Several Moon Lake recreationists have had encounters with unexplainable phenomena some would call monsters or ghosts! Here are several accounts that people have shared. If you have had an encounter of your own, please share it with everyone by commenting below.
Moon Lake is probably most famous for sightings of a creature in the lake that can most accurately be described as something similar to the Loch Ness Monster, Nessie. However, since our monster lives in Moon Lake, we call her Moonie. Following is an article written by one of the previous owners of Moon Lake Resort, Bill Reardon, for a newspaper and several first-hand encounters from campers lucky enough to spot Moonie.
Moonie, The Moon Lake Monster
Many tall tales are spun in the smoke of a campfire, but few places can boast the diversity, imagination, myth, and mystery of those told at and about Moon Lake.
On any star-splattered summer night, some inquiring mind will want to know, “What about?” …the monster, the “bottomless” lake, the subterranean river channel, the huge brown trout that use to and may still populate the lake, the Spanish gold artifacts, the Lost Rhoades Mine, the local Indian and rancher tales, meetings with moose and bear and badger and countless other campfire topics.
Of these legends, none is more enduring and intriguing than that of the “Moon Lake Monster”. Within 100 miles (barely 70 as the crow flies) of Dinosaur National Monument, speculation on the existence of a mountain lake “monster” seems almost plausible.
I first heard of the Moon Lake Monster from Gary Sutherland, father of one of the current owners of Moon Lake Resort at my first campfire circle there in 1994. Oddly enough, this seemingly far-fetched yet detailed account of a lake monster sighting turned out to describe a phenomenon I witnessed three weeks later and have yet to explain.
With no twinkle in his eye nor tongue in cheek, Gary described what I might see if conditions were right and I were darned lucky. He said the lake would be calm even mirror-glassy with no wind or boats to create a wake. This would only occur in the morning or around dusk because, throughout the rest of the day, breezes would riffle the lake’s surface, camouflaging any apparition of the monster.
When it did appear, however, one would see a V-shaped ripple moving slowly but steadily through the center of the lake, usually coming from the north end, and zigzagging but mostly running closer to the far shore. He said it would appear like a rounded object pushing water in front of itself, moving smoothly enough to create a ripple but not a breaking wave.
With a skeptical wink, I told Gary, “Okay, I’ll keep an eye out for that!”. Yeah sure.
Then one morning around mid-June, I saw it. I was drinking coffee at daybreak in the Moon Lake Lodge watching a mirror glass lake come to light and there it was—exactly as Gary had described. I gazed long enough to realize this warranted a better look. I grabbed my binoculars and stepped down the back stairs outside the lodge. Sure enough, no wake.
I walked toward the lake past the horseshoe and volleyball courts and stood up on a log near the flagpole. I focused the binoculars again on the apex of the V as it approached the near shore. The binoculars gave me a clear enough sight to know this was no beaver. And I don’t know of any fish species that schools in a goose-like V formation like that, either. No log, stump, boat, duck or wind was making this ripple and it was the only thing moving on that lake.
It zigged toward the far shore, not sharply, but rather at a wider-than-right-angle from the direction it traveled as it neared me. As it headed away, I observed the apex from the back and could see nothing breaking the surface; only the rounded push of water at one point, seemingly just below the surface. That point looked the same, coming or going.
After another couple approaches and retreats toward and away from the shore, the ripple gradually disappeared downstream in the suns brightening reflection on the lake.
I walked back to the lodge, wondering then what I still wonder today’’—”What the heck was that!”
The whole show had lasted less than half-hour and I met no one that morning who was “darned lucky” to see what I had seen. However, my wife and I both witnessed a reappearance a few weeks later that summer, exactly the same as the first sighting only shorter in duration. To this day, I can recount what I saw but not define what it was. In two full seasons at Moon Lake, we did not see the “monster”. Yet not a full week went by when we did not hear mention of the monster from locals, regular returnees, and even first-time visitors who had heard something or other from a friend who’d been to the lake before.
Variations of the vision I saw are most commonly envisioned in the smoke of campfires at the Moon Lake Resort and adjacent US Forest Service campground. They share this stage of wonder with countless other Moon Lake mysteries, histories, legends, lores, memories and speculative imaginings.
These best of times and memories do not all go up in smoke. They glow in the hearts and the hearths of the forest year after year at Moon Lake, “out of this world…but still in Utah”.
Mystery of Moon Lake
The Indian death ritual had ended; the body of the chief was secured in the big canoe. Only four braves could journey across the lake to the sacred burial grounds: two medicine men, an honored warrior, and the chief’s eldest son. The entire tribe had traveled from home ground for over a week of mourning for the dead chief.
Ancestor had chosen the burial ground that lay across the moon- shaped lake. There were no trails around it; the path was straight across the lake by canoe. The rain had fallen since the tribe gathering, which to the tribe meant the Sky God was sorrowed with their loss.
Slowly the canoe pulled from shore; large fires surrounded by dancing members, wailing the death song, were left behind. The ceremony would continue until all were back on shore. One medicine man in front and one behind the corpse chanted low rattling charms and sacred powder over the dead chief. The paddles silently, swiftly parted the water’s surface until they had reached the far side. Quickly a lift was made and decorated with charms and pipes. Ceremoniously, the body was raised. Momentarily, the drums stopped as his white stallion was slain; its spirit released to run always with hi rider; then the chants began again.
The canoe started back. As the sky seemed to darken, the water became still, the rain ceased. A haunting stillness filled the air; the paddlers quickened their pace. Midway across the calm water, the tribal members stared in horror as a large hand came up under the canoe; the monstrous hand clutched the passengers and pulled them under the water. On the shore the drums ceased, and everyone ran to the water’s edge. There was nothing to be seen. Nothing–no bodies, and no survivors surfaced. It was as if the boat and people had never been.
The old medicine man gathered his people and led them away; an evil spirit had claimed the water and condemned the burial ground. Never again would any member come to the waters edge, for death lay beyond. To this day few Indians venture near Moon Lake.
Bird, Jackie. Personal Interview. 12 December 1995.
Encounter With a Monster
It was a warm June day. I was up at Moon Lake for a family reunion. The day was boring and all of the kids wanted to go out on the lake for a boat ride. Great Uncle Melvin was more than willing to give us rides. As he was preparing the boat to enter the water, an eerie feeling suddenly came to some of our parents. We were too excited to pay attention or to care about what might happen. A bunch of us jumped at the opportunity of being the first ones on the lake that day. As my parents came down to the shore, I climbed into the boat. Before they could yell at me to get back on shore, Great Uncle Melvin was pushing the boat away from the shore.
Great Uncle Melvin took us up by the damn and around to the backside of the lake. All of us were having so much fun that we didn’t worry about it getting dark.
Suddenly, the hair on the back of my mom’s neck stood on end. About 20 yards behind the boat and the engine waves, something was following the boat.
“What can I do to save my daughter if something were to happen?” As my mom watched, more and more questions came to her mind. The closer the boat came to shore, the better Mom could see the thing following. It was like a log floating in the water, but it wasn’t. You could almost make out a fin, and the water slithered over the huge thing as if it had scales.
As the party approached the shore, the thing stopped following us. It appeared as if it was startled by the noise coming from everyone on shore. The boat touched land softly. After I was off the boat, my mom told me what she had seen. At first I didn’t believe her, but the more she insisted the more I believed. To this very day, my mom will not go out on Moon Lake. Maybe it was the Moon Lake Monster or just a board; no one will ever know.
Bird, Jackie. Personal Interview. 12 December
What is it?
“Quick, go faster, it is following us!” Boating on Moon Lake has always been a favorite thing of mine to do, that is, until that day. Things had been going great, my husband had been promoted to manager of the computer company that he worked for and we had a new baby. We were a very happy family. It was a nice day on the lake. The clouds were white and fluffy like little fluffs of pillows. The Wind was as calm as the still night’s breeze. The kids were getting ready to go riding on the water weenie. They were having the time of their lives. We saw something out in the distance, but we really didn’t think anything of it. We went on with our boating activities. After lunch we were back out on the lake. The children were looking at the lake. They saw the strange looking think again. This time it was following the boat. The faster we went the faster it went. Wd didn’t know what to do. The thought of getting off the lake ran through our minds. We went for it; but as soon as we went toward the shore, the thing went and blocked our way. As we got closer, we could tell this was no ordinary, giant fish. It was a black, ugly, bumpy, monster-looking thing. By then I was terrified. We didn’t want to make the monster mad, so we decided to stay out on the lake for a while longer. Time passed, and the monster held its ground. Getting tired of just sitting there, we decided that we would try to make an escape. When we tried to get away, the monster came up to our boat and tried to capsize it. Our boat almost tipped over and some of our children nearly went overboard. What would I do if I lost any of my children?
The rocking boat had all of us scared to death. It was all we could do to sit and calmly wait for some help or something to happen. It was getting close to nightfall, and the sun was beginning to go down. The children were getting restless but were too scared to even try to go to sleep. At last, another boat came out on the lake. They were coming to our rescue. The boat tried to distract the monster while we raced to shore; the other boat followed closely behind, with the monster on its tail. Soon, however, the monster disappeared under the water about 300 yards out. We immediately packed up and left Moon Lake, and to this day we have never returned or gone boating anywhere else.
Bolton, Jenny. Personal Interview. 5 December 1995.
Moon Lake Monster
The Moon Lake monster legend is a legend that began long before the Whites ever moved into the Uintah Basin. It all began years before when two Indian children could not be found. One of the searching warriors came up over the mountain “Help, the children are in the lake!” he shouted.
Everyone turned and ran toward the great body of water, hoping to get there in time. One of the boy’s mothers reached the hill. All that could be heard was her overwhelming scream as she saw her son go under. She fell to the sandy dirt along the lake crying as many of the men jumped into the lake to find the boys. The searchers looked as long as they possibly could, but the water was too cold. They could dive only 20-30 feet before the cold was too much.
Later, when there was no sign of the bodies, the tribe decided there was a force keeping the boys in the water. From then on the Indians believed there was a large monster, possibly a large fish, that ate the other fish and occasionally human flesh.
Stevenson, Wallace. Personal Interview. 3 March 1996.
Ghosts and Waterbabies
Tell This Utah Ghost Story Around the Campfire And No One Will Sleep A Wink
Camping is the very best way to bask in the beauty of Utah’s nature, and there’s nothing better than gathering around a campfire for s’mores and ghost stories. There’s one Utah ghost story that will send chills up your spine, especially when you’re in the middle of the woods.
The next time you find yourself in the wilderness, sitting at the campfire, you need to tell your friends about the ghost at Moon Lake.
Moon Lake is a beautiful spot in the High Uintas north of Duchesne, but when you visit, you might encounter the ghost of a young girl.
She appears in broad daylight, and you might see her while you’re walking through the woods around the lake, or even sitting on the banks, fishing. The little girl will come up to you, sobbing and asking for your help. She appears to be around seven years old.
The child is soaked, as though she’s fallen in the lake.
She’s shivering, and her lips are blue from cold. Of course, you want to help her, so you reach out take her hand…and she vanishes right in front of you. If you’ve been drinking a few beers while fishing, you might think maybe you’ve had a few too many, but you should know that you’re not the first to witness this ghost. She’s been appearing to campers and hikers for years, each time, soaking wet and shivering, and each time disappearing into thin air, right in broad daylight.
Some campers don’t see the little girl, but they hear her.
If you’ve ever visited one of Utah’s lakes, then you know how sound travels across the water. While you’re walking around near the lake during the day, you might hear the sobs of a child, or loud splashing as if something has fallen in the lake. When you try to locate where the sounds are coming from, you’ll be unsuccessful.
As darkness descends over the lake and campgrounds, things get even creepier.
The sunsets here are stunning, so enjoy them before you settle into your tent for the night. You’re not likely to get much sleep here.
As you snuggle into your sleeping bag, you’ll hear the little nighttime noises of the wilderness: the hoot of an owl, the rusting of a mouse or chipmunk in the underbrush near your tent…and maybe an ear-piercing scream.
You’ll bolt upright and search for your headlamp, but when you step outside, you’ll see nothing. But a few moments after you settle back into the tent…more screams, accompanied by the sound of splashing in the water nearby. If you walk down to the lake, all will appear calm in the moonlight. Later, you might hear footsteps running right across your campsite.
It’s going to be a long night at Moon Lake.
It’s said that the young girl that you’ve seen and heard drowned in the lake years ago and haunts it today. While some campers never hear or see anything unusual at Moon Lake, others report the same stories.
A Close Encounter With a Water Baby
It was a cold moonless night when the young warrior awoke to the strange echoes of the night. He quickly began to start his fire and make sure that his weapons were close by. As he listened to the strange noises, he kept thinking he heard babies crying out by the waters edge, but he thought that it couldn’t be because he had seen no sign of anybody around the Green River area.
The young warrior began watching the water to see what was making the crying noise. He then remembered a story that his grandfather had told him before he left to find himself and to prove his manhood. “Beware of the weepings and wailings that you hear at night, especially by the water’s edge, for the water babies will pull you in and take you to their underwater village never to return.” Being young and full of adventure, he thought to himself “I will go and see what is really making this crying noise, for I do not believe these stories of these so-called water babies. They can’t pull me into the river never to be seen again, for I am strong and a good swimmer.”
Autenquer went down to the Green River’s edge and began scanning the water until at last he thought he saw something floating in the calm water. Autenquer began to wade out in th3e water when he felt something grab his leg and pull him under. A million thoughts raced through his mind, but the one that was most important to him at this point was air. He began fighting the thing that had his leg. Finally it spoke to him saying, “My name is Antero; I am a water baby. I have come to take you to my house, which is down deep.” Antero was small, about the size of a two-year-old. He had long black hair and wore a beaded breechcloth around his waist. Seeing that he had no choice but to go, Autenquer sighed to Antero, “I will go with you if you will let me go to the surface and get some food and some air to fill my lungs.” Antero agreed to this; but when Autenquer reached the surface, he very quickly began swimming to the shore. He jumped out of the water and ran to his rifle and bow and arrows. He began shooting at Antero, but he couldn’t kill his opponent, so he quickly left the place and went down stream to where he thought the water babies wouldn’t find him. Here he set up camp again and went to sleep. The young Autenquer vowed to never be dumb enough to see if a baby was crying for its mother. He also vowed never to be outsmarted or out-fought by anyone ever again.
Rodger Bolton. Personal Interview.
The Dreaded Waterbaby
A wolf howled in the distance as day gradually gave way into the night. A light fog began to gather at the edge of the lake, casting an eerie mood. The trees and shrubs took on alien shapes, twisted and gnarled. Lizzie hurried faster. Maybe a walk on the beech hadn’t been such a great idea she thought. She was only a couple hundred yards from the tent and the others. But still she had the strangest feeling she was being watched from behind. Glancing over her shoulder, she broke into a slow jog. Suddenly, she heard a faint noise; it sounded like a poor little baby crying, but how could that be? “Don’t be silly,” she said aloud. “We’re up in the mountains at Moon Lake to have a great time. The whole campground is deserted; there is no way there could be a baby out there.”
Lizzie paused-nothing. As she started toward camp, the cry once again filled the darkness, only louder this time. It definitely was a baby, and it was crying.
Lizzie was torn. What should she do? If she ran to get the others, it might be too late to help the baby. What if it was in the water? What if she let it die? Lizzie couldn’t bear the thought. Quickly she decided. She had to see what was going on. She started in the direction of the cries. Lizzie was terrified, but the thought of a helpless little baby pushed her on. The full moon shone on a path right to the water’s edge. Scanning the area, she saw nothing unusual. “Where could it be?” she though. She heard a soft whimper; it sounded as if it were coming from the lake. Cautiously, Lizzie stepped forward, her blond hair glistening in the moonlight. An overwhelming sense of peace enveloped her. The water looked so inviting. Forgetting the baby, forgetting why she was there, Lizzie waded into the water. Gazing ahead, she was unaware that the warm and soothing water was bitter cold.
“L-I-z-z-ie! Stop! Oh my gosh, Lizzie, no!” screamed Kirk. Lizzie jerked around, snapping out of her daze; but it was too late. With a sudden jerk, Lizzie went under. The water baby had claimed a new companion.
“Welcome to my world. It has been so cold and lonely lately. No one ever comes to play. Everyone always runs away. I’m doomed to wander this cold, bottomless lake for eternity. You can join me; what fun we’ll have. By the moonlight we will swim, plotting to catch our next playmate when the moon shines through the fog once again,” a small voice wavered.
The mysterious drowning-disappearance-death, as the police called it, shocked and saddened Lizzie’s friends. They could not imagine why she would go swimming alone. Kirk knew. He knew it was no accident. He had been there. He had tried to save her. He had jumped into the lake seconds after he saw Lizzie go under; it was as if she had just disappeared.
Kirk heard of the dreaded Water Baby legend after the funeral: the baby is doomed to wander Moon Lake. Crying at night, it lures unsuspecting children to the water’s edge where it pulls them under. The lost children are to keep the Water Baby company. Even the bodies are seldom seen again!
Tami Cheree Jessen. Personal Interview.
If you have ever seen Moonie, the Moon Lake Monster, the ghost girl, or anything else that was a little weird at Moon Lake, please tell your story below: