I have spent my entire life collecting tales about the weird and mysterious elements of Utah — stories that at first seem completely unbelievable, but sometimes, just sometimes, there ends up being more of a foundation of truth than we’d like to admit. (See my article about The Giant Flying Manta Ray of Provo for evidence of this.) Since 2011, I have been documenting sightings of a few chimera-like beasts lurking about in Utah County. Here are a few creepy encounters.
It was during Christmas time of 2011. I was loitering in a coffee shop, as usual, possibly flirting with the hipster girl who was sitting at the other side of the café. I remember it being dark, windy and sleeting outside. A gentleman approached me asking if he could sit down and talk. He said, “I know who you are, and I have a story for you.”
He told me he used to live in Vineyard, Utah near the Lakeside Sports Park, and in the winter of 2009, he was on a late-night walk. It was a little after 1 am and it had been snowing hard most of the day. He was heading north, along what is now called South Vineyard Road, when he saw something about thirty yards ahead of him standing and facing him in the middle of the road. At first, he thought it was a cow or a horse that had escaped its pasture, but as he got closer, it started to take shape. He couldn’t believe his eyes. This is when he stopped his story for a moment to look me in the eyes and say, “I know this sounds nuts.”
He proceeded again. It was a white stag with huge antlers and a human face. By this point, he was twenty yards away from it. After a moment of stupefied wonder, the fear got to him and he turned around and headed back to his home, which, luckily for him, wasn’t too far away. He said the creature just stood and watched him as he left. I took his story, documented it, and then shelved it.
Flash forward to the summer of 2021. Eric, the assistant manager of a Utah County video game store shared this story with me:
“Around 12:05 am on 08/25/18, I was coming home from a friend’s house, driving up 200 South in Pleasant Grove, eastbound past Pleasant Grove High School. I made a left turn onto 700 South when I saw something run across the street on all fours. I slowed down to prevent myself from hitting what I thought at first glance was a cat, but when it reached the other side of the road, the creature stood up on its back legs and looked directly at me in my car. It stood at a height taller than my vehicle and was humanoid in shape, but it was very thin. In a total panic, I sped off and immediately called my friend who had claimed to have seen what he believed to be a ‘Skinwalker’, which he has seen more than once in our area. While speeding home, he talked me through everything that I was feeling and urged me to go home as fast as I could. What terrified me the most was that stories like this are very common in Pleasant Grove. Before this event, I didn’t buy into any of them. I had heard stories from friends all through school about eerily similar sightings. I always brushed them off, but I’ve had an open mind since that night.”
Later that same year, I met Matthew, who shared his story with me during a Facebook conversation. He believes he saw something ominous near Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. He said he was parked across the river near the falls area at night when he and another individual saw a large black cat with antlers and a human face running along the river trail and disappearing into the brush. He swore to me that he was not inebriated in any way and that he knows what he saw. He also called this thing a “Skinwalker.”
I’m not going to hypothesize about what these things might have been, but I do not believe these were Skinwalkers. That term gets thrown around all too often by individuals who have no real knowledge of Skinwalker lore. I don’t have the space here to delve into the details of why right now, but perhaps we can dig more into Skinwalker lore in a future Utah Stories article.
Danny B. Stewart is a Utah tradition bearer, folklorist, and storyteller. He also knows that if he ever runs into that giant human-faced antlered cat, he’s going to need a bigger litter box, because it probably needs a home.
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