From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the blue waters of the Great Lakes, these vast and mysterious areas are home to more than just wildlife.
They harbor mythical creatures that terrorize people, protect trees from loggers, and warn miners from embedding doom. From local versions of the Loch Ness Monsters to indigenous tales told to children to keep them from wandering off, here are the scariest mythical creatures from each state in America.
1. Alabama’s Wolf Woman of Mobile
In early April of 1971, 50 people reported seeing a half-wolf, half-women creature in the marshes of Mobile. Some said she escaped from the circus and one witness even said she chased them home. Was it a coincidence that these reports started so close to April Fools Day, or did all these people really see something?
2. Alaska’s Qalupalik
Another one of the mythical creatures from Indigenous legends is the Qalupalik. This Inuit creature lives in the sea and draws children to the water with a hum-like singing. She has a human-like body, green skin, long hair, and very long fingernails. A Qualupalik wears a parka-like baby carrier called an amautik.
Parents often tell children that if they disobey and wander by themselves down to Alaska’s waters, she’ll grab them, place them in her amautik, and they will have to forever live in the sea.
3. Arizona’s Mogollon Monster
Legend has it that a 7-foot tall ape-like creature with large red eyes and long black hair lives in Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. Also known as the Arizona Bigfoot, reports claim this monster smells like a mixture of dead fish, skunk, and decaying peat moss.
4. Arkansas’ White River Monster
Now nicknamed Whitey, the Newport-area sea creature legend goes all the back to Native American folklore. In 1937, national media reported a sighting of this giant Loch Ness Monster cousin in the Arkansas River. News crews and the TV show Animal Planet filmed the river for weeks to get a glimpse of the 30 foot long, gray river creature.
5. California’s Tahoe Tessie
From Washoe and Paiute Tribes tales to Jacques Cousteau, the legend of what lives in the deep Lake Tahoe waters is part of California history. Appearing in public a dozen times a year, the creature looks like an oversized 60-foot long sturgeon fish or even a relative of the Loch Ness Monster. Next time you’re in Lake Tahoe, check out their dedicated museum. If you think you spot Tessie, there’s even a local hotline to report her appearance.
6. Colorado’s Tommyknockers
When British miners came to America, they brought old European myths and superstitions with them. Like the Brothers Grimm and Lord of the Rings, miniature men played a critical part in their lore. They believed that leprechaun-like mythical creatures lived in Colorado’s mines and played tricks on the workers, making strange noises. Tommyknockers would also warn of dangers in the mine by knocking inside the walls.
On your next trip to Colorado, explore these same mines 1,000 feet underground in Georgetown and enjoy Colorado’s craft brew scene at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs.
7. Connecticut’s Connie
Not all mythical creatures on this list get their own museum exhibition, but Connie, the Connecticut River Sea Serpent, does! The Connecticut River has played a critical role in the state’s history, development and legends. First reported in The New York Times in 1886, two men spotted a creature with a black head as large as a barrel with eyes as big as plates. They estimated the beast to be 100 feet long. Stories of Connie continue to be told by boaters today, even a local mascot of sorts for rivergoers in Old Saybrook.
8. Delaware’s Pukwudgie
These intelligent mini-mythical creatures can be found in Delaware’s woods. Native Americans believed that these aggressive monsters could appear and disappear instantly, use magic, start fires, and create endless mayhem. If you think you are being stalked by one of these mythical creatures, stay away from cliffs or the beach, where they have been known to push people to their details or blind them with sand.
9. Florida’s Skunk Ape
According to urban legends, Florida’s Everglades and swamps are home to a wide variety of indigenous wildlife as well as a smelly skunk ape that lives among alligators. Spotting and tales Starting in the 1960s, rumors and reports of an ape-like mythical creature called the Swamp Cabbage Man, Bigfoot, and the Skin Ape were repeatedly spotted running on two legs.
Not far from popular resorts on Marco Island is an official Skunk Ape Research Headquarters where monster research and investigations occur. This iconic Florida roadside attraction is a must-do for vacationers.
10. Georgia’s Altie The Sea Monster
In McIntosh County’s empty rice fields lives the Altamaha-ha sea monster, now known in Georgia as Altie. The indigenous Muscogee Tribe first told tales of Altie, and they increased when immigrants from Scotland settled in the state. Even today, along the coast, people sometimes see a giant strange sea creature swimming in the Altamaha River near the town of Darien.
11. Hawaii’s Menehune
Native Hawaiians feel a deep connection to nature and the spirits that inhabit their islands. Their stories explain the extreme forces present in the beautiful but powerful land. One such legend is the birth of the historic Alekoko Fishpond near Lihue on the Island of Kauai.
Supposedly built by mythical creatures called Menehune, these mischievous forest-dwelling little people were engineering geniuses and created this entire fishpond in one night. While they were thought to have left, these mythical creatures are in the 1820 census of Kauai as a population of 65.
12. Idaho’s Sharlie
A giant sea serpent similar to the Loch Ness Monster has lived in Payette Lake outside of McCall, Idaho for centuries. Whether locals call it Sharlie, Slimy Slim, or the Twilight Dragon of Payette Lake, several groups of people have seen a 30-foot-long creature with the head of a giant dinosaur, humped-back, and shell-covered skin.
13. Illinois’s The Cole Hollow Road Monster
Three hours outside of Chicago lives a seven-foot-tall 200-pound ape with long hair. Cohomo, as locals call him, was first spotted in the 1970s and as recently as 2000. In 1972 more than 200 cars joined a search party on Cole Hollow Road to catch a glimpse but were unsuccessful—Track Cohomo’s movements around Peoria, and the surrounding area, on the Mysterious Heartland website.
14. Indiana’s Devil’s Lake Monster
In Lake Manitou lives a mythical creature that doesn’t like people messing around with its home. Well, in 1827, when workers started prep work to build a mill on the lake’s shore, they got a visit from the 30-foot monster with a long neck and a horse head. Do you think it could have just been a large buffalo carp fish, also known for a similar neck and head?
15. Iowa’s Mugwump
Another lake-dwelling monster is said to reside in Lake Timiskaming. Long before Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Harry Potter, Iowans have used the term to describe a giant hairy beast living in a swampy marsh in Venture, Iowa.
16. Kansas’ Sinkhole Sam
Was a Kansas urban legend the inspiration for the exogorth that almost ate Princess Leia, Hans Solo, and Chewbacca in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back? Starting in the summer of 1952, people reported a snake-like, wormy beast between 15 and 30 feet long swimming in the Big Sinkhole. Affectionately called Sinkhole Sam, many residents believe it is just an oversized gopher snake, but you decide.
17. Kentucky’s Pope Lick Monster
If you live near Eastern Jefferson County, you’ve probably heard of this half-man, half-goat creature traveling through the area with a circus and surviving a gruesome train wreck. It's been terrorizing the old Southern Railways trestle for so long that it has its own episode on Destination America. Go see for yourself, but remember that the railway is still active with trains.
18. Louisiana’s Rougarou
Louisana’s rich Cajun folklore includes a werewolf or half-man/half-dog creature that lives in the swamps of southeast Louisana. Originally called loup-garou (French for a werewolf), its name has changed into rougarou after generations of storytelling.
Locals will tell you that if you don’t observe Lent properly for seven years in a row, you could become a rougarou. So if you’re in New Orleans for Halloween, take a road trip to Rougarou Fest in Houma, a little more than an hour outside the city.
19. Maine’s Pocomoonshine Lake Monster
Algonquin lore said that a shaman once disagreed with another tribe’s chief. So they took to the lake to settle the matter and transformed into a giant snail and 40-foot-long serpent for the fight. The Shaman Snail won and hung the Chief Serpent on a tree next to the lake.
Ever since there have been reports of a 30-foot-long snake monster at the lake and colossal snake tracks in the mud, considering that the Anaconda can grow to this length, is this a monster or an oversized snake? You decide.
20. Maryland’s Goatman
If you grew up near Prince George’s County, you’ve probably heard of the state’s mythical creatures like the Snallygaster or the Goatman. So is the Goatman a goat herder who went insane or the result of an experiment gone bad at The Beltsville Agriculture Research Center? Either way, this half-man, half-goat monster reportedly is to blame for gruesome animal deaths in the area.
21. Massachusetts’ Beast of Truro
Reports of a monster attacking livestock have been reported in Cape Cod for decades. The Beast of Truro has been described as an 80-pound cougar with small ears and a curved rope tail. Some describe the creature as more of an oversized mountain lion. If you live in the area, keep your cats and livestock indoors at night, or they might be the beast’s next victim.
22. Michigan’s Pressie
Over the years, the Great Lakes’s deep, vast waters have been the supposed home of various mythical creatures from the Sea Monster of the Mackinac Straits to the Saginaw Bay Beast and the Presque Isle River’s Pressie.
An infamous photograph of Pressie was taken in 1977, but it was too blurry to make out precisely what was spotted in Lake Superior. Was it a sea monster with a whale’s tail and the head of a hose, or was it a capsized boat, giant rock, or oversized fish? The verdict is still out all these years later.
23. Minnesota’s Hairy Man of Vergas Trails
If you watch Syfy’s Haunted Highways show, then you might remember the Hairy Man of Vergas Trails. For decades, this small town has been rocked by strange animal deaths, supposedly at the hands of an 8-foot-tall creature from the woods.
24. Mississippi’s Three-legged Ghost
Is this Mississippi Monster the living remains of a young girl killed by a satanic cult or the ghost of the girl’s mother carrying her daughter’s leg? Either way, people travel to an old church on Nash Road to race the ghost. See for yourself what happens when you turn off your car’s headlights and honk your horn three times.
25. Missouri’s Ozark Howler
Outside of Branson, in the Ozark Mountains there lives a mysterious creature at the center of centuries of folklore. You can hear his eerie cry even if you can’t see this bear-like creature with hair and horns. Skeptics claim it must be a cougar, bear, or wild dog. However, wildlife officials say there is no population of cougars in the state, and reports of the beast don’t match the description of domesticated animals turned loose by owners.
26. Montana’s Flat Head Lake Monster
The Kutenai Tribe was the first to live on a small island in the middle of Flathead Lake. However, their population was cut in half after two girls tried to free what they thought was an animal drowning in the lake.
Hoping to release the animal by cutting its antlers, they mistakenly hurt an enormous eel-shaped monster resembling a 40-foot-long lake snake. Its dramatic awakening drowned a large number of island residents. Spottings of the creature continue over time, including a 1993 rescue of a three-year-old boy almost taken by the monster.
27. Nebraska’s Lake Walgren Monster
In Sheridan County, Nebraska, near Hay Springs, Lake Walgren is home of the state’s infamous sea creature. Over the years, it has been described as an alligator-like beast with horns, all the way down to a plain old oversized catfish.
Whatever its exact appearance, this 10-foot-long monster feeds on livestock and other animals of the lake. This mythical creature was honored with T-shirts and other souvenirs as part of the Hay Springs Centennial celebration.
28. Nevada’s Water Babies of Pyramid Lake
Legend has it that the Paiute Tribe members would discard deformed or premature babies into Reno’s Pyramid Lake. The angry babies’ spirits have haunted the lake and surrounding areas ever since. Each spring, fishers disappear in the water, never to be seen again. Over the years, haunting cries and ghostly children’s laughter are heard coming from the Lake.
29. New Hampshire’s Wood Devils
Starting in the 1970s hikers, campers, and hunters reported seeing Sasquatch-like monsters in the backwoods of Coos County. These mythical creatures, described as skinny, tall, and covered in gray hair, became known as Wood Devils. Notoriously difficult to spot, they have eluded photographs but regularly leave behind large, animal-sized footprints in the woods.
30. New Jersey’s Devil
Move over Bon Jovi, The Jersey Devil is the state’s most infamous resident, at least to some. In New Jersey, near Atlantic City, is the heavily wooded 1 million acres of undeveloped land called the Pine Barrens. It’s the home of a mysterious kangaroo-like animal with the face of a dog, wings, and horns that kills animals and destroys crops with a $100,000 bounty on its head.
For more than 250 years, this mysterious creature is said to creep through the marshes of Southern New Jersey and emerge periodically to rampage through the towns and cities. Forever immortalized, it’s not just the official state demon of New Jersey but the mascot of the state’s NHL Hockey team.
31. New Mexico’s Skinwalkers
These mythical creatures, from Navajo stories, are shape-shifting witches who gain powers by murdering family and friends. According to lore, they can turn into coyotes, birds, foxes, and wolves and sometimes appear half-animal, half-human. They can even steal the face of another person. Was this legend the inspiration of countless shape-shifting characters like Pennywise and The Terminator?
32. New York’s White Lady
One of the most infamous ghost stories in America is from upstate New York. In the 1800s, a mother lost her daughter near Lake Ontario and spent the rest of her life looking for her. Even after she died, she returned to the lake to continue searching for her long-lost daughter.
A Rochester local based his award-winning horror film Lady in White starting Katherine Helmond, of Who’s the Boss fame, as the White Lady.
33. North Carolina’s Wampus Cat
For decades, a feline beast has lived in the North Carolina foothills, killing animals at night. In the 1930s, a local paper reported a gigantic cat killing and attacking 40 dogs near the town of Marion. The Wampus Cat was never captured, and many believe it could just be a hyena who escaped from a local zoo. But could one normal animal really be the cause of so many deaths?
34. North Dakota’s Devil’s Lake Sea Serpent
As far back as Native American lore, tales of a giant serpent who lives in the state’s largest lake have been told. For hundreds of years, people have spotted a Loch Ness-style creature in Devil’s Lake. This green 80-foot monster with fins, red eyes, and the jaws of an alligator is said to lash around the lake furiously. In 1896 a fisherman reportedly hooked the serpent and was dragged around the lake. Less than a decade later, the beast was spotted again through a pair of opera glasses.
35. Ohio’s Frogman
Over the years, mini-mythical creatures were reported in Ohio’s Loveland area. In 1955 a man claimed to see 3 feet tall men with thick skin and frog faces carrying wands. Almost 50 years later, a young couple was out playing Pokémon GO and reported seeing a giant amphibian creature who walked on two legs.
36. Oklahoma’s Green Hill Monster
In the thick forest of Oklahoma lives a Big Foot-like creature dubbed The Green Hill Monster. First spotted by a high school student who was on the back roads in Talihina on a foggy night, this creature also has a bounty on its head. In 2021, a state lawmaker announced a reward that’s grown to over $2 million, as well as official Oklahoma Bigfoot hunting licenses.
37. Oregon’s Agropelter
In Oregon’s conifer trees live ultra-quick mythical creatures that throw tree branches at loggers who enter the woods. Dubbed the Agropelter, these tiny, slender ape-like monsters are to blame for worker deaths and mysterious disappearances. According to the urban legends, these mythical creatures give birth every year on February 29 and only have babies in odd numbers.
38. Pennsylvania’s Squonk
Another wooden legend is the sad Squonk of Pennsylvania’s Hemlock forests. A wrinkly, pig-like creature covered in warts supposedly spends its whole life crying. If you find yourself faced with a strange puddle in the woods, be careful; it could be a pool of Squonk tears.
39. Rhode Island Palentine Ghost
Every year on Block Island, the image of a burning ship and a female ghost appears and haunts the town. Legend has it that in the 1700s, a ship named The Palentine was estranged at sea, crashed into the island, and passengers were abandoned. While most people escaped, one woman was left behind. When the townspeople burned the abandoned ship, they accidentally burned her alive.
40. South Carolina’s Lizard Man
Described as a seven-foot-tall monster with red eyes, reptile-like skin, and three fingers with long black claws, this mythical creature has been spotted and even photographed over the decades. In 1988, a teenage boy changing a flat tire at night had a run in the beast. He safely got back into his car, but it stole his side-view mirror and damaged the roof of his car. In 2015, a churchgoer apparently successfully captured a shot of this notorious shy creature, further supporting the existence of this South Carolina monster.
41. South Dakota’s Jackalope
Originally hailing from the neighboring state of Wyoming, South Dakota has adopted the Jackalope as its own. While some believe that this creature is just a prank of two taxidermists who placed antelope horns on the body of a jackrabbit, this monster is so beloved that people can purchase one of these mythical creatures in shops throughout South Dakota. So the next time you’re in South Dakota, grab a replica for yourself.
42. Tennessee’s Spearfinger
Another gruesome tale told to children to scare them into behaving is the Cherokee legend of the Spearfinger. Walking around Chilhowee Mountain is a female shapeshifter with one very long- knife-like finger on her right hand. Taking over their parents’ appearance, she traps children, cuts them open, and eats their livers. You’d probably stay out of the Tennesee mountain woods if you heard this story as a child too!
43. Texas’ La Lechuza
Another cautionary tale is the La Lechuza monster who kidnaps and eats people out alone at night, especially those who have been drinking. This witch from Mexico lore transforms into an owl to lure people and can be warded away by praying or tying seven knots on a rope. Texans heading out to the bars might want to think about keeping some rope in their pockets.
44. Utah’s Skinwalkers
The Navajo legend, Skinwalkers, also haunts New Mexico’s neighboring state. These sinister shapeshifters gather in northeastern Utah on land now known as “Skinwalker Ranch.” The subject of the History Channel series follows a group of investigators and scientists who try to explain these mythical creatures and their presence on this 500-acre otherworldly piece of land.
45. Vermont’s Pigman
In the 1970s, a mysterious hog-like man was spotted by multiple people in Northfield. First, a farmer heard strange noises in his yard and, upon investigation, found a man with a pig face going through his garbage. Later that week, a group of students saw him in front of the high school but quickly ran away.
46. Virginia’s Chessie
For decades a strange gigantic snake-like animal has been spotted in the Chesapeake Bay. Now known as Chessie, believers think this overgrown animal results from the oceanfront Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. While doubters think people mistook sharks or enormous oarfish for these Loch Ness-like creatures, many are still believers.
47. Washington’s Tacoma Narrows Bridge Octopus
In 1940, the original Tacoma Narrows bridge collapsed and created a giant 600-pound, 20-foot octopus habitat. Now a Puget Sound legend, it’s become a Tacoma mascot. Forever immortalized by the Narrows Brewing Company with its very own IPA, grab a cold one the next time you’re in town.
48. West Virginia’s Flatwoods Monster
The mountains of West Virginia are not only the real-life location of the new Fallout 76 video game, but also the home of Appalachia lore and legends. The Flatwoods Monster of West Virginia is featured alongside other mythical creatures like Wendigo, the Grafton Monster, and Mothman. Deep in The Smoky Mountains lives a 12-foot-tall alien with red eyes and hook-like arms known to generations as the Flatwoods Monster.
49. Wisconsin’s Hodag
Rhinelander residents and fans of the show Scooby-Doo are familiar with the centuries-long horrors of Hodag. First spotted in 1893, this 7-foot-long, 200-pound, horned frog and dinosaur creature breathes fire and smells rancid. Instead of searching the Northwoods for the Hodag, catch of glimpse of his murals and portraits painted around the town of Rhinelander. There's also a festival honoring the creature every summer in Rhinelander!
50. Wyoming’s Jackalope
In 2005, lawmakers made the Jackalope the official mythical creature of Wyoming. While some people believe this monster is just a regular rabbit with a bad case of papillomatosis, the legend has already been cemented into state lore. In 1965, a giant statue was placed in Douglas’ downtown, and billboards, paintings, and signs can be seen all over today warning people to “Watch Out For the Jackalope.”
Monica Fish helps her fellow adventurers live a financially savvy life so they can travel and explore our beautiful world no matter their budget. She writes about smart timeshare ownership, vacation tips and tricks, NYC Metro Area trips and activities, and frugal, yet rich, living at PlannerAtHeart.com.