When mentioning the subject of alleged UFO crash sites, most people will immediately think of Roswell. Ever since that fateful night in 1947, the New Mexico town has gone on to inspire countless books and documentaries while also serving as the cornerstone for those who believe we’re being visited by beings from another world. When their local newspaper reported the crash of a “flying disc” before suddenly retracting their story in favor of it being a “weather balloon,” they’d inadvertently lay the groundwork for today’s beliefs in government conspiracies, cover-ups, and threatening visits by mysterious “men in black.”
Much less notorious is the “other Roswell” (also in New Mexico) that’s believed to have taken place just months later on a mesa in Aztec. Though the incident did receive some attention in the early ‘50s, it was later discredited by men whose motives have since become suspect. Today there are many who believe it wasn’t a hoax at all but rather a prime example of just how skilled the government became at covering things up after their fumbling of Roswell. Last December the book The Aztec UFO Incident: The Case, Evidence, and Elaborate Cover-up of One of the Most Perplexing Crashes in History was released on the subject thanks to the painstaking research of Scott and Suzanne Ramsey. Both of us Daves thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend anyone interested in learning more on this topic to buy themselves a copy, too.
The incident was also referenced this past January in The X-Files reboot. During the premiere episode, “My Struggle,” Agent Mulder mentions the government extracting alien tissue from “the crashes at Roswell” and “More importantly, Aztec.” Obviously I’m not suggesting you take a nod from a fictional television show as fact, but rather illustrative of pop culture’s growing acceptance that something of importance did happen there.
Though the specific location of the Roswell crash is still up for debate, the one alleged at Aztec is far more distinct; even boasting an on-location plaque commemorating it. The challenge, however, was actually finding it.
Several months before our trip, I started corresponding with one of the authors of the aforementioned book, Suzanne Ramsey. She was extremely kind and gracious; not only offering directions but helpful tips on how to prepare for it. Though finding the spot would prove something of an odyssey, I do know we couldn’t have done it without her help (Suzanne, if you’re reading this, a great big THANKS from us Terror Daves!).
After spending the morning at the UFO Watch Tower in Hooper, Colorado, we finally arrived in Aztec mid-afternoon. By this time we were understandably famished and decided to dine at the first place we saw; the “Aztec Restaurant.”
As soon as we walked in I asked the lady running the register where we could find Mile Marker 164/Hart Canyon Road to see “where that UFO crashed.” She wasn’t in the least bit shocked by my mentioning a UFO in casual conversation and, while walking us to our table, stopped by a middle-aged woman eating lunch with her friends. I can’t remember her name but she was very friendly and pointed us in the right direction (we’d actually passed it on the way in).
Our problems didn’t start until after we turned on 164 and were presented with numerous side roads to choose from; most of which led up a steep incline. Incidentally, I’m using the word “roads” here rather loosely as these were basically paths made up of rocks…some bigger than others. It immediately explained why Mrs. Ramsey stated “it is helpful to have a 4 wheel drive vehicle” when making this trip.
I chose one of the roads but soon regretted it. Not only did it become too steep to see where we were headed, but the rocks we were driving on seemed to be getting larger and larger. I literally held my breath the entire ride worried we were about to tear apart our SUV’s underbelly and end up stranded in the middle of nowhere amid peak desert heat. Thankfully that didn’t happen though after we finally reached the top it became obvious it wasn’t the right road to begin with. Considering what it took to get up there, we decided to make the best of it and park so we could go out and look for tarantulas. I should mention that this was one of our big vacation goals. We’re both tarantula enthusiasts and were determined to see one in its natural habitat. I’ll discuss this more in a future post but, suffice it to say, we came up empty this day but did manage to find a nice big desert centipede.
It was after we found some vertebrae picked clean by vultures that we decided to get back in the car and resume our initial quest.
I tried calling Suzanne in the hopes she could walk us through to the correct location but it went to voice mail just before our phones completely lost service. We were on the verge of a a meltdown when we decided to take a deep breath and slowly go back over the directions we’d been given. That brief pause ended up making a huge difference as we skipped an important step (like driving six miles BEFORE going up any hills) and we knew we were on the right track after passing a bike trail called “Alien Run.”
We found a parking lot that matched the description given that led to hiking trail marked by green paint. This gave us even more encouragement as we figured the color was symbolic of “little green men.” Yes, folks, at this point we were definitely looking for anything that could be construed as an olive branch!
We knew we had to hike up the mesa about a quarter of a mile and packed up some water for the journey. Despite staying hydrated the heat was getting to me though I will say “hot” in the southwest is a heck of a lot better than “hot” in Chicago with its oppressive humidity. Even if this proved another dead end it still provided an excellent nature hike. In many ways we were like alien visitors ourselves exploring an environment where every plant and animal was completely different than the ones we were accustomed to back home.
The fact that we kept stopping to take pictures and overturn rocks looking for spiders made that quarter of a mile seem a lot longer than it actually was. We were starting to get discouraged and considered turning around when we finally spotted a clearing and the hallowed plaque signifying our search was a success! At this point we were so happy it may as well have been The Holy Grail itself. I swear if it hadn’t been so hot we’d have rolled in that sand to bask in our victory.
In the sandy clearing was a giant alien head and “X” symbol that someone created out of rocks
David and I split up to take pictures and explore the area. I made my way through some brush and to the edge of a cliff. By this time evening was approaching and I was hit by a cool breeze that was a total Godsend. I sat down on the edge of the cliff and watched a vulture fly below me. It was the first time I’d ever seen a bird from this vantage point and the whole experience was one of those perfect, serene moments I’ll never forget.
David pointed down and reminded me about the concrete slab mentioned in the book. It’s believed that this was created to assist the military during their 1948 recovery of the crash. While we’ll likely never know its original purpose, it does beg the question; what’s it doing in the middle of an otherwise untouched canyon?
Later we drove down and stopped to get a closer look…
Visiting the Aztec crash site was one of the many big highlights from our trip. Though that might seem odd considering it all boiled down to us seeing a plaque and empty clearing, it was really much more than that. It was the moment when all the UFO lore that fascinated us suddenly became real. We were now officially in the heart of a region that had held us in wonder since we were kids watching our favorite monster movies with alien invaders and giant-sized insects. Aztec reminded us that despite heading into our ‘50s, we’d still maintained that same sense of wonder we’d both had growing up.
It also suggested that Truth may be stranger than Science Fiction.
Coming up…Buzzsaw Sharks and the Search for Tarantulas!