Arizona Myths and Legends Part 1

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Many home and pro haunters have woven local history, myth, and urban legend into their stories. Here are some you might consider incorporating yourself!

Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine

May as well start with the BIG one. 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 ghosts of these and others may haunt the desert yet.

Mogollon Monster

Arizona’s own version of Bigfoot! 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.

El Chupacabra

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.

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 local legends and ghost stories have YOU heard?
Happy Haunting!


  1. Jadewik's Avatar
    You can visit the grave of Jacob Waltz on Tuesdays (or Thurs, I forget)which is located at the Pioneer Military Park Cemetery at 15th Avenue and Harrison Street in downtown Phoenix. Just need to go through the Smirthwaite house, and get someone from the historical society to open the gate for you. While you're there, take time to visit some notable persons-- like the guy who named Phoenix and Tempe.

    Lots of other legends--
    The Ghost Bus of Hwy 93 is a favorite of mine.
    There are also strange disappearances of people, like the park ranger at Faraway Ranch in the chiricahuas.

    ... also know a lot of buried/hidden/forgotten treasure stories... like whatever happened to the money cochise county deputy Burt Alvord stashed after robbing trains?

    Would type more, but posting from the phone is vexing.