Travel

Explore the Unexplainable At These Mysterious Sites in New England

UFOs? Strange phenomena? You'll find it all at these destinations.


Sure, tourists flock there every fall to see the sights, but Salem doesn’t have New England’s exclusive rights to the mysterious, and October doesn’t have a monopoly on spooky. And while the thought of aliens likely brings to mind the arid landscapes of the American south west, in the Northeast, we have our own close encounters.

If you’ve got a taste for the strange—nay, the unexplainable—and are looking for literally any reason to get out of your house, consider this list of (visitable) events and sites around New England. And they’re all outdoors, too, so you can enjoy them while you enjoy some fresh air (and also run away easily if you get spooked).

America’s Stonehenge in Salem, NH. America’s Stonehenge, NH by jazzmodeus on Flickr/Creative Commons

America’s Stonehenge, Salem, NH

Mystery Hill. America’s Stonehenge. This 74-acre site in Salem, N.H. has consistently changed names and owners, and frequently been the cause of archeological disputes. The current owners claim that the stone formations and man-made caves and tunnels are evidence of Irish druids who arrived in New England before other European colonists arrived. Others think the site was made by Native Americans. The most credible theory is that America’s Stonehenge was the site of a lye extraction outfit in the 1800s.

Now, with the purchase of a $12 ticket, the public can tour and view this roadside oddity, which is either an ancient Native American astrological site, the creation of pre-Columbus Europeans (probably not), or a conglomeration of 18th and 19th century agricultural practices. Go, and try to figure it out for yourself. Oh, and as a non-new-age-conspiracy-added-bonus, they’ve got alpacas.

$12, 105 Haverhill Rd, Salem, NH, stonehengeusa.com

Betty and Barney Hill UFO historical site marker on US 3 North near Lincoln, NH. Betty & Barney Hill Incident Historic Marker by Jimmy Emerson, DVM Follow on Flickr/Creative Commons

Betty and Barney Hill UFO Site Marker, Lincoln, NH

In 1963, the Hills were driving in rural New Hampshire, heading home from a vacation in Niagara Falls, when Betty observed a bright light moving erratically across the night sky. Barney, who was driving the car, pulled over so they could get a better look. The light promptly advanced until a UFO, in all its disc glory, was hovering just in view. From there, the Hills say their memories become spotty, though they claim to have been abducted by extraterrestrials from the Zeta Reticuli system.

This close encounter is one of the earliest to receive major news coverage, and was eventually adapted into a book and then a movie titled The UFO Incident starring James Earl Jones and Estelle Parsons. The Hill’s experience garnered so much notoriety, in fact, that New Hampshire gave the site of their abduction an official historical marker along US Rt. 3, which you can visit and await further visitors from the great unknown.

It’s just a small historical marker, but we say the Old Man of the Mountain’s got nothing on this.

US Rt. 3, NH, just past the Indian Head Resort

Covered Bridge Ln., where Thom Reed and his family experienced their encounter. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Thom Reed UFO Monument Park, Sheffield, MA

Another abduction! And what Atlas Obscura refers to as the first “historically true” UFO encounter. In 1969, Thom Reed and his family were driving over a covered bridge in Sheffield, MA, when something rose from the water, shining, promptly teleporting them to an open space, where they saw large creatures. Reed alleges he was separated from his grandmother and mother, who had also been transported to that space until, suddenly, they were all back in their car.

If you fancy a ride out to Sheffield, there is now a Thom Reed UFO Monument Park, and a bench sponsored by the International UFO Museum in Roswell, NM, to commemorate the event. Also viewable is the covered bridge where the encounter allegedly occurred.

There’s an extra element of spookiness to this event, too. It’s considered “historically true” because that same night, numerous people made calls to the local radio station and reported seeing an unidentified flying object.

Covered Bridge Ln, Sheffield, MA 

Gravity Hill, Greenfield MA

Sir Isaac Newton is probably rolling in his grave. Out in Greenfield, MA, there’s a road where you (yes, you!) can defy gravity. All you’ve gotta do is put your car in neutral. Underneath the Route 2 overpass, where Old Greenfield Rd meets Shelburne Rd, cars began moving uphill while in neutral.

Drive out there, put your car in park, and defy the laws of physics! Or, more prosaically, enjoy an optical illusion involving a slight downgraded road and roadside scenery that moves uphill. But where’s the fun in that?

Old Greenfield Rd, Greenfield, MA

Bridgewater Triangle

This lesser known triangle, overshadowed by that diva Bermuda, is also a place where the seemingly unexplainable occurs. The Bridgewater Triangle is a 200 square mile area between Bridgewater and Fall River with a number of documented urban legends and spooky happenings.

Within the triangle, you can find Hockomock swamp, or “the place where the spirits dwell;” Profile Rock, where the ghost of a man has been seen sitting on the rock; an alleged pterodactyl sighting; and the Ghost Trucker of Copicut Road, a phantasm truck that runs drivers off the road.

200 square miles between Freetown, Rehoboth, and Abington

Spider Gates cemetery. / Quaker Cemetery (“Spider Gate”) Leicester MA by janhatesmarcia on Flickr/Creative Commons

Spider Gates Cemetery, Leicester MA

Out in Leicester, MA, lies a quaint Quaker cemetery that has inspired a number of urban legends. Friends Cemetery, its official name, is well kept, and located at the end of a dirt road. With headstones from the 1700s, it’s also known as Spider Gates Cemetery because the iron fence has a curling design that resemble a spider’s web.

The cemetery is home to the usual ghost stories. Quaker spirits supposedly haunt the grounds, and satanic rituals are said to take place within the graveyard. Oh, and legend has it, the iron gates are a portal into the fires of hell!

Earle Street, Leicester, Massachusetts

Dover Demon, Dover MA

Imagine this: You’re driving down the road, you’re seventeen, and suddenly your car’s headlights reveal an enormous, alien-like monster with long spindly fingers crawling along a rock wall on the side of the road.

In 1977, in Dover, MA, three teenagers independently reported seeing such a creature within the span of two days. First, William Bartlett saw the creature on Farm Street in Dover. Then, that same evening, John Baxter said he saw a similar creature on Miller Road. The following night, Abby Brabham reported spotting the creature on Springdale Avenue.

The Dover Demon has garnered some national recognition, later appearing in a 2009 Animal Planet episode, and shows up in the comic book series Proof. Try driving out to Dover on a foggy night, and see if it still prowls the roads.

Miller Rd, Springdale Rd, and Farm St, Dover, MA