The Bigfoot of the Mojave
Since the 1970s, when the Mojave Desert base expanded from its World War II encampment, there have been regular reports of new recruits terrorized by both the Yucca Man and pranks inspired by the tales. But most sightings of the spectral creature come from campers and hikers at Joshua Tree National Park. Tents have been opened in the night by stinking monstrosities, and there is an occasional large footprint or blurry photograph submitted as evidence. A snapshot from the Hidden Valley campground has made the rounds for a decade now: The figure bounding over the boulders looks much like the iconic Bigfoot from the Patterson–Gimlin film of 1967.
Since the 1960s, when tales of Yucca Man and his desert cohorts were commonly reported by Southern California newspapers and television stations, amateur “cryptozoologists” and Bigfoot researchers have analyzed the blurry pictures and measured the prints in the sand, all in the effort to document a flesh-and-blood creature they believe exists alongside everyday mammals such as bears, coyotes, and humans.
But the Natives who lived in California long before European colonization considered these creatures to be supernatural entities, with names that often translated to “hairy devils.” They took care to avoid the gloomy spots where the devils were often seen.
From “The Known Unknown: Tales of the Yucca Man” by Ken Layne for Longreads; Photo #1 by Ken Layne; Photo #2 of the alleged Yucca Man that dates back to the 1990s
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