1. Blood Falls, Antarctica
Way down in Antarctica, a 100-foot tall blood-red stream pours over the edge of a glacier and into down the ocean. No, the Blood Falls aren’t the dark reality of March of the Penguins (as scary as leopard seals are), but rather an iron-rich waterfall.
Whenever the water flows out and hits the air, the iron inside it oxidizes and turns blood red. For 100 years, the Blood Falls baffled scientists until they discovered the water comes from an ancient lake under the glacier. The water is actually colder than freezing temperature because the salt content keeps it from freezing.
2. Muynak, Uzbekistan
Once an enormous body of water, much of the Aral Sea has been reduced to a sandy graveyard for abandoned ships. The landscape of Muynak has gone from bustling port town to dystopian horror film (there’s probably zombie fishermen hiding in each marooned vessel). Or, perhaps they look like the rusting bath toys of a giant, wasting away on the edge of the tub.
33 years ago, the sea vanished from the town, receding to 75 miles away. The rivers flowing into the sea had been diverted to irrigate fields of wheat and cotton while climate change shrunk the glaciers feeding the rivers. It was an ecological disaster engineered by poor agricultural practices.
3. Dallol, Ethiopia
Dallol, Ethiopia is perhaps the hottest place on Earth, but it looks like an alien planet. The average temperature year-round is about 94 degrees Fahrenheit, but the heat can reach 131 degrees. That heat would make anyone forget they weren’t marooned in a sci-fi movie as they look out on the disturbingly beautiful hydrothermal field.
Nearby, a volcano threatens to erupt while the ground spews out poisonous gases. There’s something unsettling about the place; it doesn’t fit in with the typical Earth landscapes. And yet, bacteria are living in the hot, salty, insanely acidic pools of Dallol. It makes you wonder: where else in the Universe does life persist?
4. Racetrack Playa, Death Valley
Imagine you’re walking through Racetrack Playa, a dry lake in Death Valley, and notice a wandering path. No one’s around for miles but the tracks stretch 1,000 feet into the distance. You follow the tracks and find that a nondescript rock is at the end. Huh. That’s weird.
So what made the tracks? The rock, of course. When it rains, the entire playa fills with water and a thin layer of ice floats on the surprise lake. Wind pushes these ice pieces into the rocks, shoving the stones further down their path. As Spongebob once said, “The pioneers used to ride these babies for miles!”
5. Crooked Forest, Poland
These strange, bending trees were planted in the 1930s, but after World War II took the nearby town, their origin story was lost forever. Around 400 of them stand together, reaching 50 feet into the air and pointing their bumps north. It seems they were damaged early in life, but how? What caused this strange phenomenon?
Truthfully, no one really knows. Most people think that farmers once manipulated them to shape the trees into wood perfect for building ships or furniture. However, it still may not be human-caused, as other trees have bent from a genetic defect. If these were on a slope, the J-shaped trees would signify unstable ground.
6. Jacob’s Well, Texas
This unsettling hole descends about 100 feet into a dark, twisting labyrinth of caves. The water is clear and cool, tempting divers to explore and escape the Texas heat, but it’s a dangerous maze. The narrow passages are prone to snagging equipment, ensnaring divers, and endangering their lives.
Numerous people have died while in these underwater caves, making it one of the most dangerous dive spots in the world. And yet, people keep jumping in. Perhaps they feel an eerie, unexplainable call from the depths echoing through their body. Come down here. Come and see what’s hiding in the darkness.
7. Cenotes, Mexico
While Mexican cenotes may look beautiful, these sinkholes hold dark relics of the ancient Maya civilization. The Maya people believed they were entrances to the underworld since many appear to be bottomless pools. Because of that, there are disturbing offerings still sitting in these picturesque pools, like human bones. Creepy.
Not only are cenotes complete with sacrificed human bones and echoes of the underworld, but many of them also provide entrances to extensive, twisting labyrinths of underwater cave systems. Like Jacob’s Well, you wouldn’t want to get lost in here. As you go deeper, it just gets darker and claustrophobic.
8. Firefall, Yosemite National Park
This stunningly beautiful shot makes it look like Yosemite National Park’s cliffside is cracking open, exposing Hell behind it. In fact, the whole scene looks like something out of Lord of the Rings, but the image of fire pouring down the cliff is actually an illusion: it’s a normal waterfall.
For about half of February, the setting sun is positioned just right to light up the melting snow, casting it in a fiery glow. The sky has to be clear and there must be ample snow to melt; the firefall only lasts about 10 minutes and doesn’t happen every year.
9. Hoia-Baciu Forest, Romania
Like a spooky layer of fog, legends and ghost stories surround the Hoia-Baciu Forest. It’s a quiet place with few chirping birds, nestled in the infamous Transylvania. So along with the elephant in the room (Dracula), rumors of aliens, ghosts, and disappearing people are around every tree.
But the scariest thing that might actually cross your path in Hoia-Baciu is a brown bear, which is, admittedly, pretty scary. Few people tromp through the forest, though, because of its creepy reputation. It’s often called the Bermuda Triangle of Romania (despite the fact that the Bermuda Triangle “mystery” is pretty much fake).
10. Centralia, Pennsylvania
Once full of miners, Centralia is now a ghost town. By the 1960s, they had mostly exhausted the mines. Then, in 1962, a burning landfill sparked the remaining coal under the town, igniting a massive subterranean fire that still burns today. It emitted noxious gas and cracked highways, causing the townspeople to flee.
Now, when it’s cold, you can see steam escaping from the depths of the broken highways and from the warm, soft soil. It’s dangerous in the area since the fire causes sinkholes that suddenly swallow people and animals, sometimes to their death. So, if you plan to visit, watch your step.
11. Kaindy Lake, Kazakhstan
In 1911, an earthquake rocked the Tian Shan Mountains, causing a landslide to dam the valley. As rain accumulated, a lake grew around the forest that had been living there. The spruce trees died and became merely large sticks in the water.
The scene is odd but beautiful, eerie but serene. Underwater, the trees still have their evergreen needles, suspended in a flooded forest. Few people visit the lake because the close-by lakes are larger and easier to get to. On a sunny day, the water is a stunning turquoise, but as the sun goes away, the place looks a little more ominous and creepy.
12. Mount Everest, Himalayas
Mount Everest may look beautiful, from a distance, but when you’re hiking the snowy cliffs, it’s downright creepy. Frozen dead bodies litter the well-traveled paths. In fact, the mountain has an entire section called the “Death Zone” — oxygen levels are so low at this height that people can’t be in the zone for longer than 48 hours because the human body will use all of its oxygen before it’s replenished.
There are perhaps 200 bodies on Everest. People usually don’t move them because it’s very dangerous and can be even harder than summiting the mountain. However, a handful have been moved out of sight or buried with rocks by teams of people, though some have died attempting this. There are few things creepier than hiking up a mountain and having to step over a dead body on the way.
13. The Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland
Does this creepy pathway look familiar? In season 2 of Game of Thrones, Arya and Gendry escaped King’s Landing on it — the path is a portion of the Kingsroad. But while the trees create a dark unsettling tunnel, they were originally planted to welcome visitors.
In the 18th century, the Stuart family planted them to welcome guests to their manor. But as the trees grew, they leaned inwards, blocking sunlight from the road and creating this shadowy tunnel. Unfortunately, the trees, now around 240 years old, are dying. While heavy traffic damaged their roots a bit, mostly the trees are just reaching the end of their natural lifespan.
14. Gomantong Caves, Borneo
The Gomantong Cave is the real-life version of the Batcave — there are literally millions of bats living in it. But that isn’t the creepy part (unless you’re Meredith from the Office). The creepy part is what lives in and around the millions of bats’ poop — sorry, guano. Because bat poop gets its own special word, for some reason.
These bats have pooped out a 100-foot tall hill of guano, which attracts all kinds of creepy-crawlies. For instance, cockroaches. On the walls. The tons and tons of cockroaches on the cave walls probably makes this place the creepiest locale on Earth. Oh and the potentially deadly viruses hiding in the bats.
15. The Mariana Trench (and other deep-sea locales)
These lovely giant tubeworms live on hydrothermal vents near the deepest point of the ocean: the Mariana Trench. It’s so large that all of Mount Everest could fit in it with thousands of feet of wiggle room. But even 36,069 feet down, there’s still flourishing life. It’s only a little creepy with its complete darkness and never-before-seen animals swimming and crawling around.
The dragonfish, in particular, is very scary with its frilled gills and a gaping mouth full of jagged, pointy teeth. Its eyes are as far from human as you can get. There are also giant shrimp-like creatures, bodies devoid of any color and looking more alien than Earthling.
16. The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan
If you’re cool with cockroaches, then The Door to Hell truly must be the creepiest place on Earth. It’s a little unclear exactly how Turkmenistan got its perpetually burning hole in the ground, but it’s believed to be the remnant of a Soviet drilling plan that went awry.
Apparently, the hole formed under a drilling rig, after the rig collapsed, and then began producing toxic gases. So some Soviet scientists lit the hole on fire to burn off the fumes, but it kept burning. And kept burning. It’s still burning, 48 years later because there is just so much natural gas under Turkmenistan.
17. Lake Kivu, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Lake Kivu may look like a beautiful destination spot with its stunning views and bustling shores, but its hiding something huge. Two million people live around the lake, despite the fact that it’s a shaken soda can ready to pop and suffocate everyone with noxious gas. That’s just a little creepy.
The nearby volcanoes are pushing carbon dioxide into the bottom of the lake, which never mixes because of the hot environment. So the gas is just building at the bottom until a small disturbance will make it explode. While people are degassing Lake Kivu, the similar Lake Nyos killed 1,700 people in one night in 1986.
18. Manchac Swamp, Louisiana
Down in Louisiana, a creepy swamp is supposedly haunted by “voodoo priestess” Julia Brown. She lived near the swamp in the early 1900s as a local healer, singing about how once she dies, everything would die around her. That very nearly came true as the day of her funeral arrived, a huge hurricane came with it.
The hurricane killed about 300 people in Louisiana, but while legend calls Julia Brown’s song a curse, it’s more likely that she was warning them about how poorly they’d survive without a healer. If that isn’t creepy enough, there are also alligators living in the swamp.
19. Pripyat Amusement Park, Ukraine
About a week before the Pripyat Amusement Park was supposed to open, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded. It’s hard to say for sure, but it seems that the amusement park did open — for a single day, following the explosion. Some sources say people were here before they all evacuated the doomed city of Pripyat.
The creepiness of the amusement park is only enhanced by the plants poking their way through cement and around bumper cars. Parts of the park are still radioactive, particularly the area under the infamous Ferris wheel. Now, the abandoned city serves as an apocalyptic vacation spot.
20. Truk Lagoon, Micronesia
In 1944, the United States continued its mission to avenge Pearl Harbor by executing Project Hailstone. U.S. aircraft, submarines, and ships sunk 47 Japanese ships and 270 Japanese aircraft. About 1,700 people were on board as the sea engulfed them.
The vessels are still on the bottom of the ocean, forming a creepy sunken fleet (the world’s largest ship graveyard). Gas masks, bottles of beer, and photographs float around the wreckage. Japan removed many of the bodies, but some remain in the watery grave. However, the shipwrecks are now posing a threat to the surrounding ecosystem: their walls are collapsing and will spill tons of oil into the water.
21. Snake Island, Brazil
Snake Island is a little place about 25 miles off the coast of Brazil. No one dares to set foot on the island because for every square foot of the island, there’s a deadly snake waiting to bite. In fact, it’s actually illegal to go to Snake Island. The island’s special snakes are golden lancehead vipers, which rank among the deadliest in the world.
If you were to be bitten by one of these snakes, you would probably die within an hour. These vipers evolved their extremely potent venom to take down any bird they can get their jaws on. Unfortunately for the snakes, the island’s birds have learned to avoid them, so the snakes must subsist on visiting birds.
22. Salton Sea, California
Southern California’s inland Salton Sea was once a huge tourist destination but now it’s a complete wasteland. This stretch of desert accidentally turned into a lake in 1905 when the Colorado River flooded the Salton Sink with water. It’s extremely salty (and keeps getting saltier) because the water never goes to the ocean, it just evaporates or sinks into the ground.
But the creepy part of the Salton Sea is not its abandoned shores, but rather what the shores are made of: tons and tons of fish skeletons. The water got so salty and polluted that it killed most of the things living in it. About 250 people still live here, though they have to drive 40 miles just to get groceries.
23. Spider bum parachutes
One unsuspecting mom and daughter walked right into a silky soccer field, only to look at their feet and see thousands of spiders. They promptly screamed very, very loudly. You see, sometimes entire fields become covered in spiders and cobwebs, or rather, spider bum parachutes.
The creepy but natural phenomenon happens when countless spiders decide to migrate all at once: they crawl to a tall point (like a plant or fence) and shoot a silk strand up into the air, which is caught by the wind. The wind carries the spiders and their silk parachutes, depositing them on a field en masse.
24. The Island of the Dolls, Mexico
Over fifty years ago, this man named Don Julian Santana abandoned his wife and child to live on an island in the middle of a lake in Mexico City. Shortly after, an event happened that changed his life: a girl drowned in the lake. Only, people aren’t sure it actually happened. Some think it was all in his head.
Either way, after the girl supposedly drowned, Santana began hanging dolls all over the island to honor her. He collected them every way he could and stuck them up in the trees as they were, without cleaning them or repairing them at all.
25. Hanging coffins, Philippines
Few things are more creepy than coffins literally hanging off the side of a cliff (maybe houses on cliffsides are scarier?). The Sagada people in the Philippines have been “burying” their dead like this for over 2,000 years. While the coffins eventually deteriorate and fall, some have been hanging for over 100 years.
So why do they go through all the effort to put these coffins up there? Well, the Sagada people think placing the coffins high up gives the dead better chances for ascending to their Heaven-like afterlife. Some are placed on the cliffsides while others are hung up in caves.