Scientists Discover the Best Places In the U.S. to Spot a UFO

After trawling through 19 years data on reported UFO sightings, scientists have discovered the best locations in the U.S. to spot one. In general, you need to head west for the best chance.

Nowadays, UFOs (unidentified flying objects) are known as UAPs (unexplained aerial phenomena). They include any object in the sky without a natural or known technological explanation.

Researchers at the University of Utah wanted to explore if local environmental factors affected the number of sightings in an area. They scoured through all the sightings — a staggering 98,724 of them — that the public logged with the National UFO Reporting Center between 2001 and 2020. For each one, they assessed two variables: sky view potential, and the likelihood of objects in the sky.

Sky view potential considers the cloud cover, forest thickness, and light pollution. The potential for objects in the sky considers military bases and airports within a region.

Clearly, it’s more likely that you’re going to see something you can’t explain in a busy sky than in an empty one, as study lead Richard Medina pointed out in a statement.

Hotspot analysis of UAP sightings from 2001 to 2020. (Medina, Brewer, & Kirkpatrick., 2023)


UAP sightings increasing

The number of unidentified objects in the sky is increasing, and the U.S. Department of Defence treats this as a serious threat to national security.

“There’s more technology in the sky than ever before, so the question is, What are people actually seeing?” asked Medina.

Areas with clear, dark skies and fewer trees had more sightings. So did, unsurprisingly, those areas with high air traffic. There is so much new technology in the sky that people often can’t identify what something actually is. Some then report it as an unidentified object.

Mapping out the sightings across the U.S., they identified “hot spots” for UAP sightings. There are significantly more in the West and a small section of the Northeast.

“The West has a historical relationship to UAP — Area 51 in Nevada, Roswell in New Mexico,” said Medina. “Here in Utah, we have Skinwalker Ranch in the Uinta Basin and military activity in the U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground. Plus, there’s a robust outdoor community that recreates in public lands year-round. People are out and looking skyward.”

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.