Today is Valentine's Day, so it might not be an ideal time to pose the question, "what's the creepiest place you've ever been in Washington State?"...or perhaps it is, in the event that place just happens to be an ex's bedroom or root cellar.

But even though such a query seems best reserved for All Hallow's Eve or Dia de los Muertos, we all know that creepy never takes a day off and doesn't wait for a special occasion to freak us out only once a year.

And so, on a day when most of will be contemplating thoughts like should I have gone with a Mylar balloon instead of a latex one in case she has an allergy and I wonder if the stuff inside those cherry cordials will actually make me drunk, we'll instead be tackling the world of spooks, specters, and everything else eldritch inside the Evergreen State.

In a recent Reddit forum which posed the same question, respondents volleyed with answers that spanned from places on Washington's shining sea of the Pacific Coastline to its seas of shining wheat in the Palouse Region.

For some it was a haunt of human construct which made them quiver uncontrollably, like the old Northern State Mental Hospital near Sedro-Woolley or the Thousand Steps (Greenwood) Cemetery in Spokane. While others said it was one of Mother Nature's morbid mutations which made them quake to the core, like the Ape Caves at Mount St. Helens or the craggy foothills (that have eyes?) surrounding Index on the west side of Stevens Pass.

No matter what your favorite flavor of fear might be, there's certainly no doubt that Washington's borders harbor plenty of places that would make a fitting backdrop for a Blair Witch Project spin-off or a Scooby-Doo reboot. But which of them would actually reign supreme in a beauty contest made only for the truly terrifying?

Well, who knows? It's one of those questions that's simply impossible to empirically answer since creepy will forever be as subjective a disposition as one's fancy for varieties at Voodoo Donut or favor of novels by Stephen King.

So since we can't really define which places within the boundaries of ol' George are precisely the creepiest, I'll at least give you my personal opinion on the subject instead.

Now, I should start off by mentioning that I have been driving the state's to-hell-and-gone places for fun and leisure for over thirty years, and have been to any number of spots - both man-made and natural - that have creeped me out plenty during that time.

But there are a few which absolutely top my own list...and in fact...are places which I am honestly reticent to visit ever again.

And so, I give you the creep of the crop, the crème de la creep, and the creep de resistance of places I've been in Washington State.



It's not so much the few buildings that make up this unincorporated community in Pend Oreille County which qualify it for my list, but rather the real life ghost story I have to tell which happened near to it.

In my early years of crisscrossing the state, I had a penchant for the nocturnal and would find myself driving in the damndest of places in the dead of night.

Tiger was one of them, and it was while traveling a hairpin-laden section of State Route 20 (SR-20) between there and Colville that the otherworldly brushed against the red, hobnail velour interior of my old, black Trans Am.

It was my first trip over this section of SR-20, and as I crested the hilltops between the two towns, an eerie mist had suddenly turned into a fog as thick as the pea soup that Linda Blair upchucked as a demonically-possessed Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist.

Needless to say, I not only became worried about the rapidly-deteriorating conditions, but was also feeling the cold chill of our old pal creepy on the exposed portions of my arms and neck which had grown enough hairs for it to comb on end.

But just as the zenith of my anxiety was upon me, a supernatural presence magically appeared in the passenger seat.

It materialized like a shimmering hologram within the darkness, having a hollowed shell of silvery air highlighted by details outlined in vaporous white light.

I'm not entirely sure how the fellas from Ghostbusters would have categorically defined it, but to this day, I'm certain this apparition of an old farmer sporting a Shenandoah beard below two pointed eyes framed by a pair of rustic rectangular glasses and donning a set of well-worn denim overalls was sent to guide me safely through the Pazuzu-spawned fog.

Although the experience had an undeniably benevolent undertone, any run-in with a ghostly presence must rate as being at least a little bit creepy, along with the closest place it could be associated with.




Yeah, I know, cemeteries are quintessentially creepy no matter where they might be located. I mean, there just seems to be something about a place where scores of dead bodies are located that tends to have this sort of an effect on most people.

But the old Owsley pioneer cemetery outside Pataha in rural Garfield County was inhabited by more than just a few subterranean skeletons when I happened upon it one spring evening in the early 1990s.

I was heading to Pullman on U.S. Highway 12 and had to pull over after hearing a repeated thumping noise coming from the rear axle of my usually-trusty Trans Am.

Of course, it was the dead of night once again, and I had no idea where exactly I had left the roadway.

I got out my car and before walking back to check out the tailfeathers of my old Firebird, I caught the chalky outline of several hundred-year-old hedge stones dimly reflecting the available light from a waning crescent moon just a few yards up the hillside.

But it wasn't these markers of the dearly departed which summoned creepy to pay me a visit that night. That was left to the strange figure I saw clambering along further up the slope.

It looked like the robe of an ancient monk, in a dark shade of brown with a colorless braided sash, that was trapesing through the weeds with no one inside to account for its movement. It was just an empty shell which had seemingly hitched a ride on something that it might have found hanging on the clothesline of an old church nearby.

Of course, I have no clue what it might have been. Perhaps it was just a wayward overcoat that had been given life by a twirling breeze howling off the hillside? Or maybe the vacant robe had been inhabited with a playing child whose frame was several sizes too small to fit it?

I'm honestly not sure I want to know myself. But what I do know is that experience forever rendered the Owsley Cemetery as a forbidden place to ever set foot again...even in the light of day.




Benge is an unincorporated community in East Central Adams County.

At last check, it had a population of 57 residents, and to say they all live off the beaten path is an understatement.

Now don't get me wrong, I love driving through rural areas of the state, and have the greatest of respect for the folks who call these places home.

But with all deference to its fine residents, Benge is just frickin' creepy. In fact, it reminds me of the godforsaken environs the Beverly Hillbillies must have been incredibly thankful to leave behind after striking black gold and moving to So Cal.

Furthermore and unlike our first two entrants in the countdown of most creepy Washington places, nothing ever happened to me in Benge to establish its place on the list. I never rambled through there in the middle of the night and saw a spectral farmer or a formless testament to the monastic. The place is just downright scary if you ask me.

And the crown jewel of its eeriness lies at the east edge of town. That's where the Benge School is located, and albeit the building itself blends in nicely with the rest of the town's creepy backcloth, it's what's to be found in the playground area of the school that takes the creepy cake.


Just take a look at the pictures of this thing my girlfriend and I snapped on our way through there last summer in the middle of the afternoon. So, you tell me what that thing's supposed to be? To my eyes, it looks like a wrought iron homage to the nefarious mastermind in the movie The Human Centipede. Or perhaps even worse, a full-scale model of some type of creature that actually inhabits the area like in the movie Tremors.

Whatever the case, it's bizarre and creepy, even during the daytime but especially at night (when I first spied it years ago, of course ;-).

In conclusion, Benge not only belongs on my personal list of the creeptacular in Washington State, but it could also fit nicely right next to The Town That Dreaded Sundown and wherever the Sawyer's house was located in Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a list of creepiest places in the entire United States.




Oh my gosh, where do I begin with Bridge Creek Road?

It's a 30-mile, low-elevation pass that separates State Route 21 near Keller to the west with the small town of Inchelium to the east...and it's one damn creepy road if you ask me!

I've driven this road dozens of times over the years while traveling through rural Ferry County (not that there's any other kind of Ferry County), and have had a multitude of odd and unsettling experiences on one stretch of it or another.

From the missing time I experienced when my trip odometer ran an extra 13 miles and the drive took 35 minutes longer than usual without stopping, to the day when what looked like a panda bear shot out of a cannon came tumbling across the road and missed my speeding car's front end by mere inches, there's no shortage of ways the trickster gods that govern and maintain this highway won't test your will to remain sane.

If you believe in Kokopelli and have been searching for his summer residence, I'm of the full belief that you'll find it has an address somewhere along Bridge Creek Road.

Want my advice? Don't travel this road alone and never cross it at night. In fact, I won't drive this road at night ever again and haven't for the last 20 years. Or better yet, maybe just avoid it altogether and go some place like Morocco or one of Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville locations instead.




Okay, kids, there's really no easy way to say this, so I'm just gonna come right out with it. The town of Nespelem is creepy. Actually, on second thought, it's not just creepy, it's flat out dark.

This little hamlet of the preternatural - population 236 - sits in the southeastern corner of Okanogan County on the Colville Reservation.

I'll never forget my first visit to Nespelem, because aside from having to pass through it on my way to other parts unknown in the surrounding vicinity, it was also the only trip I ever plan to take there.

Much like Benge, I there isn't much of particular and noteworthy creep that ever took place in Nespelem for me personally, but the place truly has one of the darkest vibrations I've ever encountered, especially after dusk.

Even just the few minutes that it takes to pass through Nespelem on State Route 155 or Cache Creek Road can be completely draining to one's spiritual energy and leave a feeling like you've just finished living through an episode of Stranger Things that actually happened.

I do recall driving through a freak snowstorm just to the east of Nespelem in mid-spring one time when the skies had been completely clear only minutes prior and the forecast called for temperatures well above what was needed for snow.

I also remember feeling like I'd had COVID for a month after tripping through Nespelem at night about 25 years before COVID was ever a thing.

And I certainly recall one night at a coffee shop in East Wenatchee that I used to frequent, when one of the waitresses overheard me talking about how dark I believed Nespelem to be.

She came over to my table and asked to seat herself a short time later while on a break. I obliged and she proceeded to tell me how she used to live in Nespelem and how I was absolutely correct. She also regaled me with distressing tales about what she called "imps" that live or somehow materialize from the ether into Nespelem and steal children. In hindsight, I actually think the stories she told me while I sat in a public place 112 miles away from Nespelem upset me more than actually being in the town itself.

I haven't been back much since and don't plan to be, but if you love to wander the roads as much as I do, do yourself a favor and stay away from Nespelem. I'm sure the people who live there are just fine, but as far as I'm concerned, whatever it is that resides there with them is most definitely not.

If you have to go, bring some sage and wear a talisman to keep the dark energy from sticking to you.

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