Day Trippin: Experience the haunts and history of the Missouri State Penitentiary Ghost Tour

A few of the lit up windows of a cell block in the Missouri State Penitentiary. This block is part of the standard 2-hour tour.

There no better way to experience the Halloween season than with a haunted tour through some of Missouri’s creepiest locations. Luckily for those living at the lake, one of the biggest haunted attractions in the state is just down US54.

The Missouri State Penitentiary hosts a haunted tour during the second half of the year which is sure to delight the whole family, from those looking for a good scare to those looking for a bit of history.

During the standard 2-hour ghost tour, you’ll be guided through Housing Unit 1 (Control Center and Women’s Unit), Housing Unit 4 (one of the oldest original buildings still standing on the property, built in 1868), dungeon cells, Housing Unit 3, and the infamous gas chamber where many notorious inmates were executed for their crimes. Get up close and personal with the cells as tour guides allow for free walks around these areas to see the inside of cells and even the total darkness of the dungeon isolation chambers.

The opening leg of the tour begins in a standard cell unit, where tour guides describe some of the day to day struggles prisoners dealt with in the early days of the penitentiary. This sets the eerie mood early, especially after the guides point out certain cells that are said to have a more haunted presence that other. They allow for guests to free roam and see these spooky cells up close, which adds a layer of emersion to the tour.

The next leg takes the tour into the more violent area of the penitentiary, where prisoners faced ‘the hole’, where a whipping post was once present and the dungeon chambers are installed. Within the dungeon chambers, the guides will divide members into groups and pile them into the individual chambers held underground. They will then ask for all lights to be turned off so that attendees can experience the true darkness of these isolated cells, that some prisoners were kept in for years at a time. Historians say that many of the prisoners housed here ended up going insane.

Following this, the tour moved to death row, where the story of an infamous riot will play out and attendees will get to step into the cells where many prisoners saw their final days. This includes the cell of a mob snitch who was killed by other prisoners during that riot.

In the final leg of the tour, attendees will get to step inside the Penitentiary gas chamber, where many executions were held throughout the 1900s. The chairs that held executed prisoners are available to sit in as well for those daring enough. Tour guides give historical context to those killed in this method and the ways the penitentiary used cyanide for execution before the use of electric chairs. Though disturbing, this is a highlight of the tour for those with the stomach to handle it.

With many of the time slots available for the standard two-hour tour being at night, this is the peak time to experience all the frights the prison has to offer. At only $26 a person, this tour makes for the most condensed and affordable for a quick trip to the capital. Booking information can be found at or over the phone. This tour will be available until the end of November.

For those looking for a more in-depth experience, the penitentiary offers a number of different overnight and extended tours that involve ghost hunts with investigation equipment, ranging from 3 hours to a full 8-hour experience. For those simply looking for the history of the penitentiary, tours led by old prison staff are available as well. Those options can be found at