When you think of Utah, usually Mormons and lakes rich in sodium come to mind first. However, the numerous urban legends and ghost stories about the Beehive state suggest there's more going on than just religion and salt water. Tales of Satanists and mysterious women lurking in cemeteries all appear in the popular lore handed down in Utah. Even more ancient Native American oral traditions tell of serpent-like creatures that haunt Bear Lake, while the Great Salt Lake hosts a dead grave digger on its shores. With its wide range of strange phenomena, creepy Utah boasts more scary occurrences than a Twilight Zone marathon.
From skinwalkers and UFO sightings to killer semi-trucks and teenagers cooking themselves in tanning beds, Utah hosts an abundance of both strange and eerie urban legends to make you think twice about stepping foot within its state lines. Though one of the lesser populated states, Utah's urban legends nonetheless cover so many scary stories that the entire country can find something to make their skin crawl. Read up on some of these stories that have been told over roaring campfires in creepy Utah for decades, becoming as much part of the state as its sites.
The Voodoo CavesPhoto: WIkimedia Commons
Located in the Beaver Dam Mountains is a pipe known as the Voodoo Caves. According to local lore, practitioners of dark magic performed countless rituals inside the pipe, leaving behind an evil residual energy that curses or takes the lives of those who enter.
It’s believed if anyone within the "cave" denounces Satan, or makes any disparaging remarks about the entity that lurks there, they will find themselves trapped inside by rising water. The malevolent force received blame for the death of a worker who went inside the underground pipe to remove a clog when he got pinned down and drowned.
The Legend Of Lillian GrayPhoto: Unembodied.com
In the middle of Salt Lake City Cemetery sits a gravestone reading: Lilly E. Gray, June 6, 1881-Nov. 14, 1958, accompanied by the very ominous phrase, "Victim of the Beast 666," a pretty heavy statement for a headstone. The legend of Lillian Gray is more of a mystery than anything. No ghosts or definite history exists to provide real insight to her character, just a mysterious headstone without a clue as to what the inscription means or how it applies to the woman who lies beneath it.
The only clues are that Lilly E. Gray died of natural causes, her death certificate detailing 'pulmonary embolus, renal insufficiency, and nephrotic syndrome' as the cause of death. She was from Canada and was survived by her husband Elmer L. Gray, who some speculate was the one who wrote the phrase on her grave as a form of protest against the government. Getting answers from her husband failed, as he was erratic, paranoid, and very anti-government. He allegedly blamed police and kidnappers for her death.
Gray remains an enigma and her headstone forms the source of wild tales of her being a sacrifice to Satan, or that she herself was a Satanist. Some have speculated that she was another innocent woman accused of witchcraft. Another theory, because Utah is clearly full of ominous places, proposes she died on highway 666, one of the country's most infamously dangerous freeways.
Escalante Petrified Forest
According to legend, if you take a piece of petrified wood out of the Escalante Petrified Forest, you fall victim to an ancient curse. Annually, dozens of people dismiss this as nonsense and take their keepsakes home only to immediately suffer a string of bad luck. Officials at the state park confirmed they receive chunks of wood with tons of letters in the mail apologizing for ignoring the warnings and recounting all the horrible things that happened since they left the park.
Visitors reported experiencing everything from losing their jobs to car accidents, among other various injuries and mishaps. Whether the curse is real or simply guilt and clumsiness is up for debate. What is known is that, curse or no curse, removing anything from a state park is against the law, but luckily this park appears to get its stolen bits sent back.
Skinwalker RanchPhoto: Daniel on Film
The Sherman Ranch in Ballard, Utah, is better known to locals and paranormal investigators as the Skinwalker Ranch or the UFO Ranch. If it wasn't clear, the name comes from the alarming number of alleged skinwalker sightings and reports of paranormal and UFO-related phenomena.
The 40-acre ranch borders the Ute Indian Reservation and has a history of mutilated cattle, spirit orbs, unidentified objects hovering in the sky, and what’s been described as a large, red-eyed beast similar to the Native American depictions of skinwalkers – half human, half animal monstrosities. Other sightings included the spirit of a little girl, what appears to be a shaman, a black, sentient mist, and a swirling mass of electromagnetic energy that doesn't signal anything good at all. If you decide to make a trip to Utah, this may be a place to avoid.