Camarillo State Mental Hospital

Camarillo State Mental Hospital in Lewis Ranch, Camarillo, California

Lewis Ranch, Camarillo, California

BUILT: 1932
OPERATION TIME: 1936 to 1997
STATUS: Open as the California State University, Channel Islands


In 1932, the California government purchased 1,760 acres of land in Lewis Ranch in order to build the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. The hospital was used from 1936 to 1997. It was the pioneer in treating illnesses that were thought to be untreatable, such as developing drugs and therapies for schizophrenia and dealing with autism (being one of the first hospitals to deal with it).

Camarillo’s patients were not criminally dangerous; those who were were sent to Atascadero State Hospital. In January 1996, California governor Pete Wilson announced plans to close the hospital in the July of 1997. Members of the community, family members of the patients and employees, and the employees of Camarillo made efforts to keep the hospital open.

Several of those advocates attempted to convince the hospital to accept mentally ill criminals as a way to save Camarillo, but many people were against the idea out of concern that they would be too dangerous and would escape. In the end, Governor Wilson did not listen to them and continued to close the hospital in June 1997, a month earlier than planned. Patients were relocated to other hospitals.

The location was planned to be turned into a university by 1998. However, it took four years longer than expected and didn’t open until 2002. Now, it is the California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI). It is believed to be haunted by those who died at the hospital.

In Popular Culture

  • A number of movies, TV shows, and music videos have been produced here due to its close location to Los Angeles. Songs referring to the hospital include “Relaxin’ at Camarillo” by Charlie Parker, “Camarillo” by Fear, “Ready for Camarillo” by Ambrosia, and “Camarillo Brillo” by Frank Zappa. ‘N Sync’s set for “I Drive Myself Crazy” was filmed at the hospital.
  • 1948 film The Snake Pit was filmed here. The movie starred Olivia de Havilland.
  • The opening scene from Bottle Rocket was filmed at the hospital.
  • After it closed, ghost hunters visited the hospital often, saying it was haunted.
  • In a few episodes of the Dragnet series, there were references to criminals being sentenced to Camarillo State Hospital.
  • Scenes from The Ring and Buffy the Vampire Slayer were filmed at and around the hospital.
  • Season 4 of The Biggest Loser was filmed in 2007 when the site was CSUCI.
  • Jonathan Kellerman’s 2012 thriller “Victims” modelled its Ventura State Hospital after Camarillo State Hospital.


  1. Wikipedia. “Camarillo State Mental Hospital,”



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8 Comments Add yours

  1. A great location for a murder mystery.


    1. Several mental asylums of the era were sites of murders inflicted on patients by the doctors, most of which went completely unnoticed.

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  2. Cathy says:

    I drove there with my daughter a few years ago- we didn’t even get out of the car or stop … I yelled at her to keep driving – the front of the building (outside) was filled with spirits- I couldn’t breathe – felt like I had 10 people sitting on my chest ! I’d have to say that its the most haunted place I’ve been , very active . More so than Alcatraz in San Francisco . Having lived in Agoura nearby I’ve ways known it had a reputation but that was the first time I’ve been there ! Very overwhelming even the drive up is gnarly !


    1. Jen says:

      After I left the hospital I felt my chest super heavy could not breathe well this place is difinitley haunted and packed with unfinished business these souls need closer I say if you are there to visit these lost souls pray that they go to heaven……

      P.S I think someone followed me home 👻no joke


      1. Hi Jen,
        It’s interesting you mentioned your struggling to breathe – we had another report back in August of the same phenomenon. If you want to get rid of your new spirit, I would advise getting a priest or medium to perform a cleansing to help he/she or them “cross over”.

        Ghostly World
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    2. Hi Cathy,

      Insane asylums/psychiatric hospitals are among the most spiritually active places, most likely because of all the trauma and abuse that went on in (a lot) of them.

      Ghostly World
      Email At:


  3. Katie says:

    I actually visited the old mental asylum today while I was seeing the scary dairy. I wasn’t able to fine a way to get in thligj. Everything was locked. Does anyone have any tips to getting in? It would be greatly appreciated. I wanna get in there before they remodel it. ThNks


    1. Try contacting the owners. Going into a building without permission is trespassing, and very illegal. Ghostly World is not responsible for any illegal actions – all we can recommend is contacting the building’s owners. Hope that helps.

      Ghostly World
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