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Police scout for signs of a flying saucer reported near Levelland, Texas, in 1957. (Photo by Carl Iwasaki, Getty Images)

Five UFO Hot Spots in the American Southwest

The dramatic geology and wide-open spaces of the American Southwest lend themselves to UFO activity—imaginary or real—making it one of the top spots for sightings.

Roswell, New Mexico, may be the most notable name in extraterrestrial lore, but there are plenty of other hot spots in the region that deserve honorable mentions.

Here are five:

On a desert plateau in western Texas, the town of Marfa is known for the Marfa Lights—reddish-orange spheres that are three to six feet (one to three meters) in diameter and travel at high speed. They are said to glow like a distant star at first, then brighten to the intensity of a flashlight, sometimes flickering on and off. There is a public viewing platform nine miles (25 kilometers) east of Marfa, on Highway 90.

At 11 p.m. on November 2, 1957, patrolman A. J. Fowler took a call from Pedro Saucedo and Joe Salaz. They explained how they had been out driving when a brightly lit, cigar-shaped object had come toward them. As it approached, their engine cut out. Similar calls followed. They all described an egg-shaped craft that changed from orange to a bluish-green color as it landed.

Logger Travis Walton reported being abducted by aliens in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, near Turkey Springs, on November 5, 1975. Six colleagues said they had fled in fear after seeing lights and a disk hovering above Walton. When they returned with police, Walton had vanished. Walton reappeared five days later to tell his extraordinary story, which went on to form the basis for what would become one of the first mainstream accounts of alien abduction, 1993’s Fire in the Sky.

In 1980 Betty Cash, her friend, and her friend’s grandson were driving home when they came upon a diamond-shaped UFO that was emitting tremendous heat. Military helicopters circled overhead. Back home, they were treated for radiation sickness, and Betty was later found to have skin cancer. The three failed in their attempt to make the government accept liability.

In 2008 the town of Stephenville made national headlines when local residents reported dozens of UFO sightings. In the early evening of January 8, reports of massive crafts filling the skies poured into police stations. Some claimed they were the size of a football field; others that they were one mile (1.6 kilometers) long. Many claimed that they saw military aircraft pursuing the UFOs.

This piece, written by Sarah Bartlett, first appeared in the National Geographic book Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places

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