which runs select weekends through Halloween, is not recommended for children under the age of 11. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Dells Boat Tours® at (608) 254-8555.
If you don’t have sea legs, Kalahari Resorts & Conventions has recently announced tours to Ravenloft Haunted House. For the first time ever, brave souls are invited to visit the torched remains of the haunted and historical Ravenloft estate. Tours take place October 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31 from 6:00pm – 10:00pm. Cost for overnight resort guests is $5 per person, while cost for non-resort guests is $10 per person. The Ravenloft experience is not recommended for children under the age of 10. For more information visit here: http://www.kalahariresorts.com/wisconsin/news-and-events/halloween/ravenloft
Hayrides and Mazes and Zip Lines, Oh My
Less than a half hour from Wisconsin Dells in nearby Mauston, Red Ridge Ranch Riding Stable will have haunted hayrides and a haunted corn maze Friday and Saturday nights from dusk to 10 p.m. in October. Daytime activities, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., are a little less scary and include pumpkin painting and a petting zoo.
If you like zip lining, try a tour while you catch the beautiful fall colors. There are three options in town: BigFoot Zipline Tours, Chimney Rock Park Zip Line Tours - Vertical Illusions and Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Canopy Tour. Whee!
Looking to get lost in a corn maze? Stop by Chula Vista Resort’s 20-acre cornfield. In 2015 the field features two great mazes of varying levels of difficulty. It’s open (weather permitting) Friday - Sunday. In October, the corn maze features zombie events. Attendees are encouraged to dress up in their best zombie costume. Chula Vista also has a GPS and trivia game app for smartphones. Download it, and you will be given clues that help guide you through the maze. Isn’t that nifty?
Scary Good Deals
For details on all the businesses listed above and up-to-the-minute information on special deals and packages, visitors can head right to our deals page!