Ready to take a walk on the wild side of America's 63 National Parks? Our poster artists at Anderson Design Group compiled a collection of the spookiest stories, legends, monsters, myths, ghosts, and unexplainable phenomenon observed in the parks. This is the Legends of the National Parks Collection, and it's sure to have you looking over your shoulder more often than usual on your next trip to the parks!
Following are our most recent additions to the collection.
Haleakala's Green Lady
Cherished as a part of a deep, cultural tradition, Indigenous Hawaiian folklore has many stories that connect the human world to both the spirit world and the natural world. One such story is that of the Green Lady, a spirit woman who haunts the forests around Hawaii’s National Parks and botanical gardens. As the story goes, she used to be an ordinary human who visited Wahiawa Botanical Gardens with her children many years ago.
Misfortune struck the family, and the woman’s children became lost in the forest. She began to search for them, and when no one stepped in to help her, she became frantic. The woman refused to give up her search, and she never came out of the woods again.
Or at least, that particular woman never came out of the woods again. Years later, visitors to the Wahiawa Botanical Gardens and other nature preserves and parks across Hawaii started seeing a strange-looking woman deep within the woods, sometimes only catching glimpses of her before she disappeared. She is said to be green in appearance, to have fish-like scales, jagged teeth, moss and leaves covering her body, and seaweed-like hair. Some have even reported hearing the Green Lady call to other people's children in an effort to lure them into the woods and away from their families.
Olympic National Park is known for rainforests, stunning waterfalls, incredible hiking trails, verdant campsites, and… Sasquatch?? Sure enough, dozens of the recorded Sasquatch sightings that Washington State has tabulated have come from hikers, campers, park rangers, and day-trip visitors to Olympic National Park.
Standing anywhere from 6ft to 9ft tall and covered in thick brown and black fur, Sasquatch stands taller than most humans. The creature looks like a cross between an ape and a human, with both ape-like and human-like features. On the rare occasions when Sasquatch has been caught on film, the creature moves with a strange gait, not quite human, but not quite ape-like either.
Visitors to Olympic National Park who have spotted the Sasquatch creature report that it is incredibly elusive and that witnesses have only caught glimpses of the beast before it disappeared into the thick forests and undergrowth that the region is known for. And while Sasquatch appears mostly harmless and more inclined to avoid humans than confront them, visitors have reported shrill guttural roars coming from Sasquatch when the creature was confronted or surprised by human visitors.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park's Miniwashitu
Theodore Roosevelt National park is a natural wonder waiting for your eyes to behold, but the park also keeps a dark secret. As the Indigenous Dakota legend has it, the park is home to a mysterious creature, a monster of the Missouri River, the Miniwashitu.
According to the tribal elders of the Mandan and Lakota tribes, the Miniwashitu is a bipedal creature that looks much like a bison, but more human-like. The beast is 7-8ft tall, with a bison's head and fur but just one eye and a single bison horn set above the eye. The Miniwashitu has elk-like hooves and human hands. Finally, the creature can easily stand on two feet, and it has a jagged, spiny backbone, with some reports indicating that spikes protrude from its backbone.
There is some recorded documentation of the Miniwashitu beast, and the following is an excerpted text from the 1921 writings of Author Melvin Randolph Gilmore, one-time curator for the North Dakota State Historical Society: “It is said that in the long ago there was a mysterious being within the stream of the Missouri River. It was seldom seen by human beings, and was most dreadful to see. It is said that sometimes it was seen within the water in the middle of the stream, causing a redness shining like the redness of fire as it passed up the stream against the current with a terrific roaring sound.”
Wind Cave's Walking Sam
Some of the monsters, myths, and legends of the National Parks have cruel intentions, others are benevolent. But there is a third category, a group of creatures where we just don’t know what their intentions are. Walking Sam falls into that category. Indigenous Oglala Lakota ghost stories told at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota say that Walking Sam is a spirit of sorts, a ghost or a bogeyman who walks behind adolescents who are extremely depressed, youngsters who are so unhappy that they are considering suicide.
No one really knows what the intentions of Walking Sam are. Some believe that he collects the souls of suicide victims and helps them find their way into the afterlife. Others believe his intentions are more malicious, that he feeds upon the depression and sadness of unhappy adolescents. Some believe he is created or “brought to life” by the dark energies of the depression and apathy of those around him, and that he himself would be freed if depressed youngsters could find a way to solve their unhappiness.
Still others believe that Walking Sam, the 7ft tall apparition with ghostly features and a skinny body with long limbs and a sad complexion, is himself a lost soul who is sad about being lost and who is looking for company amongst other sad persons. The mystery of Walking Sam may remain unsolved for years to come, but for those who see him or feel his presence, it would be a good idea to check in on family members and loved ones, and to do everything possible to bring more love and light into the world.
Cuyahoga Valley's Grassman
Some believe that Bigfoot is just a creature of the Pacific Northwest, and that may be true. But what about his cousin, Grassman? Standing somewhere between 7ft and 9ft tall and weighing in at over 300lbs, Grassman is an Ohio legend, a creature that wanders the fields and forests of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
More human-looking than Bigfoot but no less wild and mysterious, Grassman is said to eat mainly grass and wheat, sometimes spotted on the edge of farmers’ fields, sampling the seasons crop. Grassman is also said to build small huts out of grass, where he spends a few nights before moving on to the next place.
Despite numerous sightings throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, no one has ever captured a clear photograph or video clip of Grassman. And who would even try? While most stories indicate that the creature is harmless, some accounts say that Grassman can let out a ferocious, eerily human roar when confronted or harassed.
Stay Tuned for More Spooky Poster Art!
Excited to learn about every story, legend, and spooky creature, our artists will continue rendering new illustrations of the monsters and myths of the National Parks. Check back in for our next installment, and if you happen to spot one of these elusive beasts on your next visit to the National Parks, please do let us know!
Anderson Design Group Staff Writer