From UFO hotspots on the West Coast to mystifying castles in Florida, weird and wonderful places await.
Mount Shasta, Redding, CA
America's Most Mysterious Places
Mount Shasta, Redding, CA
The Mystery: This stunning snow-capped peak in the Cascade Mountain range, 60 miles south of the Oregon border, has long been considered one of the planet’s great “cosmic power spots,” luring everyone from Native Americans to Buddhist monks and hippies. Its sacred slopes are home to a potpourri of mysteries: spontaneous altered states; UFO sightings; crystal caves; encounters with Ascended Masters; underground military bases; even the rumored home to Lemurians, surviving members of a sensitive super-race some believe existed 12,000 years ago during the time of Atlantis.
Fact: A chance encounter with a strange group of warm, seemingly enlightened people in Shasta Valley inspired James Hilton to author the classic 1933 novel Lost Horizon, a tale about the idyllic community of Shangri-La. Others claim similar real-life experiences, but the mountain’s sheer natural beauty is inspiration enough for most.
“The very first night there we saw brilliant white and green lights that would respond to our laser signaling; they came from a steep side of the mountain, way too steep for climbers,” says Richard Lalancette, a software engineer from Ottawa, who, in hopes of having a firsthand encounter with a UFO, traveled in 2006 to Mount Shasta—arguably one of the country’s most mysterious places—as part of a Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI) expedition. He got his wish.
Over the following days, a series of incredible incidents unfolded in the immense skies over the mountain’s slopes, and Lalancette returned home from northern California a changed man—admittedly more connected with nature and the universe. “If a regular dude like me can [experience] and achieve things like this, then anybody can.”
Lalancette is not alone in his experience on Mount Shasta, nor in wanting to explore one of life’s greatest mysteries: according to a 2007 Associated Press poll, one out of three people believes in the existence of UFOs. Debunkers may relish “I told you so” moments, but few can argue that the planet is teeming with unexplained phenomena. We’re all familiar with the well-worn lore of places like Area 51, the Bermuda Triangle, and the Great Pyramids of Egypt, but there exist countless mystery spots across the globe—even in our backyards—that spark our imaginations and make us stop to consider just how much we don’t know. Where is Morpheus from The Matrix to show us “how deep the rabbit hole goes” when we need him?
So check your beliefs at the door, and read on with an open mind. Travelandleisure.com has unearthed 10 power places steeped in mystery that will make you breathless with wonder, send chills sprinting down your spine, or just plain leave you scratching your head.
Take the eerily named Skinwalker Ranch in a remote corner of northeastern Utah. Soon after an unsuspecting couple moved to the 480-acre compound in 1994, disturbing things began to happen. As Colm A. Kelleher and investigative journalist George Knapp describe in their book, Hunt for the Skinwalker, the couple witnessed “the appearance of huge, otherworldly creatures. Invisible objects emitting magnetic fields with the power to spark a cattle stampede. Flying orbs of light with dazzling maneuverability and lethal consequences.”
Or consider “Mel’s Hole” near Ellensburg, Washington, a nine-foot-wide opening in the ground that appears to have no bottom (former owner Mel Waters, in vain, dropped a fishing line some 15 miles to find its end). It’s also the site of amazing tales of “reanimation” (the ability to bring dead animals back to life), among other hairy paranormal phenomena.
Sometimes the mysteries are natural, as with Pennsylvania’s Ringing Rocks Park, known for its unexplained field of boulders that, when struck, sound like bells. Other times, they’re man-made. Coral Castle, in Homestead, Florida, may appear to be just another roadside tourist trap, but look deeper and you’ll discover its wild backstory. The structure—made of megalithic-size stones—was built over 28 years by a single slight-framed man, Edward Leedskalnin, as a temple to his lost love. Leedskalnin claimed he’d learned the ancient secrets of the Great Pyramids back in his homeland, Latvia, and was witnessed levitating 1,000-pound stones in the dead of night.
Welcome to the Rabbit Hole.