SANTA FE – Pack up your night-vision goggles and open your mind to the possibility of discovery. It’s time to look for Bigfoot in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico.
The Valles Caldera Trust is offering the public the opportunity to join the search for the perhaps-mythical apeman, also known as sasquatch, with a set of tours on the Valles Caldera National Preserve this Sunday night.
Terry McDermott, public affairs specialist for the Trust, which oversees management of the Jemez Mountains preserve, said the impetus for staging the tours was an episode of “Finding Bigfoot” that aired last year on the cable network Animal Planet.
“They reported that there remained a possibility that there could be a Bigfoot in the Valles Caldera, so we are inviting people to find out for themselves,” McDermott said.
Valles Caldera is prime Bigfoot habitat, McDermott said, with elk herds roaming its nearly 90,000 acres of meadows and dense evergreen forests, streams to provide ample water and limited human activity.
But McDermott said the fact that the Trust is conducting the Search for Bigfoot tours doesn’t mean it endorses the existence of the creature on the scenic preserve.
“Our official position is that we can neither confirm nor deny the presence of a Bigfoot or a Bigfootette,” he said. “But just because we haven’t seen one doesn’t mean that there’s not a Bigfoot out there.”
The tours will be led by Dave Warner, a former investigator with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization who now makes his home in Los Alamos.
“Valles Caldera approached me because I was the local guy that people knew,” Warner said. “I had been active in this kind of research, and after the television program the folks at Valles Caldera found an opportunity to expand on it.”
Two tours are planned for Sunday night. The first, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., costs $25 for adults and $20 for seniors and children. The price doubles for a second more expansive tour that runs from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Only 20 spots are available for each tour.
“The evening tour is more background information about Bigfoot and why we’re interested in the area. I may bring some footprint casts as kind of a show-and-tell, and then we’ll give an idea of what kind of techniques are used in searching for Bigfoot,” Warner said. “The nighttime tour is more involved, and we’ll actively try to get some kind of response.”
Tourgoers will travel by van to different locations on the preserve and be coached on how to howl and make other noises in an effort to coax the beast out of hiding. They’ll also have a chance to take part in data collection activities, including the set up of thermal video cameras to try to catch an image of the elusive beast said to roam the Jemez Mountains.
In 2011, the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization captured the image of some kind of creature lurking in the dark woods in the Jemez Mountains. That video was part of the focus of the “Finding Bigfoot” episode that aired last December. The investigative team determined that whatever it was that showed up on the video was at least 7 feet, maybe 7½-feet tall.
The “Finding Bigfoot” team also staged a town hall meeting at Los Ojos saloon in Jemez Springs, where area residents told tales of Bigfoot sightings.
Anyone unable to attend either of the tours on Sunday will have another opportunity later in the month. The Valles Caldera Trust plans a second set of tours on Sept. 28.