virginia city
Photo/Sagebrush archives
Virginia City from afar. Virginia City’s haunted attractions provide ample opportunity to celebrate Halloween.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. Months before Halloween, I stressed over what my Halloween costume would be. My poor mom having to sew and resew various dresses, monster costumes and butterfly wings for one night of fun. The night before I would fall asleep, anxiously waiting for the upcoming night of trick-or-treating and the inescapable sugar high. I was that kid. The kid with pocketfuls of candy ready to show off my spoils.

As an adult, I’ve come to love Halloween for a very different reason. I love it for its mysterious nature. For the magic, ghosts and superstition. Historically, Halloween was a holiday (if you believe it) that recognizes the veil between the living and the dead and I love that it’s the one time of year we acknowledge how haunted Nevada really is.

In 2018, Nevada was ranked the third most haunted state in the United States, according to BrandWatch. Nevada owes its ranking to the ghosts in Las Vegas, Tonopah, Carson City and Virginia City. From these haunted cities, Virginia City single handedly gives Nevada its ranking.

Virginia City claims notoriety as being one of the most haunted cities in the west according to the Visit Virginia City.  As a rich mining district, Virginia City brought people from all over the world to make it big. Virginia City on the outside was a place of luxury where people could spend their newly acquired wealth by going to the opera house, comedy clubs or spending money in the various saloons.

Virginia City was also a town full of murder and disaster. The city was home to several brothels with its prominent redlight district. These brothels were places of violence, jealousy and death where women and men were vulnerable to whims of others. In fact, it seems like almost every saloon, hotel and mansion has a history of violence and it is this torrid history that has left more than old buildings behind.

It’s this history that has also left behind wandering spirits. Spirits that can be found at The Silver Queen Hotel, The Old Washoe Club, Mackay Mansion, Bonanza Saloon, Crooked House Gold Hill Hotel & Saloon and Saint Mary Louise Arts Center.

The Mackay Mansion, Old Washoe Club and The Silver Queen Hotel have been sites of amateur ghost hunters and featured on various ghost hunting shows such as Ghost Adventures. At each of these locations though, there are numerous accounts of activity ranging from hearing footsteps to full-blown apparitions.

If you love ghosts and are intrigued by the mysterious nature of Halloween like myself, then living at the university in Reno means that you are just 30 minutes away from Virginia City. This is a Halloween lovers’ dream come true.

During Halloween, Virginia City celebrates its dead with numerous events for the living. During the whole month of October which is affectionately deemed “Hauntober,” Virginia City has daily events where Halloween lovers can immerse themselves into the mysterious nature of the city. Some of these events include the Voices of the Past Ghost Tour, the Bats in the Belfry Guided Ghost Tours, the Night Tours and Paranormal Investigations and the Samhain Festival at Mackay Mansion and the Halloween Ghost Investigation and Sleepover every Halloween. 

I now wait anxiously for the next time that I can visit Virginia City and revisit the halls of their haunted locations. I wait to see if I can hear a faint whisper in the wind or see a figure in the corner of my eye. It is my love of the supernatural that leaves me to believe Nevada is one of the best states to celebrate Halloween, especially if you live near Virginia City.

Madison Vialpando can be reached at or on Twitter @madisonvialpan2.