South Dakota, with its rugged landscapes and rich history, has long captured the imagination of travelers and history buffs alike.
But beneath the grandeur of Mount Rushmore, the vastness of the Badlands, and the serenity of the Black Hills lies another facet of the state — a more mysterious and eerie dimension. Whispered tales of haunted locales dot the map, each with its own spine-tingling lore.
From old hospitals to abandoned gold mines, visiting haunted places in South Dakota promises an experience that blurs the line between the living and the spectral. For those with a penchant for the paranormal, a journey through South Dakota’s most haunted spots is sure to offer more than just scenic views; it’s a thrilling adventure into the state’s ghostly past.
In this post, I promote travel to destinations that are the traditional lands of the Cheyenne, Mnicoujou, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Apsaalooké (Crow) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
With a name like that, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Devil’s Gulch is one of South Dakota’s most haunted places.
Some argue that the gorge is cursed by the spirit of a 19th-century outlaw that died trying to cross the gorge as he escaped from one of his robberies. Others say that are actually haunted by the ghosts of two lovers. Back in the 1800s, an outlaw and a group of Native Americans kidnapped a lady named Nellie Harding and took her to the gorge. Her fiancé set out to find her and ended up killing most of the kidnappers. But it didn’t end well as both lovers were wounded in the melee and dying.
Perhaps, this explains why visitors have felt an eerie presence following them as they traverse the deep ravine.
Perched on a hilltop, Easton Castle exudes an ominous aura from afar. Everything goes back to 1902 when Carroll Francis Easton bought the house to live with his family.
After Eaton and his wife’s death, their son was consumed by sadness and rarely left the house. Rumor has it that the house experiences ghostly apparitions roaming its deserted halls. Some believe it’s Mrs. Easton’s ghost. But there’s another specter that chases people wielding a knife!
This Fairmont Hotel is a hotbed for paranormal activity. And it’s easy to see why. The historic hotel had many lives before it became a popular restaurant to eat while in Deadwood. It used to be a brothel and a saloon.
Guests have reported seeing shadowy figures in the hallways and hearing ghostly whispers in their rooms. The spirit of a woman in a flowing gown is believed to roam the premises, leaving visitors with an unforgettable encounter with the unknown.
Echoes of the past reverberate through the ruins of Fort Sisseton. The fort was built in 1864 and then was designated as a state historical park in 1959.
Most locals agree that some of the old occupants still like to call the fort home. Apparently, there’s a woman in a white gown wandering in the old officers’ quarters, and the spirit of a little child who likes to play on the grounds.
Some visitors have reporters feeling they’re being followed and others have experienced doors locking on their own.
Historic Bullock Hotel
Named after Seth Bullock, Deadwood’s first sheriff, the historic Bullock Hotel is allegedly haunted by its founder himself. The sheriff died of colon cancer in 1919, but it seems his sprint refuses to leave the material world.
Guests have encountered apparitions of the former sheriff and objects moving without explanation. If you’d like to experience it yourself, the hotel offers paranormal tours on Friday and Saturday nights. Do you dare?
The iconic town of Deadwood – once known for its Wild West history and well-named to be on the list of haunted places in South Dakota – is now famous for being one of the spookiest places in South Dakota. I mean, how can it not be a hotbed for paranormal activities with a past where murders were the rule?
Spectral figures frequent the historic streets, and ghostly saloon music can be heard on quiet nights. The spirits of notorious outlaws, like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, still roam, reliving their tumultuous pasts. Many visitors have captured chilling evidence of the afterlife amidst the old-fashioned charm of Historic Deadwood.
Hotel Alex Johnson
High on the list of haunted places in South Dakota, the Hotel Alex Johnson in Rapid City is said to be visited by the ghost of its founder’s daughter, Alex Johnson, who died of polio.
Guests have reported flickering lights, unexplained cold drafts, and ghostly apparitions in their rooms. Elevators are known to stop on random floors, and phantom footsteps echo in the hallways, revealing the presence of the old inhabitants of this historic hotel.
Homestake Opera House
Who’d have imagined that this magnificent opera house is one of the spookiest haunted places in South Dakota? But yes, the Homestake Opera House conceals a dark side.
Workers have reported seeing shadowy figures in period clothing and hearing spectral applause after performances. Phantom musicians have been heard tuning their instruments before unseen shows. Some people believe that the bodiless residents are actually the ghosts of those who died during the Spanish flu pandemic a century ago. When the hospital’s town had reached its full capacity, the bodies were moved into the opera house… Now it all makes sense, right?
Mount Marty College
Beneath the idyllic campus of Mount Marty College lies a haunting past. The paranormal activity seems to concentrate in Whitby Hall, a residence that first opened in 1955. It is said to be haunted by the ghost of a man who wears gray pants, numerous men in blue suits, and a blurry white figure with no defined shape. Things got so intense that at one point the authorities decided to lock up room 200 and leave it empty for years.
Mount Rushmore Brewing Company
Mount Rushmore Brewing Company was once a funeral home and a crematorium; today it’s a popular spot to meet with friends and have a drink. But you might not be drinking alone, even when you have the table to yourself…
Employees have reported seeing objects move around on their own and hearing unexplained noises, especially in the basement where the remains of the cremation furnace are still visible.
Old Minnehaha Courthouse
The Old Minnehaha Courthouse is considered by many one of the most haunted places in South Dakota. Visitors have reported hearing someone falling down the stairs and when they turn to look it was no one. They’ve also heard voices and footsteps in places where they are alone.
Who these ghosts are is still a mystery… Perhaps, they are the ghostly judges and restless spirits that once set foot in the courtrooms.
It seems that the grand stage of the Orpheum Theater comes alive with more than just performances. Built in 1913, the theater is home to a ghost named Larry, who enjoys watching visitors and workers from the balcony. Though some people also say that other ghostly actors join the stage. They even say that there are applause echoes long after the final curtain call.
Sica Hollow State Park
Nestled amid the scenic beauty of South Dakota, Sica Hollow State Park hides a darker side. So dark that it wackily became one of the most popular haunted spots in South Dakota.
It is said to be haunted by the spirit of a man named Hand. He arrived in the Hollow in the cold winter. But he didn’t show any sign of respect for the land and for the traditions of the tribe. The tribe’s members decided that it wasn’t going to be left that way and that once spring arrived they would take things into their own hands. Hand was destroyed by Thunderer, the messenger of the Great Spirit, whom the tribe had called upon for help.
This is certainly one of the more interesting ghost stories set in South Dakota too, as it has stronger roots in the stories of the Native American peoples whose land this traditionally is.
Have any questions about these spooky haunted places in South Dakota? Let me know in the comments below!