Red Lake Falls’ Haunted Woods offer a soft scare and a hard scare

RED LAKE FALLS, Minn. -- Not even Jesse Adelman's wife is immune to his scare tactics. As the owner and operator of Haunted Woods, Adelman is always looking for a new way to scare people. And that includes trying things out on his unsuspecting wife.

Jesse Adelman has owned and operated the Haunted Woods on his property since 2007. Attendance has steadily grown from 130 people the first year to 3,000 in 2013.


RED LAKE FALLS, Minn. - Not even Jesse Adelman’s wife is immune to his scare tactics.

As the owner and operator of Haunted Woods, Adelman is always looking for a new way to scare people. And that includes trying things out on his unsuspecting wife.

“She really hates it when this time of year comes around,” Adelman said. “I try things out on her and she doesn’t like it.”

Now in his seventh year at the helm, Adelman has made his backyard one of the premiere haunted attractions in the area, getting people from across northwest Minnesota and northeast North Dakota to visit each year.


Mixing things up

Adelman got the idea while walking through the woods on his property one day in September 2007. He decided he wanted to do a haunted trail through the woods, so he called his dad.

“He thought it would be a great idea for the following year,” Adelman said. “But I said. ‘No, I want to do it this year.’”

He and his dad made a path through the woods and set up a few scary sights.

Since then, Adelman has continued to expand his haunted attraction and has added two trailers, a castle and a cave.

Year after year, Adelman makes sure to mix things up in order to keep people coming back. He said no trip through the woods is exactly the same, with the costumed scarers being in different spots and varying their techniques each day.

“We vary it and make it different every year,” he said. “It makes it interesting for them and for us.”

Even people who don’t think the woods will scare them end up getting scared, scream or jump at some point along the trail. Because of this, Adelman said the Haunted Woods attracts people of all ages and from all over the area.


The number of visitors to the Haunted Woods has grown steadily over time from about 130 in 2007 to 3,000 last year.

To accommodate more people, Adelman set up a “soft scare” for younger children or people who want to see a milder version and a “hard scare,” which is the traditional Haunted Woods course. Soft scares run from 6-7 p.m. with the hard scare following from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

“This is my favorite time of year,” he said. “All through the summer, we’re picking up things that we see and that we think can be used.”

Though it can be costly to continue to remake the course every year, Adelman said he continues to do it because he loves what he’s doing.

Keep them coming back

Adelman doesn’t have any trouble thinking up new ways to scare people each year, despite owning four local businesses.

He and his dad work at the Haunted Woods for much of October and about 25 volunteers, including concession workers, help at the attraction when it’s operating.

Adelman said anything can be turned into something usable for the Haunted Woods. In the past, he’s gotten dummies from local clothing stores to put along the trail and built a remote-controlled drawbridge that greets guests as they enter the woods.


The Haunted Woods attracts people from all ages and all walks of life, including many adults, Adelman said.

But no matter the age, Adelman said most still end up getting scared.

“We’ve had people come and tell us they’ve actually peed themselves,” he said.

Visitors can mistake human models for artificial ones and get a start when one of the humans jumps out at them or scream when a masked man carrying a chainsaw chases them. Somehow, Adelman wants to get them to scream.

“We try to give the ultimate scare,” he said. “We don’t want to jib anybody. When people leave, we want to leave them crying.”



What: Haunted Woods


When: Soft scare from 6-7p.m., hard scare from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1

Where: 11488 195th St. SE, Red Lake Falls, Minn.

Cost: Soft scares are $5. Hard scares cost $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 12 and under.

Info: (218) 280-7066 or visit the Haunted Woods Facebook page

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