BOO! Experience Eureka Springs’ Chilling (and Historical) Ghost Tours

You ain’t afraid of no ghosts!

And neither are we, to be honest. Here in Eureka Springs, we embrace our paranormal neighbors — not literally, of course — and we want our visitors to do the same. That’s why we offer the best ghost tours in the Ozarks. Whether you’re a believer or not, these excursions guarantee a spooky good time. For the uninitiated, our ghost tours do not include jump scares or promise actual ghost sightings. They are fun, storytelling experiences, and some involve hands-on ghost hunting with meters and other “ghostbusting” gear. Certain tours are even appropriate for school-age children.

Here’s a rundown of our town’s ghost tours. Eureka Springs’ robust spirit world is rooted in a checkered history that’s littered with a roll call of rogues and scoundrels. We’ll tell you about the tours, and some of the history as well.

 

Crescent Hotel

Crescent Hotel – Morgue

Crescent Hotel Ghost Tours

This magnificent building that looms over downtown is widely hailed as “the most haunted hotel in America.” More than 15 ghost hunting shows have produced episodes at the hotel.

The Crescent Ghost Tour guides, dressed in period garb, are natural storytellers — and they have plenty to tell. They’ll walk you through the halls, stopping at some of the more haunted rooms — like 419, where the spirit of Theodora has been known to tidy up—but only if she likes the guest staying there. Crescent Ghost Tours run daily, starting at 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m.

If you care to intensify your paranormal experience, opt for the Crescent Ghost Tour: Expert & Extended — Friday through Monday, 10 p.m. — where the hotel’s senior guides take you on a longer trek and explore the devious criminal mind of one Norman Baker.

Who is Norman Baker, you ask? He was a charlatan from Iowa — a former Vaudevillian — who falsely claimed to be a doctor with a cure for cancer. From 1937-1939, he ran the Crescent as a self-named “hospital,” and filled it with suffering victims in search of a miracle. He treated patients with fake potions and other bogus treatments. No one was ever cured, and of course, people died. The hospital closed when Baker was convicted of mail fraud and sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary.

The Baker years existed largely as folklore until 2019, when nearly 500 bottles were unearthed on the northwest corner of the Crescent’s 15-acre property. They included Baker’s potions, as well as what appeared to be cancer tumors preserved in alcohol. (Pause here for a quick shudder.) The Expert & Extended tour delves more deeply into Baker, and includes visits to the bottle dump site and Baker’s morgue.

Lastly, visitors can choose to stay in Crescent rooms reputed to have strong paranormal activity. A spirit might even tuck in your covers while you sleep. Oh, and keep an eye on the hotel’s hall mirrors. You never know when you might catch a ghostly reflection. Have your camera ready. To sample some images captured by guests, check out the ghost tour’s Facebook page.

And finally, for you true fanatics, the Crescent holds annual paranormal weekends, deep immersions into the hotel’s haunted history. Paranormal investigators of all experience levels do overnight ghost hunts, receive ghost-hunter training, and behind-the-scenes access to the most haunted spaces on the property of America’s most haunted hotel.

Next year’s Paranormal Weekends are Jan. 28-30 and Feb. 4-6. The schedule has yet to be finalized. Check the Facebook event page for updates.

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Spirits of the Basin Tour

Basin Park Hotel

1905 Basin Park Hotel Paranormal Investigation

You can join the Basin Park’s paranormal investigators nightly to probe the hotel’s most active spaces. You’ll meet in the Barefoot Ballroom — among the hubs of Eureka Springs past illegal goings-on — and work your way through the halls to the Roof Garden and the Grand Ballroom. You’ll explore from the heights of the Crow’s Nest to the depths of the Cave (which stored illicit whiskey, and is accessed through a secret hole). Guides teach the evolution of ghost hunting, while sharing tales and evidence.

Best of all, you get to do some paranormal sleuthing yourself. Ghost meters and other paranormal tools are provided. Tours run daily starting at 10:30 p.m.

Ever since opening in 1905, tales of the paranormal have coursed through the hallways of this structure, built into the side of a mountain. Some say it’s because the Basin Park Hotel was built on the site of the Perry House, which burned to the ground in 1890. Others cite its proximity to the “healing spring,” a sacred place to the Native Americans who discovered it before the town existed.

In the 1940s and ‘50s, the Basin Park served as a haven for Chicago gangsters and an illegal gambling spot that served unlicensed alcohol. In ’55, a new sheriff known as “The Weasel” raided the place and drummed out the criminal element. Are some of those rogue-ish spirits still hanging around the hotel?

Basin Park guests have reported sightings of flashing orbs and human-shaped apparitions, shadows in the ballroom, reflections in mirrors, young girls walking down the stairs laughing, balls bouncing through the halls, and other unexplained phenomena.

The Paranormal Investigation tours run nightly, beginning at 10:30 p.m.

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Underground Eureka Springs

Underground “Catacombs”

Haunted Eureka Springs Tours

The spirit world doesn’t just live in our hotels. It’s all over town. Haunted Eureka Springs takes you on a guided walking tour of some of the most actively haunted sites downtown. It starts at the Courthouse, followed by a quarter-mile stroll up Spring Street, as storytellers regale you with the town’s colorful history, which includes gamblers, gangsters, bootleggers, hustlers, cons, quacks and — of course — ghosts and their habitats. You’ll hear about model citizens and founding fathers as well. The tour ends with a visit to the best-preserved stretch of our famous underground tunnels, which locals affectionately call “the Catacombs.”

Tours start at 8 p.m., with extended hours on weekends. The latest one goes out at 10:15 on most Saturdays.

Haunted Eureka Springs ordinarily offers two other tours, which were suspended due to Covid as of late September.

The 90-minute Shuttle Van Tour takes you to three haunted buildings, where you get off the bus and learn about the sites. In the Catacomb Ghost Hunt you learn how to use Victorian and modern ghost-hunting tools, and do some actual ghost hunting. Check the Facebook page for updates on when they’re apt to start up again.

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