Most of the year, Sturgis seems like a peaceful place, but in October, things change. Suddenly the quiet little town in southwest Michigan finds itself surrounded by some of the scariest haunts in the state. Look in practically any direction and you'll find something horrifying to keep you occupied throughout the Halloween season.
SplatmanBOO Haunted Forest
Travel less than a half hour northwest of Sturgis and you'll find yourself in the SplatmanBOO Haunted Forest in Three Rivers (splatmanboohauntedforest.com), a haunted trail hosted by the Splatmandu Paintball Club. First opened in 2004, this attraction operates just one night a year (in 2011, that night is Oct. 29), and the operators attempt to pack as many scares into that single night as possible. Trips through the forest are not recommended for anyone under 14 years of age, and those who find that they're unwilling or unable to endure the trip can rest in the Chicken Chair and wait for their braver friends to finish the walk. Admission in 2011 is $5.
Psycho Ward and Nightmares
Due north of Sturgis lies one of the most popular haunted attractions in Michigan, the infamous Psycho Ward and Nightmares (hauntpark.com) in Kalamazoo. The Psycho Ward is the domain of Floyd Cranston, a diabolical character who would be right at home in any slasher film, while Nightmares is a new attraction guaranteed to tap into the darkest fears of its visitors. For 2011, admission to both attractions was $15.
Darksyde Acres sits on 38 acres northeast of Sturgis (darksydeacres.com). In 2010, its attractions included the Rusthole and Catacombs mazes, as well as the nautical-themed Dark Abyss attraction. The focus of Darksyde Acres is plenty of creepy context provided by a thorough backstory for each attraction, and the scares are augmented by intense settings and elaborate makeup effects. In 2010, standard admission to the attraction was $20.
Ghosts of Kalamazoo
The Kalamazoo Jaycees offer Hhosts of Kalamazoo Historic Tour (ghostsofkalamazoo.org), a big-city style haunted experience just a short drive north of Sturgis with their annual ghost tours. Tours are offered in four locations around Kalamazoo, including downtown, Mountain Home Cemetery, Celery Flats and Riverview Cemetery. The tours offer an alternative to the more terrifying haunted attractions, foregoing the gore and shock and concentrating instead on historically spooky stories and places. Cost for the tour in 2010 was $7 per person, and proceeds are donated to local charities.
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