Mysterious disappearances in Yosemite National Park – could it be Bigfoot?

This conspiracy theory suggests that some sort of creature is responsible for the disappearance and death of many individuals in National Parks across the United States. It's a theory that is growing in popularity and is mostly promoted by an author of conspiracy theories called David Paulides.

The following article is by C.R. Bery and was published May 7, 2015 on his blog.

Having visited twice, Yosemite National Park has got to be the most beautiful and awe-inspiring place I’ve ever seen. But is something sinister going on there? Are people being abducted by Bigfoot or perhaps even a clandestine branch of the government?

David Paulides, an ex-cop who used to work near Yosemite National Park, has been researching the recent spate of unexplained disappearances in America’s national parks.

Dave Paulides received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of San Francisco, and, has a professional background that includes twenty years in law enforcement and senior executive positions in the technology sector.

His research includes missing persons cases in Crater Lake National Park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and many others. But he’s found that the largest amount of mysterious vanishings have been occurring in Yosemite.

Yosemite National Park

Most of the disappeared are children between 20 months and 12 years old, and elderly people between 74 and 85, according to Paulides. No one carrying a firearm has disappeared. This suggests that who or whatever is picking people off is going after the weak and vulnerable.
The cases bear some inordinately strange features. In 95% of cases, bad weather follows the disappearances, washing away footprints and clues and making it impossible to carry out searches. Bizarrely, the disappearances occur in areas where huckleberries are in abundance. And in a lot of missing children cases, the children are found miles away from where they disappeared in areas they couldn’t possibly get to on their own. Some are found without their shoes – yet their feet aren’t scratched or bruised. Some aren’t found at all, but their clothes are found – as if someone or something has deliberately removed their clothes.

There’s the strange case of 12-year-old Kenny Miller, who disappeared in the Yosemite vicinity in 1992. Last seen throwing pebbles into a stream, he was out of his parents’ sights for a couple of minutes, then vanished without a trace. After several weeks, his body was found, and some of his clothes, high up on a mountain ridge – 1,400 feet higher than where he was last seen.


Umatilla National Forest

Paulides also cites the case of a 2-year-old boy who went missing in Ritter, Oregon, near the Umatilla National Forest. 19 hours after his disappearance, he was found unconscious in a frozen creek bed. But in order to get there, the toddler would’ve had to run non-stop for 12 miles across two mountain peaks in those 19 hours.

Crater Lake

Charles McCullar – disappeared in Crater Lake National Park. –  There was very little of him left when he was found. A pair of trousers, socks, the remains of some underwear. A few bones inside the socks. A bloody tibia inside the trousers. No boots, and strangely the trousers and belt buckle were undone. It was like he’d been “melted down”. His undamaged skull and a few other small bones were found in the vicinity.

McCullar’s gruesome death raises the following questions: what happened to the rest of him, why were his trousers undone and – most significantly – how did he get to where he was found? He would’ve had to travel 14 miles over 105 inches of fresh snow in a motor-vehicle-free zone.

Crater Lake National Park Area Map

This chain of coincidences would seem to suggest that some kind of in areas they couldn’t otherwise get to. Maybe these creatures have some kind of sixth sense when it comes to the weather, which is how they know the best times to abduct someone. And maybe they’ve got a taste for huckleberries, too.

Wild huckleberries

But what kind of creature? Native American legend talks of monsters like the Wendigo, with its glowing eyes, yellow fangs and tendency to stalk the ‘lonely places’.

Artist impression of a Wendigo

Then there’s the Seeahtiks or ‘mountain devils’, who were said to have terrorised Native American tribes with their hypnotic powers and superhuman strength.

The description of Seeahtik’s closely resemble that of the Dover Demon. The Dover demon is a creature reportedly sighted in the town of Dover, Massachusetts on April 21 and April 22, 1977

And then of course there’s Bigfoot. This ape-like creature is said to inhabit forests and wilderness in America and there have been numerous alleged sightings over the last century.

However, this is all just folklore and myth, and Bigfoot is still confined to the realms of cryptozoology and popular movies like Harry and the Hendersons. Many of the sightings have been explained away as misidentified animals and hoaxes.


Jonathan Whitcomb argues that pterodactyl-like flying creatures might be responsible for the disappearances. The creatures grab their prey by their clothes, but end up dropping those who slip out of their clothes. This could explain why sometimes just clothes are found and not bodies. A creature might’ve decided to lose the clothes and go back for the body. In cases where bodies are found intact, maybe the creatures didn’t go back for them, or they tried and couldn’t find them.

This might be what happened to Kenny Miller. It’s possible he was dropped by whatever flew him away. This could be why he was found without some of his clothes, and could explain how he managed to end up halfway up a mountain. The bad weather that followed Kenny’s disappearance might be explained by the fact that the creature knew a storm was coming – perhaps by sensing the lower pressure in the air – and knew it needed to get a meal in first.

The same thing could’ve happened to McCullar, and that’s how his body ended up where it did. Though in his case, either the pterodactyl went back for him, or something else got him. There’s still the question of his undone trousers, though some have argued that he was relieving himself when he was taken.

Another possibility is that Yosemite and other national parks in America are inhabited by wild humans.

Wild or Feral Humans

Paulides mentions the case of a 6-year-old boy who vanished in 1969 in the Great Smoky Mountains. Those looking for him spotted a man in the bushes carrying something over his shoulder. Soon after, the United States Army Special Forces – or ‘Green Berets’ as they are known – showed up and mysteriously took over the search. But the boy was never seen again.

United States Army Special Forces

Paulides was told during his investigation that “wild men” were known to live in the park that the park service had not been able to control. Could tribes of these wild men be responsible for all the national park disappearances?

What’s particularly intriguing about this mystery is the strange behaviour of government bodies connected to it.
Firstly, there’s the presence of Green Berets in the above mentioned case. Green Berets deal with special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism and what’s known as unconventional warfare. Why would they get involved in the case of a missing 6-year-old?

National Park Service (NPS)

Then there’s the event that sparked Paulides’ investigation. It was when a couple of concerned park rangers paid him a visit. They told him that an inordinate amount of disappearances were taking place and that the National Park Service (NPS) was not dealing with them properly. As in, they weren’t conducting proper follow-up investigations and weren’t tracking the people going missing. But why?

Most disconcerting is the apparent reluctance of the authorities to hand over information about the disappearances to Paulides. The NPS and the FBI refused to disclose information about several specific cases. And when Paulides asked for a list of missing persons in Yosemite, he was initially told there were no records. Then he was told he would have to part with $34,000 in order to get them. If he wanted records for all the national parks, he’d have to part with $1.4 million.
Are these figures because they have no records and this is how much it would cost to compile them? Or are they to ward Paulides off?

If the latter is true, perhaps they really do have full and complete records of everyone who’s gone missing, but those records contain things they don’t want us to know.

What could they be hiding? Is it that they know exactly what’s going on in Yosemite and they’re covering it up? Why would they do that?
Well, maybe it’s because they started it. Perhaps whatever creatures now lurk in the American wilderness are the product of a government experiment that went wrong. Maybe they have an agreement with the “wild men” of the forests. Or perhaps the government itself is abducting people for a sinister and unknown purpose.
And if it’s not them, not wild humans, not pterodactyls and not Bigfoot, there is – of course – only one culprit left.

The wilderness, wether it be a National Park or not, whether it be inhabited by wild men, Bigfoot, Pterodactyl,  Seeahtik's, Wendigo's or Aliens is a inherently dangerous place composed of treacherous terrain and fearsome natural predators. That people go missing in such places and are killed in such areas should not be surprising. 

Maybe all national park welcome signs should also includes these wise words "Do not take this wonderful natural beauty for granted. It can be fatal."
 Most of the content of this blog and Podcasts are drawn from this book and represent only a fraction of what is contained in the book.