It’s 1994. The Sherman family just moved onto a 480-acre ranch, excited to call this place home. Two short years later, however, the family sells the ranch to Robert T. Bigelow for $200,000. The family was barely there long enough to truly settle in, but in those two years the family had experienced enough on the ranch to earn its name: Skinwalker Ranch.
It’s odd to think a successful hotelier would be eager to buy a 480-acre ranch seemingly on a whim, especially when the family claims to have seen UFO’s the size of football fields, seven foot tall creatures, floating balls of light, and their cattle and dogs mutilated. In fact, it’s those reasons exactly that made Bigelow purchase the ranch. Interested in paranormal and unexplained phenomenon, Bigelow founded the National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) just the year before.
The ranch is in Uintah County, Utah and is well-known by locals for its UFO and paranormal activity. A local high school teacher in the area Joseph Hicks claims at least half of the locals have seen something explainable, whether on the ranch or near it. Articles and sightings make the happenings seem like they occur so often, the locals aren’t bothered by them anymore. Then again, to say that would be disregarding these truly bizarre occurrences, because what has taken place on Skinwalker Ranch is baffling.
Colm Kelleher was hired by NIDS to research the area, to hopefully provide some kind of scientific explanation to all this. Kelleher has always been fascinated in the extraterrestrial and paranormal. It’s not his doubt or cynicism that made him accept the job, it was his fascination that lead him to live on Skinwalker Ranch part time.
Eventually Kelleher wrote a book with award-winning journalist George Knapp about this very ranch. Knapp spent his own time there as well. In 2002 he wrote about his experience as being bait for anything strage in the middle of the night. He describes having a camera, night vision goggles, and more high-tech stuff strapped to him as he waited for anything to happen. He writes that when the Sherman family first moved to the ranch, they found all the doors and cabinets had dead bolts and heavy chains on them. The doors especially had dead bolts on both sides. They figured the previous owners had large dogs and they needed extra protection.
He writes about the family’s first sighting of a wolf on the property:
“On the day the Gormans moved their furnishings onto the property, they had their first foreshadowing of the events that would follow. They spotted an extremely large wolf out in the pasture. The wolf cautiously made its way across the field, and, to the surprise of everyone, sidled up to the family, acting like it was a familiar pet. It had rained that day, and the family remembers the wolf smelled like a wet dog as they were petting it.
After a few minutes, the wolf strolled over to the corral and grabbed a calf by its snout, attempting to pull it through the corral bars. Gorman and his father began beating on the wolf's back with sticks but it wouldn't release the calf. Gorman grabbed a .357 Magnum from his truck and shot the wolf at point-blank range. The slug had no noticeable effect.
Gorman pumped another bullet into the wolf, which then let go of the calf but stood looking at the family as if nothing had happened. Gorman shot it two more times with the powerful handgun. The big animal backed off a bit, but showed no signs of distress, not even any blood.”
While Kelleher was at the ranch, they found an empty calf carcass devoid of even one drop of blood. 45 minutes earlier the rancher tagged the animal, and now here it lay empty and dry. The discovery was as staggering as it was bewildering. Kelleher also describes seeing animals with yellow eyes during his time there.
The Ute Indian Tribe nearby calls the land Path of the Skinwalker. No one from the tribe dares set foot on the ranch because of what Navajo folklore has taught them. Skinwalkers are cursed Navajos. The creatures are able to shapeshift into other animals, sometimes even other people. If one locks eyes with a Skinwalker, the creature can inhabit the person’s actions. The creature can also turn the powdered remains of an individual into poison, killing anyone who breathes it in.
Travelers in the area share anecdotes of driving along the highway at 60 mph when they hear a tapping on their window. When they look over they see a wolf-like creature staring in at them. When they slam on their brakes, the creature is gone.
In Navajo folklore, Skinwalkers are as feared as witches. They are seen as evil, manipulating the medical practices of tribe healers. Healers learn both the good and evil sides of their practice, in order to know best how to prevent the evil, though not everyone is able to resist the dark.
The Sherman’s time at Skinwalker Ranch resulted in crop circles, disembodied, foreign voices, the night sky lighting up like a football stadium, an invisible force rushing into one visitor and roaring, missing dogs, flying balls of light, mutilated cattle, and huge wolves roaming the fields.
Kelleher’s own experiences aren’t much different. Despite all he encountered, he wasn’t able to use most of it for any scientific study or purpose. He couldn’t find provable explanations, no hard answers. By 2000, the paranormal occurrences at Skinwalker Ranch began to decrease, until in 2004 with NIDS disbanded. He doesn’t believe the research is invaluable, however. He believes his research will someday lead to basic scientific discoveries, adding, "One hundred years ago meteors were not considered real in science. They were figments of imagination, hallucinations. That's the way science progresses."
Perhaps the land at Skinwalker Ranch will reignite with new paranormal happenings. There will be more to study, more to research, more to learn. There will also be more questions, more unexplained occurrences, and maybe even more Skinwalkers.