Tour Northern Nevada’s haunts on the Ghost Trail

Ghosts in Northern Nevada aren’t of the ghoulish campfire variety. Here, they tell stories of the past … of the colorful characters of the Comstock-era, when silver was king and Virginia City was the cultural center of the Western expansion, or when getting a divorce required establishing residency in Reno during an extended stay.

Whether it’s Lake Tahoe’s smoky showrooms that hosted characters like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra during the golden age of casinos, or the pioneer families of rural settlements like Genoa, the apparitions that appear to some today are a reminder of connection between history and place.

Believers and non-believers alike can fill their Sierra travel docket with offbeat experiences, chasing the ghosts of Northern Nevada … they just have to know where to look. Here are some highlights:

Virginia City

Once a western metropolis, Virginia City is a history lover’s paradise, and spooky sites abound. Check out The Silver Terrace Cemeteries with its Victorian-era plots; Piper’s Opera House, one of the most significant vintage theaters in America is also a center for the supernatural – the ghost of John Piper himself is said to appear in the building.

Lake Tahoe

The “Jewel of the Sierra” is more than just a pretty place. Visit Thunderbird Lodge, the 1938 estate built by socialite George Whittell, where several ghosts are rumored to be roaming the grounds. At the Cal Neva Resort, fans of Hollywood’s heyday will be delighted to know the ghosts of Marilyn Monroe and Sammy Davis Jr. are still around.


Before Reno became the birthplace of the gaming and the quickie divorce, it was a pioneer settlement during the westward expansion. The Hillside Cemetery is the resting place for the many of the region’s first settlers, while Morrill Hall at the University of Nevada, is rumored to be home to frequent paranormal activity and haunted by a woman dressed in 1920s attire.

Carson City

Nevada’s capital is home to some of the state’s best museums and of course its halls of government, but the real thrill may come for visitors at sites like the Brewery Arts Center, where a ghost believed to be that of community leader James P. Maar greets visitors. During the annual Kit Carson Trail ghost walk (Oct. 24) visitors can encounter Carson City’s ghosts and historical figures played by actors in period costume.

View the complete Ghost Trail guide online.

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