12 Best Destinations for UFO Fans
History, mystery and pop culture collide in these far-out places where residents claim to have been visited by tourists not of this world.
UFO Watchtower, Colorado
Southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley has long been the scene of mysterious UFO sightings and the discoveries of cattle mutilations in which the animals have been dissected with surgeon-like skill. UFO watchers flock to this area, so in 2000 Judy Messoline established the UFO Watchtower near Hooper, where UFO buffs can camp and enjoy a 360-degree view of the area from her watchtower. UFOs aren’t guaranteed, but a wonderful night gazing at the star-filled sky is all but.
Bigfoot BBQ UFO Festival, Pennsylvania
Bigfoot and UFO sightings seem to go hand-in-hand all throughout the United States. Throw in barbeque and you have a winning combination for an out-of-this-world time. The Bigfoot BBQ UFO Festival in June at Gearhart’s Milton Loop Campground near Dayton, Pennsylvania, brings together Bigfoot and UFO researchers from around the country for a Saturday night of camping and discussing cryptozoology around the campfire.
Vernal in northern Utah is known as the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument and the breathtaking Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. But in paranormal circles it is also known for the strange sightings in its skies and its proximity to Skinwalker Ranch, a 500-acre ranch so strange that it was purchased by researchers for study. Tales of UFOs, Bigfoot-like creatures, strange orbs, creatures with glowing eyes and other paranormal activities have been reported by the ranch’s several owners going back decades. Skinwalker Ranch is now privately owned and not open to the public, but camping in the Vernal area at the very least ensures an incredible star show with some of the nation’s darkest skies.
Roswell, New Mexico
The mother ship of all UFO destinations, Roswell is known worldwide for the Roswell Incident, when in July 1947 the U.S. military announced that it had recovered a spaceship from another planet, then turned around and said it was a weather balloon. The International UFO Museum and Research Center describes this and other alleged UFO incidents in a professional manner, and even the street lights in Roswell are shapes like alien heads. And the annual Roswell UFO Festival held annually in July brings in serious UFO investigators for public talks and celebrates the phenomenon with an alien parade and costume contest. But make sure to also see the Roswell Museum and Art Center and the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art in Roswell, which both demonstrate that this attractive community is more than just little green men, (well, the museum says they were gray).
The Aurora Incident, Texas
On April 17, 1897 residents of Aurora, Texas, reported seeing a huge, cigar-shaped craft collide with a windmill and crash to the ground. A humanoid pilot described as "not from this world" was found dead and buried in the local cemetery (he was nicknamed Ned). The metal wreckage of the "airship" was thrown down a well. This incident predates the Wright Brothers first flight by six years. Today, a Texas state marker at the Aurora cemetery details the UFO tale, and Aurora has included a UFO in the town's official logo.
The Kecksburg UFO Incident, Pennsylvania
On December 9, 1965, residents in six U.S. states and in Canada lit up the phone lines reporting a huge fireball that had soared overhead. In the woods near Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, residents reported hearing a loud crash and seeing blue smoke. The area was quickly cordoned off by the U.S. military, and some claim that an acorn-shaped craft with strange writing on its exterior was loaded onto a truck and hauled away. Whatever happened on that December night is celebrated annually during July’s Kecksburg UFO Festival that benefits the local volunteer fire department. An alien costume parade, corn hole competition, bed races, UFO and paranormal researcher lectures and other cosmic fun take place. Be sure to check out the replica of the alleged craft that’s outside near the fire station.
Aztec UFO Crash Site, New Mexico
New Mexico is synonymous with UFOs thanks to Roswell, but there’s another (of many) New Mexico UFO mystery that allegedly took place in 1948, a year after Roswell. In the northwestern part of the state near the Colorado border, the story goes that a craft crashed in the high desert in Hart Canyon. The military quickly descended upon the scene and carried the craft and the bodies of its crew away. The tale was published in several magazines in the following years, but many speculated that is was a hoax designed to sell oil-finding equipment as "alien technology." But the story was revisited in the 1970s and some UFOlogists believe that there is merit to the original story. True or not, someone anonymously placed a metal sign at the alleged crash site in the early 2000s, and a renowned mountain biking trail system was cut through the area. The Aztec Alien Run Mountain Bike Race that takes place annually in May sees riders land in Aztec from all over to enjoy this beautiful and challenging landscape.
Utah UFO Festival, Cedar City, Utah
The deserts of Utah have long been a hotspot for UFO encounters, and the Utah UFO Festival near Cedar City brings together UFO researchers and those who want to believe over Father’s Day Weekend in June. Camping out under Utah’s star-filled nights, attendees take in UFO lectures, alien costume contests, UFO-themed movies and all other manner of extraterrestrial revelry. Beyond the festival, Cedar City is a great location to explore Utah’s otherworldly beauty at Cedar Breaks National Monument.
The Marfa Lights, Texas
For more than a century people have reported seeing strange lights in the sky just east of the tiny town of Marfa, Texas. Balls of yellowish-white light dance across the desert here as they increase in intensity, merge and split with one another, and perform acrobatics that many associate with extraterrestrials. While some claim that the lights are nothing more than a phenomenon of distant car headlights somehow being redirected to this area, many believe that there is an alien explanation. The Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Center has been built along U.S. 90 and includes a restroom, picnic tables and binoculars to keep an eye out for the lights toward the Chinati Mountains.
The Kelly-Hopkinsville Encounter, Kentucky
On the evening of August 21, 1955, a terrified family raced to the Hopkinsville police station to report that they’d been under attack by aliens for hours until they were able to escape their home. They reported that they had been shooting at about 15 "little green men" who when hit would just get back up again, or float down from the trees they were in. The family described the beings as having pointed ears, long arms, claws, and being about 2-feet tall. The police went to investigate, and found a shot-up home but nothing else odd. Later that night the family again fled as they said the "aliens" had returned. Whether it was aliens from another planet or a combination of too much moonshine and some owls, the Kelly-Hopkinsville encounter entered popular culture and helped coin the now oft-used phrase "little green men" in media reports. Whatever happened, Hopkinsville remembers the incident with its Kelly Little Green Men Days Festival annually in August with family-friendly rides, food, alien costume contests and parades.
Area 51 and the Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada
All across our planet the mystery of Area 51 persists. Is it a secret base in the Nevada desert where the wreckage of crashed extraterrestrial crafts is taken to be reversed engineered? Or is it a not-so-secret test site for the U.S. Air Forces most cutting edge aircraft? Whatever is happening here, this area is a highly protected military installation near Nellis Air Force Range. Those who are a little too curious and step foot on the government property are detained by ever-vigilant guards in black trucks until the local sheriff arrives and makes the arrest. But Area 51 is also good for tourism, and the remote Nevada State Route 375 near Rachel has been designated by the state of Nevada as the Extraterrestrial Highway. A small industry of UFO and alien-themed businesses dot this stretch, including the Little A’Le’Inn bar and restaurant. Travel this 98-mile stretch between Nevada 318 at Crystal Springs and US 6 in Warm Springs. State highway signs with "Extraterrestrial Highway" are a popular photo op, as are the alien-themed businesses both thriving and abandoned along this desert route. And if you’re in the area at night, make sure to pull over and look up.