March 20, 2016

9 Cryptid Monsters of Arizona (UPDATE: Bigfoot near Prescott?)


Most locals have heard of the Mogollon Monster, but descriptions of exactly what kind of creature it might be has changed over the years. A rash of sightings of a particular type of creature would make that animal a sort of "Mogollon Monster du jour."

As a result, this author will not give the title of "Mogollon Monster" to any of the following six that live in northern Arizona.  Instead, it is hoped that people who might have seen these strange creatures and are afraid of coming forward might learn that they are not alone in their experience.

Some of these monsters are truly bizarre, but every one of them has been seen in other locations on our planet. The first six have all been seen in northern Arizona.


If asked today, most residents would think that the Mogollon Monster is Bigfoot.  However, if one were a purist, the first account of the Mogollon Monster, recorded in the Arizona Republican in 1903, describes something else:

1. Troll
A man "named I.W. Stevens reported seeing the creature near the Grand Canyon. '(It had) long white hair and matted beard that reached to his knees. It wore no clothing, and upon his talon-like fingers were claws at least two inches long.' Upon (closer) inspection, he noted ‘a coat of gray hair nearly covered his body, with here and there a spot of dirty skin showing.' He saw the creature drinking the blood from two felled cougars and when it saw him, it picked up a club and screamed at him." (*1)

Thought by many to be a medieval fairy tale, the Troll has been spotted in european forests for centuries even to this very day.

Perhaps surprisingly, the most recent recorded sighting of a Troll on the Mogollon Rim occurred late in 2013 and was posted by Cryptozoology News: (*2)

A 28-year-old woman believes she came across an unidentified animal...while hiking the Canyon Point trail located in the region of the Mogollon Rim.
Y. Estevez, a sociology student who claims she was alone at the time of the incident, says she saw a “troll” looking creature drinking from a pool of water.
“It was on its knees, drinking water, when I found it. Drinking, making noises like a pig, so at first sight the animal looked like a pig to me."
But upon closer inspection, she saw that "it had long hair, grey and bluish, and I swear it looked like one of those trolls from a fairy tale. Ugly stuff. The face was human looking, no hair on it, but full of bumps. The eyes were kind of a brown-red. Thick big nose, small lips. No expression on its face at all. It then took off running like a person.”

There are some intriguing photos of a troll on the Mogollon Rim that were taken with a wildlife camera. Although these images are copyrighted, the reader can view them on the original website by clicking here (Sorry, copyright owner changed this link to immediately send people to a bunch of annoying ads so I had to take it down.) (*3)


2. Bigfoot
This ADOT photo posted 1/1/2015 shows possible Bigfoots on SR 260.

Evidence and sightings of Bigfoot in Arizona are so frequent, it would take a book to cover them all.  The Bigfoot Research Organization (BFRO) lists at least 32 sightings in Coconino County (*4) and at least 8 reports of Bigfoot in Yavapai County (*5), but these listings are hardly inclusive of them all.

During the 1980's, evidence of a Bigfoot living in Hell Canyon (near Drake, AZ) was reported by some deadwood harvesters.

"We use to cut firewood in the Kiabab National Forest (and) saw many tracks, many times." Additionally, a possible living quarters was discovered. "The site that was most bizarre was (a) cave with a very big tree...covering the entrance." (*6)

"Often, reports of the elusive beast involve a piercing, sometimes deafening scream or howl unlike that produced by any known wildlife. (*7)

"Those who say they've crossed paths with the beast regularly describe an eerie silence prior to their encounter, an appreciable stillness in the woods that commonly surrounds predatory animals. more common are reports of a strong, very foul stench, which has been described as that of dead fish, a skunk with bad body odor, decaying peat moss and—by someone with an exceptionally keen sense of smell, apparently—the musk of a snapping turtle." (*7)


A comprehensive listing of buried treasures, still undiscovered, in Yavapai county, Arizona.


Local Indian legend believes that some Bigfoots leave the Mogollon Rim in the wintertime for the Sierra Prieta mountains of the Prescott National Forest. (*8)

"The Native American people living in (the) area, (particularly) the White Mountain Apache Nation, have had encounters as well. In 2006, Collette Altaha said, 'We’re not prone to easily talk to outsiders, but there have been more sightings than ever before. It cannot be ignored any longer.' Marjorie Grimes, a resident of nearby Whiteriver, said, 'It was all black and it was tall! The way it walked; it was taking big strides. I put on the brakes and raced back and looked between the two trees where it was, and it was gone!' (*1)

"Tribal police lieutenant Ray Burnette said, 'A couple of times they’ve seen this creature looking through (their) windows. They’re scared when they call (us)...They weren’t hallucinating, they weren’t drunks, they weren’t people that we know can make hoax calls. They’re from real citizens of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.'” (*1)

**UPDATE: Bigfoot Near Prescott?

The author, a recreational hiker, never looks for signs of Bigfoot. However, while hiking west of Thumb Butte, he was surprised to find a mysterious "tree-break." 

Many Bigfoot researchers believe these tree-breaks are a sign of Bigfoot's presence and a potential marking of his territory. However, the author readily admits that what he found was "Class C" evidence at best and it would not convince a single skeptic.


The break on the pine pictured was just shy of 8 feet off the ground. Although shadows of other trees are deceiving, no actual logs, rocks, or fallen trees were anywhere near the broken pine to explain how it was snapped.

If this damage were caused by a "micro-burst" or "dust-devil," why wasn't the adjacent tree damaged? It stood only inches away.

Was it a bear? Could be. But why would a bear climb this tree when other, far sturdier ones were right near by?

If this WAS from a Bigfoot, one would expect some other signs--perhaps other tree-breaks. The author started searching and did not find anymore fresh breaks, but he did find what could be old breaks.
Close-up of fresh break.
Author is 6 ft. tall and had to focus straight up.
Potential "old" tree-break?
For the most part, the ground at this location is generally very hard and often shallow. However, in certain places one can easily find the tracks of rabbits, coyotes, deer, javelina, even an occasional mountain lion. This author had never seen a bigfoot track (and perhaps still hasn't,) yet close by the broken pine, he found this impression in the ground:
The toes(?) at the top of the impression measured 6.5 inches wide.
The length "faded-out" onto hard ground, but seemed to be maybe 14-15 inches.
As stated at the outset, there is plenty here for the skeptic to point out. 

In the future, this writer generally will continue to NOT look for Bigfoot, because he does not want to find him. Yet, that eight-foot tall tree break is certainly a curiosity.


3. Giant Jack Rabbit
The Nuralagus Rex was a type of giant prehistoric rabbit.

Now for perhaps the LEAST intimidating monster on the list… The Giant Jack Rabbit!

Perhaps the idea of a giant jack rabbit grazing about northern Arizona forests may seem outlandish, if not humorous, but such an animal undoubtedly did exist, at least in the past.

Archeologists have discovered fossils of "Nuralagus Rex," which could easily be described as a giant jack rabbit, on most of the earth's continents. (*9)

"The 26-pound (12-kilogram) prehistoric species was about six times bigger than the common European rabbit...according to an analysis of several bones." (*9)

As late as 2006, "residents of Felton in northeast England have confirmed that a huge, floppy-eared creature is leaving behind giant paw prints and a trail of destroyed carrots, leeks, onions, and turnips following nighttime raids." (*10)

As far as northern Arizona goes, "author and Bigfoot researcher Mitchell Waite says that his team spotted the giant jack rabbit, but claim that when they attempted to capture it on video, the camera 'malfunctioned' unexpectedly.' (*12)

“'The rabbit was sitting near the water tower,' he said. 'It was watching me, sat on its hind legs with ears up.'

"This lagomorph creature, he claims, has been spotted by 'several witnesses' in the past." (*12)

Could the Nuralagus Rex have continued to survive in the forests of Arizona?


The descriptive story of how the Jerome Grand Hotel is haunted and exactly what kinds of ghosts and spirits exist there.


The Crazy Cave Creatures of Route 66:
The next three monsters on the list are cave-dwellers.  Due to the 600+ known volcanos in northern Arizona, there must be hundreds of square miles of undiscovered caverns, lava tubes, and caves in northern Arizona and the creatures that purportedly live in them are easily the strangest and most bizarre.

Why sightings seem to occur mostly around historic Route 66 may simply be because that's where the humans are present to see them. All of these cave-dwellers are nocturnal and sightings are rare. (*13)

4. The Aswang
Supposed photo of the Aswang in flight.

Near the town of Two Guns, AZ, inside the Apache Death Cave, lives the Aswang--a shapeshifting vampiric creature that was first sighted hundreds of years ago in the Philippines.

It makes a sound like a rattlesnake, has razor sharp claws and sucks unborn fetuses from its prey. It's sometimes been mistaken for the chupacabra, (particularly since it most often shape-shifts into a dog.) However, the Aswang is able to flatten its body like a mouse to get through tight squeezes--perfect for cave dwelling.

Disturbingly, pregnant cows near Two Guns have recently been found dead with their fetus calves missing. (*13)

Artist's Conception of the Aswang
Aswangs are shape-shifters. Stories recount aswangs living as regular townspeople. As regular people, they are quiet, shy and elusive. At night, they transform into creatures such as a cat, bat, bird, boar or most often, a dog.

Reportedly, they enjoy eating unborn fetuses and small children, favoring livers and hearts. Some have long proboscises, which they use to suck the unborn out of their mothers' wombs when they are sleeping in their homes. Some are so thin that they can hide themselves behind a bamboo post.

In late May, 2015, TV5 of the Philippines reported on a rash of Aswang attacks around Cotabato City including this picture of the aftermath of a reported Aswang attack. (*14)

When they aren't shapeshifting, Aswangs are "scrawny, emaciated things with gray and mottled skin, and milk-white eyes that are as cold-looking as they are emotion-free. Sores and boils cover their bodies. They give off a stench of rotting meat." (*15)

"Despite their rotted appearance and odor, the Aswangs are highly athletic, having the ability to run at phenomenal speeds and to leap to heights of around fifteen feet or more, as they pursue their terrified victims." (*14)


5. The Olitiau

Artist's conception of the Olitiau
Although few have heard of the Olitiau, it has been spotted all over the world, including the Amazon rain forest. (*13)

The only known sighting of the Olitiau by a scientist occurred in 1932 by famed explorer and cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson in the Cameroon, Africa rain forests. (*16)

"While exploring a river system in the Assumbo Mountains...Sanderson and his hunting partner Gerald Russell were reportedly attacked by an Olitiau as they were shooting smaller bats along a stream." (*16)

Described as a giant avian creature with a wingspan between 10 to 12 feet in length, this "king of the bats" is reportedly most active in the twilight hours and lives in caves and volcanic lava-tubes. (*13)

In northern Arizona, this fearsome killer purportedly lives in the lava-tubes surrounding Humphrey's Peak near Flagstaff. (*13)

One recent witness named Angela saw the Olitiau while driving through Oak Creek Canyon on State Route 89A.  When the beast noticed her, it took off into the air and disappeared. (*13)

Another recent witness is a veterinary assistant named Addison who described a local pet that was brought in. It  looked like it had been dropped from several hundred feet far away from any heights. (*13) Could it have been dropped by an Olitiau? What could have caused such a situation?


6. The Rake

Making its home in the Grand Canyon Caverns near Peach Springs, AZ, The Rake is a nocturnal, 9 foot tall flesh-eater. Its claws are supposed to be as long as a human's fingers! It is a deadly, pale, human-like monster that gives off a high pitched scream. (*13)

"Sightings and encounters with the Rake have allegedly been reported since the 1800's. Several diary and journal entries have been found which documented the horrifying attacks of the creature. At least one person who committed suicide in the 1960s left a suicide note that mentioned the monster." (*17)

One of the stranger characteristics of this creature is its ability to shut-off electricity. Peach Springs has suffered such strange power outages recently even when the weather was calm. A bar owner named Brian related that he closed his bar early at 2 am due to a strange power outage. Hearing a commotion near the garbage, Brian looked over and was surprised to see a grayish humanoid figure that he described as definitely "not human". (*13)

A former gravedigger named Jeremie related seeing a gray-white humanoid figure dart by as he was working at his old job at he Peach Springs Cemetery.  (*13)

One can rent the Grand Canyon Caverns for the night.  There are hotel accommodations located in the cave if one dares. (See tourist tips, below.)


3 Monsters of Southern Arizona:

7. The Thunderbird
This large winged creature was killed near Tombstone in April of 1890.


Petroglyph near Wapatuki showing large bird with a human in its beak.
Notice the similarities of the beak between this petroglyph and the photo above.

8. The Reptoid
In early February, 2014, a group of 3 bikers saw a reptilian humanoid in the Sonoran Desert. "It's about 6-foot tall, very very skinny, and it had an awkward gait, like a monkey," one witness said. (*17)

"He stopped and it made eye contact with me and I could see him clearly. The eyes were kind of like a snake's, but black and with a yellow stripe in the middle of the eye. It had green and red scales on the face and head. The red color was kind of like the same as the desert sand there, and it looked like it had a sandy texture too. It didn't have a nose, only two holes on it. I couldn't see any ears or hair. A red mouth that looked like it had blood around it, but it didn't look like it was bleeding, it looked like a pattern. It reminded me of a chameleon, but it looked like a person too." (*17)

The creature raised its "long arms with strange looking claws that looked like a branch full of thorns" and waved at them, emitting a loud chattering sound with its teeth. Then it rapidly ran away," leaving the trio in shock. (*17)


9. The Chupacabra:

Supposed Chupacabra attacking a deer cam
One of the first reported sightings of a Chupacabra happened in Tucson. "Two men were roused out of bed by the loud shrieking of their goats. When they went to check and see what all the commotion was about, they saw a weird looking beast on top of one of the goats. This dog-like creature looked at them an unleashed an eerie screech and then scampered off." In 2003, there was a second Tucson sighting similar to the first.  (*19)

There are many legends in Indian lore of strange creatures living in Arizona, one wonders how many could be true.



Tourist Tips:

If the specter of The Rake living deep inside the Grand Canyon Caverns isn't scary enough, the location is also thought to be haunted by ghosts! 
CLICK HERE for the Grand Canyon Caverns website



One of the best and most scenic stretches of historic Route 66 exists in Arizona.  CLICK HERE for information on Route 66 in Arizona




SOURCES:
(*3) http://www.mogollonmonster.com/photo_gallery_3
(*13) Some background information was obtained from the television show "Monsters Underground" broadcast on the Destination America channel and starring Bill Brock. Destination America no longer shows anything on its website for this show. (Perhaps it's available on a streaming service or DVD?)

#PrescottAZHistory

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ALSO BY: Drew Desmond: