For as many cool things there are in California – Disneyland, San Francisco, and Yosemite to name a few – we are woefully short on my favorite branch of the paranormal world: cryptids. Cryptids are described as animals whose existence is only theorized, but never proven by science. Bigfoot, mothman, the chupacabra, and the Loch Ness Monster all fall under this definition. Search results for California cryptids turn up the same names over and over again – Tahoe Tessie, the Ghost Deer, and the Lone Pine Mountain Devil (which sounds like something I would have conjured up in the 5th grade) – but only two have really made waves on the paranormal spectrum.
Bigfoot of Bluff Creek
California’s claim to cryptid fame came in 1967, when Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin captured on film a tall, upright ape-like creature taking a stroll along a river bank at Bluff Creek in Humboldt county. Though the film has been picked apart and scrutinized in every way possible, it is still regarded as some of the best evidence proving bigfoot’s existence to this day. Though bigfoot/sasquatch sightings are more common in Oregon and Washington, California still has a long standing history of hikers coming across huge, mysterious footprints in the ground, massive shadows lurking between trees, and eerie howls echoing off the surrounding hills by night.
A much more recent and by far more bizarre creature spotted only in California is the Fresno Nightcrawler. At first glance they can only be described as a pair of white pants walking on their own: their legs are long and tapered, topped by a short, stalk-like body with no arms and no discernable head or face. Some claim that they are aliens, earning them the alternate name “Fresno Aliens.” Some local Native American legends say they are benevolent spirits, come to heal the rift between man and nature. But whether they are alien or spirit or some unexplained animal, there are only ever been two known sightings of these strange creatures. The first was in 2007, when a homeowner in Fresno caught two of them strolling across his lawn at night on his security camera. The second and last signing was in Yosemite in 2011, when another security camera caught another pair ambling up a deserted road, also at night. What makes the videos even more intriguing is that no one has been able to debunk them as a hoax and are grudgingly accepted as legitimate, though it offers no other explanation of what their true identity may be.