The 5 Creepiest US Prisons Open For Tours

Prisons are scary as it is. But add a few ghost stories and a long and violent history to the mix, and you will end up with something absolutely terrifying. The United States has some of the oldest and most infamous prisons in the world that have been the homes of criminals such as Al Capone. Today, many of these prisons are open for tours, and many of them are also supposedly hot-spots for different paranormal activity. We made a list of the five creepiest US prisons that every paranormal lover should tour at least once.

Alcatraz Island


Is there a more famous prison than Alcatraz? Probably not. Its former inmates, like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and James Bulger, are just as well-known. This federal penitentiary was originally built to be a military base, however, it became a prison in 1934. Today, Alcatraz is a museum that is operated by the National Park Service. If you’re ever in San Francisco and you want to visit Alcatraz, make sure to book a reservation first. A day tour costs $40 per adult, while night tours a slightly more expensive and more likely to sell out.

Missouri State Penitentiary

If you ever find yourself in Jefferson City, and you love spooky travel locations, make sure to visit what was once America’s deadliest prison. Missouri State Penitentiary is a four-story gothic-style prison that overlooks the Missouri River. Today it serves as a historic landmark and museum. Some of its most infamous prisoners include Emma Goldman, James Earl Ray, and Katie Richards O’Hare. This was one of the first prisons to hold female criminals. You can book photography, history, and ghost & paranormal tours. Prices start at $25.

West Virginia Penitentiary

The West Virginia Penitentiary was long believed to be one of America’s most violent prisons. While it doesn’t serve as a prison anymore, many people believe that it’s still the home to the ghosts of former inmates. It has even been featured on many paranormal TV shows, such as Ghost Adventures and Ghost Hunters. The ghost stories come as no surprise, as 94 prisoners were once executed here. What makes things even more terrifying is that these executions were completely open to the public. This would change after one of the prisoners who was sentenced to death via hanging would end up being gruesomely decapitated. If you want to book a general tour, prices start from $14. Special ghost tours are a bit more expensive.

Eastern State Penitentiary


The Eastern State Penitentiary is located in Philadelphia. While it was once the most expensive prison in the world, today it seems like something out of a horror movie. The prison was operational from 1829 to 1971, and in that period, it was home to a lot of famous criminals. This was once the most expensive building in the United States, and with its gothic-style appearance, and revolutionary radial floor plan, it served as a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide. This was also America’s first penitentiary, but the solitary confinement system soon collapsed due to overcrowding problems. Later, Eastern State operated as a congregate prison until it closed. Tours start at $17.

Fort Delaware

The one thing that makes Fort Delaware especially terrifying is the fact that over 2,500 prisoners died here. Not because they were sentenced to death, but due to different diseases or malnutrition. The fact that many of the inmates ate rats out of desperation demonstrated how bad the conditions were. This prison was also featured on Ghost Hunters, as many believed that it was haunted, as well. It’s located on Pea Patch Island, and at one point, more than 12,000 Confederate soldiers were locked up here. General tours start from $12.

Kanita Bajrami

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