The United States of Fear: Which American States Are the Scariest?

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America’s skies may be beautiful and spacious, but there’s a multitude of dangers found from sea to shining sea. From the snake and spider-infested American Southwest to the volcano-strewn West Coast to the tornado and meth-scarred Midwest, this is a land that scares the stuffing right out of our Thanksgiving turkeys. As if that isn’t enough, the rest of the country is packed with even more of America’s most common fears—clowns, bears, sharks, murderers, and dentists.

Here at the real estate search site Estately we know there are hundreds of worries when choosing where to buy a home, so to help house hunters make a more informed decision we’ve mapped out where Americans’ darkest fears are most readily found. We used these 15 common fears as criteria, and then we ranked each state from 1-50 from most scary to least scary.


  1. Bears:  Estimated black bear population per 10,000 square miles (source: Black Bear Society).
  2. Clowns:  The number of clowns per capita available for hire (source: National Clown Directory).
  3. Prison:  Incarceration rate per capita (source: U.S. Department of Justice).
  4. Flying:  Total airline passenger boardings among the 62 largest U.S. airports in 2013 (source: F.A.A.)
  5. Hurricanes:  The number of direct hurricane hits for individual states from 1851-2004 (source:  N.O.A.A.).
  6. Shark Attacks:  Total number of unprovoked shark attacks from 1837-2013 (source: Florida University International Shark Attack File).
  7. Spiders:  Total number of venomous spider species (source: Venombyte).
  8. Snakes:  Total number of venomous snake species (source: Venombyte).
  9. Dentists:  Active dentists per capita (source: Center for Disease Control).
  10. Tornadoes: Average number of tornadoes per 10,000 square miles (source: N.O.A.A.).
  11. Heights: Combined rankings for total number of skyscrapers over 700 feet and number of topographically prominent American mountain summits on list of top 50 (sources:  Wikipedia and Wikipedia).
  12. Meth Labs:  Total meth lab busts and seizures in 2012 (source: Huffington Post).
  13. Lightning:  Total number of injuries and deaths caused by lightning between 1959 and 1994 (source:  N.O.A.A.).
  14. Volcanoes:  The highest number of active and inactive volcanoes per 10,000 square miles (Wikipedia).
  15. Murderers:  Murder rate (source: F.B.I.).



The odds of being bitten by a poisonous snake while doing pushups in a prison cell are probably highest in Alabama.

Snakes—3rd, Prison—4th, Murderers—4th, Spiders—5th,  Hurricanes—6th

ALASKA (42nd)

A uniquely Alaskan way to train for a marathon is to fill your pockets with hamburgers and run down an exploding volcano while grizzly bears chase you.

Bears—1st, Volcanoes—5th, Dentists—6th

ARIZONA (13th-Tie)

When the sun rises in Arizona each morning it shines down on millions of venomous spiders and snakes, and they are probably forging a terrifying alliance for their march on Phoenix.

Snakes—1st, Spiders—3rd, Prison—6th

ARKANSAS (18th-tie)

A believable Arkansas comic book supervillain would be a deranged clown who develops weird powers after being bitten by a venomous spider.

Spiders—5th, Clowns—6th, Prison—8th


Movie plot:  Keanu Reeves skydives over shark infested waters in California AND his parachute is packed with venomous snakes and spiders. Somebody in start a Kickstarter for this project.

Snakes—2nd, Heights2nd, Shark Attacks—3rd, Spiders—3rd


If you don’t like being high then Colorado is not a state for you.

Heights—1st, Flying—3rd


The odds of being struck by lightning while in the dentist chair are incredibly low, but they are highest in Connecticut.

Dentists—5th, Lightning—7th


Delaware’s dangers descend from the sky, but so does rainfall, which nurtures the state’s small, but substantial soybean crop.

Lighting—6th, Tornadoes—8th


The most dangerous state in America is the most likely place to experience a real-life Sharknado. Or even a Sharkicane. Both are sometimes accompanied by Sharkning, which is terrifying.

Hurricanes—1st, Shark Attacks—1st, Tornadoes—1st, Lightning3rd, Spiders—5th


If Samuel L. Jackson ever stars in Snakes & Spiders on a Plane, it definitely will be set in Georgia.

Flying—4th, Spiders—5th, Snakes—5th, Hurricanes—7th

HAWAII (33rd)

From the ocean to the mountain tops, there is nowhere to hide from danger in Hawaii.

Volcanoes—1st, Flying—1st, Shark Attacks—2nd, Dentists—2nd, Spiders—5th

IDAHO (38th)

Idaho is located in the center of the American Bear Belt.

Bears—4th, Volcanoes—7th


Which is a better name for an Illinois punk band, “The Flying Meth Users” or “The Tornado Murderers?”

Flying—7th, Meth Labs—8th, Murderers—9th, Tornadoes—9th

INDIANA (22nd)

If only Indiana’s law enforcement agencies could harness the power of tornadoes to suck up every meth lab into the sky.

Tornadoes—3rd, Meth Labs—3rd

IOWA (39th)

While Iowa resides in America’s “Tornado/Meth Belt,” it’s still a relatively safe state.

Tornadoes—4th, Meth Labs—6th

KANSAS (35th)

Basically, Kansas is just like Iowa, except with a few more snakes and spiders, and a few fewer twisters and meth labs.

Tornadoes—11th, Meth Labs—11th


Before allowing a clown to perform at a child’s birthday party, make sure he or she’s been drug tested.

Meth Labs—4th, Clowns—9th


The best part of hurricane parties in Louisiana’s prisons is the grape-flavored prison hooch secretly fermented in one’s jail cell. Totally worth the wait.

Prison—1st, Murderers—1st, Hurricanes—3rd, Spiders—5th, Tornadoes—5th

MAINE (40th)

If you come across a bear in the woods of Maine do not run. Instead, make lots of noise and hopefully, it will scurry off. The same goes if you come across one of Maine’s clowns.

Clowns—2nd, Bears—3rd


At least there are no bears in Baltimore.

Lightning—5th, Murderers—7th, Dentists—8th


Most dentists in Massachusetts have stopped using metal fillings because they can act as lightning rods.

Dentists—1st, Lightning—1st


The slogan “Pure Michigan” is not an ode to the quality of local meth.

Murderers—5th, Meth Labs—10th, Heights—14th


At first glance, Minnesota seems like a safe place… until you realize it’s in the heart of America’s Clown Belt!

Clowns—4th, Heights—8th, Flying—10th


If Mississippi were a murder mystery party, the killer would definitely be Mr. Clown in the tornado with a poisonous spider.

Murderers 2nd, Going to Jail—2nd, Clowns—5th,  Spiders—5th, Tornadoes—6th


In Missouri, even the spiders and snakes are on meth.

Meth Labs—1st, Spiders—5th, Snakes—8th, Murderers—8th

MONTANA (46th)

Montana’s bear population is growing, but the state’s clown numbers are down. Is global warming to blame?

Bears—5th, Spiders—15th, Clowns—22nd


Nebraska is one of the most fear-free states in America unless you’re the paranoid type who suspects your dentist implanted a device in your fillings that attracts tornadoes.

Tornadoes—10th, Dentists—14th


For those who have fears of heights and flying, the ultimate nightmare is being an indentured servant for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

Flying—2nd, Heights—3rd


It’s been 200 million years since New Hampshire’s last volcanic eruption, so the danger is the equivalent of an attack by a bear posing as a dentist.

Volcanoes—4th, Bears—11th, Dentists—14th


In New Jersey, dental school graduates who refuse to join the state’s powerful dentist cabal get fed to the sharks.

Dentists—2nd, Lightning—4th, Shark Attacks—8th


In New Mexico, the only thing we have to fear itself… and also poisonous spiders and snakes, and also human killers.

Spiders—4th, Murderers—5th, Snakes—5th

NEW YORK (13th-tie)

Few things in this world are as frightening as having your wisdom teeth in a dentist’s office located high up in a skyscraper just as a hurricane rolls into town.

Dentists—4th, Heights—6th, Hurricanes—9th


Humanity’s worst fears are everywhere in North Carolina, except for dentists, which is odd.

Hurricanes—4th, Shark Attacks—5th, Lightning—10th


North Dakota is the second least-scary state in America, and if you’re one of the few Americans who doesn’t fear clowns then it’s a place where you can truly live without fear.


OHIO (26th)

In 26th place, Ohio is right in that sweet spot that Goldilocks would like so much.

Meth Labs—9th, Lightning—9th


The odds of a clown also being cold-blooded killed is extremely low, except in Oklahoma.

Tornadoes—2nd, Murderers—3rd, Clowns—3rd

OREGON (30th)

If you’re in Oregon, and a bear chases you into the ocean, your only hope is that the sharks devour the bear first.

Volcanoes—2nd, Bears—6th, Sharks—7th


Pennsylvania is a bad state to hang out on the roof during a thunderstorm, even if you’re fleeing a pack of murderous dentists.

Heights—7th, Lightning—8th, Murderers—16th, Dentists—6th

RHODE ISLAND (44th-tie)

There’s little to fear in Rhode Island, provided you stay indoors during lightning storms.



The only thing we have to fear in South Carolina is just about everything.

Murderers—3rd, Shark Attacks—4th, Hurricanes—5th, Spiders—5th, Meth Labs—7th


South Dakota has the least fear of any U.S. state. Think of it as a little slice of North Dakota, but devoid of clowns.

Volcanoes—16th, Tornadoes—19th


If you don’t want to see clowns on meth you better stay out of Tennessee.

Meth Users—2nd, Clowns—7th, Murderers—9th

TEXAS (3rd)

Basically, Texas is a preview of the apocalypse, and this study doesn’t even take into account alligators, chupacabras, global warming, or zombie attacks.

Spiders—1st, Hurricanes—2nd, Snakes—2nd, Heights—3rd, Prison—5th

UTAH (32nd)

What do you call an airplane full of dentists that crashed into a long-extinct volcano? A tragedy. It’s a tragedy.

Flying—6th, Volcanoes—10th, Dentists—11th

VERMONT (48th)

If all the states went to a slumber party it would be Vermont’s mom who would insist they not watch any scary movies.



Much like a meal made from ingredients found in the back of the fridge after a month-long power outage in August, Virginia’s a state filled with a plethora of dangers worthy of fear.

Hurricanes—9th, Volcanoes—11th, Shark Attacks—12th, Flying—12th


Newcomers to the state are most fearful of Washington’s substandard drivers, but then they realize all the mountains go boom every few hundred years and they readjust their fears accordingly.

Volcanoes—3rd, Heights—5th, Dentists—9th, Bears—10th


You never know who or what you’ll run into when you step into a forest in West Virginia, but it will likely be Smokey The Meth Clown. You’re advised to run.

Bears—9th, Meth Labs—15th, Clowns—19th


Packers fans may not fear the Bears the way they did in the 1980s, but they still have an all-time losing record against their NFC North rivals.

Bears—8th, Tornadoes—17th

WYOMING (44th-tie)

Residents in Wyoming aren’t afraid of anything, even their bears, which the state’s game officials don’t even bother to count.


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Estately is a national online real estate search site whose articles have been featured in the The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNET, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, GeekWire, The Denver Post, and more.

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