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What is the Mogollon Monster in Arizona?

Deep in northern Arizona’s ponderosa pine forest, the mysterious Mogollon Monster hides from nearby humans. Sightings of the “Arizona Bigfoot” are numerous but unconfirmed.

Since 1903, explorers, hikers, and residents of one of Arizona’s most fascinating geological areas have spotted this elusive creature. But monsters like this don’t really exist. Right?

We pored over the stories to uncover whether the Mogollon Monster is real or just another urban legend.

Let’s jump in!

What is the Mogollon Monster?

The Mogollon Monster is a cryptid that bears a resemblance to a large human or ape. People who claim to have seen the creature say that it’s at least seven feet tall. Other reports have described the monster as having long, dark body hair. Many accounts claim it possesses an odor similar to a skunk or dead fish.

The first documented sighting occurred in 1903. Since then, there have been dozens more, especially in the last two decades.

Many recent sightings came from Fort Apache Indian Reservation residents, which lies on the border of Arizona and New Mexico. But the creature has been spotted elsewhere in Arizona as well. 

Reports of the Mogollon Monster primarily fall along the Mogollon Rim, a forested geographical area that runs across half of the state. Multiple sightings have occurred in Prescott, Williams, Alpine, and Clifton.

Who Reported the First Mogollon Monster Sighting?

A man named I.W. Stevens noted seeing a mysterious creature near the Grand Canyon in 1903. According to an article in the Williams-Grand Canyon News, he witnessed “a man with long white hair and a matted beard that reached his knees. He wore no clothing, and upon his talon-like fingers were claws at least two inches long.” 

Stevens’ account also claims the creature’s face was “seared and burned brown by the sun, with fiery green eyes.”

With a large club in hand, the monster reportedly ran toward Stevens before becoming distracted by a mountain lion. Stevens claims he shot the mountain lion, spooking the monster and causing it to run off. 

Once Stevens retreated to the safety of his nearby boat, he could see the creature eating the mountain lion and its two cubs. As he yelled in its direction, the monster “flourished his club again and screamed the wildest, most unearthly screech I ever heard.”

Pro Tip: Give yourself a scare by visiting one of these 5 Spooky Ghost Towns in Arizona.

Are There Books About the Mogollon Monster?

Two books have been written about the mysterious creature stalking Mogollon Rim. Susan Farnsworth self-published The Mogollon Monster, Arizona’s Bigfoot, in 1996. The book was a collection of sightings and stories from locals and state residents.

Susan Farnsworth published a second book, More Mogollon Monster, Arizona’s Bigfoot, in 2011. She co-authored with cryptozoologist Mitchell Waite, who worked with Susan and a small team to conduct first-hand research along the Mogollon Rim. According to Waite’s obituary, the team located a 19-inch footprint believed to belong to the monster.

Where is the Mogollon Rim?

The Mogollon Rim is one of Arizona’s most interesting geographical features. Abundant with wildlife and vegetation, the rim divides Arizona in half diagonally and stretches to New Mexico. 

The 2,000-foot tall, 200-mile-long escarpment is a dividing line between pine woods and a vast, cactus-filled desert. 

Water from the Mogollon Rim feeds into the Colorado and Salt Rivers. Several small towns and rural properties line the rim, giving the area a remote feel. 

Because of Mogollon Rim’s unique placement, residents and visitors can experience various weather events and seasonal shifts. Hunting, hiking, camping, and water sports are popular in the region.

Close up of a gorilla eye
Built like a gorilla, the Mogollon Monster is one of Arizona’s most scary creatures rumored to roam about the state.

Best Campgrounds Near the Mogollon Rim

Are you hoping for your own Mogollon Monster sighting? Pack up the RV because there are many excellent campsites along the Mogollon Rim.

Let’s look at a few options!

Mogollon Campground

The Mogollon Campground is a primitive campsite with 26 available 40-foot pull-out lots to accommodate cars, campers, and small RVs. Electricity isn’t available at the campground, but each lot does offer a picnic table, grill, and campfire ring. Additional amenities include onsite toilets, drinking water, and trash service.

Fees begin at $18 per night for one vehicle, with each additional vehicle costing $9. Groceries and supplies are available at the Woods Canyon Lake Marina Store, about two miles from the campground. Mogollon Campground is one of the campsites closest to the edge of the rim, and visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, and kayaking.

Ponderosa Campground

The Ponderosa Campground, another fantastic option for visitors to the Mogollon Rim, is located in the Tonto National Forest. This campground doesn’t offer electricity but does feature paved lots to accommodate campers and RVs up to 35 feet. Amenities include picnic areas, drinking water, toilets, grills, and campfire rings.

Fees begin at $20 per night for single campsites and $100 per night for group camping sites. A charge of $8 applies for each additional vehicle at a single spot. Food and supplies are available in the nearby town of Payson. Visitors can hike or explore the Rim Country Lakes, a series of lakes just a short drive east of the Ponderosa Campground.

Best Hikes Near the Mogollon Rim

The Mogollon Rim is abundant with beautiful hiking trails. If you’re lucky, you might spot the Mogollon Monster while exploring the scenery!

Let’s look at a couple of popular hikes in the area.

See Spring Trail

See Spring Trail lives up to its name. If you follow the path to its end, your reward is a beautiful natural spring! This forested, easy-to-moderate hike is almost 2.5 miles from start to finish and begins on the edge of Christopher Creek. Wildflowers and butterflies are familiar sights on this route.

Leashed dogs are welcome on See Spring Trail. Some reviewers describe the hike as family-friendly, while others warn that parts of the pathway are quite overgrown and may prove difficult for small children and strollers. Entry to the See Spring trailhead is free.

Rim Lakes Vista and Woods Canyon Vista

Are you looking for a comfortable hike with stunning views? This easy trail with abundant wildlife and vegetation is just over three miles from start to finish. Because it’s paved and mostly flat, the Rim Lakes Vista and Woods Canyon Vista path is also wheelchair friendly and quite accessible for those with mobility issues.

Bird-watching is common among visitors to the Rim Lakes Vista and Woods Canyon Vista trail. The area is open year-round, making this one of the more popular hikes along Mogollon Rim. The route is family-friendly and free to enter.

Pro Tip: Looking for a unique site to visit in Arizona? We uncovered Why Do People Visit The Thing in Arizona?

The Mogollon Monster: Fact or Fiction?

The story of the Mogollon Monster has haunted Arizona’s Mogollon Rim for nearly 120 years. While no one has officially confirmed the monster’s existence, locals and witnesses are sure that something mysterious is stalking the ponderosa pines. 

Give the Mogollon Rim a visit. Even if you don’t catch a monster sighting, you’ll enjoy the beautiful surroundings, camping, and hiking.

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