UFOs sites in the US. Photo: KnowInsiders
UFOs sites in the US. Photo: KnowInsiders

While you could spend your summertime beach bumming or exploring nature, maybe its time to pursue another true American pastime—visiting the most popular UFO sites. Although we are a serious journalistic entity and would never support the extraterrestrial theory of UFOs, here are some suggestions for you as you make the cosmic trip of a lifetime.

Which are the 10 Most Popular Places to See UFOs in the US?

1. Rachel, Nevada

2. Sedona, Arizona

3. Joshua Tree, California

4. Roswell, New Mexico

5. Alamosa, Colorado

6. Aurora, Texas

7. Lincoln, New Hampshire

8. Vernal, Utah

9. The Marfa Lights, Texas

10. McMinnville, Oregon

Top 10 Most Popular Places to See UFOs in the United States

1. Rachel, Nevada

Top 10 Most Popular Places to See UFOs in the US
Photo: Thrillist

Since trying to get into Area 51 will land you a lengthy prison stay, the nearby town of Rachel is the best place to learn about one of the most famous UFO sites in America. In the 1950s, reported sightings of UFOs around the Nevada Test and Training Range were a daily occurrence. This was mostly because the military used the area to trial military aircraft that flew higher than normal jets, and had oddly colored lights. A sensible explanation didn’t stop people from spreading rumors about a disappearing runway and the autopsies of the Roswell aliens taking place underground.

Since then, Area 51 has become a staple of UFO legends. Rachel hasn’t missed a beat, either, boasting a local motel/restaurant called the Little A’Le’Inn that serves a pretty decent burger. The town also has plenty of folks who, for a fee, will take you around the perimeter of Area 51 and point out famous alleged alien sites through the fences.

2. Sedona, Arizona

Top 10 Most Popular Places to See UFOs in the US
Photo: Thrillist

Anybody can make a pilgrimage to Sedona for the red rocks, art scene, and energy vortex vibes. You wanna do something much cooler? Head here for the UFO tours.

The clear skies of the high Arizona desert—possibly combined with a population that may or may not indulge in the occasional hallucinogen—has made Sedona one of the most popular sites in America for sighting UFOs. Hell, even former Arizona governor Fife Symington claims to have seen an “enormous and inexplicable” flying object here. That being said, it was only a matter of time until someone made a business out of it—and that someone is former alien abductee Melinda Leslie.

At the Center for the New Age, Leslie will happily tell you about her experiences being abducted by aliens, after which she’ll take you to a clear, unlit area just outside of town, where you’ll don military-grade night vision goggles and look for UFOs in the sky. She’ll explain how to tell legit UFOs from commercial jets, military planes, or satellites, and she'll let you try and figure out what those high-speed lights moving across the sky actually are. No word on whether the waiver includes liability for possible abductions.

3. Joshua Tree, California

Top 10 Most Popular Places to See UFOs in the US
Photo: Travel + Leisure

Joshua Tree is on 29 Palms Highway, about a three-hour drive from LAX. The area is known to have many underground waterways all featuring a high mineral content. Joshua Tree National Park was once home to 300 mines and includes a unique white crystal quartz hill behind Giant Rock. Visitors often go searching for the hidden alien base that is rumored to be located somewhere beneath the expansive desert.

UFOlogists believe that Joshua Tree sits on the 33rd North parallel just like Roswell. The research behind the 33rd North parallel provides the location for the most UFO sightings.

4. Roswell, New Mexico

Photo:travelchannel
Photo: travelchannel

Roswell has been at the heart of the UFO scene since July 1947 when the military announced it had found the remains of a crashed UFO in the desert nearby. Ever since the legendary Roswell UFO crash of July 1947 alien conspiracy theorists have claimed the remains of a flying saucer, and even dead aliens, were secretly taken into storage.

Visits to the crash sites are difficult to navigate deep in the desert, so many tourists visit the Roswell Spacewalk and the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

Roswell UFO Festival

Every Fourth of July weekend the city of Roswell organizes the UFO Festival, a celebration of all things extraterrestrial. Thousands of people meet on Main Street for the Comic-Con of UFO devotees. Costume contests, and a long weekend of lectures and book signings put on by Roswell’s International UFO Museum.

5. Alamosa, Colorado

Photo: thrillist
Photo: thrillist

When former rancher Judy Messoline first settled down in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, she had no clue it had such a rich paranormal tapestry—but in fact, the first supposed alien mutilation happened here in 1967. (The victim? Snippy the Horse, nicknamed so because his head and neck were…snipped.) Soon after, more and more people emerged with stories of close encounters, abductions, and unexplained phenomena, and the area became legendary.

Now, Messoline herself has reported witnessing dozens of unusual occurrences, including inexplicable cigar-shaped entities and hovering lights. In 2000, she gave up raising cattle and constructed the UFO Watchtower—a ten-foot-high metal viewing platform with a spaceship-like adobe gift shop—to accommodate the extraterrestrial enthusiasts that often stopped by her Rocky Mountain ranch for a chance at a sighting.

Messoline's watchtower has since become a kind of water cooler where true believers congregate, with visitors’ stories recorded in a binder for all to peruse. There’s also a sign-in book for aliens, though no word on how many have thrown their John Hancock in there.

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6. Aurora, Texas

Photo: popularmechanics
Photo: popularmechanics

Your first stop when you get to Aurora, Texas, a small town about 30 miles from Fort Worth, has to be the cemetery. There, you’ll find the gravesite of an unusual individual: the humanoid pilot of a cigar-shaped object which, in May 1897—50 years before the crash at Roswell—fell from the sky and crashed into a windmill belonging to one of the local judges. Today, it stands as the only extraterrestrial gravesite in America.

Was the navigator—who they call Ned—from Mars? That’s what locals believed at the time and technically, they still haven’t been proven wrong, even after researchers tested metal from the crash site, found results inconclusive, and attempted to exhume Ned’s grave. (They were prohibited from doing so because in order to exhume a grave you have to notify the next of kin.)

7. Lincoln, New Hampshire

Photo: travelchannel
Photo: travelchannel

Alleged UFO sightings are one thing. But alien abductions? A little harder to debunk. The most famous (and still not disproven) abduction case involved Betty and Barney Hill, a Portsmouth couple who were driving back from Canada one night when they reported seeing a cigar-shaped object speeding through the sky.

Through his binoculars, Barney claimed he could see people through the object's windows. Upon returning home, the couple found mysterious scuffs on Barney’s shoes and tears and stains on Betty’s dress; they also realized they’d lost about two hours of time they couldn’t account for, and neither of their watches was operative. After Betty began experiencing recurring nightmares, the couple underwent intense hypnotherapy during which they remembered being forced onto a ship and examined by “strange men” with bald heads and slanted eyes—the model for what many aliens in popular culture look like today.

The state of New Hampshire erected a plaque on the road near Lincoln to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the abduction, the only official government marker dedicated to an alien encounter. The gas station that now stands on the farm where Hill said the ship landed has a big alien mural on the wall, as well as the “First Restroom Museum Dedicated to Alien Abduction.”

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8. Vernal, Utah

Photo: travelchannel
Photo: travelchannel

Vernal in northern Utah is known as the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument and the breathtaking Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. But in paranormal circles it is also known for the strange sightings in its skies and its proximity to Skinwalker Ranch, a 500-acre ranch so strange that it was purchased by researchers for study. Tales of UFOs, Bigfoot-like creatures, strange orbs, creatures with glowing eyes and other paranormal activities have been reported by the ranch’s several owners going back decades. Skinwalker Ranch is now privately owned and not open to the public, but camping in the Vernal area at the very least ensures an incredible star show with some of the nation’s darkest skies.

9. The Marfa Lights, Texas

Photo: popularmechanics
Photo: popularmechanics

For more than a century people have reported seeing strange lights in the sky just east of the tiny town of Marfa, Texas. Balls of yellowish-white light dance across the desert here as they increase in intensity, merge and split with one another, and perform acrobatics that many associate with extraterrestrials. While some claim that the lights are nothing more than a phenomenon of distant car headlights somehow being redirected to this area, many believe that there is an alien explanation. The Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Center has been built along U.S. 90 and includes a restroom, picnic tables and binoculars to keep an eye out for the lights toward the Chinati Mountains.

This was the first recorded sighting of the now-famous Marfa Lights, which appear about 30 times a year. Some say they’re UFOs. Others believe they’re ghosts. And others still have tried to explain them away with science, claiming they’re the result of small fires or car headlights. (Sure, maybe dancing cars. And what about that first sighting in 1883?)

Whatever they are, Marfa happily leans into the lore: About 9 miles from town off US-90 there’s a viewing platform complete with binoculars, and each fall, the area celebrates the phenomenon with live music, food, and a parade at the Marfa Lights Festival.

This was the first recorded sighting of the now-famous Marfa Lights, which appear about 30 times a year. Some say they’re UFOs. Others believe they’re ghosts. And others still have tried to explain them away with science, claiming they’re the result of small fires or car headlights. (Sure, maybe dancing cars. And what about that first sighting in 1883?)

Whatever they are, Marfa happily leans into the lore: About 9 miles from town off US-90 there’s a viewing platform complete with binoculars, and each fall, the area celebrates the phenomenon with live music, food, and a parade at the Marfa Lights Festival.

10. McMinnville, Oregon

Photo: thrillist
Photo: thrillist

You know those grainy black-and-white photos you see on B-rolls of every TV show you’ve ever seen about flying saucers? There’s a good chance they came from McMinnville, a town in the heart of Oregon wine country known just as well for its UFOs as its pinot noir.

Long before the days of Photoshop, Paul and Evelyn Trent shot pictures of flying saucers outside their farmhouse near McMinnville. The pictures were so dramatic, they were published by Life and became an icon of the era’s UFO craze. And unlike most theories, stories, and abduction claims of the time, these pictures have never been debunked. The Trents also held true to their story, never claiming the pictures to be a joke or a stunt to make money.

Today, their former hometown hosts the second-largest UFO festival in America, where people dress up like aliens and astronauts for a weekend of photo-proven fun. The city is also home to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, which, while not affiliated at all with the Trents and their famous photos, is still worth a visit if you’re in town.

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