Asked to name the most ghoulish places in the United States, you might come up with Salem, Massachusetts, for its witchy goings-on, New Orleans for the aboveground cemeteries, and Washington, D.C., for the House of Representatives (shudder).
But what about Nevada?
The state arguably has one of the country's most formidable paranormal pedigrees, what with its many eerie ghost towns, extraterrestrial sightings, and obviously malevolent spirits manipulating the roulette wheels at Las Vegas casinos.
And yet in a recent ranking of the most haunted states in America, based on "a range of frightening factors" including the number of "cemeteries, ghost sightings, and paranormal activities," Nevada ranked 48th out of 50—a slight made all the more bitter because the ranking came from a website dedicated to gambling (et tu, BonusFinder.com?).
To help reassert Nevada's spooky bona fides, the state's official tourism authority, Travel Nevada, has launched its new Paranormal Passport, a free online tool designed to "encourage exploration of some of the more haunted sights in the Silver State," according to a press release.
To get the passport, all you have to do is go to the Paranormal Passport page at Travel Nevada's website and click "Get Your Pass" using your smartphone. You won't need to download an app to use the free tool, though you will have to register with your name and email address.
Once you've done that, you'll get access to a directory of more than 50 otherworldly locations across Nevada, with photos, brief descriptions, maps, and driving directions for each stop.
The passport places special emphasis on dusty ghost towns like the optimistically named Metropolis in northeastern Elko County. Any lingering specters there have a lot to be mad about—as the Paranormal Passport puts it, the place was "plagued by jackrabbits, typhoid, Mormon crickets, fire, and drought" before the last (living) residents pulled up stakes.
Notorious haunted locales such as Virginia City's Washoe Club saloon—a favorite of TV ghost hunters—and Tonopah's Mizpah Hotel, said to be frequented by the spirit of a lady in red, also make the list.
And this being the home state of Area 51, there are plenty of UFO-related destinations as well, including the Extraterrestrial Highway (aka State Route 375) and the Alien Research Center (pictured above) in Hiko.
Then, of course, there's Tonopah's Clown Motel, where an enormous collection of creepy clown figurines and memorabilia in the lobby greet guests with enough nightmare fodder to last well beyond a stay of any length. And as if that's not terrifying enough, there's a cemetery right next door.
(Inside the Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada | Credit: Travel Nevada)
Users of the Paranormal Passport have an option to check in digitally at each spooky location to rack up points that can eventually be redeemed for Travel Nevada merch such as coffee mugs, tote bags, and sweatshirts.
Though the project debuted in time for this year's Halloween season, tourism officials told Reno's KTVN news team that the Paranormal Passport will remain available all year round.
To download, go to TravelNevada.com—if you dare.