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Three books take on the high weirdness at Utah's mysterious Skinwalker Ranch
Is Utah's Skinwalker Ranch the weirdest and scariest place on Earth?
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Hunt for the Skinwalker by Colm A. Kelleher and George Knapp (Paraview Pocket Books) 2005

Lost on Skinwalker Ranch: The True Story of a Property Guard and His Encounter With the Paranormal by Erick T. Rhetts (CreateSpace) 2014

Skinwalker Ranch: No Trespassing by Ryan Skinner and D.L. Wallace (CreateSpace) 2014

I first heard about the bizarre activities and mysteries at Utah’s so-called Skinwalker Ranch nearly a decade ago, back when I had time to listen to the late night radio show Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, which reports on all things paranormal and unusual, from ghosts and Bigfoot to UFOs and remote viewing.

But this seemingly normal cattle ranch in a remote area of northeastern Utah seemed to overshadow all of the other programs. The story told to Noory and his listeners by research scientist Colm Kelleher and Las Vegas TV reporter George Knapp was extraordinary. Tales of a simple ranching family called “Gorman” (actually it is “Sherman”) were terrorized by wolf-like creatures, strange orbs and even “unworldly” orange structures in the sky that seemed to show a “portal” leading to another dimension. The family patriarch noted once seeing a triangular object actually fly through the orange portal.

And then there were all the cattle that were mutilated. The rancher’s dogs follow a blue orb over a nearby hill and when he goes to investigate, he finds a greasy, burned spot where the dogs had been. They had been apparently incinerated.

This family put up with high weirdness for several years in the 1990’s, until a Las Vegas secretive billionaire named Robert Bigelow bought the ranch off the family – cheap.

What I learned then is basically what Kelleher and Knapp shared in their fascinating book Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah, released a decade ago. And while a lot of time has passed since its release, the mystery remains. As for what a “Skinwalker” is, the authors say that the local Ute Native Americans say the area where the ranch is located is part of the “path of the Skinwalker.” This entity is said to be a “malevolent witch capable of being transformed into a wolf, coyote, bear, bird, or any other animal.” It goes on to say that the Skinwalker will inherit the speed, strength, or cunning of the animal whose shape it has taken.”

Kelleher (who was with the Bigelow-run-but-now-defunct National Institute for Discovery Science – NIDS - in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s) and Knapp give the reader the background on the Skinwalker Ranch and then go into the NIDS-led investigation on the ranch. One of the freakiest things that confronted two of the NIDS researchers during the summer of 1997 was a “tunnel” appeared on the ranch property and one of the investigators saw a “black creature” climb out of the “tunnel” and disappear.

And that’s just a small portion of the scary and shocking things that take place on the ranch property while the family and the NIDS team was there. One thing I should note that while people may be "scared to death" at this ranch, only animals have really been injured or killed. 

Hunt for the Skinwalker is a real page-turner!


The next Skinwalker-related book we checked out was Erick T. Rhetts’s Lost on Skinwalker Ranch, about a Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies-hired security guard in Las Vegas who only goes by the name “Riley.” This guard ran into the author, Erick T. Rhetts (also a pseudonym) who shares Riley’s tale, written in a conversational tone.

Riley knew little about the history of Sherman Ranch (aka “Skinwalker Ranch”), before taking the job out in Utah, or the “ghost stories” connected to the ranch and pursued by “UFO types.” He didn’t give it much thought at all, even after he arrived. But when he would do nightly rounds to keep trespassers off the property, he carried a digital camera, just in case something happened.

Strange “drumming” could be heard at night. Orbs flew around, their origin unknown. Strange smells, like a “wet dog.”

A bit spooky, but it wasn’t until Riley returned to Vegas, to stay with his parents while on a break. Stopping in a local sports bar, Riley is approached (or “targeted”) by a strange “Indian” who wears clothes and carries currency from another era. The mysterious figure is cryptic and then offers Riley a chance to access “treasure,” allegedly a tactic used by the Skinwalker to lure the unwary to their doom.

And before Riley and the “Indian” part ways, he promises to meet with him in 15 days. It’s days later, while pursuing a strange creature on the property, he enters an abandoned homestead on the property, only to somehow be transported through a portal into some other amber-tinted “realm.” Riley would be gone from this plane for 80 hours before being found. His account of his experience in that place, wherever it was, is absolutely chilling.

Clearly, the experiences Riley has while working as a security guard at Skinwalker cause Riley to reexamine his own life, before leaving the U.S. all together.


Of all of three books I read on Skinwalker Ranch, the best one combining a historical overview of the area, its connection to Native Americans and all of the weird stuff is Ryan Skinner and D.L. Wallace’s Skinwalker Ranch: No Trespassing, released in 2014.

Broken up into four “books,” this one contains many first person accounts and narratives from people who sneaked onto the ranch property, some of whom had horrifying encounters with the unknown.

Some claimed that "aliens" abducted them and inserted strange things in their nasal cavity. And that's just a little of the sort of information the authors give readers. 

The most interesting account in this book doesn’t even take place at Skinwalker Ranch. Rather, Skinner and Wallace share “Slim’s story” of high weirdness as experienced at the Tyler County Airport in Woodville, Texas, which also happens to be located on the 94 degrees west longitude, which we have written about here.

Slim’s experiences with orbs, strange creatures, inanimate objects “moving around,”semi-invisible people, and UFOs, mirror a lot of what happens back in Utah at Skinwalker Ranch. 

But it is safe to say that Skinwalker Ranch near Vernal, Utah is one of the weirdest places on Earth! If you want a good scare and be left scratching your head, check out these three books on the notorious Skinwalker Ranch.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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