Halloween is the time most often associated with haunted places, but you can search for ghosts and ghostly experiences at other times of the year throughout the Reno/Lake Tahoe region. Here are some of the more prominent places frequently cited as prime locales for ghost hunting and as sites of paranormal activity.
Washoe County Courthouse
Ghosts have been reported to be hanging around the Washoe County Courthouse, the site of much human drama since it opened in 1911. For many years, it was the site of thousands of divorces while Reno was the "Divorce Capital of the World." The building is still in use today. It is said that ghosts of those unhappy with being on the losing end of family law, civil, and divorce decisions hang around, giving the place a sad and gloomy atmosphere.
This imposing structure in downtown Reno was built in 1906 by William Levy, a successful mining and business entrepreneur. The house has gone through various owners over the years. Paranormal activity investigations have turned up numerous manifestations of activity attributed to spirits of departed souls. The Levy House is currently occupied by locally owned Sundance Books and Music.
With lots of strange happenings being reported, this might be the most active haunted place in the Reno area. The haunting began in the 1970s when the bodies of a woman and three men were discovered here. The murders have never been solved. At the time, Robb Canyon was a rural area in northwest Reno, but it has since become surrounded by suburban development and is on the edge of the city's Rainbow Ridge Park. Reports of various strange noises and lights have led many paranormal investigators to study the area, but none have yet solved the mystery. It's said to be a very scary place where you should never go alone, and certainly not after dark. Should you want to check it out, access trails to Robb Canyon can be found along Rainbow Ridge Road, near Rainbow Ridge Park.
Ghosts from Virginia City's Comstock mining era of the late 1800s are said to be haunting places throughout town. In fact, Virginia City is considered by some to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. Paranormal investigators make regular visits and documentary films have been made about the ghosts in Virginia City. Here are a few of the places ghosts like to play:
- Bonanza Saloon
- Crooked House
- Gold Hill Hotel & Saloon
- MacKay Mansion
- Piper Opera House
- Saint Mary Louise Arts Center
- Fourth Ward School
- Virginia City Cemetery
- Washoe Club
To capitalize on the interest in ghost hunting, Bats in the Belfry offers guided ghost walking tours of Virginia City. There are tours at Halloween and other times of the year. Note: These tours are not suited for small children.
Being the historic place that it is, Nevada's capital of Carson City has plenty to offer ghost hunters. The easiest way to experience the spirits from Carson City's past is during the Carson City Ghost Walk, held annually around Halloween time and Nevada Day. The walks include tours of historic homes like the Bliss Mansion, Governor's Mansion, and Ferris Mansion, home of Ferris wheel inventor George Ferris, Jr. Along the way, walkers just might meet Carson City residents from the past, like Mark Twain, Kit Carson, the Curry family, Eilley Orrum Bowers and Mrs. Rinckel. The organization also conducts ghost walking tours at other times of the year.
Bowers Mansion was built by Comstock silver baron L.S. "Sandy" Bowers and his wife Allison Oram. It is said that after Sandy died, Allison tried to contact him by conducting seances. She eventually lost the fortune and the house. Her ghost is reported to still haunt the mansion and strange figures have been seen in the nearby graveyard. Bowers Mansion is open for tours from Memorial Day through Nevada Day weekend. It is within Washoe County's Bowers Mansion Regional Park, about 20 miles south of Reno on U.S. 395.
The Carson Valley is in Nevada's Douglas County (about 60 miles south of Reno on U.S. 395) and includes the communities of Minden, Gardnerville, and Genoa. Genoa, established in 1851, is Nevada's oldest pioneer settlement and site of Mormon Station State Historic Park. With so much history behind it, the Carson Valley is understandably an area where diligent searchers can find ghosts.