Located in the Uintah Basin in northeast Utah, the Skinwalker Ranch, also known as Sherman Ranch and the UFO Ranch, is filled with myths and mysteries, including UFOs, aliens, cattle mutilations, crop circles, and Navajo witches called Skinwalkers. The 480-acre ranch is located about 3.5 miles southwest of Fort Duchesne, Utah and borders the Ute Indian reservation.
The Uintah Valley Reservation was created for the Ute in October 1861 by an executive order of President Abraham Lincoln. The Uncompahgre Reservation (commonly called the Ouray Reservation) was created in January 1882, and in 1886 the two reservations were merged to become the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. For more than 150 years, the Ute have lived here on the reservation that covers over 4.5 million acres.
The Indians have long said that the bordering ranch is “on the path of the skinwalker” and for that reason, have long been forbidden to go near the property. The Skinwalker is a malevolent shape shifting witch of the Navajo people, which the Ute people take very seriously.
Before the Ute moved to the reservation, they were a fierce and warlike people, who lived primarily in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. At one time, the Ute and Navajo fought together against their common enemies. However, later when the Ute first acquired horses from the Spanish, they began to abduct Navajo people and sold them in New Mexico slave markets.
Later, during the Civil War, some Ute bands took joined with Kit Carson in a military campaign against the Navajo. This ended in the Navajo being expelled from their lands and forced to march to a reservation in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, called the Long Walk of the Navajo. Though the tribe was allowed to return to their homelands in the Four corners area several years later, the Ute believe that the Navajo put a curse on the Ute tribe for their previous transgressions. Afterward, the skinwalkers began to plague the Ute people.
The Ute believe the skinwalker presence in the Uintah Basin extends back at least 15 generations. They don’t believe that the skinwalkers live on the ranch, but rather hide out in a place called Dark Canyon, which is located nearby.
According to reports, skinwalkers have been seen in the area by the Ute numerous times. The witches have been spied near the ranch, on the road to Fort Duchesne, and on various areas of the reservation. One account described them as looking like humans with dog heads smoking cigarettes. Another described them as large black hairy humanoid figures that were very fast. They are also described as having unusually large “coal red” eyes. Other have said they have seen and taken pictures of very large tracks, which skinwalkers are said to leave.
The ranch, which takes its name from these shapeshifting witches, was first homesteaded by the Myers family in 1905 and first consisted of a few small buildings on the northwest corner of the ranch at the foot of Skinwalker Ridge. Later, the original homestead was abandoned and the Myers established a new home on the eastern side of the ranch. By the 1930s it was occupied by Kenneth John Myers and his wife Edith Child Myers. They stayed on the property until 1987. During their occupancy, they made no reports of any strange occurrences, though some of their neighbors did.
In the meantime, other unusual events began to occur in the Uintah Basin in the 1950s – numerous reports of unidentified flying objects (UFO’s). This continued throughout the next several decades. Interestingly, these were not the first reports of strange aircraft in the sky. The earliest mention dates from the late 1700s when Spanish explorers in search of the Spanish Trail passed through the Uintah Basin and reported seeing craft in the sky over their campfires at night.
The UFO reports, numbered in the hundreds, included strange fireballs, and aircraft that ranged in size from 20-30 feet across to as large as the size of a football field. They were described variously as round, oval, cigar-shaped, and triangular. Some were surrounded by a glowing green light, others emitted wavy red beams, and others appeared to shoot colored lights from their underbellies. By the 1970s the Utah Highway Patrol was getting so many UFO calls that the troopers stopped filling out incident reports. At the same time, local ranchers also began to report bizarre cattle mutilations.
A retired science teacher named Joseph “Junior” Hicks from Roosevelt, Utah, investigated more than 400 UFO sightings in the Uintah Basin. He found that the UFO appearances often coincided with the cattle mutilations. Over the years, many of the eyewitnesses saw living beings in the windows or portholes of UFOs.
After the Myers vacated the ranch in 1987, it stood empty for seven years before it was purchased by Terry and Gwen Sherman in 1994. The couple moved in with their two children and livestock. They were surprised to find that the previous owners had placed deadbolt locks on all the doors and windows, including those inside the house. Some these had deadbolts on both the inside and the outside of the house. Even the kitchen cabinets had bolts on them. And at both ends of the house, iron stakes and heavy chains had been installed, which Sherman guessed were used by the previous tenants for large guard dogs.
The very day they took possession, the family spotted a large coyote or a wolf in one of their pastures which soon approached, making its way to a livestock pen. It then grabbed a calf by the nose, trying to drag it through the corral bars. Terry Sherman and his father then began to beat the animal to make it release the calf but were unsuccessful. When that failed, Sherman shot the animal with a .357 magnum at point-blank range, but still, the wolf held onto the calf. After another shot, it released the calf and just stood there calmly looking at the men. After a few more shots, the animal trotted off. Amazingly, there was no blood or sign of injury in the animal. The men then followed the tracks of the animal for about a mile, before they suddenly ended, as if it had simply vanished. This was just the first foreshadowing of the events that would follow.
A few weeks later, when Gwen Sherman was in her car, encountered a wolf that was so large, its back was parallel with the top of her window. The large wolf was accompanied by a dog-like animal that she couldn’t identify.
Over the next two years, the Shermans, as well as their neighbors, reported seeing a number of strange animals in the area. These included exotic, multicolored birds not native to the region and tall dark beasts that resembled a Bigfoot or Sasquatch.
On one occasion, the Shermans saw a strange hyena-like creature attacking one of their horses, which they described as “low to the ground, heavily muscled, weighing perhaps 200 pounds, with curly red hair and a bushy tail.” As Mr. Sherman approached the animal, it vanished before his eyes. Afterward, they checked the horse and found numerous claw marks on its legs. A few months later, a neighbor reported seeing a similar beast running across their property.