Feb 12, 2024 - News

Where to find Utah's highest concentrations of UFO sightings

👽 Reported UFO sightings per 100k residents
Data: National UFO Reporting Center, U.S. Census; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Grand County — home to Moab — is Utah's No. 1 spot for UFO sightings, with more reports per capita than any other county in the state.

  • The tourism-heavy area ranked No. 22 for all U.S. counties, according to data from the National UFO Reporting Center.

Zoom out: 24 of the state's 29 counties tallied more UFO sightings per capita than the national average of 34.3 sightings per 100,000 residents between 2000 and 2023, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Erin Davis report.

By the numbers: The Salt Lake metro area reported 47.1 sightings per 100,000 residents, a fraction of Grand County's 340.9.

  • Wayne County had 315, with Emery, Kane and Rich counties each above 200.

Of note: The national map roughly correlates to dark sky locations.

Details: Anyone can submit a report to the UFO center, but volunteers there work to weed out what they consider obvious hoaxes or false reports.

  • Only a fraction of people who see something unusual file a report, says Christian Stepien, the organization's chief technology officer.
  • "I would estimate that people who see stuff that they think is a UFO or that is an actual UFO — we think maybe 5% report it, maybe not even that."

The intrigue: UFO reports spiked when SpaceX's Starlink satellites — which can look like a "train" streaking across the night sky — were first being launched in 2019 and 2020, Stepien says.

  • But that's less the case now, he says, as more people learn what Starlink looks like.

Meanwhile: The Defense Department created the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office in 2022 to research UAPs, underscoring some government leaders' concerns about the potential national security threat they pose.

  • A 2023 Pentagon report found that among 366 UAP cases examined, more than half were balloons, drones or "airborne clutter" — but many instances were left unresolved.

The bottom line: Despite rising public acceptance of UFO/UAP chatter, there's still no proof that we're being visited by extraterrestrials.

  • Many of these sightings are likely military activity (especially those near Area 51, which has a storied history of classified aircraft tests), satellites, scientific phenomena, etc.
  • But the truth, as they say, is out there.
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