States with the Most UFO Sightings

Got your binoculars handy? July 2 is World UFO Day, and this year UFO supporters are in the spotlight thanks to a flood of UFO news. This includes UFO incident reports from Navy pilots and former Pentagon intelligence officers and the release of classified UFO research from the NSA (National Security Agency). All of this activity means that for the first time in years, UFO reports are being taken seriously by the media.

UFO hotspots in the United States

So how often are UFOs whizzing through your state? Check out this map that uses data from the National UFO Reporting Center to find out if your state is a hub of extraterrestrial activity.

UFO Sightings by State map

According to the data, UFO hotspots include Washington State (the home of the National UFO Reporting Center), Montana, and Vermont. Alaska and Maine are also popular states for alien encounters. Surprisingly, New Mexico—home to the city of Roswell—grabbed the eighth spot on our list.

What’s a UFO?

A UFO is anything in the sky that can’t be identified. In the late 1940s, the US Air Force started using the phrase “unidentified flying object” to describe any type of mysterious aircraft. When we hear the word UFO, we might start thinking of flying saucers filled with green aliens. The truth is less exciting. Most UFOs are later identified as drones, satellites, or weather balloons. But even after decades of research, up to 5% of UFO reports remain unexplained. Is this proof of alien visitation? Or just an elaborate 60-year hoax?

Best states to spot a UFO

Spoiler alert: all the UFOs aren’t in Roswell, the Nevada desert, or even along America’s so-called “UFO highway.”

Every single state has reports of eerie lights, erratically moving aircraft, or mysterious metal saucers. But recent data shows the most UFO activity in northern states.

If you’re hoping to make an extraterrestrial friend or two, here are the best places to live for UFO sightings.

States w/ most UFO sightings image

Where you can hide from UFOs

Not everyone wants to see a UFO. If you’re scrambling to avoid an alien abduction, the safest place for you to live is Texas. Texans reported the fewest number of UFO incidents per capita than any other state. Other safe zones include the southern states of Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama.

We’re not sure why UFOs steer clear of southern states, but it appears that aliens just don’t appreciate the perks of southern hospitality.

States w/ fewest UFO sightings image

Do you believe in aliens?

Surveys from Chapman University show that the belief in intelligent alien life is on the rise in recent years. In 2016, only 27% of Americans believed that aliens have visited our planet at some point in the ancient past. In 2018, 41.4% of people said that aliens have visited Earth in our ancient past. That’s a rise of fourteen percentage points in just two years.

UFO sightings by state

From Tic Tac–shaped objects flying over New York to swirling light balls in California, reported UFO sightings happen all over the country. This chart shows how many UFO sightings were reported in each state, how many sightings there were per 100,000 people, and the overall state rankings of where you’re most likely to spot a UFO.

StateNumber of UFO sightingsSightings per 100,000 peopleRank
Washington589478.221
Montana82377.472
Vermont48276.963
Alaska56075.944
Maine94070.235
Oregon284467.866
New Hampshire91667.537
New Mexico130862.428
Wyoming32756.609
Arizona402856.1710
Idaho96655.0711
Rhode Island49246.5312
Nevada138745.7113
Colorado248943.7014
Connecticut154343.1915
West Virginia73640.7616
Hawaii53237.4517
Missouri228737.3318
Utah117637.2019
South Dakota31535.7020
South Carolina180735.5421
California1355934.2822
Wisconsin197333.9423
Delaware31632.6724
Kansas95132.6625
Iowa100531.8426
Arkansas95831.7927
Massachusetts212230.7428
Florida653430.6829
Ohio356630.5130
Indiana203530.4131
Pennsylvania388730.3532
Kentucky135130.2333
Michigan299729.9834
Minnesota168029.9435
Oklahoma116329.4936
Nebraska56829.4437
North Carolina295728.4838
Illinois361628.3839
North Dakota21227.8940
Tennessee183427.0941
New Jersey227425.5342
Virginia215025.2443
Maryland148624.5944
New York468923.9945
Alabama1088222.2646
Mississippi64221.5047
Georgia214920.4348
Louisiana92719.8949
Texas496917.3150

Tips for newbie UFO hunters

If your idea of a UFO sighting comes from The X-Files or Doctor Who, you might expect trails of acidic green blood or alien spaceships cruising above the River Thames. The reality is most UFO sightings are less dramatic, such as a strange aircraft or odd light formations descending slowly into a forest.

What we do know is that UFO sightings are most frequent during the warmer months. Why? We’re not sure. Maybe because people are outside more often in good weather, or maybe aliens go on summer vacations with their kids too.

So what are the tools of the trade? If you’re looking for UFOs and alien technology, you can skip the sonic screwdriver. (Although if you’ve got a TARDIS, count us in!) UFO hunters use binoculars, night vision goggles, and cameras, and they have a lot of patience—you never know when a UFO will appear.

If you’re planning an alien interception, your best bet is to pack a cooler of beer and get ready for a long night of stargazing. And if Washington isn’t your scene, you could also hit up one of the eight best places in the world for UFO sightings to raise your chances.

How we got our results

We used data from the National UFO Reporting Center’s online database to get the number of UFO sightings in each state. We then compared each state’s total number of sightings to US census data to find which states have the most UFO sightings per capita.

Edited by Cara Haynes

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