Who’s ready for spooky story time? Here are some urban (and not-so-urban) legends most Arizonans have heard during their time here. A few are comical in nature but keep scrolling for the more frightening tales that take place in the rural areas of the state. You may want to keep a flashlight with you on your next camping trip, just in case.
1. Frying an egg on the sidewalk
Let’s start with some not-so-scary legends like this. Frying an egg on the sidewalk is actually more of an idiom due to the extreme heat felt in most areas of the state but some people make attempts to see if this is actually true. The result so far? Theoretically, you could cook an egg on the sidewalk or asphalt but don’t expect it to fry quickly like your morning eggs. Plenty of people test this out each year with varied results; some only end up with a gummy egg that has barely set in several hours while others claim their eggs cooked within a matter of minutes. If you’re not sure you want to waste a couple of eggs trying to find out this summer, there are plenty of online instructions on how to bake cookies in your car.
Part jackrabbit, part antelope, all legend. This one actually extends across the American West but still enjoys a prolific life in Arizona where you can find the word emblazoned on street signs, tourist gifts, and festivals. Would you be sad to find out it was all a hoax?
3. Pancho Villa rode his horse up the steps of the Gadsden Hotel in Douglas
The horse damaged the grand marble staircase, right? This one is a nice blurring of history and wild west legend but most folks will say this couldn’t be true. The Gadsden Hotel was around during the Mexican revolutionary’s lifetime and Villa allegedly threatened to invade Douglas after losing the Second Battle of Agua Prieta. However, Villa never went through on that particular threat (although his troops did attack a few towns in New Mexico) and the Gadsden Hotel we see was actually rebuilt after a 1929 fire, 6 years after Villa’s death.
Do you think he had time to ride his horse up a marble staircase?
4. Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine
So many down on their luck folks have been tempted to spend a few days in the Superstition Mountains to see if they can locate the fabled Lost Dutchman’s gold mine. Does it actually exist? The Dutchman, Jacob Waltz, does seem to have been a real person but whether the mine exists and the legitimacy of any existing maps to the alleged location are under scrutiny. At least a half dozen people since the 1930s have died attempting to locate the mine, making it a deadly venture.
The trail will take you around the Lost Dutchman State Park but not to the mine. No map actually exists.
5. Mogollon Monster
My first memory of the Mogollon Monster happened as a child during the '90s. Back then, driving up the 87 with my family, there used to be a set of brightly colored footprints somewhere north of Payson that stumbled across the highway. These were made in homage to the Mogollon Monster, Arizona’s own version of Bigfoot, although you couldn't convince my ten-year-old self they weren't real. Sightings have been reported as early as 1903 but its existence is dubious. Either way, you may want to stay vigilant during your next camping trip along the rim to avoid running into the Mogollon Monster any time soon.
6. El Chupacabra
Mangy dog/coyote or an actual goat sucker? If you are from any part of the Southwest, you may have heard something about this strange creature and probably multiple descriptions of what it looks like, ranging from an alien creature to possessing a more dog-like appearance. Whether or not it exists, this is another good reason to keep your small pets indoors at night.
7. La Llorona
Another legend with Mexican roots that is a common story around the West. La Llorona, or the Weeping Woman, has deep roots in Aztec stories but generally she is referred to as a woman who regrets drowning her children as an act of revenge on her husband. Adults will tell children to avoid wandering alone at night (especially near bodies of water) or being naughty if they don’t want to suffer the same fate at La Llorona’s hands. If you’re a man, it wouldn’t hurt to avoid these too unless you want to chance being mistaken for her cheating husband. You know, just in case.
Want to get really scared? Listen to a few accounts about the Navajo skinwalker and you’ll rethink being outdoors alone at night again. Unlike the popular shapeshifters referred to in media as skinwalkers or shapeshifters, the Navajo version has roots in witchcraft and is someone you truly don’t want to encounter. If you hear a personal account, Navajos will mention the numerous ways a skinwalker can witch a person and why they make for dangerous encounters. If you want a fictional account, read the Tony Hillerman book.
What other Arizona urban legends have you heard? Let us know in the comments.