Mar 11, 2015 I Jason Offutt

Exploring American Monsters: Arizona

The last of the contiguous states to join the Union (Valentine’s Day 1912), Arizona is known for its deserts, high heat, and the mile-deep Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. But Arizona isn’t just desert and canyons; the northern part of the state is filled with mountains, ski resorts, forests, and monsters.

Mogollon Monster

The Mogollon Rim is an almost 2,000-foot escarpment that runs through the central part of Arizona. Covered in Ponderosa Pine forests, it’s the perfect hiding place for the Mogollon Monster.

First reported in The Arizona Republican in 1903, I.W. Stevens encountered the bipedal Mogollon Monster close to the Grand Canyon; it was drinking the blood of mountain lions. This human-looking creature with long white hair and beard that “reached to his knees,” sported two-inch claws on its fingers. When the monster noticed Stevens it threatened him with a club.

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Does a troll wander the mountains and forests of northern Arizona?

Throughout the years the Mogollon Monster has been described as black, gray, or white, square headed or round, but all reports are of a tall hair-covered being on two legs with a human-like hairless face. Although many people have equated the monster to Bigfoot, one hiker claims the monster is a troll. When hiking the Mogollon Rim Canyon Point Sinkhole Trail, the hiker saw the creature on its knees drinking water from a pool making “noises like a pig.” The “troll” had long bluish-gray hair, and a human-like face “full of bumps.” When it saw her, the troll stood on two legs, and ran away. This sounds much more like the club-wielding bloodsucker from 1903 than a Bigfoot.


Farther south is Tombstone, a 1800s boomtown that was the location of the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral between the Clanton Gang and the lawmen, Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp, and Doc Holliday. Tombstone was also once known for a dragon.

According to “Mysteries and Miracles of Arizona,” by Jack Kutz, two cowboys rode into Tombstone on 7 June 1890 with the skin of a what they claimed to be a “giant flying lizard” they’d killed outside town. The cowboys chased the beast on horseback before shooting and killing it. The dragon measured 92 feet long with an 80-foot wingspan, an eight-foot-long head, and eyes “the size of dinner plates,” the cowboys claimed. The battle was captured in the 26 April 1890 Tombstone Epitaph newspaper.

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Teenagers say they encountered a werewolf in Tempe, Arizona, population 168,228.


Werewolves, in various forms, have existed in many cultures across the world. From the Medieval European werewolf that dominates horror movies, to American Indian skinwalkers, the image of a man changing into a beast has terrified people for centuries. But, sitting safely in a cozy house, watching television, the werewolf stalking the night is nothing but legend. For a group of teenagers in Tempe, Arizona, that idea is dead wrong.

From a 2009 interview

The glow of city lights bathed the Arizona night in gray as four teenagers walked onto the Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe. Carl Davis, now an adult, was in high school when he and his friends, bored with their weekly Bible study meeting, walked outside, and onto the course.

“My girlfriend says something like, ‘hey something just jumped out of that palm tree’,” Davis said.

The trees were approximately 35 feet tall, so the other teens laughed and resumed their conversation. “A few seconds later she lets out a blood-curdling scream, just pure shocked terror,” Davis said.

As Davis turned toward his girlfriend, he saw something he couldn’t believe. “I look in the direction and there’s a … creature lumbering along the wall towards us,” Davis said. “It was as tall as me, six foot, hunched over, huge snout like a werewolf.”

The beast, blacker than the night surrounding it, lunged toward the teens and they ran. “It was chasing after us,” Davis said. “It was running along the wall toward me and I just turned and ran, I didn't think to look back.”

The teens never saw the thing again, although something about the encounter still confuses Davis. “It was in the middle of town,” he said. “That’s what always gets me about that thing. Not out in the woods or at a secluded cabin, but in Tempe, Arizona.”

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Many explorers have reported uncovering the bones of giants in the American Desert Southwest.


Gigantic human remains, sometimes with red hair, have been reported across America, many of them in the Desert Southwest. A giant human skull was once found in a cliff dwelling south of Winslow, Arizona, according to “The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings,” by the great paranormal investigator John Keel. “It was so big that a size 7[E] Stetson was placed on it and ‘looked like one of those tiny hats merrymakers wear on New Year’s’.” The skull also had a gold tooth.

Workers reportedly discovered a huge stone coffin in Fort Crittenden, Arizona, in 1891. The coffin held a skeleton that measured 12 feet tall, and had 12 toes.

A man named Samuel Hubbard is said to have found the mummified bodies of two giant humans (15 to 18 feet tall) in a cave in the Grand Canyon in 1923. This is 14 years after the Phoenix Gazette published the account of explorer G.E. Kinkaid who said he discovered a cave in the canyon filled with Egyptian artifacts, including mummies.

Next up: Arkansas.

Jason Offutt
Jason Offutt is paranormal investigator, an author of several paranormal books such as “What Lurks Beyond,” “Darkness Walks: Shadow People Among us,” “Haunted Missouri,” and “Paranormal Missouri” and a teacher of journalism at Northwest Missouri State University.

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