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Ask a Ranger: Campfire-Ready Ghost Stories!

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Map of North Carolina – William B. Umstead State Park

Contact the park




Crabtree Creek access
and visitor center

8801 Glenwood Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27617

GPS: 35.8905, -78.7502


Reedy Creek access

2100 N. Harrison Ave.
Cary, NC 27513

GPS: 35.8334, -78.7603




  • November to February:
    8:00am to 6:00pm
  • March to April:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
  • May to August:
    8:00am to 9:00pm
  • September to October:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
  • Closed Christmas Day


  • November to February:
    8:00am to 6:00pm
  • March to April:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
  • May to August:
    8:00am to 9:00pm
  • September to October:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
  • Closed Christmas Day


  • Open daily:
    8:00am to 5:00pm
  • Exhibit Hall is open.
  • Closed Christmas Day


  • Tent and trailer family campground is open April 1 - October 31


  • April:
    8:00am to 8:00pm
  • May to August:
    8:00am to 9:00pm
  • September to October:
    8:00am to 8:00pm





Ask a Ranger: Campfire-Ready Ghost Stories!

Click the player above to listen to the episode. Read the article below to learn more about ghost stories and folklore.


Ghost Stories and Folklore

Night walk
Night Walk, J. Phillips


What are a park ranger’s favorite things to do when they go camping?

If you ask a park ranger what their favorite thing to do around a campfire is — besides eating S’MORES, of course — you will most likely hear us tell you we enjoy singing songs and telling spooky ghost stories.

Ghost stories and folklore are not just for a shock factor or entertainment. Ghost stories and folklore are also valuable to every culture. It is a way to pass down history and culture, explain the unexplainable, teach community and cultural norms, help form social connection and educate. Ghost stories and folklore provide these important elements to their communities through generations. This Ask a Ranger article and podcast will focus on the social connection, shock or fear factor and entertainment.


Spoooooky Halloween Jokes and Riddles

What do you call a tree that is scared?  PETRIFIED!
What do you find on a haunted beach?  A sand-WITCH!
The maker of this product does not want it, the buyer of the product does not need it, the user of the product never sees it, what is it?  A Coffin
Why did the vampire need mouthwash?  He had bat-breath!
What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter? A Pumpkin Pi
What's the problem with twin witches?  You can't tell which witch is which!


Campfire song: "Spiders and Serpents and Bats (OH MY)"

We would like to share with you a campfire song written and sung by our own Park Superintendent Keith Nealson from Eno River. You can just click on the link to listen and enjoy or sing along. Below we have provided the lyrics for this fun campfire song!

words and music by Keith Nealson

          G                    C                   D                    G
I’ll tell you a tale of three interesting critters whose reputations are shot
Some people fear them and will not go near them and some just dislike them a lot
          F                    C                    G                   C
And for the most part these poor creatures don’t deserve the bad press they accrue
          F                    C                    D                   G
‘cuz they help keep the world very healthy — which is good for both me and for you

                    G                         C
Spiders and serpents and bats . . . Oh, my!
                   G                          D
          Spiders and serpents and bats . . . Oh my!
                   G                         C
          Spiders and serpents and bats . . . Oh, my!
                   G                         D               G
          Spiders and serpents and bats . . . Oh my!

Let’s speak of the spiders, those eight-legged creatures, whose webs are woven with care
They can climb up their silk with those of their ilk and hang upside down in mid-air
Each day they will capture their insect prey and prepare them for marvelous feasts
Why, without what they’ve done we might be overrun by multiple six-legged beasts


Let's talk about snakes how they wake in the morning and go for a nice pleasant crawl
How they smell with their tongue, give birth to their young and climb with no legs at all
And some keep down the mouse population — by eating up rodents galore
Which makes for less mouses in houses — a fact I applaud the snakes for


Let's talk about bats and their long wing-like fingers that helps them to feed in the night
A mammal that flies through the nocturnal skies using echolocation — not sight
If you ever have slapped a mosquito you might stop and give bats their fair due
If it weren’t for the work of a handful of bats, there would be more of them eating you


So please do remember the good these guys do and help to keep them on the scene
They are precious and needed each day of the year (and not only on Halloween!)



Ghost Stories

To finish up, we would like to share the stories that we tell on our podcast. You can read them to each other around the campfire or play our podcast and let us — Ranger Jess and Ranger Crystal — tell you the spooky tales!

Blackbeard’s Ghost:

The Devil’s Tramping Ground:

Lydia, the Phantom Hitchhiker:

The Little Girl Who Wasn't:
from LadySparrow

From Dodai Stewart’s 10 of the Spookiest Scary Stories You’ll Ever Read:

I lived in a house from hell for four years, from age eleven to almost sixteen. There was constantly something happening. Doors flying open and shut, voices, footsteps. Nothing ever stayed where you put it. I was alone there a lot because both my parents worked and I was constantly terrified.

One of the most gut-level disturbing things though was the little girl in my bathroom. Every time I walked past my bathroom door (which was constantly since it was right outside my bedroom) I saw a little girl with blond curled hair and a rose-colored dress. She just stood there, staring, looking like a photograph from 1905. I started keeping the door closed so I could walk by without seeing her, but she was always there when I opened it. Once I stepped in past her, I couldn't see her anymore but I could feel her there. She scared me, but I felt really sorry for her because she was trapped there, just like me, but probably forever.

As the years went by and things in the house continued to get worse, she started seeming... darker. I started feeling like she wasn't really a little girl. I knew there was something ugly in the house and I felt like it was presenting this sympathetic image to me. Then I started thinking I was completely losing my mind.

One day, when I was 14, I had a friend from out of town come stay with me for a week. I hadn't told her anything whatsoever about the house because I didn't think she would come if I did. Right after she got there we were sitting in my room and she left to go to the bathroom. About a minute later she walked back in with a puzzled look on her face and said "So, there's a little girl in your bathroom". "Um, I, yeah she hangs out in there. Blond hair?" "Curls? Pink dress? Yeah. You know that's not really a little girl, don't you?" I almost threw up. I was so relieved and terrified and excited and ready to run out of the house screaming. She wouldn't use my bathroom the rest of the week and I started using it as little as possible without perturbing my parents (who did not want to believe).

Eventually we moved out and I could not have been happier. I distanced myself from it mentally as much as I could. Then, when I was 18, I took another friend on a road trip to pack up a few things I'd left in the house (my parents hadn't managed to sell it, and wouldn't for 5 more years). The minute we got on the property, my friend seemed uncomfortable. When we came around the bend in the long, steep driveway, he went completely white. I could tell something was wrong, but he insisted he was OK, so we got to work. After a while he asked to use the bathroom and I directed him to mine. Not 20 seconds after he left, he came running back in, gasping for breath, and slammed the bedroom door behind him. He started babbling about a little blond girl who isn't really a little girl. All of a sudden he went dead still, looked me in the eye, and very solemnly said "She's not happy. With you. You left, and you weren't supposed to". We threw whatever we could grab in two trips in my car (after I walked him to another bathroom and waited outside the door) and got out at top speed.



About the Ask a Ranger Podcast

Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess host the North Carolina State Parks Ask a Ranger Podcast series.

Email them at

For a full list of episodes, visit our BuzzSprout page.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast with Apple iTunes.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast with RSS feed.



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Upcoming Events:

Friday, October 29, 2021 - 8:00am
Friday, November 5, 2021 - 8:00am
Friday, November 12, 2021 - 8:00am