UFO Watchtower and information center
Faina Gurevich/istockphoto

The Best UFO Tourist Attractions Across America

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UFO Watchtower and information center
Faina Gurevich/istockphoto

Astral Travels

UFOs — or UAPs, as we are now supposed to call them, short for unidentified aerial phenomena — have been in the news a lot more lately, thanks to the U.S. government's recent report acknowledging their existence. (Spoiler alert: The report classified 143 of the 144 incidents it examined as "unexplained.") With renewed interest in the legitimacy of UFOs, as well as World UFO Day taking place on Friday, July 2, Cheapism decided to look at alien-inspired sites around the country. From Joshua Tree National Park to Lincoln, New Hampshire, here are UFO-centric sites across the U.S. that are worth your road trip odyssey time.


Related: 25 Strangest American Conspiracy Theories

Roswell Welcome Sign
DenisTangneyJr/istockphoto

Roswell, New Mexico

We'll start with the obvious, which in no way means it's not worth a visit. Even non-believers know something about the UFO stories that surround this small town south of Albuquerque, where some believe an alien craft crashed in July 1947. True or hoax, the town has majorly capitalized on its paranormal status with the International UFO Museum and Research Center, a UFO Spacewalk, the Alien Zone and Area 51 gift shop, and even a UFO-shaped McDonald's. 


Related: 18 Out-of-This-World Things to Do in Roswell, New Mexico  

Area 51 sign
petesphotography/istockphoto

Rachel, Nevada

Of course no list of UFO-inspired destinations would be complete without a nod to Area 51. The town of Rachel is well-known among alien enthusiasts as the closest town to the highly classified United States Air Force facility where many believe that extraterrestrial spacecraft are kept and other alien technology is studied. You can't visit Area 51, of course, which leaves you with a few alienesque things to do here, including cruising the Extraterrestrial Highway, eating at Little A'Le'Inn, or heading a few miles east to the Alien Research Center in Hiko, where you can pick up some out-of-this-world souvenirs. 


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UFO Watchtower and information center
Faina Gurevich/istockphoto

UFO Watchtower

Sure, the website for the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado, might look like it was designed in 1997, but it is an entirely real thing in the relatively unpopulated (read: dark) corner of southwestern Colorado. The watchtower is a 360-degree platform designed to let people search for UFO sightings on their own. Opened in 2000 by a local named Judy Messoline, the tower's placement isn't accidental — San Luis Valley has what one website called a "weird legacy of UFO sightings." The site also features a gift shop and an astral-inspired rock garden. Admission is $2/person, $5/car, and RV campers are welcome for $15/night. 


Related: See the Stars: Dark Sky Destinations Across America

Cow Skull in the Desert
skodonnell/istockphoto

Skinwalker Ranch

This ranch in northeastern Utah, close to the town of Ballard, has been the subject of alleged paranormal activity for about 50 years. According to History.com, the Sherman family, who owned the place in the 1990s, experienced phenomena such as crop circles, UFOs, and "systematic and repeated mutilation of their cattle — in an oddly surgical and bloodless manner." It so rattled them that they sold the ranch and moved away. Now owned by a Utah real estate tycoon, people are not allowed onto Skinwalker Ranch — roads are blocked and the perimeter is secured by lights, cameras, and more — but nothing prevents visitors from exploring the surrounding area, which is a hotbed of UFO sightings and other strange occurrences.


Related: The 25 Most Terrifying Places in America

Astronaut walking towards UFO
gremlin/istockphoto

Aurora, Texas

This tiny town northwest of Dallas and Fort Worth was the site of a widely publicized UFO sighting on April 17, 1897. A cigar-shaped unidentified flying craft (note this was years before the aviation-pioneering Wright brothers) was said to have crashed into a farm windmill, and the Dallas Morning News reported that the remains of the deceased pilot — the town nicknamed the being "Ned" — clearly demonstrated that it was "not an inhabitant of this world." The being's remains were buried at the Aurora Cemetery, and a historic monument plaque on the site briefly describes the event.

Kecksburg Space Acorn in Kecksburg, PA.
Kecksburg Space Acorn in Kecksburg, PA. by Navy2004 (CC BY-SA)

Kecksburg, Pennsylvania

When a massive, acorn-shaped fireball appeared over this heavily wooded Pennsylvania town in 1965, it was visible to residents in at least six U.S. states and Canada. Subsequent reports attributed the phenomenon to causes ranging from a meteor to a Soviet satellite, but UFOlogists have long suspected something more paranormal in nature. Today, a model of the falling object is on display near the community's fire station, and the town holds a festival commemorating the 1965 incident every year. This year's event has been canceled due to Covid; the 2022 festival is currently scheduled for July 29-31. 

Scientists analyzing UFO in secret government hangar
gremlin/istockphoto

Aztec UFO Crash Site

Like most stories involving unidentified flying objects, some claim that the alleged crash of a craft near the northern New Mexico town of Aztec was a hoax, while others cling to reasons not to doubt its veracity. The lore goes that a massive flying saucer crashed here in 1948, and that the military recovered 16 "humanoid" bodies from the site. No matter the truth, the town has built some local tourism around the story, including a plaque and rock formation that, when viewed from above, resembles an alien face. 


Related: 50 Tourist Traps That Locals Still Love

Dramatic Sunrise in West Texas
Gabrielle Yuro/istockphoto

The Marfa Lights

No one really knows what the strange glowing orbs really are that float around the sky outside this West Texas town, but it hasn't stopped Marfa from building an experience around them. You visit the Marfa Lights Viewing Area about 9 miles outside of town, and the town also holds an annual festival. The festival will take place this year, but the exact dates haven't been announced. There's no guarantee you'll actually see the lights on any given night, but Marfa and the surrounding area offer plenty of other activities and destinations, including Big Bend National Park, so it won't be a wasted trip. 


Related:35 Stunning Landscapes That Make Earth Look Like Another Planet

Wide Angle View Cedar Canyon Utah
Robert_Ford/istockphoto

Cedar City, Utah

The small town of Cedar City, Utah, is host to the annual Utah UFO Festival and also, festival founders note, "the Eastern Portal to Area 51." Though the festival was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, organizers intend for it to take place in August 2022. The three-day event includes expert speakers, film screenings, vendor booths, alien trivia, live music, costume contests, and an "out of this world caravan out to the gates of Area 51." 

Starry Night Over Sedona AZ
littleny/istockphoto

Sedona, Arizona

This northern Arizona town has long been known for its "vortexes" — centers of energy that "are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration," according to Sedona's tourism website. It is also, notes Forbes, one of "The World's 8 Best Places To Hunt For Extraterrestrials And Search For UFOs." Not only are there a number of UFO tours that Sedona visitors can join, but the area is also home to Bradshaw Ranch, which some believe was confiscated by the U.S. government because it contained "one of the most powerful interdimensional portals on the planet."

Road in the desert, in Joshua Tree National Park, California
Jon Bilous/istockphoto

Joshua Tree National Park

This California national park also showed up on Forbes' "Best Places To Hunt For Extraterrestrials And Search For UFOs" list, mainly for a purported hidden underground alien base and the fact that the park sits on the 33rd North parallel, where Roswell also rests and a location that many believe aligns with more frequent UFO sightings. Joshua Tree is also the location for Contact in the Desert, a UFO conference that is often called the "Woodstock of UFOlogy." 


Related:Stunning Photos of Every National Park in America

Sentinel Pine Covered Bridge, near Lincoln, New Hampshire, in Autumn.
Xavier_Ascanio/istockphoto

Lincoln, New Hampshire

This town's alien connections date back to September 1961 when local couple Betty and Barney Hill claimed they were abducted by extraterrestrials while driving home from a vacation. It was the first widely reported alien abduction in the U.S. and the only incident to have inspired an official government marker, erected on the 50th anniversary of the alleged encounter. Travelers can visit the Notch Express Store in Lincoln, which is something of an homage to the Hill incident.

space dog
space dog by Mookie Forcella (CC BY-NC)

McMinnville, Oregon

In May of 1950, Paul and Evelyn Trent, farmers near this Oregon town located southwest of Portland, encountered some strange flying objects in the sky above their land. They took photos, which were eventually published in the local newspaper as well as in Life magazine. The legitimacy of the photos has been debated, of course, but nothing has definitively debunked the incident as a hoax. The incident has inspired UFO Fest, the second largest such festival in the country after Roswell, which has been taking place for more than 20 years. The event will happen Sept. 24-25, 2021.


Related: 30 Famous UFO Incidents of the Past 100 Years

UFO Welcome Center
UFO Welcome Center by Ed McDonald (CC BY-NC)

UFO Welcome Center

This Bowman, South Carolina, destination might not be the most slick-looking UFO site — a Roadside America story noted that the structure looks off-kilter and the ground around is "littered with scraps of metal, mossy cinder blocks, extension cords, car batteries, plastic lawn furniture, empty jugs of antifreeze, and pieces of saucer that have fallen off." But the man who runs it, Jody Pendarvis, is serious about the UFO Welcome Center, which he began creating in 1994 as a place where aliens and earthlings could comfortably meet. The structure combines a 46-foot saucer with a smaller saucer placed atop it — that's the one Pendarvis intends to ride in when the aliens eventually show up and take him with them, he says. 


Related:Circus World and Other Weird Museums Across America and Beyond