Beware! Haunted houses, scary mazes ahead.
This was not my idea. Repeat, not my idea.
When Dakota Anderson, 17, emailed The Daily Sentinel earlier this month to gauge our interest in printing his “captivating” reviews of haunted houses to help people learn which ones were scariest, best for children, etc., the message was forwarded to me. My editors loved his idea and wanted me to tag along for guidance and assistance.
Anderson and I visited two outdoor haunted corn/straw mazes and three indoor haunted houses so you can read what each one offers as you plan your nights leading up to Halloween.
A little bit about us: I’m 34 and typically avoid being scared on purpose. Anderson is a junior at Fruita Monument High School who seeks, in his words, “the scariest and the hauntedest houses the Grand Valley has to offer.”
In other words, we were an odd match.
Before you read our thoughts, I would like to thank Anderson for letting me push him out of the way multiple times as I ran from people chasing me with chain saws.
Because I got scared everywhere, including several parking lots, I just included my observations.
Because Dakota was not easily spooked, his perspective on the experience was much different, and he actually reviewed and ranked the places based on several criteria.
Thanks to everyone involved with these haunted houses and mazes for letting Dakota and me come out. It was neat to see how many people in this area donate their time getting into costume to scare people for good causes. By my estimate, nearly 200 people will volunteer in Grand Valley haunted houses this year.
Now, read on. If you dare.
MOON FARM HAUNTED STRAW MAZE
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Cost: $7 per person 4 years and older. Cash, check, credit cards accepted.
Location: 1360 18 1/2 Road. Follow the signs in rural Fruita.
Information: Call 858-7176 or go to moonfarm.net.
Of note: Admission cost to the haunted straw maze includes admission to multiple activities Moon Farm has set up for families, such as a petting zoo and hayrides.
Melinda’s review: This is easily the best option for young children. The outdoor straw maze begins by going through a haunted school bus, and who hasn’t been scared at one point when riding a school bus? Otherwise, the maze is flat and easy to walk through. There is some spooky music, at least what could be spooky for children, with clowns, stuffed animals, a graveyard and fake cobwebs. No one jumps out at you. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes to walk through in daylight.
HALLOW SCREAMS HAUNTED HOUSE
Hours: 6 p.m. until the line dwindles. Open Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26–27, and Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 30–31.
Cost: $10 for adults; $8 for seniors, students with ID and military members; $5 for those age 5 and younger. Cash only.
Location: 3210 Interstate 70 Business Loop (next door to Cactus Canyon).
Of note: A portion of the proceeds from this haunted house will go to the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation and Mesa County Partners. Purchase a bracelet from the local Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation at the booth outside the haunted house, and receive $2 off admission.
Melinda’s review: While waiting to go in, I told organizers my first name and that I was easily scared. Not wise. The characters in the haunted house followed me around, yelled my name and, at one point, came at me with a chain saw. OK, maybe it seemed like he was chasing me with a chain saw. Whatever.
This haunted house had a slew of volunteers in 30 rooms and 18 hallways. The hallways made this haunted house seem so much bigger and created that haunting element of walking in a narrow space in complete darkness. One actor scared me so badly I ended up on the ground screaming. It involved a chain saw.
X-TREME TORMENT HAUNTED HOUSE
Hours: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26–27, and Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Cost: $12. Cash or credit cards accepted.
Location: 2846 Interstate 70 Business Loop, on the corner of 28 1/2 Road and the Business Loop. Follow the bright orange signs.
Of note: A portion of the proceeds will go to the Roice-Hurst Humane Society. This haunted house was built by 2012 Grand Junction High School graduates Kyle Dunn and Tyler Abbott. Both developed a fondness for construction while building sets for their high school theater department.
Because of the special effects, stay away from this haunted house if you have any sort of breathing or heart conditions, as well as issues with seizures.
Melinda’s review: There are so many actors in this haunted house. You never know where the next one is coming from, so my imagination ran wild. The actors, including children, will not touch you, which I preferred. I can be scared easily so having an actor reach out and grab me just makes things worse, particularly when it’s dark and strobe lights and tight spaces are involved. And this place has plenty of special effects and tight spaces.
I won’t give away the surprises, but I really liked how X-Treme Torment started. I’ll leave it at that.
TRAIL OF TERROR
Hours: 7 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26–27; 7–10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Oct. 29–31.
Cost: $12. Cash only.
Location: 328 Second St. in Clifton.
Of note: Money raised goes to cover the costs for the local Express All Stars competitive cheer and dance teams to attend nationals. Trail of Terror is huge. A guide leads you through the rooms to prevent the group from going too fast or too slow or from stumbling.
Melinda’s review: Nothing builds anticipation or unease like having a rope put around your waist and your wrists put in rope restraints. Our guide explained that the rope was to keep Dakota and I together and prevent us from purposely or instinctually taking swings at the actors with our arms or hands when scared. Apparently, it’s an issue, and I found out why.
Be prepared to be scared and be prepared to be grabbed.
That creepy girl from “The Ring” appeared out of nowhere and clutched my ankle and didn’t let go. Ugh. It progressively got worse. I can’t exactly remember how often I screamed, but it was a lot, including one so loud and sudden that I jumped up the back of our guide, Alex. I think Dakota laughed at me.
There are steps and bridges to walk over in the dark that would make this haunted house tougher to navigate for those with balance issues or for younger children.
Hours: Opens at dark and ticket sales end at 10 p.m. Open Friday and Saturday, Oct. 26–27, only.
Cost: $10. Cash, check and credit cards accepted.
Location: Studt’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze near the intersection of 21 1/2 and I 1/2 roads between Grand Junction and Fruita, off U.S. Highway 6&50. Follow the signs.
Of note: Dark Acres closes for the season Saturday, Oct. 27. The corn maze is nearly 6 acres and takes about 25 minutes to walk through. Wear durable shoes with good support, and dress appropriately for the outdoors.
Melinda’s review: I was most scared by this one, but that’s because I had built it up in my head. I grew up on a farm and watched parts of the 1984 film “Children of the Corn.”
In some strange way, however, I really liked walking through this corn field at night. The maze wasn’t tricky, but it was dark, so I was focused so much on where I was walking that I rarely saw the actors coming.
I made Dakota go first, and we had a group of four young girls behind us, keeping me safely in the middle. Actors were set among the corn or inside little buildings of horror throughout the maze. I don’t suggest young children or people who struggle with balance go through this maze simply because there is so much walking involved, and it’s not nearly as much fun if you avoid all the scary parts.