From Bonfires to Nightmares: 11 of the Scariest Camping Tales Ever Told

Camping often evokes images of crackling bonfires, gooey s’mores, and starlit adventures. However, as night descends, tranquil forests can quickly transform into mystical, eerie undergrowths; hiding secrets of the unpredictable forces of nature and even the supernatural. These are the grounds for nightmares, where chilling tales of camping horror might just make you think twice about your next trip.

1. Earwigs in the Tent

Random old house; abandoned house
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Our first one doesn’t even go far from home yet. Remember when you were a kid, and your backyard was the ultimate camping ground? That’s exactly what a group of 9-10-year-olds thought as they prepared everything up to comic books into their backyard tent. But their supposedly fun night was shattered when their flashlights revealed hundreds of earwigs crawling above them. The commenter reminisces, “We booked ass into the house where we spent the night safely in our bedroom.” This just shows a camping horror in your own backyard can be this terrifying.

2. Going Camping After Watching The Blair Witch Project

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Two self-proclaimed “18-year-old tough guys” scared themselves witless after seeing The Blair Witch Project. The scare wasn’t so much seeing the movie but going camping directly afterward. 

They were so scared they both “slept in the truck with all the windows covered.” Unfortunately, one of the friends snuck out of the truck to construct the little stick shrines and scared himself. The then 18 years proceeded to drive “100 miles home freaked out” while “leaving all of our camping gear there.”

3. Camping During a Severe Thunderstorm

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One user recalled camping during a storm and remembering the sound of trees breaking and falling to the ground around them. Of course, it never came to fruition, but the anxiety of being crushed in your tent by a giant tree loomed over them all night. As a result, they rated their experience a “0/10 would not recommend.”

4. We Think It Was a Skinwalker

Coyote pack (Canis latrans) standing in a grassy green field in the golden light of autumn in Canada
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Once a church camping trip, this group of youngsters decided to prank one of the older teenage kids. They chose to jump-scare the teen using a hockey mask like the fictional serial killer Jason Voorhees does.

They sent a scout to be sure the teen was in their tent. The youngster called out, “Hey, are you in there?” To which they think he responds with, “Go away!” That’s when the younger campers attempt to initiate their prank, only to find out the tent where the teen camper should be, is empty.

So the pranksters headed back to meet the remaining camper at the fire pit, where they found the teen they were trying to prank, who said he had been in the same spot for about two hours. They believed they encountered a skinwalker.

Then, to top it all off, “later that night, I heard footsteps walking around my tent all night. Along with the howls of coyotes out in the woods.”

5. Late-Night Visitor

Spring cubs follow thier mother along the shore of Brooks River, Katmai National Park, Alaska
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Once while camping in northern Michigan, one camper had to pee at night, so they peeked out of their tent to see a black bear perusing the campground. Talk about terrifying, but luckily the bear was more than “50 feet away.”

6. Treading Quietly

A beautiful lioness at the Chaffee Zoo on a sunny day
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Mountain lions are apex predators and have evolved to master their craft. This person recalled backpacking through New Mexico on a wooded trail and seeing “a full-grown mountain lion cross in front of me and disappear into the brush.” The scariest part about the interaction was not the encounter with the mountain lion so much as how quietly it moved.

7. Rattlesnakes Like Warm Fires Too

Mojave Rattlesnake in Arizona (Crotalus scutulatus)
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In the southwest region of the U.S. and northwest part of Mexico, the sidewinder or horned rattlesnake is a prominent poisonous snake. Another remembers when a horned rattlesnake slithered its way under their camping chair when they sat in front of a warm campfire. It was a terrifying experience.

8. Flash Flood

A flooded street after catastrophic Hurricane
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Many confirmed it would be terrifying to be evacuated from your campsite due to flash flooding. They remember camping at a state park, but it was raining so badly that most people slept in their cars instead of tents. The sheriff knocked on windows to guide people out of the flooding campsite via footpath because the roads were washed out.

9. Surprise Tornado

Driving on straight dirt road towards the ominous tornado storm through the cultivated fields of wheat and corn crops.
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Once on a camping trip, a family of campers was surprised by a tornado. The tornado brought a heavy downpour of rain, so the family had to seek shelter in the nearby picnic area.

The younger sister began “having a severe asthma attack, but her inhaler was packed up in the car.” So mom puts on her superhero pants.

Mom braves her fear of twisters and heads to the car, only to be taken out by a mudslide while impaling her hand on a large piece of wood and breaking her arm. She eventually makes it to the car and back to the rest of the family, only for little sister to cooly say, “I’m fine now!”

10. Norwegian Wilderness Wolves

Portrait of grey wolf in the forest
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The following person shared a story about camping in the Norwegian wilderness with a buddy in a “valley about 800m above sea level” when they “started hearing wolves howling” in the distance.

So they devised an escape plan to grab their bags and a light source and leave everything while walking down the hill back to back to ensure they weren’t met with any surprises.

11. That Coyote Is Laying On My Tent

Couples enjoying the view from RV
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A final user told a story about helping a friend convert an old bus into an RV. Though the conversion was incomplete, the pair of friends took the RV bus to a remote camping site.

They tried to camp out in tents during the night, but an intense wind storm kicked them into the RV bus for proper shelter. It was pretty scary. Unfortunately, when they awoke the following day, they discovered coyotes had overrun their campsite, and “the coyote was laying on my tent.”

This article is inspired by the internet and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Savoteur.

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