Utah’s Most Infamous UFO Sightings Will Have You Believing the Unexplained
Estimated reading time: 7-8 minutes
During the 1990s, American families gathered around their TVs on Sunday nights and watched “The X-Files,” where FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were part of a secret government search for the objects unidentified flywheels.
Then in 2017, The New York Times revealed the conspiracy theorists were right all along. For decades the government did have secret agencies investigating UFOs and military pilots reported numerous contacts with flying objects.
Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) have appeared throughout human history and are commonly associated with extraterrestrial life visiting Earth. As early as 1639, Massachusetts Bay Colony co-founder and governor John Winthrop reported that a “sober and discreet man” named James Everell saw a “great light” in the sky moving back and forth over the river. Muddy for several hours. At the time he disappeared, Everell and the other men in his boat were a mile upriver from where they went and they had no memory of how they got there, according to an account by New England today.
In modern times, “the first well-known UFO sighting occurred in 1947 when businessman Kenneth Arnold claimed to have seen a cluster of nine high-speed objects near Mount Rainier in Washington as he was flying his small plane,” reports History.com. Although Arnold described the shapes as crescent-shaped, they were erroneously reported as saucer-shaped in the media, leading to the first use of the term “flying saucer”.
Utah, with its arid deserts and dark, starry skies, has long been considered a hotbed of unidentifiable sightings.
Over the years, there have been more than 1,000 UFO sightings in Utah, according to a journalistic data analysis website Stacker.com. Some of these sightings have a reasonable explanation, including recent reports of lines of lights moving across the night sky.
These trains of brightly lit objects, which were reportedly seen over Utah as recently as February 2021, turned out to be Starlink satellites, a SpaceX project launched by Elon Musk, which aims to provide internet service everywhere on Earth, according to Espace.com.
Other observations, however, are not so easily explained.
Skinwalker Ranch, just 30 miles west of Vernal, is one of the world’s most infamous locations for paranormal and UFO activity. The book “Skinwalker Hunt: Science Confronts the Unexplained on a Remote Utah Ranch” by Kelleher and Knapp details UFOs, crop circles, poltergeist activity and glowing orbs that former owners experienced at the ranch. Some people even claim to have experienced stranger events after the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDSci) acquired the ranch.
According to Kelleher and Knapp, they investigated nearly 100 incidents of UFOs, unexplained magnetic fields, and missing and mutilated livestock on the ranch. However, they were unable to obtain sufficient evidence for scientific publication.
Today Skinwalker Ranch is owned by real estate magnate Brandon Fugal and very few people are allowed access to the property. However, the History Channel has released a docuseries titled “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” which follows the efforts of a team of experts and scientists who try to explain claims of paranormal events, cattle mutilations and UFO sightings with science and technology. The ranch is also featured on an interactive map UFO sightings taken seriously by the US government.
Cedar City Abduction
Abduction stories are not uncommon. In fact, a ABC Poll conducted in 2000 found that up to 40 million Americans “have seen or know someone who has seen an unidentified flying object, or UFO” and “a growing number believe they have encountered extraterrestrials”.
Author David Booher related the story of one such man who claimed to have come into contact with extraterrestrial life while driving just outside Cedar City in 1959.
According to Booher’s book, missile base technician Gerry Irwin was returning to his barracks at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, when he saw a glowing object he thought was a plane crash. He pulled over to the side of the road, put on his jacket, and left a note in his car explaining where he had been. When a search party later picked him up, they found him unconscious with no jacket and no signs of a plane crash.
As a result of this experience, Irwin received an impeccable bill of health, but after returning to Texas he suffered repeated bouts of blackouts and amnesia, ending up in the psychiatric ward more than once. Fort Bliss. He eventually deserted his post, but when Booher went looking he was able to find Irwin and get a full account of what happened to him in the Utah desert and in the months and years that followed. Booher published his findings in a book titled “No Return: The Gerry Irwin Story, UFO Abduction or Secret Operation?” in 2017.
Booher said there is no archetypal alien abduction story in circulation. Irwin’s story originated before alien abductions were portrayed in entertainment and media, which makes his story unique for its timing.
Dugway Proving Ground
A small, unassuming community an hour and a half drive west of Lehi, Dugway is nothing out of the ordinary. Conspiracy theorists claim, however, that the nearby military installation is the new Area 51 where the US government is conducting tests based on hidden alien technology.
According to US Army website, Dugway Proving Ground “is the nation’s premier test center for chemical and biological defense, providing effective testing and support to enable our nation’s defenders, interagency partners, and our allies to counter chemical hazards, biological, radiological and explosives.”
The facility is 800,000 acres in size, which is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island.
Utah Stories cites conspiracy theorists who believe the military may be using this land to test technology harvested from a UFO that crashed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Eyewitnesses in the area have reported bizarre sightings near Dugway, including a man who described a jet vanishing into thin air and a former Goshute Reservation police officer who claimed to have traveled down a lonely road in the western desert when a saucer flywheel passed at full speed.
“After sending a beam of light at the UFO, the UFO responded by speeding up and over a mountain range until it was out of sight within seconds,” Utah Stories reported. The officer said a few minutes later that two fighter jets flew following the same path as the flying saucer.
When the author of the Utah Stories article attempted to gain access to Dugway to observe the community first-hand, he reported that he had been denied access for having an unpaid ticket on his driving record.
UFO reports abound
In addition to these accounts, there are many more spread across the state, from Neola to Kanab and from Lehi to Hurricane. A 1996 Deseret News article “Frequent travelers?” recounted numerous incidents where people were willing to talk openly about their UFO experiences.
Utah is even home to the Utah UFO Festival, a three-day event scheduled for August in Cedar City this year. The website says the festival “features renowned speakers and experts, film screenings, radio broadcasts, vendor booths, live music, alien trivia, a human/animal costume contest, beer and wine tastings, dinners with guest speakers and a trailer at the gates of Area 51.”
Although scientific evidence is lacking when it comes to evidence of UFO sightings in Utah, the fact remains that there are some things that science has not been able to explain. . You never know what you might see in the sky on a clear Utah night.