World UFO Day: Hotspots For Otherworldly Close Encounters

Extraterrestrial Highway sign with a lot of stickers on it

3.28min read

Published 2 July 2015


The official World UFO Day website suggests one way of celebrating this most sacred of occasions is to 'talk with your friends about the possibility of UFOs or alien life'.  So here we are, friends, delving into the bizarre, the unexplained, the paranormal... the extraterrestrial.

Whether you're a full-blown believer or a staunch sceptic, today is a timely reminder that alien life could well indeed be out there. Who knows? By 2050 we might be counting down the hottest inter-galactic holiday destinations and boasting Flight Centre's latest space shuttle deals.

Until then, here are some of the world's best hotspots for close encounters of the quirky kind.

Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada

 Extraterrestrial Highway sign with a lot of stickers on it
Cruising down the extraterrestrial highway in Nevada (Image: Getty)

This is the American Road Trip for alien enthusiasts. Nevada State Route 375, more commonly known as the Extraterrestrial Highway, has been the site of countless UFO sightings – some easily explained, others not so.

The lonely 158-kilometre route slices through the Nevada desert and alongside the Nellis Air Force Base, made famous for a mysterious pocket of land dubbed Area 51 – a hotbed for conspiracy theories and alleged flying saucer cover-ups.

On paper, the base has tested secret missiles, aircraft and weaponry since the 1950s, to which the sonic boom of jets breaking the sound barrier around you will attest.

The only settlement en route is the tiny town of Rachel, which has embraced the extraterrestrial attention with alien-themed retailers, accommodation and lunch specials.

Believers previously made the pilgrimage to a solitary postal drop between Rachel and Alamo known as the Black Mailbox, which unfortunately was stolen earlier this year. But by whom, or what...?

Roswell, New Mexico

 Signage of UFO Crash Site in Roswell
X (files) marks the spot in Roswell (Image: Getty)

Roswell is ground zero for ufologists. The small agricultural town first garnered alien-related attention back in 1947, when a 'flying disc' is said to have crashed. A rancher reported a brilliant bright light and strange metal debris scattered across a large area, but officials were quick to dismiss any rumours.

Military personnel stated it was simply a weather balloon that had plummeted to the ground. This seemingly small incident has sparked false confessions, political interest and countless conspiracy theories.

Roswellians take great pride in their town's unique claim to fame. The Roswell FilmFest (sci-fi film festival) and Cosmicon starts today (and runs until July 4); alongside the UFO Festival (until July 5), which is celebrating its 20th year and includes a good-old-fashioned alien chase.

While you're getting all paranormal up in New Mexico, consider signing up to the SETI Institute – the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Far from being a team of crackpots, major projects at SETI are conducted by prestigious universities such as Harvard and Berkeley.

While they are yet to find solid evidence of life on other planets, SETI say "there have been several tantalising suggestions".

Stonehenge, Wiltshire

Stonehenge with a cloud formation above it
Stonehenge: a site of strange happenings (Image: Getty)

Crop formations (well, they're not always circles) are no modern hoax, but whether they are indeed hokum is highly contested by some. The intricate patterns that seemingly pop up overnight are swirled across paddocks as close as Tully in Far North Queensland, but the UK is the monarch of mysterious markings.

The United Kingdom was the site of the first reported crop circle back in 1678 and continues to be branded by the phenomena today.

Just this week, mysterious patterns have appeared in the fields of Wiltshire, just one kilometre from the equally peculiar Stonehenge. A large disc-shaped object was also recently spotted hovering above the site. Coincidence?

The prehistoric monument – a ring of massive stones dating back to around 3100 BC – is World Heritage-listed for its cultural significance, though scientists are still baffled as to its original purpose.

Advocates of the 'ancient alien theory' suppose the site served as a landing pad for spaceships, or an identifier for extraterrestrial beings to spot us from the sky.

Northern Territory, Australia

One of the abandoned place in Australia, showing a banner with a Alien face
Welcome one and all to Wycliffe Well! (Image: Getty)

As any reader of the Northern Territory News knows, UFOs are not an uncommon sight in the Top End, albeit often in combination with strong drink and high temperatures.

They are known to appear at the onset of the dry season, from May to October, although one arrived early this year, with a Darwin student reporting a bright green light over the city's suburbs in March.

The NT's own Wycliffe Well, along the Stuart Highway between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek, styles itself as the UFO capital of Australia. Wycliffe Well is said to be one of the top five UFO hotpots in the world and guarantees a sighting every couple of days.

Wycliffe Well's tourist park operator Lou claims he has seen so many UFOs he no longer bothers looking for them. According to Lou, the flat town is at the crossroads of 'Ley lines' or extraterrestrial highways, making it the perfect spot to take in some intergalactic action.

San Clemente, Chile

 A llama stopping for a photo
IT'S AN ALIEN! Oh wait no, just a llama (Image: Getty)

The Andean town of San Clemente in Chile is a modern hub of UFO sightings, with hundreds of reports of mysterious happenings logged over the past two decades.

The national tourism board is fully behind this strange claim to fame and in 2008 opened the first official UFO trail in San Clemente.

The 30-kilometre trail takes in several locations where close encounters are said to have gone down, including El Enladrillado: an ancient elevated plateau rumoured to be a landing pad for foreign craft.

The scenic route requires a leisurely four-hour horseback journey to get to El Enladrillado, and is signposted with details about well-known sightings.

Unfortunately, the tourism board "in no way guarantees a tourist coming to San Clemente will see a UFO", but that won't stop them from trying. As Scully and Mulder will tell you, the truth is out there.

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