America’s Scenic Beauties Conspiracy

The poster for American Horror Stories Feral episode.

Photo courtesy of imdb

The poster for “American Horror Stories” “Feral” episode.

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With the weather warming up and shorts getting pulled out of storage, spring traditions may be in full swing for your families… at least until the next morning when it’s winter again. Some might go swimming or hiking, while others partake in activities such as camping. Whether you do it to connect with nature, to enjoy the scenery, for the adventure, or because your family forced you, most campers enjoy the telling of scary stories before turning in.

But what you may not realize about those stories is that, if the conspiracy theories are true, you could become one of those ill-fated characters.

Let me explain. American Horror Story is a series that capitalizes people’s fears, with each season showcasing a different conspiracy wrapped in other fears (such as fear of clowns or needles). This show ended up reaching almost two million viewers per episode, which led to make a spin-off series entitled American Horror Stories.

One of the episodes involved a family camping in a national park where their son had gone missing. American Horror Story actor Cody Fern portrayed a park ranger who introduced a conspiracy theory that America’s national parks have been secured by the government to hide the most feared secrets in the world. The idea is that the most evil creatures, human or fairytale, dwell in these areas so that the government can keep them separated from society.

But is this particular conspiracy theory about evil lurking in national parks fact or fiction?

Heading to Google is an easy way to find all sorts of mysterious disappearances in national parks. One of the most recent cases is the ill-fated story of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. The couple frequently went on cross-country excursions together, but things went south on their trip to a Wyoming national park. An argument ensued over a disagreement regarding the cleanliness of their van, and Laundrie returned home without Petito.

This event was especially alarming because Laundrie took her phone and continued communicating with her family as if he were Petito. Quickly becoming a missing persons case, the case alarmed many Americans as they realized it was yet another mysterious disappearance at a national park. Police quickly determined that Laundrie was a person of interest when he disappeared after the trip. The case was eventually closed as they determined that Laundrie had committed suicide and left a notebook where he confessed to murdering Petito at Bridger-Teton National Park. This unusual story was by no means an isolated tragedy at a national park.

Cave systems throughout America have also been the setting of many a horror film, but this too may spring from the fact that there are a number of legitimate cases of mysterious disappearances in them. One person made a map of America’s missing persons, and compared it to a map of geographic locations of caves. The seeming similarities sparked alarm in people all over social media, but nothing ever came from the drawing, except for publicity and momentary fear.

Then well-known hiker Kenny Veach vanished under mysterious circumstances. Veach was an independent hiker who documented his adventures to YouTube and other social media platforms. While on a Nevada hike, he discovered a cave shaped like the letter “M” (now referred to as the M cave). He posted on social media that “the closer I got to the cave entrance, the worse the vibrating became. Suddenly I became very scared and high-tailed it out of there.” On a dare from his comment section, he went back to find the cave once more, then ended up disappearing soon after. No trace of him or his body–or of the M cave–has ever been found, leaving many to wonder what had happened.

Although these concepts are fun to think about, conspiracy theories are intended to make you think about the world around you. If anything, they teach people to be more careful, kind of like a grown-up campfire tale. We have no genuine evidence that the government hides missing persons cases in national parks and caves, so while you don’t have to deliberately avoid them, it does remind you to be careful when hiking and exploring places you’ve never been before.

Urban legends and conspiracy theories combine for some form of closure, which also sparks conversations because it makes people ask “what if?” With cold cases, it’s easy to jump to a conspiracy-related conclusion that something other-worldly is going on because it at least provides a possible answer. From Princess Diana to Roswell, these concepts begs the question: What truly happened and what do you believe?