If you’re ever strolling through the wilderness and come across a deep, dark hole in the ground, you’re probably not going to venture into it, right? After all, you have some common sense. More than likely, these little caves and crevasses are nothing special; they’re just natural rock formations that create tiny pockets of darkness in the Earth. Some collect water. No big deal.
Then, there are these mysterious holes. These holes are the things you hear about in horror and sci-fi tales. They’re mysterious portals that may or may not open into some other world.
1. Devil’s Hole, Death Valley National Park, California
Devil’s Hole is a narrow chasm in the limestone of Death Valley. You’d think that a name like Devil’s Hole in Death Valley would keep people at a respectful distance, but there are several legends of people disappearing down here. In 1965, several kids jumped in, and two never came out. Their bodies were never found. This hole is filled with water — some estimate it to be 1,000 feet deep — and it may be part of a larger underground system of rivers, as some have reported a current. Go cave diving somewhere else.
2. Devil’s Sinkhole, State Natural Area, Texas
You might start noticing a pattern with the names here. Devil’s Sinkhole in Texas is a 400-foot hole in the limestone ground, and has the designation of being the only hole on our list with a photo from inside. There’s actually quite a bit of vegetation down here, but it’s also home to about 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats, who swarm out from it at night. This probably has something to do with its sinister name.
3. Hrad Houska, Czech Republic
“Wait just a darn minute,” you’re saying. “That is definitely not a hole.” This weird castle is far removed from any other centers of civilization, and has no water and no kitchen, but it does have a hole. It was built over a hole in the ground said to open up to a terrifying netherworld, complete with winged, half-animal creatures that would occasionally fly out and cause a mess. The castle was never intended as a home, but rather as a way to cover the hole and keep the demons out. One tale says that when the castle was built, a pardon would be granted to any prisoner who volunteered to descend into the hole. One man did, and began screaming after a few minutes. When he was hauled out, he was discovered to have aged 30 years.
4. The Darvasa gas crater, or Doorway to Hell, Turkmenistan
This smells like sulfur and has been on fire since 1971. Sounds hellish to me. It’s actually part of a natural gas field in Turkmenistan. This burning pit was kind of man made. When drilling for natural gas, Soviet engineers found more than they were expecting and began storing it. However, a sinkhole opened up, exposing the dangerous gas to the air. Instead of facing possible poisoning, they decided to burn it off, thinking it would be depleted in that area in a few weeks. But there was way more than they expected, and it’s been burning for the past 40 years.
5. Devil’s Hole, Manastash Ridge, Washington
The hole in these woods manages to be creepy without even solid evidence that it exists. This hole to the unknown seems to exist only in legend, and it’s said to have a three-foot stone wall around it and be potentially bottomless. One man says that his father took him there as a boy, telling him it was an “endless hole,” and that he’s seen strange objects hovering over it. His theory? It’s a secret underground government facility. Another legend tells of the inexplicable fear it struck in dogs. One even states that a dead dog was dropped into the hole, and ended up “coming back.” Historians and researchers have tried to get to the bottom of this, and compiled a detailed file of all the legends and stories associated with the hole. Of course, you can’t read that file because it mysteriously disappeared.
Personally, I find looking into a storm drain for too long to be unsettling enough, so there’s no way I could see myself approaching any of these. Still, they’re fascinating in the way that legends can spring up around them and hint at worlds and experiences beyond our own.