The Most Terrifying Haunted Houses in America

ScareHouse: The Basement, Pittsburgh


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ScareHouse: The Basement, Pittsburgh

Beyond Spooky

You could put on some scary face paint and celebrate Halloween with some mild, even family-friendly spookiness at a theme park, or throw on one of this year's most popular Halloween costumes to take part in frightfully fun Halloween parades and festivities happening across the country. But maybe that's not scary enough for you. Here are some haunted houses and immersive experiences that are so terrifying and physically demanding that participants have to sign waivers before entering. Don't say you haven't been warned.

Related: The 25 Most Terrifying Places in America

Castle of Chaos, Midvale, Utah
Castle of Chaos

Castle of Chaos

Midvale, Utah
Castle of Chaos allows participants to choose from five levels of fear. At the lowest level, monsters are repelled by your glow stick. But at the highest, they may pick you up, drag you through doorways, or restrain you. For those who crave the most hardcore of haunts, they offer Krusebel, an extreme, hours-long experience that combines both physical and psychological torments.

Related: Freaky Facts About Halloween

17th Door, Fullerton, California
The 17th Door Haunt Experience/Yelp

17th Door

Fullerton, California
17th Door follows the ongoing story of Paula, a college student-turned-murderer now imprisoned in a treacherous penitentiary. As her fellow inmates, guests will wind through the maze in an attempt to unlock the story and escape unscathed. Previous shows have involved real cockroaches, being smothered in a ball pit, lots of touching by handsy actors, and virtual reality add-ons. Guests who can no longer endure the experience can yell "Mercy" to escape. Feel like you can go longer? A new add-on called "The Field Trip" is available, in which guests are taken to a remote, off-site location for even more intense scares.

ScareHouse: The Basement, Pittsburgh

ScareHouse: The Basement

You can either enter this Pittsburgh attraction alone or with one companion, but that's it. Guests must sign a waiver before encountering narrow spaces, complete darkness, and "high impact scares." This haunt is made by a group of dedicated artists and counts horror enthusiasts Elijah Wood and Guillermo del Toro among its fans. ScareHouse also offers Stop the Invasion, a horror-themed escape room.

Miasma, Chicago
Miasmatic Productions LLC


Chicago's Miasma is an invite- and adults-only interactive haunt where warnings include "aggressive physical contact," "clothing removal and/or destruction," "crawling on hard surfaces," and "graphic adult content," among others. Though they have a variety of shows throughout the year, anyone feeling particularly brave can request a private experience with a unique, tailored narrative.

The 13th Gate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Midnight Productions, Inc.

The 13th Gate

Baton Rouge, Louisiana
If Indiana Jones ever found himself in Baton Rouge, he would not want to do this haunt, which boasts of its "real, snake-infested Louisiana swamp." The 13th Gate is a massive, top-rated haunt for thrill-seekers, featuring incredibly detailed sets and awe-inspiring effects that elevate themes and stories year each year. On Fridays, you can brave a lights-out maze with just a flashlight.

Zoe, Fullerton, California
Anthony C./Yelp


Fullerton, California
In Escapade Game's Zoe, players are locked in a haunted house with the ghost of a young girl. To get out, they must solve a series of puzzles before their time runs out. So not only are you scared, you have to think, too. Things are not always what they appear in Zoe, and its detailed, creepy environment has inspired many seasoned reviewers to claim it's the scariest escape room they've ever played.

The Fear Experiment, Danville, Illinois
The Fear Experiment

The Fear Experiment

Danville, Illinois
The Fear Experiment is an immersive, psychological horror experience. The experience is for adults only, who will sign a waiver and receive a safe word. Though the experiment warns of physical contact, discomfort, aggression, and nudity, they also promise to "allow you to push your limits, test yourself, and find out what you're really made of." What that means is unclear, as all participants are instructed to never share spoilers online or in-person.

Hvrting, Los Angeles


Los Angeles

More immersive experience than haunted house, Hvrting bills itself as personalized immersive horror. The Los Angeles-based show customizes its plot and various details to its small audience or single experience-goer, tapping into their innermost fears. Attendees can expect terrifying (though often humor-driven) plot lines, plenty of sexual innuendo, and the chance to survive your own personal horror movie.

Pennhurst Asylum, Spring City, Pennsylvania
Pennhurst Asylum

Pennhurst Asylum

Spring City, Pennsylvania

The setting of Pennhurst Asylum is almost as terrifying as what lies inside. Located in the dark forests of northern Chester County, the sprawling campus offers three attractions: The Asylum, The Morgue, and The Tunnels, where actors are allowed to touch you as you wander through twisted hallways and catwalks. Overnight paranormal tours are also offered.

HellsGate Haunted House, Lockport, Illinois
Legacy Events LLC

HellsGate Haunted House

Lockport, Illinois

Hidden deep within the woods, HellsGate challenges its visitors to explore its 40-plus rooms filled with secret passages, terrifying characters, and giant slides. This year, the experience has introduced the Escaped Prisoners of Statesville Haunted Prison, complete with new villains hiding within the walls and in the woods.

The Darkness, St. Louis
Larry K./Yelp

The Darkness

St. Louis, Missouri

The Darkness has been deemed one of the best haunted houses in America, largely due to its terrifying costumes and set design. In addition to two floors of terror, The Darkness also features a five-minute escape room, Terror Visions 3D, and special events like Krampus Haunted Christmas.