Creepy Legends From the Southwestern US

Today, let's take a walk on the weird side. The Southwest has some tales that only this barren area could produce. Enjoy!

The Red Camel

Arizona's infamous Red Camel Ghost!

In the mid 1800s, the army in Arizona used camels. Yes, they could travel with little water and carry loads, but their disposition and inability to get along with the horses made the army decide to abandon the idea.

By the time the Civil War rolled around, the army sold off the camels and let the rest loose into the desert.

Upon occasion, citizens reported seeing them. A few people were trampled to death and tufts of red hair and hoof prints were left behind.

Miners saw a red camel with something tied to its back. When it took off, they came forward to find a skull on the ground.

Then, in 1893, a farmer saw a red camel grazing in his garden with a saddle and straps dangling from it. He shot and killed the camel.

Apparently, the camel had shaken free of its dead rider who had been strapped in.

The story goes that a young army man was scared of riding a camel and was strapped in. The fellow soldiers hit the camel on the rump, it ran off into the desert not to be seen for years later, but always witnessed with a skeleton upon its back.

Some say the red camel ghost haunts the desert and others say they have seen camels in the Arizona desert upon rare occasion, causing speculation they still breed.

In Quartzsite, Arizona you can find the Hi Jolly memorial - in memory of the camel experiment. 

Ship in the Desert

For this next legend, we go to the Mojave Desert of California. 

There have long been legends of a Spanish Galleon that ran aground during a flood of the Colorado River in 1862. This was reportedly not far from Yuma, Arizona.

It's not the only ship in the desert in Southwestern legends. A serpent-necked Viking ship was reported around 1900 along the Colorado River. 

Another variation of the legend involves a 1500s Spanish Galleon heading up the Gulf of California said to run aground. Over the decades, reportedly people pillaged jewels and the like from the ship.

Given the shifting sands of the California Desert around the Salton Sea, people search for and sometimes report the ship being exposed and then missing again. 


The Yucca Man


We are back in the Mojave Desert in the Joshua Tree area for this legend.

Although he's called Yucca Man, this tall hairy fellow is seen in Nevada and Arizona. 

Described like a Bigfoot, this oddity is seen upon occasion by witnesses in this region that seems way too barren for man to wander. Still, if the Mojave Tribe could live in this region, so could a human cousin. 

I report my own odd encounter from 1987 in Joshua Tree park. I was a few months pregnant and camping at the time. I got up during the night to tinkle when I saw on the hillside about 50 yards away, an outline of what looked like a man. The coyotes were running back and forth along the hillside, screaming. 

I stared at the figure and felt as if this figure was staring down at my tent. The moonlight was such that I could see him against the sky. 

I started to wonder if perhaps it was just a Joshua tree, but the arms and legs, the shoulders and head were way too defined. 

Then, he turned as if he had gotten tired of study the scenery and as he started down the hillside and out of sight, the coyotes came up on the hill and yapped, turned, and followed him down.   

 The 10 Commandments 

New Mexico

The Los Lunas Decalouge Stone found in the side of Hidden Mountain New Mexico has long baffled examiners. 

First mentioned in 1933, its patina would show a rather old stone and many report it being covered in Phoenician text. 

One researcher claimed it was a stone used by Hebrews to mark a land. 

Most believe it to be a hoax, but one interpretation brought up the 10 commandments interpreted from the script. It commonly became referred to as the 10 commandments stone.

Yet another hypothesis is that the Mormons did it and it harbors similarities to the Bat Creek Stone of Tennessee. 

Today, you have to pay $35 for a pass to the stone as at one point, someone obliterated the first lines of script. 

Red-Haired Giants


Si-Te-Cah is the legendary name of cannibalistic red-haired giants encountered by the Paiutes in times of old when the ancient Pleistocene lake, Lake Lahontan, was present in Northern Nevada. 

The Paiutes reported that these giants were not pleasant, would eat their citizens and even dig up recent graves and eat the recently dead. It is said that eventually the Paiutes cornered the giants in Lovelock Cave and filled the opening with brush and burned them, smothering them to death inside. 

The legend would have been dismissed, but for one expedition in the 1900s - 

In 1911, miners digging up guano in a cave called Lovelock, found thousands of artifacts and supposedly many giant skeletons with red hair. 

Locals pillaged some of the remains left outside the cave, and there were no real research entities in this newly established west, so much was not archived. 

Some skulls and a skeleton ended up in a local museum. 

Thankfully, researcher Don Monroe in the 1970s managed to get shown to the museum basement to witness skulls.

Today, the giants existence has been completely whitewashed by the museum workers, scared of being monitored by the government. One worker there a very long time reported a full-sized giant skeleton in the basement long ago. 

Interestingly, a 15-inch sandal was found among the amazing duck decoys and gigantic tools in the cave. 

For a point of reference, the photo (above) shows my female size 8-1/2 foot against two 15-1/2" Bigfoot casts. A 15-inch sandal would be about a men's size 21 shoe size!

The Lost Dutchman Mine


In the 1840s, the Peralta  Family from Mexico supposedly found a rich gold mine in the Superstition Mountains East of Phoenix. It is said the Apache tribe members attacked and killed them as they tried to head back to Mexico with the loot. Two family members survived and fled to Mexico, bringing the story with them. 

In the 1870s, a prospector named Jacob Waltz supposedly located the Peralta mine. He worked the mine until his health was such he had to head into Phoenix to rest in the 1890s. 

He reportedly told a woman about the location of the mine as he was dying. And, ever since the 1890s, people have taken on the clues and searched the dangerous mountain range, with many of them going missing or dying.

The mountains are also known for Bigfoot sightings, other caches of gold guarded even today supposedly by Apache warriors (live or ghostly), curses, and a supposed entrance to Hollow Earth. It is also well known for odd lights and UFO sightings. 

Underground Military Base and Portal

Bradshaw Ranch, Arizona

If you combine UFO sightings, strange lights, bizarre cryptid creatures, and the government suddenly taking over an historic site in a remote area, you have to wonder what is really going on there.

The beautiful mountainous Bradshaw Ranch area in Arizona has always been a mysterious and scenic area, but it also comes with reports of lots of oddities from possible portal openings where alient cryptids come and go and a possible military underground base being installed.

This region, right beside mysterious Sedona, Arizona is fraught with amazing geology and gold, but also long-held legends of the unexplained. Some areas seem to attract these things, much like the phenomena at Skinwalker Ranch in the Uinta Mountains of Utah.


The Southwestern US has a lot of unclaimed land, held by the Native People, state, and federal parks. You can drive for hours and not see a structure indicating man had been there. 

When you add to that the local legends by the Native People are alive and well in the communities today, you have a different point of reference when explaining the unexplained. 

Growing up in the DC area, we were so very removed from all Native Culture that if someone unexplained happened, we often referred to Civil War ghosts and the like. We didn't necessarily speak of portals, Bigfoot, or any legendary creatures. 

The only thing I recall growing up was a reference to the Mulungeons, later understood to be a private group of mix people living in Appalachia and the creepy giant goons of childhood legend. 

The very land out west feels haunted and UFOs are so common, it's nearly impossible to live here and not see some bizarre stuff in the sky. 

Even the Phoenix area along the Gila and Salt Rivers there are today still sightings of Bigfoot. Some say, how could they live in the desert, but when you see the abundance of water and wildlife, if a Native Person or early settler could survive, so can they. 

Geology always seems to play a role in haunting and unexplained features and every ghost town has its legends, but when inspected, they do seem to have a different energy about them, perhaps precipitated by the very land it sits upon and the nonstop dry winds and static.

These are some of my favorite legends, but there are oh so many more! 

You might look up these -

Phoenix Lights

Travis Walton abduction

Kenny Veach and the M cave

Area 51

New Mexico giants uncovered

Lizard Man of Tucson

San Luis Valley, Colorado UFOs

Highway 666 legends