The Mogollon Monster is a legendary creature that has been discussed in accounts from central and eastern Arizona along the Mogollon Rim. It is most often described as a Bigfoot or ape-like creature, but descriptions vary.
Reports of footprints, video, and hair samples have been documented by cryptid enthusiasts, but no conclusive evidence has been found to date. Mainstream biologists remain skeptical to the existence of such a creature.
The Mogollon Monster is reported to be a bipedal humanoid, over 7 feet tall, with inhuman strength, and large eyes that some claim to be "wild and red". Its body is said to be covered with long black or reddish brown hair, with the exclusion of the chest, face, hands and feet. Reports claim it has a strong and pungent odor described as that of "dead fish, a skunk with bad body odor, decaying peat moss and the musk of a snapping turtle".
Stories say the creature is nocturnal, omnivorous, very territorial and sometimes very violent. It is generally reported to: walk with wide, inhuman strides; leave behind footprints measuring 22 inches in length; mimic birds, coyotes and other wildlife; emit whistle sounds; explore campsites after dark; build "nests" out of pine needles, twigs, and leaves; and hurl stones from locations that are hidden from view. The creature has also been said to decapitate deer and other wildlife prior to consumption. In numerous reports, the monster has been said to emit a "blood-curdling" scream; described as sounding like a woman in "great distress". Accounts of the creature regularly describe an "eerie silence prior to the encounter, an appreciable stillness in the woods that commonly surrounds predatory animals."
Biology professor Stan Lindstedt of Northern Arizona University dismisses the idea that a large homonid creature would remain hidden in such a large area of the country. "I put that in the category of mythology that can certainly make our culture interesting, but has nothing to do with science."
Generally the scientific community attributes creature sightings to either hoaxes or misidentification. As recently as the early 1930s, grizzly bears roamed the forests of Arizona. These may account for the early day sightings while other large mammals such as black bears, mountain lions and elk may account for the sightings of today.
Reported sightings range, along the Mogollon Rim, from Prescott, AZ north to Williams, AZ, southeast to Alpine, AZ, south to Clifton, AZ, and northwest back to Prescott.
- The oldest known documented sighting of the Mogollon Monster was reported in a 1903 edition of The Arizona Republican, in which I.W. Stevens described a creature seen near the Grand Canyon as having "long white hair and matted beard that reached to his knees. It wore no clothing, and upon his talon-like fingers were claws at least two inches long." Upon further inspection he noted "a coat of gray hair nearly covered his body, with here and there a spot of dirty skin showing." He later stated that after he discovered the creature drinking the blood of two cougars, it threatened him with a club, and "screamed the wildest, most unearthly screech".
- Another early documented sighting was recounted by cryptozoologist Don Davis. During the mid-1940s he was on a boy scout trip near Payson, AZ, of which he gave the following account: "The creature was huge. Its eyes were deep set and hard to see, but they seemed expressionless. His face seemed pretty much devoid of hair, but there seemed to be hair along the sides of his face. His chest, shoulders, and arms were massive, especially the upper arms; easily upwards of 6 inches in diameter, perhaps much, much more. I could see he was pretty hairy, but didn't observe really how thick the body hair was. The face/head was very square; square sides and squared up chin, like a box".
- A member of the White Mountain Apache Nation in Arizona by the name of Collette Altaha stated in 2006, "We're not prone to easily talk to outsiders, but there have been more sightings than ever before. It cannot be ignored any longer." "No one's had a negative encounter with it," said Marjorie Grimes, who lives in Whiteriver, the primary town on the reservation. When asked about her encounter she reports that "It was all black and it was tall! The way it walked; it was taking big strides. I put on the brakes and raced back and looked between the two trees where it was, and it was gone!" Regarding local reports, Tribal police lieutenant Ray Burnette states that "A couple of times they've seen this creature looking through the windows. They're scared when they call." He stated "The calls we're getting from people — they weren't hallucinating, they weren't drunks, they weren't people that we know can make hoax calls. They're from real citizens of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation."