Sometimes the scariest monsters lurk in the most unlikely places. While Utah is known for its family-friendly and healthy appeal, you might be surprised to learn that it is also home to formidable monsters. (No, Utah pilots don’t count.)
From sea creatures and giant bears to demons and ghosts, these spooky stories just might keep you awake at night. Some of these monsters are real and some are just legends, but you’ll have to decide which is which!
The Bear Lake Monster
The most famous monster on the list is the elusive Bear Lake Monster – or monsters (plural) as some stories claim. An 1868 Deseret News article reported “a strange snake-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake that would wash people away while swimming.” It was said to have the body of a snake and was at least 50 feet long.
While most people probably dismissed the story as a myth, a 2017 report of “a mysterious creature found at Bear Lake” reignited some of the rumors.
The legend of the skinwalkers on Sherman Ranch will surely have you crawling. According to an article published by Legends of America, “The Skinwalker is an evil shifter witch of the Navajo people, whom the Ute people take very seriously.”
The article continues: “According to reports, skinwalkers have been seen in the area by the Ute on several occasions. … One account described them as looking like humans with dog’s heads smoking cigarettes. Another described them as large black hairy humanoid figures who were very fast. . They are also described as having unusually large “charcoal red” eyes. Others said they saw and took photos of very large traces that the skin walkers would leave. “
True or false? If you’re brave enough to venture into the Utah backcountry, you might find it out for yourself.
It sounds like something out of a children’s fairy tale, but reports of a monstrous grizzly bear killing sheep in Utah appear to be true. Until his death in 1922, Old Ephraim was famous for killing sheep and terrorizing cattle owners in Logan Canyon. Before being loaned to Utah State University, the bear skull was on display at the Smithsonian Institute until 1978.
The Tomb Raider John the Baptist
In 1862, John the Baptist was arrested for stealing shoes, clothing, and personal effects from around 300 graves. When the locals learned of the crime, they were disgusted and outraged. (Imagine learning that your loved one’s clothes were taken straight from their coffin!) Because mobs threatened to kill Baptiste, Utah.gov reports that local authorities had him banned to Antelope Island and then to the island more far from Fremont.
Now here’s the crazy part. Three weeks later, when cattle ranchers came to the island to check on their animals, they discovered that a heifer had been killed and its hide had been tanned for leather. In addition, a ranch was missing a few pieces of wood. Jean Baptiste ? He was nowhere to be found. Legend has it that his ghost still haunts the south shore of Grand Lac Salé.
The Beast 666
In the Salt Lake City cemetery is the mysterious tombstone of Lilly E. Gray, who died on November 14, 1958. Her name reads the inscription: “Victim of the Beast, 666.” While no one is sure who the “Beast, 666” is, some have speculated that her husband was referring to the government – of which he was greatly suspicious.
Flo the ghost
Speaking of cemeteries, here is a spooky experience you can try at Ogden City Cemetery. The ghost of 15-year-old Florence Grange (aka “Flo”) is believed to have died in 1918, either choking on a candy or being hit by a car, although the most likely culprit was the Spanish flu. Her ghost would still haunt the graveyard – and you can see her if you want to.
According to Only in Your State, “If you approach her grave in your car and flash your lights, Flo will appear and walk towards your car … disappearing before she reaches it.”
UFO over the western desert and other places
The mysterious appearance of a monolith last year was not Utah’s first encounter with unexplained objects. Several people claim to have spotted UFOs over the western desert, including a former policeman from the Goshute reservation.
According to Utah Stories, the officer “watched a flying saucer travel down a desolate road in the western desert. After projecting a light beam at the UFO, the UFO reacted by accelerating and overhead. a mountain range until it was out of sight. in seconds – moving faster than any current aircraft could travel. Later, two fighter jets followed the saucer’s flight path flying. “
Apparently Bigfoot is a huge fan of Beehive State, as several people have claimed to have spotted the famous hairy human-like creature here. Videos have surfaced on YouTube of sightings in Provo Canyon and more recently in American Fork Canyon. With all the time spent in Utah County, maybe Bigfoot is actually a cougar after all.
The murderer of Pelican Point
“Pelican Point butcher shop, most vile on record” was the headline of the news from Provo’s Evening Dispatch on April 22, 1895, according to KSL. February of this year was the last time the hands of the ranch and cousins Albert Enstrom, Andrew Johnson and Alfred Nelson were seen alive on the ranch property. After mysteriously disappearing, the bodies of the boys washed up on the shore in April – each with a gunshot wound to the head.
While Enstrom’s stepfather Harry Hayes was the prime suspect and sentenced to hang, there was ultimately not enough evidence to convict him. After spending four years in prison, Hayes was finally pardoned.
To this day, no one knows who the real murderer was.
Are you still scared?
Whether real or fictional, each of these stories proves that Utah may not be as tame as you think. And if you’re heading to cemeteries, lakes, or mountains, be sure to bring your camera just in case.