VIRGINIA CITY, Nev. [Sept. 19, 2022] — Whatever is in the recipe for a haunted town, Virginia City, Nevada, has it in spades. The historic mining town, located just 25 minutes from Reno, was once a booming metropolis, responsible for millions of dollars in silver and gold ore and the largest city between Denver and San Francisco. Perhaps there’s something about these hills those miners didn’t want to leave behind, because tales of hauntings and paranormal experiences in this town have been plentiful as far back as the history books go.
To celebrate its haunted status, Virginia City officially dubs October as “Hauntober” and offers up numerous ways for visitors to have their own potential paranormal experience. From attempting to sleep in a haunted hotel, to creepy tours and even lighted evening trains, the town becomes an epicenter of the supernatural all month long.
Virginia City’s St. Mary’s in the Mountains Catholic Church, October 2021
Harvest Moon V&T Wine and History Train, Oct. 7, 6 p.m.: Ride along in luxurious passenger cars partaking in wine, appetizers and plenty of history. The voyage includes a historic talk as you travel along, stopping at the Gold Hill Depot and American Flat, and a commemorative wine glass to take home. Proceeds benefit the Comstock Foundation. Details online.
Creepy Doll Making, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. and Oct. 8 at 2 p.m.: Debbie of Virginia City store, Things, Things, and Things, hosts a creepy doll making class in the art studio at St. Mary’s Art Center. Learn to transform a doll into a creative nightmare. Cost is $50 per person and includes supplies. Register in advance here.
Cemetery Gin’s Hunt for the Spirits, Oct. 8, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Embark on Cemetery Gin’s Hunt for Spirits, a fun and tasty scavenger hunt through town. Participants must use their historic Virginia City knowledge to solve clues and unscramble a secret message of Virginia City’s past, learning more about this historic town while sampling tasty spirits along the way. This is a 21+ event. Purchase tickets online.
Haunted Ghost Tour at the Gold Hill Hotel, Oct. 13, 5 p.m.: The Gold Hill Hotel, as seen on Ghost Adventures and proclaimed the 8th most haunted location in Nevada, offers Historical Ghost Tours. Benefiting the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture, tours are hosted by the Northern Nevada Ghost Hunters (NNGH). Tour price includes a gourmet dinner in the Crown Point restaurant. Reservations required, book online at GoldHillHotel.net.
Paranormal Investigations at St. Mary’s Art Center, Oct. 15, 8 p.m.: Join WIGS (Women Investigating Ghost Sightings) in the former hospital building for a paranormal investigation like no other. The 1875 building has been featured in several tv shows and specials including Ghost Adventures. Space is limited, reservations required. Book online.
V&T Railroad Pumpkin Patch Train, Oct. 15 & 16 and 21-23, 11:20 a.m., 1:20 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.: A pumpkin patch is fall’s ultimate playground for kids so why not make an adventure of it with a train ride to the Gold Hill Pumpkin Patch. Purchase train tickets at VirginiaTruckee.com.
Canvas & Cocktails Painted Pumpkins, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m.: Hosted by St. Mary’s Art Center, design your own pumpkin or gourd just in time for the holidays. Adults only. All skill levels welcome. Cost is $45 and all supplies included. Register in advance here.
Halloween Weekend and Halloween Night Events
Halloween Ghost Investigation and Sleepover at St. Mary’s Art Center, Oct. 27-31: St. Mary’s Art Center is offering an opportunity to spend the night in this beautiful 1875 building. Originally built as a hospital for the Comstock miners, then abandoned for many years, St. Mary’s was saved from demolition by Father Meinecke in 1964. Spend the evening with ghost investigative team, W.I.G.S. (Women Investigating Ghost Sightings) and explore the possibility of connecting with those who have walked the halls in the past. Details and reservations.
Electric Halloween Steam Train of Lights, Oct. 29-31, 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.: Get in the haunted spirit with a ride on this spooky, 40-minute round trip route that comes alive underneath the dark skies with brilliant LED lighting. Tickets available online.
Mackay Mansion Haunted House, Oct. 29-31, 7 p.m.: Be immersed in this haunted house, set in a 1950s hospital inside the historic Mackay Mansion. The doctor and staff will tour you through the facility where attendees will meet the many patients. Advance reservations are required. Cost is $25 for adults and $20 for children under 12. Register in advance here.
Fourth Ward School Museum’s Victorian All Hollow’s Eve Ball, Oct. 29, 7 – 10 p.m. – Disneyland’s European Haunted Mansion is a copy of this historic building. Explore it on the eve of Halloween with this adults-only evening, including music and dancing, a costume contest, flashlight tours, tarot readings, light snacks and drinks. For tickets visit FourthWardSchool.org.
Halloween Tricks, Treats and Art for Kids, St. Mary’s Art Center, Oct. 31.: Bring the kids for fun games, prizes, fun art projects and treats in the spookily decorated halls of the historic hospital property. Get tickets here.
Hauntober Parade, Oct. 31, 5 to 6 p.m.: Goblins of all ages dressed to scare are invited to participate in the Hauntober Parade on Halloween night. Adults, kids and even pets are encouraged to wear a costume and join in the parade and participate in the costume contest with prizes ranging from a bottle of Cemetery Gin to attraction passes. Check-in and costume contest starts at 4 p.m. at the Virginia City Jerky Company.
Virginia City Cemetery, Oct. 31, 5:30 to 11 p.m.: Once a year, on Halloween, the gates to the old Silver Terrace Cemetery stay open for visitors to stroll past dusk. Here, souls rest in peace but their stories live forever. Take a self-guided tour with the downloadable audio tour, available online. Cost is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Proceeds benefit the Comstock Cemetery Foundation. For more information, visit online.
Hauntober Safe Trick-or-Treating, Oct. 31, 6 to 8 p.m.: Stick around after the parade for safe trick-or-treating at the many shops along the boardwalk.
Happening All Month Long
Haunted Adventure Pass: Spooky adventures in Virginia City start at the Visitors Center where visitors can get their Haunted Adventure Pass for discounted access to Virginia City’s Hauntober attractions. The pass includes a Bats in the Belfry Ghost Tours, access to the Haunted Washoe Club Museum and a tour of Piper’s Opera House. Purchase passes at the Visitors Center, 85 South C Street. Reservations for the Bats in the Belfry must be made in advance by calling 775-815-1050. Washoe Club tours fill up quickly, so get here early to reserve your spot.
Bats in the Belfry Guided Ghost Tours: If you want to know where the most haunted locations are in Virginia City, this is the tour for you. Take a walk around this historically haunted town and learn about the lively souls that still occupy it today. Visit VirginiaCityGhostTours.com to book a reservation.
Tours at Piper’s Opera House, all month long: Historic Piper’s Opera House has its fair share of paranormal tales over the years. Take a guided tour and hear the stories along with the history of this historic opera house. Tickets are $5 per person. Check the calendar online at PipersOperaHouse.com for tour dates.
Haunted Virginia City Escape Room & Haunted Ghost Town – Thrill-seekers have the opportunity to try their hand at the Haunted Virginia City Escape Room. This escape room is one of the most challenging in the area. For more thrills, take a stroll, or maybe run, through the Haunted Ghost Town. This walk-through attraction is sure to entertain. The Virginia City Escape Room must be booked online in advance at VCEscapeRoom.com. The Haunted Ghost Town is just $5 per person paid onsite.
Mackay Mansion Paranormal Tours – Investigate one of the town’s most haunted locations, the Mackay Mansion, with special paranormal tours. Reserve in advance online or by calling 775-847-0156.
Washoe Club Haunted Tours, offered daily, times vary – Featured multiple times on “Ghost Adventures,” The Washoe Club and Haunted Museum offers daily ghost tours. Private, overnight investigations can also be booked. Get details at TheWashoeClubMuseum.com.
Haunted Hotels For the ultimate thrill-seekers, there’s no more complete way to do it than stay the night in one of Virginia City’s haunted hotels. There’s plenty to choose from, including:
Gold Hill Hotel – Nevada’s oldest operating hotel with abounding stories of the ghosts of children running the halls and the scent of roses that appears randomly when a spirit is said to be present. Visit GoldHillHotel.net to book. Silver Queen Hotel – allegedly haunted by one or more of the working women who did business in the hotel, this establishment was built in 1876 and is considered one of the most haunted locations in town. The hotel offers paranormal investigations for an additional fee. Go to SilverQueenHotel.net to book. St. Mary’s Art Center – Originally built in 1875 as Virginia City’s hospital, this majestic building offers 16 guest rooms for artists retreats, or anyone looking to stay in Virginia City. Paranormal investigations are offered monthly or can be booked as a private tour and the building is reported to have very active paranormal spirits. Visit StMarysArtCenter.org for details. Tahoe House Hotel – Dating back to 1859, this property offers plenty of tales of paranormal encounters from guests over the years. Renovated in 2020, it features five rooms with balconies overlooking C Street, along with a lobby bar, great room and courtyard. Book at TahoeHouseHotel.com.
More lodging options are available at VisitVirginiaCityNV.com.
For tickets, details and to plan a trip to Virginia City, visit VisitVirginiaCityNV.com.
A short 30-minute drive from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport takes visitors to one of the largest historic districts in the United States – Virginia City, Nevada. Come experience this mining “boomtown” as it was in the 1800s. Step back in time while visiting the numerous historic buildings, saloons, churches and museums or take a mine tour or even ride a real steam train. The Comstock Adventure Passes offer the best value with discounted attraction packages. For lodging, event calendar, or Comstock Adventure Passes, visit online or call 775-847-7500. The Visitor Information Center is located at 86 South C Street, Virginia City.