The Mogollon Monster is a Bigfoot-like cryptid from the folklore of Arizona. It is allegedly native to the wooded areas of east, central, and southeast Arizona, along the Mogollon Rim, where most sightings occurred.
The Mogollon rim, from which the monster gets its name, is a 2,000-foot escarpment that stretches 200 miles eastward across central Arizona to New Mexico, forming the southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau.
Cryptozoologists dubbed the monster the Arizona Bigfoot because it is allegedly similar to the famous humanoid cryptid.
Arizona folklore describes the Mogollon Monster as an ape- or Bigfoot-like creature that walks upright on two feet and stands more than 7 feet tall.
The face, palms, parts of the chest, and soles of the feet are hairless, but the rest of the body has a thick mass of reddish or dark hair.
The Mogollon Monster is a hairy creature
Cryptozoologist Don Davis, who claimed to have sighted the monster during an outdoor trip near Payson, Arizona, described it as a tall, hairy creature with a box-like head. It has eyes set deep in its hairless face.
It had an impressive upper body build with broad shoulders, big powerful arms, and a broad chest.
An eyewitness account by I.W. Stevens, published by the Arizona Republic in 1903, described the monster as having “long white hair” on its head and a tangled beard that reached down to its knees.
It had long fingers ending in 2-inch claws. It has gray hair with patches of bald, dirty-looking skin (Erin Ford, William News, October 24, 2017).
Eyewitnesses said the creature exudes an unpleasant fishy or skunky odor (Weird Arizona by Wesley Treat, 2007).
It walks with a stumping motion, taking long, plodding strides, according to a resident of Whiteriver who claimed two sightings in 1982 and 2004.
The footprints are 22 inches long, about twice the length of the average human foot).
Many alleged encounters with the Mogollon Monster occurred at night. Thus, it is widely considered nocturnal. Like humans, it lives on a mixed vegetarian and carnivorous diet (omnivorous diet).
The Mogollon Monster is predatory
The Mogollon Monster is a predatory humanoid that sometimes carries a club. It hunts small creatures, such as rodents, birds, and larger animals, such as deer and coyotes.
It may lure prey by mimicking their call.
An eyewitness claimed he saw the monster feasting on a mountain lion.
According to some accounts, it rips off the head of its prey before eating the flesh.
The Mogollon Monster is also a scavenger. It will enter human campsites and rummage through clumsily, ripping bags apart, knocking things over, and sometimes overturning tents while searching for edible items.
The monster also reportedly emits a low whistling sound or sometimes a chilling scream that sounds like a terrified human female. A witness described the scream as an “unearthly screech.”
It builds nests using available plant materials, such as twigs, leaves, and branches.
It is territorial. Thus, it may attack humans on sight in defense of its territory. It may hide from view and hurl missiles (sticks and stones) at the enemy.
Arizona folklore claims that the Mogollon Monster was a vengeful Native American chief who used magical powers to transform into a monster and terrorize people.
Some stories claim the monster was originally a European settler who tortured and murdered a native woman. The native gods cursed the man, and he became a monster.
I.W. Stevens, who first reported sighting the Mogollon Monster in 1903, reported that locals said the creature was one of three men (presumably European settlers) who fell into the hands of Native tribesmen. They bound the men to logs and cast them into the river. One of the men escaped drowning, but the experience unhinged his mind. He became the “wild man of the rocks” known today as the Mogollon Monster.
Sightings and Tales
Reports of the Mogollon Monster come from parts of Arizona that coincide with the ponderosa pine forests around the Mogollon Rim.
Sighting reports come from northern Arizona communities around Williams (Coconino County), south of the Grand Canyon. Residents of Prescott in central Arizona (Yavapai County) have also reported sightings.
Other Mogollon Monter hotspots include communities in and around the east-central town of Alpine (Apache County) and Clifton (Greenlee County) to the southeast.
The first reported sighting of the creature on record occurred in the early 20th century. However, folkloric accounts suggest locals shared stories of a Sasquatch-like creature living along the Mogollon Rim long before the first documented sightings.
Some folkloric accounts claim that the sightings have occurred since the first European settlers came to the region.
Arizonans share a story about a European settler, Sam Spade, who encountered the Mogollon Monster near Camp Geronimo, north of Payson. He lost his son Bill and his wife to the creature.
The Arizona Republic reported in 1903 that a resident, I.W. Stevens, said he encountered a strange humanoid armed with a club near Grand Canyon (see Stevens’s description above).
The beast started charging but stopped midway and retreated. It then approached the carcass of a cougar that Stevens shot and began tearing at the flesh. Stevens took advantage of the distraction to return to the safety of his boat.
The hunter watched the creature feasting on cougar flesh and blood. He hollered at it. Startled, it retreated from the carcass, letting out a frightening screech and shaking its club menacingly.
White Mountain Apache Nation sightings
According to Tucson.com, in a September 2006 report, members of the White Mountain Apache Nation of Fort Apache Indian Reservation, Navajo County, Arizona, claimed they sighted the monster within the boundaries of their tribal land and communities for years.
Several members of the communities claimed to have seen strange footprints in the mud, mysterious tufts of hairs on fences, and heard chilling screeches of the creature at night.
Many also claimed to have seen the alleged creature.
Collette Altaha, a spokesperson for the community, said they kept their experiences secret because they did not want to talk about them with outsiders. But in 2006, they noticed an increase in the frequency of sightings and felt they could no longer keep it secret.
Marjorie Grimes of Whiteriver, one of the communities in Fort Apache Indian Reservation, claimed to have seen the monster on two separate occasions.
The first alleged sighting occurred in 1982. The second sighting occurred in 2004 while returning to Whiteriver from Cibecue.
Cryptozoologist Don Davis
Cryptozoologist Don Davis reported sighting the Mogollon Monster in the 1940s when he was a 13-year-old boy.
According to Davis, the sighting occurred near Payson, Arizona (see Davis’s descriptive account in the previous section).
He was camping with other Boy Scouts at a site close to Tonto Creek on the north side of the Tonto National Forest in the Mogollon Rim, about 18 miles from Payson.
One day, he woke up late at night and heard disturbances nearby. He thought it was one of the boys fooling around, so he yelled at him to quit disturbing other people’s night rest.
From his sleeping bag, he noticed a figure in the dark. It stopped moving when Davis yelled and looked toward him. It then walked over to the boy in a sleeping bag and stood over him. Davis realized it was not human. He was aware of a sickening odor from the creature.
He pulled the cover over his head to escape the dreadful sight and smells.
The creature lounged around for some time and then retreated into the forest.
Canyon Point trail sighting
In 2014, a young woman reported encountering the Mogollon Monster on the Canyon Point trail near Payson.
She saw a strange-looking humanoid creature crouching to drink from a pool.
At first, she thought it was a forest animal. But while reaching into her bag for her camera, the creature stopped drinking and looked in her direction.
The strangely humanoid face frightened her, but she tried to shoo it off by waving her arm. When it rose to its full height on its hind legs, she realized it wasn’t an ordinary forest animal but a “troll-looking creature.”
But before she could react to the shocking sight, it broke into a run toward the canyon and disappeared.
She recalled it was hairy but had a bald face. It had humanoid lips, a big nose, and reddish eyes.
Although many Arizonans claimed to have seen the creature, zoologists and wildlife experts dismiss the claims, saying Mogollon Monster stories are urban legends.
Skeptics have proposed multiple theories to explain the alleged sightings.
Species that people might have mistaken for a cryptid include grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) and black bears (Ursus americanus).
Grizzly bears are now rare in Arizona. Thus, the animal people most likely mistook for a monster is the black bear.
|Other Name/s||Arizona Bigfoot, Arizona Sasquatch, wild man of the rocks|
Where to find
Weird Arizona: Your Travel Guide to Arizona’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets, Wesley Treat, 2007.
https://www.williamsnews.com/news/2017/oct/24/searching-mogollon-monster/, “Searching for the Mogollon Monster,” accessed on March 18, 2023.
https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2021/07/19/arizonas-very-own-bigfoot-mogollon-monster-valley-101/7998659002/, “Does Arizona have its very own Bigfoot? Valley 101 investigates,” accessed on March 18, 2023.
https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/claythompson/2017/03/29/ask-clay-gather-round-tales-mogollon-monster/99749318/, “Ask Clay: Gather round for tales of the Mogollon Monster,” accessed on March 18, 2023.
https://tucson.com/news/science/environment/story-video-apaches-go-public-with-bigfoot-sightings/article_5e5f83d9-8245-53e9-adbd-0b2b13f882c6.html, “Story, video: Apaches go public with Bigfoot sightings,” accessed on March 18, 2023.
https://pinebarrensinstitute.com/cryptids/2018/8/18/cryptid-profile-mogollon-monster, “Cryptid Profile: Mogollon Monster,” accessed on March 18, 2023.
Featured Image: The Mogollon Monster is an ape-like creature native to Arizona. Pic credit: Pixabay