Illustration by Michele Garner

Illustration by Michele Garner

Seeing is believing when you arrive in the hills near Hooper 

By Gabe Toth

For the hopeful, the true believers, and those who look up at the sky and wonder, the message at the UFO Watchtower in the San Luis Valley is clear.

“Keep your eyes open.”

That’s the advice from Candace Knowlan, who was working the tower last summer while owner Judy Messoline nursed a broken leg.

“There have been documented sightings in this country since the 1560s,” Knowlan said. “The conquistadors wrote in their journals about strange lights they saw. We know back then it wasn’t satellites or airplanes.”

Some 20 years ago, after Messoline learned the hard way that Highland cattle don’t fare well in the scrub and sand, she was thinking about what to do next.

“This is known as the mysterious valley. Judy moved down here in ’94, and she’d hear all these stories about the sightings,” Knowlan said. “She wasn’t sure what to do and she had casually remarked at one point that she should open a UFO watchtower. One of the farmers reminded her what she said. Why here? Intuition.”

The tower itself — a cozy dome plastered with newspaper articles and other UFO-related materials — and a metal platform one story off the ground, aren’t imposing structures. Except for the signage, one could drive by on Colorado Hwy. 17, a couple miles north of Hooper, without a second glance.

“The tower is only 10-feet tall because we’re already above 7,600 feet,” Knowlan said. “There’s very little ambient light here. So, at night, 10 feet above the highway lights, the sky here is phenomenal, from horizon to horizon you just have the entire Milky Way.”

Perhaps the most touching, personal aspect of the watchtower is the garden.

“Since Judy opened, we’ve had over 25 different psychics come by and tell us the same thing. There’s two major vortexes out there, the vortexes are portals to parallel universes,” Knowlan said. “Each one is filled with energy that spins and each one has a guardian. This is a healing garden. It is filled with healing energy. As you walk through the garden be aware of your body because you can feel the energies.”

She added that the guardians are here for the earthbound as well.

“If you have any issues you’re working on — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual — and you want help and you’re open to receive, you can ask the guardians for assistance,” Knowlan said. “We have had reports of really miraculous healings at all levels here in the garden. Judy has invited people to leave a little of their own energies here. So, we have trinkets from around the world.”

Visitors are encouraged to log their visits to the watchtower, as well as their sightings.

“Judy opened this in 2000 and since then we’ve had 166 documented sightings,” Knowlan said. “That’s not counting sightings that have not been written in the book. Judy’s seen 27, I’ve seen 14. Each of us has seen three different ships.”

The majority occur at night, but that’s not the case for everyone. “Most of my sightings have been during the day.”

Watchtower admission for terrestrial visitors is $2 each, or $5 per carload. Primitive camping sites also are available for $10 per night, and GG’s Bed and Breakfast is adjacent.

A former newspaper journalist, Gabe Toth is the head distiller at The Family Jones Spirit House, as well as an avid snowboarder and outdoors enthusiast.