The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch: The Quest to Unravel the Mystery Continues

Anybody who has ever heard of UFO sightings, paranormal activities, and X-Files might say that the hotbed of peculiar phenomena in the United States is Area 51 at Groom Lake, Nevada, or Roswell, New Mexico. While undoubtedly infamous for everything related to flying saucers and their predisposition to secrecy, they are nothing compared to the bizarreness of Skinwalker Ranch in Ballard, Utah. Not only is the place filled with a flurry of unusual events allegedly of extraterrestrial origins, but also suspected as the hunting ground for a shapeshifting creature from Navajo legend. There have been multiple attempts by various individuals to reveal the secret of Skinwalker Ranch over the years and yet most of the oddities remain unexplainable.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch

Among the earliest known inhabitants of the land were the Ute people, who traded with the Navajo. The name “skin-walker” has its origins in Navajo legend, as a reference to evil witches capable of transforming themselves into four-legged animals. Little is known about the skin-walker story outside the Navajo culture; it is said that during a time of conflict between the two tribes, the Navajo unleashed the creatures upon the Ute and still the beasts roam in the same land until now. Most people today think of it simply as a shapeshifting monster that preys on big animals. Some even believe that skin-walker is immune to hot lead.

The land itself was not always called the Skinwalker Ranch. For a brief period between 1994 and 1996, the land was purchased by the Sherman family, hence the Sherman Ranch. It wasn’t much of a big deal until the family experienced a series of spookiness in their new place. One of the most notable was an encounter with a creature that presumably appeared like the legendary skin-walker.

On an otherwise typical night at the ranch, Terry Sherman thought he heard a noise somewhere in the yard. He took a look and bumped into the biggest wolf he had ever seen. Frantic, Mr. Sherman rushed back and grabbed a gun from his house. He shot the creature multiple times to no avail; the bullets didn’t seem to do anything to the animal. Despite taking no damage, the wolf ran away into the wild. Mr. Sherman tried to track it down, but there was no trace at all as if the wolf disappeared into thin air.

About two decades before the Sherman family bought the land, there had been already a flurry of UFO sightings in the surrounding area. Claims of such occurrences in the ranch surfaced in 1996, primarily in well-known newspapers like Deseret News and Las Vegas Mercury. Investigative journalist George Knapp and biochemist Colm Kelleher claimed to have witnessed or investigated about 100 strange incidents that involved mutilated cattle, unidentified flying objects, invisible objects emitting magnetic fields, and large animals invulnerable to bullets. Terry Sherman and his wife Gwen also said they encountered mysterious objects in the sky and crop circles.

Everything might sound like the beginning of a horror movie, but there was a big difference – the family gave up wondering about all the inexplicable things happening on the ranch and sold the property. Skinwalker Ranch – as it has been known since – fell into the hands of one Robert Bigelow, a billionaire with friends in high places. Just a year earlier in 1995, Bigelow had founded the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDSci), befitting his image as a longtime enthusiast of all things UFO and paranormal.

NIDSci revealed little of the mysteries. Their findings worked only to intensify everybody’s curiosity. Researchers working for the organization discovered yet some more cattle mutilations including a cow that appeared to have been completely disemboweled but there was no single drop of blood in the spot. To add to the puzzle, the cow had been observed alive and healthy just an hour earlier. NIDSci maintained ownership of the property for about 20 years until another real-estate tycoon Brandon Fugal bought the land.

Fugal assembled a team of scientists, which included astrophysicist Dr. Travis Taylor, to dig deeper into the outlandish claims regarding the ranch. But it was the same story all over again as the team experienced similar anomalies to those reported by the previous owner. Fugal himself said he purchased the property with a skeptical viewpoint in mind but soon revisited the perspective because of an “undeniable” close encounter with UFO in broad daylight witnessed by multiple people.

We think there is a bit of a combination of anecdotal accounts, Native American folklore, and perhaps exaggeration pertaining to the stories coming out of the ranch. Thanks to Fugal, the anomalous piece of land aptly named Skinwalker Ranch has reached global notoriety and become the basis of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch (also known as Curse of Skinwalker Ranch) TV series, depicting various investigative efforts by Fugal’s team to unravel the mysteries. While much of the research has mainly focused on UFO-related matters, the tales of skin-walkers often turned into an unavoidable subject.

Have you watched any episodes of The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch? Have you visited the place ever? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

What is the skin-walker according to Navajo legend?

According to anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn in his book Navaho Witchcraft (1944), the term “skinwalkers” can be described as secret witches, both male and female, with the ability to transform themselves into fast-moving animals such as coyotes and wolves. Such witches gather in foreboding places to perform dark magic against their enemies or victims. Their dark magic rituals involve corpse defilement, incest, and murders.

Has the story of the ranch been adapted into a film?

The 2013 found-footage sci-fi horror film “Skinwalker Ranch” is loosely based on the folklore of mysterious occurrences, including UFO sightings and bulletproof creatures, allegedly observed in the property.

Popular UFO hunting sites in the US other than Roswell, Area 51, and Skinwalker Ranch:

  • McMinnville, Oregon
  • Sedona, Arizona
  • Flatwoods, West Virginia
  • Fargo, North Dakota
  • Marfa, Texas
  • San Luis Valley, Colorado
  • Hudson Valley, New York

For more information about how each place might trigger your investigative mind, please visit USA Today.

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