Is Colorado a destination for those from other galaxies?
Longmont-based author and paranormal investigator Richard Estep’s new book, “Colorado UFOs,” talks to those who claim they have seen UFOs in the Centennial State’s skies – some say they have even made contact.
Estep, who is also an EMT, said writing a book about UFOs wasn’t exactly on his radar; in fact, it was his publisher’s idea to investigate what’s going on in Colorado.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m not a UFO guy. I’ve read on the subject, I’ve more than a passing interest in it; I can talk about it somewhat intelligently in a conversation, but I’m not an expert,” he said. “They said, ‘That’s kind of what we want. We’re looking at a book that’s not just the usual ‘people saw lights in the sky and this and that. We want to look at the human experiences to what’s going on in the UFO scene in Colorado. Go find out.’”
‘They were sending me off on an adventure’The two-year writing adventure took Estep to locations around the state – taking him to some pretty strange places, he said, including into a forest clearing outside Evergreen at midnight with people who were trying to contact an alien ship. He said what took longest was forming connections with the people he spoke to.
“You just don’t walk into that community and get people to trust you and talk to you,” he said. “Fortunate for me is that having the connections in the paranormal, the ghost side of things, a lot of people knew people, and based on their referrals and recommendations, I was able to make some contacts and have people tell me their stories. But it didn’t happen overnight.”
And as he did research for the book, he said he was warned by people that things could get a little weird: “They said, ‘Be prepared for high strangeness,’” he said.
In “Colorado UFOs,” Estep describes the experiences of people who have seen unidentified flying objects, who claim to have been abducted and have been contacted. He said it’s often hard for people to tell their stories for fear of not being taken seriously, or worse, being made fun of. There was also the risk of the author being taken advantage of by people making false claims.
“These are people that are often ridiculed for what they say they experienced. There’s a lot of stigma with it, and one of the things that makes me very wary when I’m pursuing a book project or TV project is anybody that is actively looking for some fame or publicity because it instantly makes them questionable as witnesses and their motivation is suspect,” he said. “But in the case of this book, I had more than one person tell me, ‘Hey, I’ll tell you my story, I’ll share it because I think it’s important, but please change my name, please change my circumstances, my location. The story, of course, is the story, but remove anything that could identify me.’ You have to ask yourself: How does that person gain?”
The stories Estep recounts in his book are amazing: He takes readers through the various theories about what is exactly going on at Denver International Airport, to the mysterious death of Philip Schneider, who was incredibly vocal about the work he did as an engineer for the U.S. military in underground installations. There are stories about UFO sightings in Breckenridge and personal stories of people who claim to have been visited by extraterrestrials, some over the course of decades.
Then there’s San Luis Valley, a few hours from Durango, where you can visit, and even camp, at the UFO Watchtower in Hooper in Saguache County. Owned by Judy Messoline, who originally bought the land to ranch, the UFO Watchtower has logged countless sightings.
What is it about the San Luis Valley that seems to attract so much activity?
“I think there’s something about that area that goes back for hundreds of years that’s always made it almost a mystical location. Whether it’s geological, whether it’s something to do with the way that it’s structured, whether it’s the mountains, I have no idea why specifically it’s the case,” Estep said. “But if you start delving into folklore and historical records, for many, many years, you’ve got these kind of UFO stories and fantastical stories coming out of that one region of Colorado. It’s basically a UFO valley, isn’t it? You start digging, and the phenomena of that area go back forever.”
Estep wrote in the beginning of “Colorado UFOs” that he’s no closer to figuring out what he believes when it comes to the subject.
What’s needed, he said, is more study into the subject, but not many scientists are willing to go out on a limb to study the subject for fear of academic stigma.
“I think that we do need more evidence, we do need more proof. But at the same time, as I talked to these witnesses, people that were experiencing this phenomena, there are a lot of consistencies in what they told me.”
And at the end of the book, he challenges readers to think about what they believe.
He concludes, though, that despite what readers may or may not believe about the existence of UFOs, aliens and other worlds “out there,” there are bigger lessons about humanity we would be wise to consider.
“So whether that’s true or not, in terms of are there other races out there? I don’t know, but the story I’m being told consistently just kind of rings true: We do need to grow the hell up. We do need to stop destroying our environment. We do need to care less about material things and more about one another. And I think that story is what I was left with after talking to so many of those people,” he said.