If you’re not sure what an “urban explorer” is, it’s someone who enjoys exploring the nooks and crannies of the cities where they live or visit.
Like with any explorer, though, there are bound to be moments when you know you’ve walked into the wrong place at the wrong time, and if you listen to your gut, you turn around, fast.
It’s best to live vicariously in these moments, if you ask me, so that’s what we’ll do with these 16 stories.
16. Well that’s proper creepy.
Boy oh boy do I have a story. Went urban exploring in an abandoned college campus, was pretty cool, due to be demolished and there was some really nice graffiti. At the time I kept sending video messages to a friend of me roaming around looking at everything.
The way the area was set up was pretty much a singular building in this giant lot with nothing on it, right in the middle with it being open area about 100 meters either way. The building was three storeys and on the ground floor had an open area where there appeared to be an abandoned car.
So I was messing around looking at this graffiti and the random junk everywhere and recording videos for my friend when I finally went to record the graffiti right next to the car. I started filming a video of the graffiti when what do you know. The car turns on. I immediately throw my hands up and point towards the gate to gesture “Sorry didn’t realise someone was here, I’ll be on my way.”
When the guy starts blaring on the horn and starts revving the engine, at this point I’m startle and decide to gun it down the driveway back to the gate and WHAT DO YOU KNOW he starts speeding after me in the car whilst still blaring on the horn. Due to being startled and running I apparently accidentally hit send to the video I took on my phone to my friend, whilst all captioning it “1111” as I was running away. (I have the video saved if anyone’s curious.)
At this point I was right in the headlights with him right behind so I turned off the driveway and ran over a pile of rocks, falling down on my way down the other side of them. Scratched my knee really badly, glasses went flying off and got scratched up too. I get the glasses and sprint (more like hobble quickly) to the fence where there’s some bush covering, the guy pulls up near by and winds down the window and you could smell the car from how far I was, it was putrid and the guy for sure looked like he was living out of the car. I have insane adrenaline going and sort of slink further away through the bushes but can’t get over the fence. I figured I could wait the guy out.
I was there for around 20 minutes whilst he sat there with his car idling. By this point my friend was practically having a panic attack thinking I just got murdered and my adrenaline was wearing off and the pain from my leg was setting in so I couldn’t climb the fence and get away quickly without him noticing.
My friend was messaging me like crazy asking if I was okay and she ended up DRIVING to the place to rescue me. She pulled up a bit up the street and the guy drove up towards there which gave me the chance to climb the fence, she rushed down to where I had said I was, picked me up, and we drove off.
Never have I been so scared in my life, and have never appreciated someone more.
15. If you want to get shot…
I used to enjoy exploring abandoned places here in rural Iowa, but I stopped a couple years ago after a couple run ins with some meth labs. Sh%t’s crazy here. Scary as f*ck too.
Those dudes will shoot your ass without hesitation. They’re typically tweaking and/or unstable, too. That makes them unpredictable.
I work for a utility company and have to go on site visits in some sketchy areas of small towns to recon where to put power lines. This puts you in all sorts of abandoned areas sometimes. I’ve heard enough stories from field guys and seen plenty that was a red flag.
New locks and dogs in abandoned areas means GTFO yesterday. Drug epidemic hits the midwest hard, man.
14. Like, yesterday.
I was taking a look at some of those massive smokestacks in an abandoned factory and I heard a radio squelch
That’s time to go, right there
13. One terrifying moment.
I was exploring an old storm water filtration plant once. The lower levels of the main buildings were all flooded (which was super creepy) and it was pretty overgrown.
This was my second time there and I wanted to see more than I had last time. A friend of mine and I had the bright idea to climb into one of the pipes that had an open man hole cover- really stupid for a whole bunch of reasons.
We figured we knew/ had a pretty good guess where it would come out as there was another man hole on the other side of the compound in line with where the pipe was heading. When we got all the way there though, it turned out to be welded shut. The worst bit was when we turned to go back we realized we’d been slowly going down hill. The pipe was fairly slimy and it seemed for a minute like we wouldn’t be able to go back the way we’d come
I’ve never quite felt that level of claustrophobia before or since.
12. Your gut always knows.
I convinced a group of about 5 or so of my friends to go with me into this old house that was in an odd sort of industrial area, like on one of those service roads next to a highway. The only way in was to go through the basement and through a hole in the wall at the top of the stairs.
After exploring for a while I thought I’d do a “scout mission” for fun that involved me just walking around the house to check for cops. Well what do you know, there were cop cars just pulling into the street with sirens on that were pulling into the restaurant next door, someone probably reported us.
The exit was on the other side of the house from the cops, I quickly called up to the others to climb back out and we somehow managed.
I don’t generally believe in intuition but I do find it odd that I had the urge to do a sweep right when the cops showed up
11. Just reading this freaked me out.
Not urban but a mate of mine, his then gf, and I were exploring a cave system we found, 3 hours into a hike in a national park, kilometers from the nearest road access, in a coastal region called Wilson’s Promontory, in southern Victoria, Australia. Now I’m a skinny 6’1″ but rhey were both skinnier and shorter, so we got to this one narrow bit that we could all get down by sliding on our butts.
The cave was pitch black and wet, though we had our phone torches thankfully. Weird ass cave bugs kept dropping on us, and eventually we headed back. So they both climbed back up the tunnel, but it turned out that my shoulders were too broad to actually move my arms enough to clamber up. Thankfully my arms were extended, and my friend could reach my hands.
He almost dislocated my shoulders but thankfully with a bit of wriggling, I was pulled out. The alternative was a long, dark, cold, stay in a hole that would have become a major rescue operation requiring heavy machinery, and possibly the destruction of some pristine wilderness that I’d never have forgiven myself for!
Claustrophobia hits you hard when it’s intense, and boy was that intense
10. They got what they wanted.
Went exploring in an old textile mill in rural Alabama. It was easy enough to hide your car for parking and you could even pull you car onto the site if you had 4 wheel drive. We went often and one time parked right in the middle of the mill’s back lot and decided to climb the ladders to the roof.
Once we got to the roof the sun started setting so we got our headlamps ready, watched the sunset, then decided to head back down from the roof. As we’re walking to the ladder my car alarm down below starts going off, and immediately from the rooftop across from us someone flashed a flashlight at us but they never said a thing.
I was way too nervous about my car being stolen to really care about the other person but they didn’t chase us, yell, nothing, they just kept their light on us so that we could never see them and followed us with their light til we got into the car and left. I never went back after that. It’s torn down now.
9. That’ll do it.
When me and my friends were young, we lived in a trailer park community in a bad part of Phoenix, but we loved exploring anyway, we found a large old storm drain behind our community covered in graffiti and weeds and we decided to explore, walking in with mini flashlights we kept seeing spots of blood and more strange graffiti, after about 30ish minutes we started hearing tapping, we got scared and started to walk back out, when we noticed it seemed to be following us we ran like our lives depended on it.
A few weeks after that our community manager discovered a body near the entrance of the storm drain. That was the last of our exploring.
8. Seems to be common knowledge.
In a building I found the basement. Then the sub basement.
It was dark. Heard a sound. Then an an animal running sound…. and dogs barking. I fucking booked it back up the stairs and closed the fire door and gtfo.
Speaking to some urbex mentors they explained if you hear dogs or see them, to not go in the area as it’s probably used for a drug lab.
7. Pics or it didn’t happen.
Was exploring an abandoned TB hospital. Heard a sound that sounded a lot like a homeless person snoring. It took a while for my friends and I to work up the courage to go in the room where we heard it, but we were rewarded with the sight of a vultures nest.
6. I would have peed my pants!
I came across a bunch of doberman deep in the middle of the woods one time. There was at least 20 of them scattered among the trees next to the dirt road. I thought they were statues at first cuz they were sitting so stock still.
But their heads rotated on a swivel following my car. I noped out of there so f*cking fast.
5. Better than rattlesnakes.
In Oklahoma I was looking around some land that my mother and aunt inherited. I found a foundation and basement for a homestead that had been destroyed. As I got closer to it I started to hear this hissing sound and I freaked out a little because there are like four different species of rattlesnake here and the closest hospital is half an hour away.
I kept going and look into the basement/cellar thing and there are two baby buzzards, turns out they hiss when they get scared.
4. My stomach clenched.
Spooky cement tunnel that seems to lead underground. Very dark and echoes go on for ages. We had no clue what it was, didn’t seem to be any kind of drainage tunnel because it was square/bone dry and out in an open field. There are definitely some old bomb shelters and missile silos on our area that are out of commission, so we decided to take a look.
Only about 20 yards in and the light from outside starts really fading behind us. Someone takes out a flashlight and we start seeing bare human footprints on the ground leading deeper into the dark.
None leaving. We skedaddled.
3. That cat saw something bad.
Not terribly urban, (back when I lived in the rural south) but my friend and I went to an abandoned trailer because she wanted to show me all the old playboys that were left lying around in it.
There were pentagrams painted on the front door and on one wall of the bedroom that was through the kitchen but that wasn’t too spooky. My brother was one of those edgy teenagers and I had seen more than enough crookedly spray painted pentagrams to know it was just idiots goofing off. Nah, the scary part was the half dead cat hung by it’s back legs from the ceiling fan in the back room down the hall.
We went to take it down so we could call the cops and then hopefully get to bury it at her house and give it some peace. And then it woke up and started squalling. It scratched me on my arms and her on the face and tried to get away but it was so weak all it could do was stagger.
We eventually got it wrapped in my shirt and walked home to explain to her mom where we were and how it happened. That crotchety old cat lived like another six years with no teeth, dislocated back legs (fixed by the vet of course, but the cat still limped forever) and horrible cataracts.
2. Wait, what?
In an old gun range (it was night, so no shooters, completely safe) there was this giant crack in a mountain that led to this weird system of caves and giant pipes. It was a pretty straight shot in, not many branching paths, but as we get further in we start seeing more ominous graffiti—stuff like “Closer…” and red hand prints and stuff.
Then around a corner there was a little shrine with more graffiti and some dead candles all surrounding the words “Shrek 2.” Truly did find god in those mountains.
1. A wise decision.
I was exploring an abandoned mineshaft for the second day in a row.
It was also a 10 minute walk from the nearest road. This time I went with different friends and better flashlights.
The door I had gone through the first day was now padlocked shut, that should’ve been the first red flag, but we found an entrance from the rooftop into one of the main buildings and continued to explore anyway.
After exploring about 3 floors of mineshaft below ground, we were back on the main floor exploring the workshop/garage and I was looking through the cracks of light coming through the rusted metal walls, when I noticed a bright color that stood out from the rest of the area. It was a man looking back at me through the cracks, I was seeing his blue sweater. I could see two sets of eyes looking into the room that we were in.
After whispering to my friends that there were people watching us through the wall. We fucking booked it out of there and jumped off the roof and into the woods.
The men were in a pickup truck and drove around looking for us, even getting out of the truck to look around. We couldn’t see them from where we took cover but we could hear the truck stop, the doors open, and foot steps breaking leaves and twigs only ~20ft away from us.
We hid there for about 15 minutes while the men searched all around for us. It is harder than most people think to try and quiet your breathing after sprinting. It was terrifying.
I’m not going back there.
I love exploring, too, but I get freaked out easily!
Share your own almost-terrifying tales with us in the comments!