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The 10 best ‘Ghost Adventures’ episodes

Whether it's the haunted history of the Stanley Hotel or the mysterious goings-on on Poveglia Island, viewers are in for a fright.

Ghost Adventures
Photo via Discovery+

Now in its 27th season, the reality TV show Ghost Adventures has featured several creepy interactions and terrifying episodes since its premiere on October 17, 2008, making it the longest-running ghost-focused paranormal series. Originally airing on the Travel Channel, the series moved to Discovery+ in 2021, where viewers continue to follow ghost hunters Zak Bagans, Nick Groff (seasons 1–10), Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, and Jay Wasley as they explore some of the world’s most horrific and haunting sites. 

The show’s unique blend of historical accuracy, supernatural tension, and interdepartmental friendship has captivated viewers worldwide. Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, and Jay Wasley care deeply about what they do on the show. When investigating, they put all of themselves into it and show genuine anxiety, excitement, or empathy. This honesty strikes a chord with viewers, increasing their interest in and credibility of the investigations. 

The ‘lockdown’ method used by Ghost Adventures is also noteworthy. The cast and crew stay the night in supposedly haunted locales to get the full effect, raising the stakes and increasing the excitement of the investigations. Let’s dive into the top ten unforgettable episodes that viewers and reviewers agree are the most compelling and terrifying.

10. “Bobby Mackey’s Music World” (season 1, episode 1)

“Bobby Mackey’s Music World” marked the beginning of Ghost Adventures’ fascinating exploration of the supernatural. The pilot aired on October 17, 2008, introducing viewers to Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, Aaron Goodwin, and their investigative team. Considered one of the most haunted places in the United States — Bobby Mackey’s Music World in Wilder, Kentucky — the establishment’s past contains stories of murder, suicide, and Satanic rituals. The area is notorious for the ‘well to hell,’ a doorway where evil spirits are said to gather. 

The crew did their trademark lockdown and executed several experiments during the inquiry to collect proof of the supernatural. In this episode, Zak’s horrific encounter was the most exciting part. He said something invisible scratched his back and attacked him bodily. As a result, the rest of the show would be just as intense and often as physically confronting for the cast and crew. This episode set the bar high for the rest of the season with its excellent blend of suspense, horror, human reactions, and potential evidence.

9. “Cecil Hotel” (season 21, episode 5)

The Cecil Hotel, a scene of several tragedies and mysterious occurrences, was the site of one of Ghost Adventures’ most disturbing investigations. There have been several suicides, murders, acts of devil worship, and even the home of notorious serial killers at the Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Due to its sinister past and the mysterious circumstances surrounding Elisa Lam’s death in 2013, this episode from January 4, 2021 — the first-ever paranormal investigation at the Cecil Hotel — stands out as a scary excursion into the unknown. 

In this 1-hour and 23-minute episode, Zak Bagans and company explore the dark past of the Cecil, looking for the hotel’s ghosts in the rooms they feel are most active. The crew uses various investigational techniques to search the haunted corridors and empty chambers for proof of the paranormal. IMDb users gave the episode about the Cecil Hotel 8.5 stars, a testament to the episode’s popularity.

8. “Eastern State Penitentiary” (season 2, episode 6)

In an episode originally broadcast on July 10, 2009, the Ghost Adventures crew visited the Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the United States’ oldest correctional facilities still in operation. Built in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is steeped in a colorful and gruesome history. In 1971, after 142 years of service as a jail, this massive building was closed and is now recognized as a National Historic Landmark. It is said to be one of the most haunted places in the United States, and its spooky, crumbling structure is a chilling emblem of the American criminal justice system of yesteryear. 

In a thrilling 43 minutes, the crew explores the boundaries of the prison, giving viewers a close look at the place’s disturbing atmosphere. The task force aimed to learn the prison’s sinister history and look into the countless accounts of supernatural occurrences behind its ancient walls. The group’s attempts to establish contact with the departed inmates who had lived and possibly died in these halls are disturbing to watch.

7. “Route 666” (season 16, episode 6)

Season 16’s “Route 666” episode is riveting because it focuses on the paranormal investigation of the notorious “Devil’s Highway,” also known as Route 666. The highway’s reputation as a haunted place provides a spooky backdrop for the team’s work. There are countless stories of supernatural occurrences and mysterious incidents along this highway that passes across four states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. 

The crew interviews residents and former passengers who describe their terrifying experiences while traveling along Route 666. Stories of skinwalkers — a horrifying creature from Navajo legend — are included in this episode alongside those of ghosts, hitchhikers from the afterlife, and groups of hell hounds. 

6. “Preston Castle” (season 2, episode 1)

This episode of Ghost Adventures, filmed at the magnificent Preston Castle, provides a disturbing look at one of California’s most haunted places. Preston Castle, in Ione, California, was a reform school from 1894 to 1960 under the name Preston School of Industry. The castle’s bloody past of mistreatment and murder gives it a reputation as a hub for supernatural occurrences. Zak, Nick, and Aaron investigate the shady history of the castle, hearing tales of misfortunate inmates and ruthless personnel. 

They talk about how the school’s housekeeper — Anna Corbin — was found brutally killed in the basement, and nobody ever caught her killer. Using their high-tech equipment, they make their way through the dark, silent halls, the eerie atmosphere only heightened by the lack of noise. The team captures strange voices and sounds during their EVP sessions, with Zak attributing a response to the spirit of Anna Corbin. 

5. “Villisca Axe Murder House” (season 4, episode 6)

In search of answers about one of the most heinous unsolved murders in American history, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin travel to the sleepy village of Villisca, Iowa. Here, an unidentified intruder brutally murdered the Moore family and their two houseguests on June 10, 1912. The horrifying backstory of the axe murders provides an eerie undercurrent throughout the program. 

The team experiences what they take to be paranormal occurrences, such as temperature swings, mysterious noises, and unseen people in the shadows. Adding terrible depth to the research is a touching scene in which the crew supposedly makes contact with the spirits of the Moore children. 

4. “Poveglia Island” (season 3, episode 3)

One of the best Ghost Adventures episodes occurs on Poveglia Island, an Italian island in the Venetian Lagoon. The island’s sad history as a refuge for those suffering from the plague, a mental institution, and reported mass burials makes it an eerie setting for paranormal researchers. Zak’s abrupt, unexplainable surge of emotions while touring the hospital ruins is one of the episode’s most riveting moments. 

The usually unflappable investigator seems to lose his composure under the weight of his melancholy. As a result of this unanticipated display of weakness, the incident gains an added dose of credibility, as it becomes clear that whatever haunts Poveglia Island can affect even the most seasoned paranormal investigators. 

3. “The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum” (season 4, episode 1)

When the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia opened in 1864, it could hold 250 inmates. Despite this, by the 1950s, it had become grossly congested, with over 2,400 patients forced to endure deplorable conditions. The facility’s past is rife with accounts of patient torture, neglect, and death, creating a somber environment that the Ghost Adventures crew is eager to explore. 

The team sees shadow people and other inexplicable events all through the night. During the episode’s most unnerving scene, Zak reportedly uses an EVP session to communicate with the spirit of a patient named Ruth, who was allegedly housed in the room. The session purportedly records a female voice confirming her presence in answer to Zak’s inquiries. 

2. “The Stanley Hotel” (season 4, episode 5)

The Stanley Hotel, located in the Colorado Rockies, is a breathtaking architectural masterpiece with a supposedly haunted past. The episode is tense, mysterious, and full of paranormal encounters because the paranormal investigative team gets into the hotel’s history and riddles. Staying at the Stanley Hotel is credited as inspiring the best-selling novel The Shining by author Stephen King. 

For decades, guests and staff have reported seeing ghosts, hearing unusual noises, and experiencing other paranormal activity at this hotel. An ominous tone permeates the show as the team investigates these rumors and the hotel’s past. Personal testimony to the site’s history is enriched by interviews with hotel employees, guests, and local specialists. 

1. “Island of the Dolls” (season 9, episode 6)

In the canals south of Mexico City, Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin visit an island famous for its unnerving display of hundreds of dolls hanging from trees. There is a tragic past to the Island of the Doll. The lone resident of the island — Don Julian Santana — allegedly discovered the body of a young girl who had drowned under unexplained circumstances. A doll, perhaps the girl’s, was lying nearby. 

To honor her memory and appease her restless spirit, Santana began amassing and draping dolls all over the island. He carried on this odd ritual for over half a century, eventually dying in the same canal where the girl had perished. Several vital moments increase the episode’s suspense. In a disturbing scene, Zak offers the ghost of the drowned girl a doll and asks her to make it move. The group appears shaken after the doll’s arm suddenly moves, presumably on its own. 

Faith Katunga
About the author

Faith Katunga

Faith is a freelance writer with an insatiable curiosity for all aspects of current events, from the global economy and fashion to pop culture and travel. She watches an absurd number of cat videos on Instagram when not reading or writing about what is going on in the world.