Whether you’re celebrating Halloween, observing All Saints’ Day, or honoring Día de los Muertos, late October and early November just have the right vibe for a graveyard visit. But the spooky season also provides an excellent opportunity to explore the state’s rich history by perusing the memorials to those who’ve come before us. From a stroll in an arboretum to hillside graves near Boulder to a resting place for beloved pets, here’s a short list of interesting cemeteries that are sure to raise goosebumps—and your interest in Colorado’s past.

Quick tip: Don’t be offended if a cemetery staffer stops to ask what you’re doing. Grave vandalism is always a concern, particularly at older cemeteries, where headstones are often upright and make easy targets. Staffers are simply protecting the property’s history for future generations. While you’re there, pick a stray weed or two and leave some good karma.

Fairmount Cemetery

Easily the most recognizable cemetery in Colorado, this 133-year-old burial yard is home to some of the state’s most famous (and infamous) former residents. Modeled after Mount Auburn Cemetery near Boston, the 280-acre Fairmount feels more like a park than a cemetery. Not only is it widely considered Colorado’s largest and most diverse arboretum (thanks to Reinhard Schuetze, the state’s first landscape architect), but it also boasts one of the country’s largest collections of old garden roses, defined as varieties that have been around since 1867. For the paranormally inclined, Fairmount has a reputation for being seriously haunted and has long hosted ghost hunters from across America. It’s also a great area for burgeoning historians to trace the roots of some of the state’s most interesting residents. Hundreds of the men and women who shaped Colorado are buried here, including governors, U.S. senators, mayors, architects, writers, and scientists. Although her profession may have been considered less dignified than, say, a congressman, Mattie Silks (buried here under the name Martha Ready) was known as one of the West’s leading madams and the “Queen of Denver’s Red Light District” in the late 1870s. If you have time, visit the enormous Fairmount Mausoleum—near the east end of the cemetery—which houses members of both the Boettcher and Bonfils families and one of Colorado’s largest collections of stained glass. 430 S. Quebec St., Denver

Riverside Cemetery

Photo by Robert Sanchez

Denver’s oldest surviving cemetery is arguably its best. Atop a water-parched section of land along the South Platte River, the 147-year-old Riverside Cemetery is the resting place of perhaps the most interesting collection of Coloradans. Among the most famous is Silas Soule, an abolitionist and U.S. Army officer who testified against U.S. Army colonel John Chivington for his part in the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre. Soule was murdered in Denver the next year—possibly in retaliation—and is buried in Riverside’s veterans’ section, located along the cemetery’s edge that abuts Brighton Boulevard. Buried near Soule is Walter Springs, a trailblazing Black Regis College (now university) football player and boxer who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was gunned down by a white military police officer in Texas, in what likely was a racially motivated attack. One of Riverside’s hidden gems is the grave of Oliver “The Ghost” Marcelle, a former Negro Leagues standout from the 1920s, who previously was considered for enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He died penniless in Denver in 1949 and—for a time—was buried in an unmarked grave. 5201 Brighton Blvd., Denver

Ralston Cemetery

Once the victim of vandalism and disrepair, this modest prairie cemetery tucked near an Arvada housing development might be the metro area’s best example of a pioneer-era burial ground. Formerly named Osborn Hill, the Spartan cemetery once was the final resting place for citizens of a burgeoning town that grew here after the discovery of gold in the 1850s. The earliest of the dozen-or-so headstones dates to 1869 (three children from the same family, who died weeks apart), and there likely are many more pioneer families in unmarked graves scattered across the 2.8-acre property. Indeed, a University of Denver review of the grounds, more than a decade ago, located more than 30 unmarked burials. As such, if you visit, tread carefully and with respect. 14601–14627 W. 62nd Ave., Arvada

Columbia Cemetery

Bought in 1858 by prospectors who arrived in what’s now called Boulder, Columbia Cemetery is among the state’s longest continuously operating graveyards. The 10.5-acre graveyard, located on the west end of the city, has more than 3,000 headstones, well-maintained walkways, and a burbling creek. Among the most interesting interments are “Rocky Mountain Joe” Sturtevant, an early settler who became a prominent photographer, and Mary Rippon, the University of Colorado’s first female professor, who was also possibly the first female professor at a state university anywhere in America. 1201 Ninth Street, Boulder

Gold Hill Cemetery

This stretch of mountain landscape nestled in the hills above Boulder is a perfect respite for anyone who wants to experience a high-elevation cemetery within a relatively convenient drive from Denver. At nearly 160 years old (and still being used today), Gold Hill Cemetery is the final resting spot for roughly 300 people and includes a very small, partially wooded pathway. Worn marble headstones stick out amid wild grasses, pine trees, small boulders, and fallen tree limbs. Like many of these old cemeteries, there are unmarked graves. Stay on the pathways. 1170 Dixon Road, Boulder

Golden Hill Cemetery

Not to be confused with the Boulder cemetery with a similar name (see above), Golden Hill Cemetery opened in 1908 and is one of Colorado’s premier Jewish burial yards. Roughly 200 tombstones, many of them hidden by brush and weeds, dot the hillside just off West Colfax Avenue. These markers are separated from the main cemetery here, because many of the interred were Jewish immigrants who died of tuberculosis at one of the two regional Jewish sanatoriums. (Remains of the former Jewish Consumptives’ Relief Society still stand as part of the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, located behind Casa Bonita.) The best-known tombstone at Golden Hill belongs to Charles Spivak, a medical doctor who helped found the tuberculosis sanatorium and died in 1927. Spivak also edited the Denver Jewish News and helped author a once-popular Yiddish-English dictionary. As detailed in his will, Spivak’s skeleton was sent to the Hadassah Medical Center, in Israel, while the rest of his remains were buried near his former patients. Golden Hill is a nonprofit, so consider leaving a donation. 12000 W. Colfax Ave., Lakewood

Denver Pet Cemetery and Crematory

Not long ago, this 84-year-old burial ground in Commerce City became the subject of regular neighbor complaints saying that the place had gotten a little too creepy. The grounds’ previous owners closed the site before they sold it, which left the property in a state of severe disrepair. A father-son duo bought the land in 2015 and began the first stages of a massive fix-up. Like almost every cemetery, there’s at least one interesting burial site. In this case, it’s Sgt. Geronimo—thought to have been half wolf, half German shepherd—who served with the 507th Parachute Infantry during World War II and even jumped from airplanes into war zones. He even had his own parachute. Now, that’s a good boy. 5721 E. 72nd Ave, Commerce City

All That Remains

Five more graveyards that are worth your time:

Evergreen Cemetery (Leadville): Worth the two-ish-hour drive from Denver, this cemetery located at 10,000 feet has graves that date back to silver mining’s boom and bust days.
Fort Logan National Cemetery (Denver): Named after Union General John A. Logan, this 214-acre cemetery has more than 120,000 graves and includes three Medal of Honor recipients.
Littleton Cemetery (Littleton): Interments at this nonprofit cemetery began sometime after the Civil War and include confessed cannibal Alferd Packer.
Mount Olivet Cemetery (Wheat Ridge): This Catholic burial site is run by the Archdiocese of Denver and has the graves of Baby Doe Tabor, Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert, and William Gilpin, Colorado’s first territorial governor.
Mountain View Memorial Park (Boulder): Pay your respects to Rashaan Salaam, a University of Colorado football star and 1993 Heisman Trophy winner.