The light is fading and your eyes instinctively squint. You stop, and a bone-chilling shiver crawls up your spine. Are you roaming through an old graveyard? Exploring an abandoned tunnel? Getting hopelessly lost in a forest veiled in fog? Perhaps you are wondering how the hell to get out of there. Or … perhaps, though your heart is pounding and your hands are clammy, you plunge deeper into the darkness.

We here at Atlas Obscura approach the eerie, the haunted, the unknown the same way we approach everything—with wonder and curiosity. So it’s no surprise that October is our favorite time of the year! To celebrate, we’re daring our readers to show us their favorite places that exude that creepy, kooky, mysterious, spooky energy we all love. So for our next photo contest—Spooky Snaps—we want you to show us the spots that shake you up, terrify your friends, or would make the perfect setting for a horror flick! We want to see how you capture that uncanny feeling, even in a normal place.

Three winners chosen by our staff will receive some of our favorite Atlas Obscura swag—with a scary great grand prize, an Atlas Obscura trip to Romania that includes a visit the ultimate place to take spooky photos, Dracula’s Castle! So grab your camera, steel your nerves, and give us goosebumps. We double-dare you.

Use this submission form to participate in the Spooky Snaps photo contest, by uploading your digital photograph(s) or scan(s). Winners will receive:

First Place:

  • Photo featured on Atlas Obscura’s website
  • One (1) spot on an upcoming Atlas Obscura trip to Romania (does not include airfare)
  • One (1) Atlas Obscura tote bag
  • One (1) Atlas Obscura pin
  • One (1) copy of The Explorer’s Library

Second and Third Places:

  • Photo featured on Atlas Obscura’s website
  • One (1) $100 voucher for an Atlas Obscura Course
  • One (1) Atlas Obscura tote bag
  • One (1) Atlas Obscura pin
  • One (1) copy of The Explorer’s Library

Honorable Mentions (6):

  • Photo featured on Atlas Obscura’s website

A grave in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France.
A grave in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, France. Colors Hunter - Chasseur de Couleurs/Getty Images

General Rules

  • All entries must be owned by the submitter, e.g. photographs must have been photographed by the submitter. Images cannot be computer generated or generated by AI. Also, images cannot be altered by adding, removing, repositioning, or distorting elements in the photograph (though cropping is allowed).
  • Photograph should not be smaller than 1MB and not larger than 5MB.
  • Photograph must be taken in 2022 or later.
  • Participants must be at least 18 years old by date of entry and be legal residents of the United States of America.
  • Participants may submit up to 5 entries.
  • There will be three winners: a first-place winner who will receive the Atlas Obscura prize pack totaling $4,280.00 USD and two follow-up winners who will receive a prize pack totaling $200.00 USD.
  • Entrants can submit their photos via the Photo Contest Submission Form.
  • The giveaway will close October 19, 2023, at 11:59pm EDT.
  • The winners will be notified within 7 days of the contest closing via email given on the Photo Contest Submission Form.

An eerie view of the shore of Lake Monroe in Bloomington, Indiana.
An eerie view of the shore of Lake Monroe in Bloomington, Indiana. Jeremy Hogan/Getty Images

Terms and Conditions

  1. Eligibility: Photo Contest (the “Photo Contest”) is open only to entrants who submit their photography to the Photo Contest Submission Form. Entrants who are eligible must be 18 as of the date of entry. The Photo Contest is only open to legal residents of the United States of America and is void where prohibited by law. Employees of Atlas Obscura (the “Sponsor”) their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, suppliers and their immediate family members and/or those living in the same household of each are not eligible to participate in the Photo Contest. The Photo Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

  2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, you agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and you represent and warrant that you meet the eligibility requirements set forth herein. In addition, you agree to accept the decisions of Atlas Obscura, as final and binding as it relates to the content. The Photo Contest is subject to all applicable federal, state and local laws.

  3. Photo Contest Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on October 6, 2023 and ending October 19, 2023. All online entries must be received by October 19, 2023 at 11:59pm EDT.

  4. How to Enter: The Photo Contest can be entered by submitting their photo on the Photo Contest Submission Form. The entry must fulfill all Photo Contest requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are not complete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of Atlas Obscura. You may enter more than once and you must fill in the information requested. If you use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of Atlas Obscura.

  5. Entries: Entrants represent and warrant that their Entry is the original work of such entrant, it has not been copied from others, it has not been computer generated or generated by AI, it has not been altered by adding, removing, repositioning, or distorting elements in the photograph (though cropping is allowed), it has not previously won awards, it does not violate the rights of any other person or entity, and publication of the Entry via various media including Web posting will not infringe on the rights of any third party. Any such entrant will indemnify and hold harmless Photo Contest Parties (Atlas Obscura) from any claims to the contrary. Any entrant whose Entry includes likenesses of third parties or contains elements not owned by the entrant (such as, but not limited to, depictions of persons, buildings, trademarks or logos) must be able to provide legal releases for such use including Sponsor’s use of such Entry, in a form satisfactory to administrator, upon request, prior to award of prize and/or naming of entrant as a winner.

    By submitting an Entry, you agree that your Entry is gratuitous and made without restriction, and will not place Sponsor under any obligation, that Sponsor is free to use or otherwise disclose the ideas contained in the Entry on a non-confidential basis to anyone or otherwise use the ideas without any additional compensation to you. You acknowledge that, by acceptance of your Entry, Sponsor does not waive any rights to use similar or related ideas previously known to Sponsor, or developed by its employees, or obtained from sources other than you. BY SUBMITTING AN ENTRY, ENTRANT ACKNOWLEDGES THAT HIS/HER ENTRY MAY BE POSTED ON THE PUBLIC INTERNET.

    All Entries you submit must conform to the additional submission requirements set forth herein:
  • Entry must comply with these Official Rules;
  • Entry cannot be sexually explicit or suggestive, unnecessarily violent or derogatory of any ethnic, racial, gender, religious, professional or age group, profane or pornographic, contain nudity or any materially dangerous activity;
  • Entry cannot promote alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, firearms/weapons (or the use of any of the foregoing), any activities that may appear unsafe or dangerous, or any particular political agenda or message;
  • Entry cannot be obscene or offensive, endorse any form of hate or hate group;
  • Entry cannot defame, misrepresent or contain disparaging remarks about Sponsor or its products, or other people, products or companies;
  • Entry cannot contain or infringe on the trademarks, logos, or trade dress owned by others, or advertise or promote any brand or product of any kind (other than Sponsor’s brands/products), without permission, or contain any personal identification, such as license plate numbers, personal names, e-mail addresses or street addresses;
  • Entry cannot infringe on copyrighted materials owned by others;
  • Entry cannot contain materials embodying the name or other indicia identifying any person, living or dead, without permission;
  • Entry cannot communicate messages or images inconsistent with the positive images and/or goodwill to which Sponsor wishes to associate (as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion); and
  • Entry cannot depict, and cannot itself, be in violation of any law.

    ENTRIES POSTED TO THE WEBSITE IS NOT EDITED BY SPONSOR AND ARE THE VIEWS/OPINIONS OF THE INDIVIDUAL ENTRANT AND DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF SPONSOR IN ANY MANNER. Any waiver of any obligation hereunder by Sponsor does not constitute a general waiver of any obligation to entrants. Sponsor reserves the right to waive the Entry submission requirements set forth herein in its reasonable discretion.

    Sponsor reserves the right, in its reasonable discretion, during or upon completion of the Entry Period, to request that any entrant resubmit his or her Entry which fails to comply with the Photo Contest entry requirements prior to any drawing.

    By submitting an Entry, Entrant grants Sponsor or its third party designee the right and license to use, post, modify, or otherwise publish the Entry, alone or together with other Entries on its owned and controlled platforms and/or social media.
  1. Prizes: First place winners will receive an Atlas Obscura prize pack totaling $4,280.00 USD, which includes one (1) spot on an upcoming Atlas Obscura trip to Romania (does not include airfare), one (1) copy of The Explorer’s Library box set, one (1) Atlas Obscura tote, and one (1) Atlas Obscura pin. The two runners up will also receive a prize pack totaling $200.00 USD, which includes a one (1) Atlas Obscura tote bag, one (1) Atlas Obscura pin, (1) $100 voucher for an Atlas Obscura Course, and one (1) copy of The Explorer’s Library box set. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by the Sponsor. No cash or other prize substitution permitted except at Sponsor’s discretion. The prize is non-transferable. Any and all prize related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes shall be the sole responsibility of the winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by winners is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for Atlas Obscura to use winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
  2. Odds: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.

  3. Winner selection and notification: Winners of the Photo Contest will be selected by the Sponsor. Winners will be notified either via email to the email address they entered the Photo Contest on the Photo Contest Submission Form or messaged on Instagram/Twitter with within seven (7) days following the winner selection. Atlas Obscura shall have no liability for a winner’s failure to receive notices due to winners’ spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for winners’ provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If the selected winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within five (5) days from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and releases as required, prize may be forfeited and an alternate winner selected. The receipt by winner of the prize offered in this Photo Contest is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal and state laws and regulations. Any violation of these official rules by any winner (at sponsor’s sole discretion) will result in such winner’s disqualification as winner of the Photo Contest and all privileges as winner will be immediately terminated.

  4. Rights Granted by you: By entering this content you understand that Atlas Obscura, anyone acting on behalf of Atlas Obscura, or its respective licensees, successors and assigns will have the right, where permitted by law, without any further notice, review or consent to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, modify, and use, worldwide in any media now known or hereafter in perpetuity and throughout the World, your entry, including, without limitation, the entry and winner’s name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image or statements about the Photo Contest, and biographical information as news, publicity or information and for trade, advertising, public relations and promotional purposes without any further compensation.

  5. Terms: Atlas Obscura reserve the right, in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Photo Contest should (in its sole discretion) a virus, bugs, non-authorized human intervention, fraud or other causes beyond its control corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness or proper conduct of the Photo Contest. In such case, Atlas Obscura may select the recipients from all eligible entries received prior to and/or after (if appropriate) the action taken by Atlas Obscura. Atlas Obscura reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any individual who tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operation of the Photo Contest or website or violates these Terms & Conditions. Atlas Obscura has the right, in its sole discretion, to maintain the integrity of the Photo Contest, to void votes for any reason. Any attempt by an entrant to deliberately damage any web site or undermine the legitimate operation of the Photo Contest may be a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, Atlas Obscura reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law.

  6. Limitation of Liability: By entering you agree to release and hold harmless Atlas Obscura and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from (i) such entrant’s participation in the Photo Contest and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof, (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunctioning of any computer, cable, network, hardware or software; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions or telephone or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error which may occur in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.

  7. Disputes: This Photo Contest is governed by the laws of the United States of America and New York, without respect to conflict of law doctrines. As a condition of participating in this Photo Contest, participant agrees that any and all disputes which cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Photo Contest, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in New York having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances will participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to claim punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorneys’ fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Photo Contest), and participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased. Privacy Policy: Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the Web Site. To read the Privacy Policy, click here.

  8. Winner’s List: For a list of winners, mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:
    Atlas Obscura 61 Greenpoint Avenue, Suite 210, Brooklyn NY 11222.
    Requests must be received by December 31st, 2023.

An abandoned house on Route 11 in upstate New York.
An abandoned house on Route 11 in upstate New York. Ed Freeman/Getty Images