In the past, the Idaho State Journal has written extensively about haunted buildings in the Pocatello area.
But sometimes the most terrifying places for thrill-seekers to spot paranormal phenomenon are in outdoor locations.
According to Colleen O’Hara-Epperly of Pocatello Paranormal Research, outdoor locations can be very difficult to investigate because of wind and background noise interfering with ghost hunting equipment.
But O’Hara-Epperly said there are lots of accessible public outdoor places in the Gate City area that will send chills up your spine.
With Halloween just around the corner, we have listed six of these locations and the local folklore surrounding them.
Even though most are easily accessible, please respect private property and any local ordinances before going on a ghost hunting tour with your friends.
Cherry Springs Nature Area
Researchers are not sure why Cherry Springs Nature Area south of Pocatello has so much ghostly activity.
Maybe it’s the strong Native American influence in the area. Or, it could be the meandering Mink Creek that surrounds the area, as running water often acts as a conductor for paranormal activity.
But whenever O'Hara-Epperly and her group go out to the cozy little nature area, their electromagnetic field readers will often spike. This is odd, she says, considering there’s no electricity running in the area.
It’s also common for visitors to feel like they’re being watched.
“The whole area is full of presence,” O'Hara-Epperly said. “There’s many things going on there.”
O'Hara-Epperly’s group has identified two specific spots in Cherry Springs where paranormal activity runs rampant, but she wouldn’t divulge where they are located. But she did provide a photo taken at Cherry Springs, which depicts a giant ghostly orb moving across the abdomen of an unidentified man.
Fort Hall Shapeshifters
Over the years, O'Hara-Epperly said that more than a dozen people have reported seeing a shapeshifter in various locations on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
The creature reportedly stands about 7 feet tall. It will begin running on two feet like a human, then it shifts into a creepy four-legged creature.
O'Hara-Epperly said there are two reasons these claims are believable. For one, unrelated witnesses all have similar descriptions of the shapeshifter and its patterns of movement. And secondly, the witnesses she has talked to work in very credible occupations and are thus credible sources.
Some have even changed their driving habits due to their sightings.
"I’ve had people tell me they won’t drive I-15 at night because of this shapeshifter,” O'Hara-Epperly said. “These are people who are very frightened by what they have seen.”
According to local legend, a group of Native Americans living near the Snake River in hundreds of years ago were going through a terrible famine. They wanted to spare their young babies from the horrors of slowly starving to death. So they went to the Snake River and collectively drowned their children in what they thought was a mass mercy killing.
The story does differ from one source to another. Some say it was actually white settlers in the 1800s who drowned their kin. Others say it was a war between the settlers and the Native Americans that was at the center of the drownings, not a famine.
Regardless of which legend is most accurate, the descriptions of the hauntings are all the same. On some nights, visitors to parts of the Snake River can hear the distinctive noise of crying babies and splashing water echoing through the dark.
These hauntings have been reported at both Massacre Rocks and the Fort Hall Bottoms. However, the Fort Hall Bottoms is off-limits to non-tribal members, and trespassers will be arrested.
For such a popular destination, there’s a lot of darkness surrounding Pocatello’s Ammon Park.
The park is home to the notorious “blue girl,” an apparition that can often be seen wandering around the swing sets at night. She then usually disappears in a blink of an eye.
There is an undated photo going around social media of two girls on Ammon Park's swings at night, with a creepy image of what appears to be a girl with long black hair and a blue dress leering in the background. The photo has not been verified by Pocatello Paranormal Research as genuine, but members do say it looks photoshopped
Another widespread account says that after two boys wandered into a utility shed in the park, the door slammed shut and locked on its own. Other kids came to rescue the trapped boys, who said the latch was mysteriously flipped shut from the outside.
Some paranormal groups that have investigated Ammon Park believe the little girl was murdered in the park, possibly in a utility shed. However, there’s no evidence such a murder ever occurred there.
Pocatello Paranormal Research has never gone to Ammon Park, but O'Hara-Epperly is sure of one thing regarding the area.
“I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t like that park, even when I drive by it on I-15,” she said. “There’s this lingering presence there."
Ross Park doesn’t have the same reputation as Ammon Park.
However, O'Hara-Epperly said the trail linking the upper and lower sections of the park are a haven of mysterious whispers and disembodied voices, even when nobody else is around.
“It’s interesting because you get snippets,” O'Hara-Epperly said. “You never get the whole sentence.”
Scout Mountain Bigfoot
While snowshoeing on the trails near Scout Mountain south of Pocatello, a husband and wife noticed it was getting dark and started to prepare their camp.
However, the husband spotted what appeared to be giant Bigfoot tracks deeply embedded in the snow. The couple followed the trail of tracks for several hundred yards. Then all of a sudden, the tracks ended without explanation.
“They were so creeped out they left camp and snowshoed back to their vehicle in the middle of the night,” O'Hara-Epperly said.
Stories of Bigfoot sightings are not uncommon in the Scout Mountain area. O'Hara-Epperly said it seems odd a sasquatch-like creature could survive in an area so heavily populated with hunters and recreationalists. However, she said the couple is very credible, and they are not the type of people to make stories up or believe in Bigfoot.
“I have a hard time buying it, but something was there that scared them,” she said. “I spend a lot of time outdoors, and there are some areas of Scout Mountain that really bother me."