Culture

Tales from the Trail: The Wailing Woman of the Grand Canyon

When trails of the canyon begin to dim, the Wailing Woman appears on the rim.

Location: Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

Trail: Transept Trail on the North Rim

The Grand Canyon is home to stunning views, a collection of 54 hard trails, and one forlorn ghost: The Wailing Woman.

Described as “an apparition of a woman dressed in white,” the Wailing Woman has haunted the three-mile hike on the canyon’s North Rim for the past 100 years.

According to local lore, a woman moved into the Grand Canyon Lodge with her husband and son when it was being built in the 1920s. One day, her husband and son decided to go on a hike but when the weather turned treacherous, the pair lost their footing on the steep cliffs of the Transept Trail and fell to their deaths.

Stricken with grief, the woman searched the trail for her husband and son before ultimately accepting their sad fate. Unable to cope with her loss, she returned to the lodge and ended her life.

Now, her spirit is said to haunt both the trail where her family met their end and the lodge where she killed herself.

When the canyon lodge suffered a terrible fire in 1932, several witnesses claimed to see the Wailing Woman’s face within the flames. To this day, there is a door at the lodge she refuses to leave open. “Whenever the caretaker opens that door, the wandering woman slams it shut,” according to former park ranger Andrea Lankford’s book, Haunted Hikes.

According to hikers, the Wailing Woman can also be seen at night along the Transept Trail wearing a white dress with blue flowers, a scarf around her head. Williams-Grand Canyon News reports that “many hikers and even some seasonal park rangers have reported seeing the young woman’s apparition.” Even if you don’t see her, many hikers traveling along the north rim between the lodge and the Transept Trail have reported hearing her wailing and crying out for her family.

The Transept Trail is a moderate out-and-back hike or shaded run on a relatively smooth, unpaved surface — but it can also be dangerous near the cliff overlooks. Over 700 people have died in the Grand Canyon since the mid-1800s so there may be more ghosts than just the Wailing Woman haunting these trails.