This Unlikely Spot Was the Most Searched For U.S. Landmark on Google in 2022

Home to the famed UFO Alley, interest in the area has spiked in part thanks to a History Channel series.

Sunset over a rocky desert hill on Skinwalker Ranch

Courtesy of Skinwalker Ranch

Located about 150 miles away from both Salt Lake City and Grand Junction, Gusher — an unincorporated area in northeast Utah — is an unlikely location for Google Maps’ top searched cultural landmark in Google’s Year in Review 2022. But Gusher's Skinwalker Ranch, famed for its paranormal activity, was No. 1 on the list this year. 

“Recognized as the most scientifically studied paranormal hotspot on the planet, Skinwalker Ranch is a 512-acre secure site that has been monitored for decades with armed security and surveillance 24/7/365,” the Utah Basin location says on its site, authored by the ranch owner Brandon Fugal, who acquired the ranch in 2016 from aerospace mogul Robert Bigelow. “This remote location was involved with a Pentagon-funded black budget project studying UFO activity, cattle mutilations, and strange phenomena, and is also known as a living laboratory for studying other intelligences and possible interdimensional phenomena.”

The lure — and allure — has been heightened in recent years because of History Channel’s The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, currently in its third season, which follows a team of scientists and researchers that study at the “world’s most mysterious hotspot for UFO," per the ranch's website.

Also known as Sherman Ranch, the Utah Tourism Board website says, “For decades, reports have come from Skinwalker Ranch of strange lights passing in the sky above, skinwalker sightings, cattle mutilations, UFOs, and other unexplainable phenomena,” noting it also has been given the moniker UFO Alley.

But there’s a big catch: despite the online interest in the locale, it is private land and visitors aren’t allowed. 

That doesn’t mean paranormal fans can’t come close: the UFO Valley Campground and UTV Tours hails itself as “the closest you can legally get,” with both RV and tent camping, as well as various tours on ATVs, UTVs, and Polaris vehicles. The homestead has been in the family for generations and has elevated views of the region — but, of course, no UFO activity is guaranteed. 

Skinwalker Ranch — named after a shape-shifting character from Navajo folklore with repeated sightings in the area — is adjacent to Utah’s Indigenous lands, and the tourism board reminds visitors to show respect for the surrounding areas and avoid taking photos without permission.  

Other cultural landmarks that landed in Google Maps’ top 10 searches for the year include the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro, California; the Tree of Life in Forks, Washington; Chinatown Gate in Boston; Japanese Peace Plaza in San Francisco; and Mrs. Doubtfire’s House in San Francisco, among others. 

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