Stephanie Smith is not easily scared. She helped start the Denver Ghost Hunters group and spent a lot of time investigating the scariest places in the city. But she said she felt scared on Riverdale Road, an 11-mile road that winds between Brighton and Thornton.
You know what I mean? “I found this one spot and said, ‘I think there’s something here. I don’t feel alone.'” Smith told me. “We had a camera crew go visit the investigators. We’re listening and taking pictures to see if we can catch anything on film.”
“I walk along this side of the road, and I start to feel really scared…” From far away, it looked like I could almost make out the shape of a man. I remember that these cowboy boots were coming toward me, and I was really scared. Smith said that some pictures of her showed lights following her, and she told the film crew and the group that she ran past them because she was scared of what she saw.
Smith said, “I felt fine after walking to the other side of the street.” I have brought different groups to this area over the years, but I haven’t told them anything about it. I have them walk where I walk, and a lot of people, especially women, feel like someone is going to get them. “On the west side of the road only, not the east side,” Smith said she couldn’t find any information that would help her understand what happened or what might have happened on this side of the two-lane street.
There have been many ghost stories and urban tales about Riverdale Road, from the real-life “Gates of Hell” to the man who went crazy and burned down his whole house while his family slept inside. A place on the road is called “Jogger’s Hill,” and the ghost of a killed jogger is said to follow cars and tap on their sides. There are also urban tales about a ghost Camaro and seeing bodies hanging from trees during the full moon.
There is, of course, no real historical proof of this anywhere except for a bunch of blogs and YouTube movies about it. Still, Matt Barnes, who used to be a spokesman for the Thornton Police Department, said that the media would ask him about Riverdale Road every few years, especially around Halloween.
“We know about the urban legends about this road and how it might be haunted because we talked to dispatchers,” Barnes said. “However, we can’t think of or find any calls for service that come close to these urban legends that are worth mentioning.”
Smith lives close to Riverdale Road and sometimes goes there to put her son to bed. She said it’s a pretty stretch of road, especially in the late afternoon. With so many turns and not much lighting, it can be dangerous to drive at night. Barnes said that 33 accidents on Riverdale Road harmed property and hurt people in 2019. Barnes, who worked for 30 years with Thornton Police, also says that there have been a lot of fatal crashes in the past few years.
“There have been several fatal accidents on this road during my time here,” Barnes said. “This is mostly because it winds around a lot and people try to go too fast on it.” Barnes said that police have checked on the well-being of people seen walking around the area and have always found a real person, not a ghost.
On a clear day, you can see planes take off from Denver International Airport from the road, which winds through cottonwood trees and open space. Word on the street is that “Jogger’s Hill” is near 120th Avenue, and there are different stories about where the “Gates of Hell” are. Smith said she doesn’t know much about such stories but she has a strong feeling about this road. “These moments of fear happen if you stand in the right place,” she said.
Ghost hunters are still interested in Riverdale Road, even if people don’t believe in ghosts. Smith’s tips if you want to do your own investigation? Because the road winds and turns in places that you can’t see, be careful when you’re walking or driving on it.