We’ve all seen strange lights in the sky — and wondered if we witnessed a UFO (or UAP, officially). For some of us, that curiosity evolved into obsession.
Now that UFOs and ET are no longer taboo, where in America might you feel most “among friends,” human or otherwise?
Lawn Love ranked 2022’s Best States for UFO Fans.
We pored over countless X-files — sightings data, communication tower registrations, Air Force base listings — to determine which of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia are hotbeds of extraterrestrial activity. We also searched for UFO clubs, conventions, and other factors that indulge the most avid UFO enthusiasts.
See how your state fared in our ranking below, followed by our take on the results.
In this article
- State rankings
- The verdict
- Surprising findings
- UFOs and ET by the numbers
- Behind the ranking
- Alien nation: America’s obsession with UFOs
See how each state fared in our ranking:
Putting the “extra” in extraterrestrial
California is our inaugural best state for intergalactic nerds, thanks to an out-of-this-world performance in our ranking. Is this outcome a surprise? We know what Jordan Peele would say.
The Golden State earned nearly 70 out of 100 possible points, over 26 more than silver medalist Texas. Over 15,400 witness accounts have originated from California alone, representing over 12% of all U.S. sightings and more than double the number in Florida, the state with the next highest.
That’s impressive on its own, but a close encounter with our “Community” data exposes a fandom of cosmic proportions: California is home to the most UFO hobbyists in the nation and naturally became the central gathering place for enthusiasts and experts. California is also the address of the SETI Institute (not to be confused with CSETI), an organization dedicated to finding life and intelligence beyond Earth.
In films, California is the setting of “E.T.” (1982) arguably the most important movie of the genre, “Battle: Los Angeles” (2011), and this year’s “Monsters of California,” just to name a few. Remember the airplane crash scene in “War of the Worlds” (2005)? It was shot at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Unless Hollywood implodes, California is a permanent fixture in UFO pop culture.
Birthplace of the flying saucer
Ever wondered where the term “flying saucer” originated? That would be Washington, our 10th placer.
Not only is the Evergreen State the ground zero of modern UFO history, but it’s also significant for a number of other reasons. For one, the global flying saucer mania that it catalyzed in 1947 inspired an entirely new branch of scientific research, Ufology. Organizations from 911 emergency services to NASA also “routinely direct the calls they receive regarding possible UFO sightings” to the prominent National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), headquartered in Washington and the source of our sightings data.
To this day, Washington remains the third leading state in witness reports and the base of a large UFO-loving community (No. 7).
No other names besides Roswell and Area 51 are more synonymous with UFOs and extraterrestrial encounters. Their street cred alone justifies New Mexico’s (No. 8) and Nevada’s (No. 9) top 10 positions, but these UFO scenes earned their spots fairly in our ranking.
Although UFO sightings are rarer here than in half of the states, residents have capitalized on the historical events that made Roswell and Area 51 world-famous. That’s how New Mexico and Nevada became popular destinations for tourists (both the terrestrial and extraterrestrial kind), earning top 5 spots in our Entertainment category.
More specifically, New Mexico and Nevada are two of only five states that operate popular UFO and alien tours. Each state also boasts five attractions. That might not seem like many, but, combined, they make up 40% of all such attractions in the entire country.
Next time you find yourself in the Land of Enchantment, stop by Roswell’s International UFO Museum and Research Center. Or take a road trip through the Silver State’s Extraterrestrial Highway, where you’ll encounter otherworldly landmarks, including Area 51.
Nothing to see here
You’ll be begging Scotty to beam you up if you go on a mission to find alien life in one of the least populated and most rural U.S. states: Maine, Vermont, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. They all crash-landed at the bottom of our ranking.
You’d think UFOs would prefer to visit states where they’re most inconspicuous, but Rural America generally ranked low in sightings and across most categories, with a few exceptions. Kentucky, for instance, is tops but middling at best in UFO visits. Wyoming, the most sparsely populated state, evaded the five lowest spots by offering one UFO-themed attraction, the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport.
It’s possible that extraterrestrial activity is more frequent in these parts, but the lack of digital connectivity and technological adoption among rural Americans might explain the low sighting figures. Without internet or mobile devices, residents might be less inclined to report their sightings to NUFORC.
Not alone in the Lone Star State
Texans really want a close encounter of the third kind. Over the past year, residents Googled UFO-related terms an average of nearly 103,000 times per month. That’s over 20,500 times more than Californians, who are the second most curious about the phenomenon.
And of all the states where UFO fans might hope to see a mysterious disc in the sky, their biggest shot is in the Lone Star State, our second best state overall. Texas dominated our Sighting Potential category, owing to its 12 U.S. Air Force bases, the most of any state. After all, Air Force bases are UFO magnets, especially if they harbor nuclear missiles — visitors from outer space seem to have an affinity for those.
Texas makes contact with our cosmic neighbors easy, too: Even though the state is significantly smaller in land mass than Alaska, it has the most communication towers of any other state, 13,900 in all. That’s more than double the number in California, 6,745, a state with nearly 11 million more residents.
Before all of this technology, though, an alien might have already popped by — via spaceship in 1897. It’s (supposedly) buried in the Aurora Cemetery.
UFOs and ET by the numbers
Behind the ranking
For each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below.
We then grouped those factors into four categories: UFO/UAP Sightings, Community, Sighting Potential, and Entertainment.
Next, we calculated weighted scores for each state in each category.
Finally, we averaged the scores for each state across all categories.
The state that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the state with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 51). (Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be 51 due to ties among states.)
Ancient Aliens LIVE: Project Earth, Federal Communication Commission, Google Ads, Meetup, MilitaryBases.us, Mutual UFO Network, National UFO Reporting Center, SYFY, TripAdvisor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wikipedia, and Worldwide Planetariums Database
Alien nation: America’s obsession with UFOs
Americans love a good mystery. Are UFOs real? Are we alone? You can take off your tinfoil hat now.
Once a taboo subject, UFOs (or UAPs, as the U.S. government rebranded them in recent years) today are a top concern for Congress. That’s all thanks to the media that blew the lid off the Pentagon’s secret UFO program in 2017. Three years later, the Pentagon appointed the first task force — the real men and women in black — to formally investigate UAPs.
But our collective UFO craze started way before 2017. In fact, it’s been 75 years since the term “flying saucer” was first coined and the military (allegedly) recovered the first alien spacecraft, along with its passengers, in Roswell, New Mexico.
Since then, UFOs have been a staple of pop culture — from comics to music to TV to movies. There’s even an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” dedicated to the Berkshire County, Massachusetts, UFO visit.
For the full experience, you could tour those sites and many other UFO-themed attractions around the country, too. Step in the Lincoln, New Hampshire, location where Betty and Barney Hill were once abducted. Experience your own UFO encounter at a watchtower in Hooper, Colorado. Or attend the annual Little Green Men Festival in Kelly, Kentucky.
And what’s Lawn Love’s connection to UFOs and aliens? “Crop circles” have been known to grow on lawns for millennia. Sadly, they weren’t placed there by otherworldly beings — they’re actually caused by fungus, and we have some tips on how you can treat them.
If ever you do find a real crop circle in your yard, well, you’re on your own.
Main photo credit: iStock