13 Outdoors Horror Stories… Happy Camping!

Everyone has been spooked while camping, be it a shadow in a tent or the glint of eyes in the woods. For some Halloween inspiration we culled a Reddit thread on “scariest moments while camping” and other sources to find 13 outdoors horror tales.

Scary Sleeping Bag Trick
Photo: accidentialcurmudgeon
1) The possessed tent mate…

Not knowing a friend sleep-walked/talked, and waking up at 3am to find him standing in the middle of the tent with his eyes closed, face pointing up at the sky like he was having a divine conversation and screaming “WHO’S OUT THERE! SHOW YOURSELF!” in an extremely creepy voice before laying back down. No amount of “Hey man, what the hell is going on?!” could get him to answer why he was acting like he was possessed.

2) Strange light coming to get us…

I don’t see anything except a very strange and bright light coming from up the trail where we had walked down earlier. My brain tells me it’s a campsite and someone’s made a huge fire… I turn my lights off and stare at the light and it starts walking toward us, we both exchange holy shit glances and I turn my light back on; the light stops coming toward us and remains stationary. I turn my light off again and again the strange light starts walking toward us in an eerie back and forth motion like a drunk stumbling down the trail… The wind has died down now and we can finally clearly see what this strange light actually is… A full moon.

3) Attack of the tree limbs…

A big windstorm and a branch weighing about 100lbs came crashing down right in front of my tent door minutes after we get to sleep. It was just enough side branches scratching the tent to put the fear of God in ya.

4) Guns, then Policeman in my tent…

Being awoken by a cop leaning into my tent screaming “Do you have any weapons?!” over and over. Turns out after I had passed out drunk my friends started firing a 357 into the air repeatedly. The weirdest part is that (after writing him a ticket for the marijuana he had in his pocket) the cop gave my clearly intoxicated friend his loaded pistol and shotgun back and told us to go home.

Camping Horror Stories

5) Unidentified footsteps…

I was camping with my Scout troop in Joshua Tree National Forest… We were fading off to sleep when we hear some heavy footsteps outside, stepping slowly, like a good-sized adult trying to sneak up on us… The footsteps pause for a little bit, but then continue… So we yell down to the campfire that we hear heavy footsteps up here. They insist everyone else is down at the fire.

Within a few minutes, the footsteps are back, but not as heavy as before. When they get close to the tent, I pop my head out but don’t see anything.

In the morning, we didn’t see any footprints in the sand.

6) Midget bigfoot…

My friend is convinced that there was a 2.5 to 3′ tall “brown hairy man” watching him use the john. He said that the hairy man watched him until he was done and when he moved towards it, it ran off into the woods. (See more about the legendary maymayguayshi creature fabled to haunt Minnesota’s BWCA.) 

7) Hillbilly shenanigans…

My friends and I got shot at by hillbillies at 3am. ‘Nuf said.

8) Coyote pack, circling the camp…

I got a fire lit but we couldn’t keep it a decent size for long. We ended up sitting outside the tent watching the clouds pass in front of a crescent moon when we hear howling. I recognize it as coyotes… The howls echo back and forth then they stop howling and start running and circling us closer and closer with each pass… They were running around us, yipping… So we packed up and hightailed it out across a low field, watching the tree line the whole way.

Coyote Skull
Photo: VincibleAndy
9) Case of the missing EpiPen…

My cousin caught a bad case of the anaphylaxis and she didn’t have her EpiPen. We left the beautiful campsite and proceeded in an urgent manner to the local ER. Once at the ER she remembered that her EpiPen was in her purse. After we escort her in we figure out that peanuts were her demise and determined that she was hungry and risked eating someone else’s trail mix.

10) Not so friendly bear…

Solo camping, a bear kept going in circles around my camp. I kept talking to it to keep it at bay, but seeing those eyes shining at you from the dark is very unsettling. Then my good flashlight died.

11) A possessed bear…

At a scout camp in Wisconsin some years ago, I woke up to find 1/2 my troop gone, lots of people shouting, some of the tents strewn about and the whole place a general mess.

Turns out I had slept through a bear attack. The bear pulled a 14 year old through the side of his tent and was trying to drag him off. Those who woke up threw rocks and sticks at the bear. The kid’s dad beat the bear with a big log and eventually the bear let go and ran off.

The kid has some crazy scars on his head and sides, and the bear was tracked down by the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and killed — it turns out it was sick.

Moon behind clouds
Photo: Ellebeam
12) Hungry hippo…

Was camping in Africa, in Zambia, a long time ago. We were camped on a riverbank and I was with my mom and dad. Woke up to the sound of grass ripping from the ground. Peeked out my window and there was a hippo grazing right next to the tent. He was so close that if I had pushed my hand into the cloth of the tent side I could have touched him. My parents didn’t wake up and I didn’t dare make a peep to get their attention for fear of startling the hippo. With minimal light I could just see the sheen of its hide and the thing was huge! He just munched for a while and went on his way.

13) Nightmare of the left-behind brew…

One time I thought I forgot to bring the beer. The end.

— Readers, what’s your scariest camping story? Tell us in the comments area below.

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An Arkansas native, Kyle Nossaman moved to Minneapolis after graduation and joined GearJunkie as an assistant editor and account manager. When he’s not hard charging through the city on his fixed gear bike, you’ll find him mountain biking, running, hiking, snowboarding, cheering on the Razorbacks or adventuring with his wife.
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