The sprawling 480 acres that comprise an area in northeastern Utah known as Skinwalker Ranch have long been considered a hotbed of paranormal activity. Bizarre stories of strange phenomena such as flying orbs, unkillable animals, Bigfoot or Yeti-like creatures, triangular black UFOs, cattle mutilations, telepathic communications, poltergeist, and other types of odd sightings and occurrences on this vast tract of land have been reported for over a hundred years now. By some estimates, well over half of the local population in the areas near or surrounding Skinwalker Ranch have observed various types of paranormal phenomena, with new accounts coming in on a very frequent basis. The local Ute Indians consider the ranch to be a cursed area, and members of the tribe are strictly forbidden to enter the land, because it has been designated as “the path of the skinwalker.”
What is a “Skinwalker”?
According to various legends from the Navajo, Ute, Hopi, and other indigenous American tribes in the American Southwest, a skinwalker is a powerful shape-shifting witch that can assume the form of whatever animal he/she chooses. The witch would typically wear some type of garment comprised of the fur, skin or hide of the animal that they wanted to transform into (e.g., a wolf, bear, coyote, etc.), and once the transformation took place, they would then fully assume the form and characteristics of that animal. According to the legend, these malevolent entities were endowed with supernatural strength, speed and agility, and would terrorize anyone upon whom a curse had been pronounced. According to Navajo legend, skinwalkers have the ability to engage in mind control as well as supernatural travel through interdimensional corridors or portals. Skinwalker Ranch is considered to be one of the main “gates” through which skinwalkers regularly traverse.
Skinwalker Ranch: The Sherman Family Moves In
Skinwalker Ranch has a very fragmented and ambiguous history of ownership. Not much is known about the origins of the ranch or who the original owners were, as official documentation has been sparse. The land sat vacant for much of the time between the 1970s and the early 1990s, inexplicably abandoned by its previous owners until cattle ranchers Terry and Gwen Sherman decided to purchase the ranch for business purposes in 1994. The Sherman’s, along with their two children, moved into the ranch with hopes of expanding Terry’s already-thriving business. Upon moving into the main house and examining other buildings on the ranch, the Sherman’s immediately noticed that practically all of the windows and doors–even the kitchen cabinets–were equipped with deadbolt locks. They also noticed that on both ends of the house, heavy chains pulled tautly between two large iron stakes were set up, presumably to act as some sort of buffer or barrier to protect the home from wild animals.
Strange Occurrences at Skinwalker Ranch
The Shermans only lasted two years at Skinwalker Ranch before fleeing the property in 1996, but during the two-year period that they occupied the ranch, they reported witnessing several unexplained and paranormal phenomena ranging from the curious and inexplicable to the downright frightening. During their tenure on the property, they witnessed strange voices originating from the air, the appearance of otherworldly or essentially out-of-place animals including exotic multicolored birds and abnormally large wolves, countless bright flying orbs, and other unexplained objects flying all over the property. Cattle mutilations were also a common occurrence; Terry Sherman reported finding 14 of his 80 cattle mutilated at different times and in different ways during their 24-month occupancy of Skinwalker Ranch. In one particularly disturbing instance, the still-warm body of a calf was found with its rectum removed, essentially “cored out” with surgical precision, and no blood visible anywhere at the scene. This particular calf had just been seen by Mr. Sherman only moments before the incident took place.
The “Bulletproof Wolf”
One of the first–and most bizarre–incidents that the Sherman Family experienced at the ranch was the appearance of an abnormally large wolf that wandered onto the property. Although the wolf appeared to have a friendly demeanor at first (it even allowed one of the family members to pet it), its disposition quickly changed as it headed towards a corral and attempted to snatch and pull a calf through the gate by latching onto the calf’s snout with its powerful jaws. Terry and his son quickly rushed to rescue the calf, beating the wolf on the back with the handle of an axe, but the wolf remained unfazed and refused to let go of the calf. Terry’s son then grabbed a .357 Magnum handgun out of their truck and shot the wolf in the side at point-blank range. The wolf didn’t even seem to acknowledge that it had been shot, and kept pulling on the calf. Terry’s son then shot the wolf three more times with the powerful handgun at point-blank range, but there were no signs of injury, and the wolf didn’t make any type of sounds or gestures to imply that it felt any pain. The huge animal then backed off slightly, with a completely expressionless look on its face. Perplexed, Mr. Sherman quickly retrieved his hunting rifle from their truck and shot the wolf again, this time taking a small bit of flesh off the animal’s back, but the animal still showed no real signs of injury or distress. The wolf then trotted off through a thick patch of muddy brush. Sherman and his son tracked the wolf for well over an hour; following the animal’s massive paw prints left in the mud, only to reach a point where the tracks completely disappeared, as if the animal had vanished without a trace.
Other Bizarre Phenomena
The Sherman family experienced several other unsettling occurrences during their time at the ranch. There were several nights when the entire ranch would be illuminated by an unknown light source, as bright as a football stadium. They witnessed several shafts of light beaming up into the night sky from various places on the ranch. They heard strange sounds similar to large or heavy machinery in operation, but the sounds seemed to come from beneath the earth. Crop circles would appear in remarkably precise patterns, and large holes would suddenly appear in the ground in various places on the Skinwalker Ranch property. The most prevalent paranormal phenomena they witnessed were the numerous multi-colored spheres of various sizes that dotted the sky at night, moving about freely with astonishing maneuverability that seemed to defy any known laws of physics. Some of these spheres or orbs would hover over their heads while others would fly at higher altitudes, but practically all of the spheres they witnessed appeared to be navigated or controlled in some type of way, as they could make quick turns and perform evasive maneuvers around trees and other objects.
The Last Straw for the Sherman Family
In May of 1996, the already-distressed Sherman family experienced an incident that served as the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back”. Mr. Sherman witnessed a large blue orb “dancing” in a nearby field, and he encouraged his three cattle dogs to chase after the orb. The dogs began pursuing the orb, snapping at it and pursuing it for several minutes until the orb led the dogs through an area of thick brush. Sherman stated that after the dogs were out of his sight, he heard them yelp as if in fright or pain, and then the field fell eerily silent. The dogs no longer responded to Sherman’s calls. Greatly disturbed by the event, Sherman waited until the next day to investigate. On the other side of the thick brush, Sherman found three spots on the ground where the vegetation had become dried and brown, with each spot containing a “greasy black lump”. Sherman concluded that the three dogs had been incinerated by some mysterious means. Alarmed by this event (along with several others), the Sherman family decided to abandon the property.
National Institute for Discovery Science Purchases Skinwalker Ranch
By the time the Sherman’s were ready to sell the property, legends and rumors surrounding the unusual occurrences at the ranch had spread all over the country. This caught the attention of aerospace and hotel billionaire Bob Bigelow, himself a paranormal enthusiast, who offered to purchase Skinwalker Ranch from the Sherman’s for $200,000 on behalf of a now-defunct research organization known as the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS). As soon as the transaction was completed, highly-credentialed scientists and researchers from NIDS began installing various video cameras and other sophisticated monitoring equipment to gather information regarding the strange activity occurring on the ranch. NIDS researchers and investigators confirmed several paranormal occurrences with their equipment, including the multicolored orbs as well as strange, unidentifiable creatures. Interestingly enough, as soon as NIDS took possession of the property, there was a noticeable spike in paranormal activity at the ranch, but it began to subside somewhat around 2002, prompting the organization to make budget cuts and reduce full-time research staff. Around 2007, paranormal activity at Skinwalker Ranch began to surge once again, and scientists continued to research the strange goings-on at the property, but NIDS itself no longer conducts regular or active research at the site.
Today, Skinwalker Ranch has been converted to a private facility, still under the ownership of the National Institute for Discovery Science. The property is fenced in, guarded and under military-style electronic surveillance and visitors are warned that the ranch is considered to be “dangerous” and “unpredictable”. The reports of paranormal activity that have taken place at Skinwalker Ranch have attracted international attention, but at this point the future of the ranch remains unclear. One thing that is for certain is that Skinwalker Ranch will remain a topic of interest and fascination for paranormal enthusiasts all over the world.