Garden Ghost Stories | Desert Botanical Garden


Desert Botanical Garden opened in 1939, and it has attracted millions of people from all walks of life—sometimes even the afterlife.

As you can imagine, the Garden has accumulated several ghost stories during its 80-year history. A few staff members shared a few of the hair-raising experiences while working both inside and on the trails.

Webster Auditorium, which is named for co-founder Gertrude Webster, has had its fair share of unexplainable phenomenona. Several staff members have experienced a similar story where they were alone in the building after hours, and they heard chairs moving loudly in the main auditorium. The eerie fact though is that during these odd moments, there were no chairs or other people in the auditorium. One staff members recalls working late alone in their office, and they heard what sounded like a chair moving. They stood up to inspect the noise, and simultaneously a printer turned on, and a standing oscillating fan turned off. One staff member swears some of the trinkets on their desk moved around their desk, but the problem was there had been no custodial scheduled on the corresponding days when it happened. 

The Garden has a building on its grounds called the Desert House, where several executive directors have resided, including current executive director, Ken Schutz. It is now used as an office space, and staff members experienced unusual things while working after hours. One staff member felt something push against them while working alone in the building. Another heard objects moving and typing, when again, they were alone in the house.

The trails have also given staff a few interesting stories. Custodial staff have noted sniffing unexplainable smells late at night after the Garden has closed, including tobacco, carnations and marigolds. Some visitors have also shared their spooky stories and photos with Garden staff. 

One staff member had a chilling encounter after closing. It was a hot summer night, and they were heading to the parking lot after working an event. The Garden was deserted. While walking by the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail, they heard the faint sound of jazz music. Confused, they walked toward the music. Making the way along the trail, the music got louder. Suddenly, a cold gust blew over them, but the problem with a chilling breeze was that the air was still that night and a hot, 90-something degrees. The music came to a stop, and a white noise filled the air. This staff member announced out loud, “Ok, I’ll be going now.” As they stepped away, the notes of music began again, but the staff member said they didn’t look back.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, hopefully these stories helped get you into the Halloween spirit. Do you have any Garden ghost stories of your own?