Denver has the fright stuff, as we discovered on our exploration of Mile High haunts. But all haunted houses were not created equal, and with Halloween fast approaching, there's no time to waste on an attraction that might not suit your spooky needs.
So here's a recap of what we found (click on the links for the full reviews), and our recommendations for where you'll have a scary good time.
Scariest: Haunted Field of Screams
Haunted Field of Screams is Denver’s scariest haunt, and most of the credit for that goes to its top-notch actors. This attraction is entirely outdoors, and so subject to all the problems that come with inclement weather, but the setting is also what makes it so damn scary: You're lost in a cornfield full of lurking monsters and terrifying structures.
Scary factor: 9 on a scale of 1-10 (the only thing it's missing is a full-contact attraction)
What’s unique about this haunt: The way the monsters interact with you. They may not be able to touch you physically, but they will taunt you, invade your space...and many will play back if you want to engage verbally.
Best suited for: True haunted-house enthusiasts looking for a good scare, adults on a date night or out with the gang.
Standout element: A dead-end room with a gang of murderous clowns.
Best Bang for the Buck: The Haunted Mines and Hellscream
If the cost of visiting most attractions scares you, head to Colorado Springs, where the Haunted Mines is a bargain. And for an extra $14, you can pick up a combo pass and also see Hellscream, a sibling haunt.
Scary factor: 7 (The Haunted Mines is scarier, so warm up at Hellscream.)
What’s unique: At the Haunted Mines, it feels like you’ve actually descended belowground into actual mines. Hellscream’s upper-level, blacklit “decontamination and research” lab makes creative use of an otherwise standard hallway setting.
Best suited for: Anyone willing to drive for a scare and to save a couple of bucks.
Standout elements: The cave monster that came out of nowhere and the interactive merry-go-round game with clowns.
Coolest Concepts: Reaper’s Hollow
Reaper’s Hollow sits on 32 acres and takes full advantage of all that space with two outdoor attractions and one dizzying indoor haunt. The actors are engaging enough to entertain adults, but your brave little pumpkin could probably walk away without any emotional scars, too.
Scary factor: 7
What’s unique: No animatronics (all live actors) and the new Goblins Grove that leads you along an outdoor trail populated with mischievous goblins who will all mess with you in different ways.
Best suited for: Families with brave children, and anyone who might appreciate the professional yet DIY vibe that gives Reaper’s Hollow a lot of charm and individuality.
Standout element: The Dead End Motel, which traps you inside tight quarters with a whole cast of psychopaths.
The Complete Package: Terror in the Corn
This haunted field is located at Anderson Farms, which offers a myriad of activities for kids of all ages; a ticket to Terror in the Corn grants you access to the farm while the sun is still up. It also has timed ticketing, which means you can enjoy all the fun until your turn comes.
Scary factor: 6
What’s unique: This haunt begins with a ride on an enclosed trailer that dumps you off in the corn and ends at a strange, abandoned ghost town that’s not as deserted as it seems.
Best suited for: Families, couples and groups of friends looking for a full day of fall fun.
Standout elements: Wells Hotel, the transition from the cornfield to the ghost town, which has an impressive facade and engaging receptionist waiting inside.
Most Kid-Friendly (but Still Entertaining for Adults): Reinke Bros. Haunted Mansion
The Reinke brothers worked in Hollywood, which shows in their detailed sets and custom-built animatronics. Like Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the Haunted Mansion is appropriate for children, but also designed to entertain their adult parents.
Scary factor: 1
What’s unique: Every room has something that moves, and some are so full of detail, you may be tempted to stay and study it all rather than move through the haunt.
Best suited for: Anyone.
Standout element: A display of seven or eight skeletons no taller than a foot or two, all attached to a mechanism that spins them around like a carousel. With the room dimmed, a strobe light flashing and Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man's Party” blasting, the effect is a gaggle of skeletons dancing before your eyes.
Over-the-Top Production: 13th Floor
This is consistently touted as Denver’s best haunted house, and we can see why many would think that. There are amazing set designs, realistic props and monstrous animatronics, but at the end of the day, the 13th Floor just isn't that scary.
Scary factor: 6
What’s unique: This is a big-budget haunt, with gigantic props, professional-quality sets and other fancy eye candy.
Best suited for: Casual haunted-house fans who don’t want to travel out of the city for a few scares; middle- and high-schoolers.
Standout elements: A creatively executed swamp room, a steep-tilt room that's fun to climb, and the opening of Possession (the nun-themed attraction) with towering bookshelves, levitating books, warm lighting and creepy, believable actors.
Tamest Terrors: Frightmare Compound, City of the Dead/Asylum, Dead Zone
Scary factor: 5
What’s unique: The permanent set boasts functioning water wheels, spinning machinery on old farm equipment, crashed airplanes and more.
Best suited for: Middle- and high-schoolers.
Standout element: The run-down farmhouse at the center of the property: Not only do you go inside, but you climb to the top to explore the attic.
City of the Dead/Asylum
Scary factor: 4
What’s unique: Not a whole lot; this is a pretty standard walk-through haunted house.
Best suited for: Middle- and high-schoolers.
Standout elements: A child’s playhouse that you have to squat-walk through, and a hallway of zombies that takes real courage to get past.
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Scary factor: 3
What’s unique: Located on Chatfield Farms, which is part of the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Best suited for: Families, middle- and high-schoolers
Standout elements: While Dead Zone advertises three attractions, only one is actually haunted and staffed with actors. There's also an “after dark” corn maze that you walk through with a glow stick, and a scary movie you watch while sitting on a hay bale.