New Mexico has more than its fair share of the wacky and weird. Whether it’s strange phenomena, creepy creatures, aliens, or urban legends, we’ve got them. Can you find the answers behind our Top 10 list of unsolved mysteries? Make it a fact-finding family vacation. Check out each enigma by visiting the museums, talking to locals and eyewitnesses, and investigating at the sites of the state’s legendary curiosities.
1. Roswell UFO Crash: Roswell has been looking for answers since something large, round and made of a metallic substance crashed in the desert outside of town on July 2, 1947. The government initially notified the press that a "flying disc" crashed there, but soon corrected the story to say the debris was from a weather balloon. We may never know what really crashed there, but its still a topic of vehement debate today. Learn more about the infamous crash with a visit to the International UFO Museum and Research Center.
2. Geronimo's Skull: Some say Yale University’s Skull and Bones Society stole Geronimo’s skull from the Apache chief’s grave at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and are currently housing it in their New Haven, Connecticut lair. One of Geronimo’s grandsons, Harlyn Geronimo, filed a lawsuit in 2009 demanding the bones be returned to their rightful resting place in New Mexico. Does the secret society really possess Geronimo’s skull? Only Geronimo’s spirit may ever know. Visit the Gila Cliff Dwelling National Monument, north of Silver City on N.M. 15, where a plaque at the Gila Visitor Center commemorates Geronimo’s life.
3. Taos Hum: A small number of Taos residents claim to be plagued by a weird phenomenon — a relentless humming noise that has been compared to a “diesel engine idling in the distance.” Known as the Taos Hum, the unusual sound has foiled investigators from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Phillips Laboratory at Albuquerque’s Kirtland Air Force Base who have been unable to identify its cause even today. Can you hear the hum in Taos?
4. La Llorona (pronounced "LAH yoh ROH nah”): La Llorona, or “the weeping woman” is a restless soul said to wander rivers and arroyos. In different versions of the tale, which are told throughout New Mexico, Mexico and Latin America, she may have been a young mother who kills her children to be with her lover. In other tales, she is a poor girl who kills her children when her wealthy lover won’t marry her. In every telling, she regrets her actions, kills herself, and spends the rest of her ghostly days wandering the waterways in search of her, or any stray, children. Just who is La Llorona, and does she really exist? Listen at night for her mournful cries along the rivers in Northern New Mexico.
5. Chupacabra: What do you get when you cross a vampire with an alien, a coyote and a kangaroo? A chupacabra. The “goat-sucker” (literal translation) monster reportedly drinks the blood of livestock. Its mark is puncture wounds in the animal’s necks. Newspaper reports dating to the 1950s suggest the four-foot-tall cryptid was sighted and preying throughout the Americas. Is the chupacabra real or just an urban legend? Chances are the chupacabra is roaming New Mexico. In 2005, several Albuquerque West Mesa residents described finding the corpse of a lizard-like beast with colorful spines. A speedy, winged creature was also spotted near Alamogordo.
6. Aliens in Dulce: Are extra-terrestrials infesting the caverns below Archuleta Mesa, outside Dulce in northwestern New Mexico? An ex-government engineer who claims he survived a 1979 firefight between aliens and the military there claims it's true. Other sources describe an underground laboratory, jointly run by alien species and the U.S. government, that harnesses magnetic energy and breeds alien/human super-species. We may never know what really exists there.
7. Aliens in Aztec: In March 1948, a flying saucer may have crashed in Hart Canyon northeast of Aztec. Witnesses reported finding a large, superbly crafted disc, and discovering 14 to 16 (depending on whom you ask) charred, small humanoid corpses from the wreckage. The government dispatched a team of scientists to recover the bodies and investigate them. Of course, the scientists were sworn to secrecy, so their findings still remain unknown today.
8. Sasquatch: Some may josh about encountering Big Foot, the Yeti or Sasquatch. But no matter what you call the beast, some Jemez Springs residents gossip about seeing the animal around the Valles Caldera National Preserve. According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Association, there have been 24 such sightings in New Mexico. Were they Sasquatch? Bears on two legs? Really hairy hippies? Come to New Mexico and try to spot the shaggy beast.
9. Teratorns: Are prehistoric birds known as teratorns winging their way around Las Cruces? Witnesses have reported seeing the monstrous birds as far back as the 1800s and have seen these raptors with twenty-foot wingspans them as recently as a couple years ago. While some scoff at the rumors, cryptozoologists believe the creatures are prehistoric birds that have survived in modern times. What do you think? Look in the skies of Las Cruces to see if you can find the ancient bird.
10. Paranormal Hauntings: With New Mexico’s history dating back thousands of years, there’s no wonder why tales of ghosts and specters abound. From Civil War battlefields to the New Mexico State Penitentiary, the Southwest Ghost Hunter’s Association has investigated paranormal activities around the state. Discover their secrets and encounter the apparitions of New Mexico.