Stories of creeping, flying, and swimming cryptids have long emerged from communities across what is now the United States. From figures of Native American legends to the lore behind small town hysteria, cryptids have long captured human curiosity. Today, people erect monuments in their honor, coalesce in cult followings, and continue to seek them out. Now, you can explore the homes of cryptids across the U.S.—from the Beast of Montana, to a murderous goat man in Kentucky, to a lake monster in Vermont—and learn the stories behind the country’s most elusive icons.

The Great American Bigfoot Tour

by Jonathan Carey, Senior Associate Editor, Places

Follow along on a nationwide Bigfoot roadtrip!

Beware Montana’s Shunka Warak’in, the ‘Rocky Mountain Hyena’

by J.W. Ocker

Ringdocus, Guyasticutus, or simply, the Beast, whatever you call it, the wolf-like Shunka Warak’in was a Montana livestock terror in the late 1880s.

Place: The Sasquatch Outpost

A museum dedicated to the mysterious cryptid.

Beware the Wendigo, the Frostbitten Flesheater of North America’s Chilly Heartland

by J.W. Ocker

While its appearance may vary across time and geography, the Wendigo remains a symbol of hunger and desperation through the cold, dark winter.

Searching for ‘Spooklights’ in Southern Georgia

by Shaun Raviv

These supposedly supernatural balls of light—whether lanterns carried by ghosts or rising phosphorus gas—have been sighted near swamplands around the world, sometimes accompanied by the sound of a cowbell or the killing of car engines.

Beware the Thunderbird, Badass Cryptid of the Skies

by J.W. Ocker

The monstrous thunderbird, with a whopping 70-foot wingspan, can incite storms and occasionally kidnap pets and children, according to the legends of the Comanche, Chippewa, Mandan, and other Native American tribes.

The Rougarou, Beast of the Louisiana Bayou, Gets a Makeover

by Joel Balsam

The Louisiana Bayou Beast is said to be a giant, harry human trapped by a curse, or a rising symbol for saving the state’s imperiled wetlands.

Place: The Hodag

The menacing creature had a tremendous influence on the local culture before being exposed as a hoax.

Place: Pope Lick Trestle Bridge

This railroad overpass is said to be home to a murderous goat-man whose legend has led to very real deaths.

Podcast: Spooky Places

The bug-eyed, big-winged Mothman was first sighted on November 15, 1966, in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in the height of Cold War paranoia and a UFO craze, cementing his place in local lore and pop culture.

Place: Skunk Ape Research Headquarters

In the depths of the Everglades, one man has dedicated his life to studying the elusive Skunk Ape.

The Many Lives and Fiery Deaths of the Silver Lake Sea Serpent

by Nicole Hebdon

The football field–length serpent was said to call the tiny town of Perry, New York, home for centuries before and after European arrival. It has been celebrated, hunted, and hounded by locals and tourists alike ever since.

7 Spots to Explore New Jersey’s Horrors, Hauntings, and Hoaxes

by Samantha O’Brien, Senior Editor, Gastro Obscura

The New Jersey Devil, a two-legged horse sporting claws, wings, and a forked tail, has lived on as a legend, despite some debunked sightings. This exploration of the Garden State can show you where to learn more.

Place: Lake Champlain Monster Monument

The second most famous lake monster in the world is honored with its own statue.