Spahn Ranch: From Movies to Manson - Atlas Obscura

Los Angeles, California

Spahn Ranch: From Movies to Manson

Explore the remains of the infamous Spahn Ranch with a Manson Family expert.

For decades, Spahn Movie Ranch served as one of Hollywood’s premiere western movie filming locations, hosting everyone from The Lone Ranger to Judy Garland. Today, it is far better known as the hideout used by Charles Manson and his followers to plot their deadly 1969 crime spree.

Join Field Agent Adam Papagan and Manson Family expert Stoner Van Houten as we explore the ruins of the infamous ranch. We’ll trace the ranch’s history as a setting for dozens of television shows and movies, hear how Charles Manson convinced the ailing George Spahn to let his followers live on the property rent-free, and see the places The Family lived, worked, and made music that hot summer. We’ll also visit the hidden remains of a vehicle believed to have belonged to Family member Bruce Davis, as well as the caves featured in the legendary Life Magazine photo spread. This multimedia tour will also feature photographs and music recorded by The Family while living on the ranch.

Stoner Van Houten is a Manson Family researcher and curator of the Spahn Ranch Worker YouTube Channel. Adam Papagan is an Atlas Obscura field agent, pop-culture historian, and an authority on outsider music, including music composed by The Manson Family and their affiliates. He is a professional tour guide and creator of The O.J. Simpson Tour and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Tour. He is also host of The ASMR Talk Show.


  • This is a strenuous hike with many uphill portions. Intermediate to advanced hiking ability recommended.
  • There are no restroom facilities available during the hike, please plan accordingly.
  • Ages 18 and up.
  • This tour will include graphic content that may be unsettling for some attendees. Discretion is advised.
  • A signed liability waiver is required from all attendees.


Email Adam Papagan at


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