Sometimes the scariest monsters lurk in the most unlikely of places. While Utah is known for its family-friendly, wholesome appeal, you might be surprised to learn that it's also home to some formidable monsters. (No, Utah drivers don't count.)
From sea creatures and giant bears to demons and ghosts, these creepy stories might just keep you up at night. Some of these monsters are real and others are only 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 on "a strange, serpent-like creature inhabiting the waters of Bear Lake that would carry people away as they swam. It supposedly had the body of a serpent and was at least 50 feet long.
Though most people probably dismissed the story as myth, a 2017 report of "a mysterious creature discovered at Bear Lake" revived some of the rumors.
The legend of the skinwalkers on Sherman Ranch will surely make your skin crawl. According to an article published by Legends of America, "The Skinwalker is a malevolent shapeshifting witch of the Navajo people, which the Ute people take very seriously."
The article continues, "According to reports, skinwalkers have been seen in the area by the Ute numerous times. … One account described them as looking like humans with dog heads smoking cigarettes. Another described them as large black hairy humanoid figures that were very fast. They are also described as having unusually large 'coal red' eyes. Others have said they have seen and taken pictures of very large tracks, which skinwalkers are said to leave."
Real or fake? If you're brave enough to venture out to Utah's backcountry you might find out for yourself.
It sounds like something worthy of a cautionary children's fairytale, but reports of a monstrous sheep-killing grizzly bear in Utah appear to be true. Until he was killed in 1922, Old Ephraim was famous for killing sheep and terrorizing livestock owners in Logan Canyon. Before being loaned to Utah State University, the bear's skull was on display at the Smithsonian Institute until 1978.
Grave robber Jean Baptiste
In 1862, Jean Baptiste was arrested for robbing shoes, clothes, and personal belongings from roughly 300 graves. When residents learned of the crime, they were disgusted and outraged. (Imagine learning that your loved one's clothes had been removed straight from their coffin!) Because mobs threatened to kill Baptiste, Utah.gov reports that local authorities had him banished to Antelope Island and then the more remote Fremont Island.
Now here's the crazy part. Three weeks later, when cattle herders came to the island to check on their animals, they found that a heifer had been killed and its hide tanned for leather. What's more, a ranch house was missing a few pieces of wood. Jean Baptiste? He was nowhere to be found. Legend says his ghost still haunts the southern shore of the Great Salt Lake.
The Beast 666
In the Salt Lake City Cemetery, there lies the mysterious gravestone of Lilly E. Gray, who died on Nov. 14, 1958. Underneath her name reads the inscription: "Victim of the Beast, 666." While no one knows for sure what or who the "Beast, 666" is, some have speculated that her husband was referring to the government — which he greatly distrusted.
Flo the ghost
Speaking of cemeteries, here's a spooky experiment you can try at the Ogden City Cemetery. The ghost of 15-year-old Florence Grange (aka "Flo") is said to have died in 1918 from either choking on a piece of candy or being hit by a car, though the most likely culprit was the Spanish Flu. Her ghost allegedly still haunts the cemetery — and you can see her if you want.
According to Only in Your State, "If you approach her gravesite in your car and flash your lights, Flo will appear and walk toward your car...vanishing before she reaches it."
UFOs over the west desert and other places
Last year's mysterious monolith appearance wasn't Utah's first encounter with unexplained objects. Several people claim to have spotted UFOs over the west desert, including a former police officer on the Goshute Reservation.
According to Utah Stories, the officer "watched a flying saucer travel while on a desolate road in the west desert. After he flashed a light beam onto the UFO, the UFO reacted by speeding up and over a mountain range until it was out of sight in seconds – moving faster than any current plane could travel. Later, two fighter jets followed the flying saucer's flight path."
Apparently, Bigfoot is a big fan of the Beehive State because multiple people have claimed to spot 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 Pelican Point murderer
"The Pelican Point Butchery the Most Foul on Record" was the breaking news headline of Provo's Evening Dispatch on April 22, 1895, according to KSL. February of that year was the last time ranch hands and cousins Albert Enstrom, Andrew Johnson and Alfred Nelson were seen alive on the ranch property. After mysteriously disappearing, the boys' bodies washed ashore in April — each with a bullet wound to the head.
While Enstrom's stepfather, Harry Hayes, was the prime suspect and sentenced to hang, there ultimately wasn't enough evidence to convict him. After spending four years in prison, Hayes was eventually pardoned.
To this day, no one knows who the real murderer was.
Are you scared yet?
Whether fact or fiction, each of these stories proves that Utah might not be as tame as you think. And if you're headed to any cemeteries, lakes, or mountains, be sure to bring your camera just in case.