Navajo legend says witches can shape-shift into werewolve-esque animals and even possess humans. With UFO sightings abound, Skinwalker Ranch is a paranormal activity fan's dream.
Since 1996, Skinwalker Ranch has established itself as a paranormal hotspot of interest. For conspiracy theory obsessives, the 512-acre plot of land in Utah potentially holds answers to UFO and crop circle phenomena. Some even believe inter-dimensional activity to regularly occur there.
The Ballard property derived its name from the Navajo folktale of the skin-walker. As legend has it, the ominously named being is a malevolent witch. It can disguise itself as, actively transform into, or possess an animal.
These are typically four-legged mammals like coyotes, but can sometimes even be human beings. While skeptics and most rational people believe this to be nothing but myth, eyewitness accounts across the decades beg to differ. On top of that, there’s more to the ranch than shapeshifters.
According to History, cattle have been found mutilated and exsanguinated. The methodical and utterly bloodless manner has confounded authorities. UFO sightings have abounded above the property. People have called it “cursed.”
It all began with Terry Sherman, who virtually fled his newly bought property after experiencing too much paranormal activity to handle. It was 1996.
What Is Skinwalker Ranch?
Nobody knew about the site until The Desert News published an article called “Frequent Flyers?” on Jan. 30, 1996. It chronicled how desperate property-owners Terry and Gwen Sherman were to halt the purported UFO activity plaguing their new home. They became suspicious rather quickly.
“For a long time we wondered what we were seeing, if it was something to do with a top-secret project,” said Terry Sherman. “I don’t really know what to think about it.”
The couple, their teenage son, and 10-year-old daughter all claimed they had seen three types of UFOs numerous times across the last 15 months. One was small and boxy, another 40 feet long, and the third an enormous craft the size of several football fields.
One of them shone wavy red light out. Another simply appeared out of a circular, orange orb resembling some sort of aerial doorway. To their credit, the Shermans videotaped two of the three sightings. Crop circles, too, have appeared on the ranch.
One instance saw three 8-foot circles in a triangular pattern, 30 feet from each other, on flattened grass. A nearby ranch was found to have circles three feet wide, and a foot or two deep, with perfectly flattened dirt. Incidents on Skinwalker Ranch only got weirder — and scarier.
One night, a flying light followed Gwen Sherman on her drive home. On another, while Terry Sherman was out in the fields with the family dogs, he heard voices. They were about 25 feet away, but Sherman couldn’t see a thing. The voices were speaking an entirely unfamiliar language.
The dogs went crazy before running back to the house. As for the family’s cattle, seven of them were either found dead or not found at all. One had a hole cut in the center of its left eyeball. Another had the same incision, with its rectum carved out. A strange chemical smell was present both times.
The others disappeared entirely, with their tracks suddenly stopping. The last cow was found in a clump of trees, with the the branches above seemingly cut off.
“We’ve seen [the UFOs] enough and we know pretty much what the craft look like, and I think it’s definitely associated with the cattle mutilations,” he said. “When we see the crafts and then the cattle, we have problems.”
“You talk to a lot of people around here that at one time or another have seen something they can’t explain. There’s been a lot of cattle mutilations, and a lot of them weren’t reported. Several [ranchers] told me that when they had a [mutilation], they called the authorities and the authorities couldn’t do anything, so it was just a waste of time and effort.”
While some in the region and UFO researchers adamantly believe the Shermans, no concrete evidence of their accounts has confirmed their stories. On the other hand, the family was so terrified of the events taking place on their property that they sold it 18 months after moving in.
It only took three months for Las Vegas real estate giant and UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow to take it off their hands for $200,000. This is when Skinwalker Ranch pivoted from being a UFO-centric place of interest, to one of more earthly, demonic entities from Native American legend.
Terry Sherman described having seen a wolf three times bigger than usual on his property. He shot it three times with a rifle, at close range — to no avail. After Bigelow bought the property and established the National Institute for Discovery Science on the land, things got stranger.
Biochemist Colm Kelleher said that on the night of March 12, 1997, he saw a big humanoid figure perched on a tree. It was observing the research team before disappearing.
“The large creature that lay motionless, almost casually, in the tree,” he said. “The only indication of the beast’s presence was the penetrating yellow light of the unblinking eyes as they stared fixedly back into the light.”
Kelleher said he fired at the figure before it vanished, but not before he noticed its physiology. The shape had sharp claws, and resembled a predatory bird or velociraptor. He said it looked heavy. This description eerily matched that of countless others from Navajo legend.
According to The Navajo-English Dictionary by William Morgan and Leon Wall, Skinwalker in Navajo translates to yee naaldlooshii, meaning “by means of it, it goes on all fours.” The tribe is reluctant to discuss the legend with outsiders, making it all the more mysterious.
The tribe practically describes skinwalkers as werewolves — witches who transformed into beasts, or any other creature they liked. With the ranch being 400 miles removed from Navajo Nation, however, the lack of answers — no matter how preposterous — remained.
According to Clyde Kluckhohn’s Navaho Witchcraft, skinwalkers engage in and represent the opposite of Navajo values. While medicine men and healers of the tribe symbolize the good, these shapeshifting witches represent the evil.
Their perversion of magic is seen as a mockery of the Navajo faith. In order to fully understand Navajo spiritualism, the healers need to learn both good and evil magic. Not everyone can tolerate the lure of the dark, however, forging the path toward witchcraft.
Ultimately, Bigelow’s institute was intended to confirm or disconfirm the existence of these beings in the area by using modern, scientific equipment to garner evidence. Kelleher and investigative journalist George Knapp experienced nearly 100 incidents.
The included cattle mutilations, UFO sightings, impenetrable and oversized animals with glowing red eyes, and invisible objects protected by magnetic fields. U.S. Army Colonel John B. Alexander explained they tried desperately to use a “standard scientific approach” to put these matters to bed.
In the end, unfortunately, those involved admitted they had “difficulty obtaining evidence consistent with scientific publication.” Bigelow sold the ranch to a company called Adamantium Real Estate Holdings in 2016. According to VICE, research into the paranormal on the ranch has continued.
The Secret Of Skinwalker Ranch
The owner of Adamantium Holdings remains unidentified, though the History Channel is set to air a new documentary series filmed on site later this year. The shadowy figure seems rather convinced that something is, indeed, regularly occurring in the region.
“You know, facing the reality of our mortality is sobering,” he said. “The anomalies at Skinwalker Ranch, the things that have been reported there over the decades, if not hundreds of years. They seem to attest to the fact that we live in a strange universe. Perhaps we are not alone.”
“I think the opportunity to take a living laboratory like the ranch, a place that seems to be the center of gravity of so much of the unexplained, it is a unique experience. I manage and lead an effort that I believe is the greatest science project of all time.”
Today, the ranch’s new scientific project is run out the Command Center — a high-tech hub run by plasma physicist Erik Bard. The property is wired with new surveillance systems and equipment set up to catch any and all strange activity.
In the last year alone, numerous people have become ill, with inconclusive medical tests. Guests reported weird skin inflammations, aerial anomalies, and more. Adamantium employee Thomas Winterton was one of the hospitalized victims. He didn’t believe the stories at first.
“I thought it was all a bunch of crap,” he said of the legends and paranormal incidents. “Then, one night, I’m in one of the bedrooms in the ranch house. I’m lying down trying to get to sleep, and then all of a sudden, BAM, something slams into my bed. It’s like when your kids jump into bed with you or something big kneed the bed. I sit up and turn on the lights.”
This is merely one of many stories those who work and have visited Skinwalker Ranch have told. What exactly is occurring on the famed Utah property remains unexplained by science.
Hopefully, the upcoming documentary series will reinvigorate the public’s interest on these bizarre incidents and spark productive discussion.
After learning about Skinwalker Ranch and the paranormal activity purported to occur there, read about the Montauk Project — the U.S. Military program that inspired ‘Stranger Things.’ Then, learn about the Dover Demon — the alien creature that once horrified a Boston hamlet.