Explore myths and monsters at these five Southern cryptid attractions

From the skunk ape to the lizard man, these curious destinations offer a look at some of the region’s legendary homegrown horrors
Buford the bassigator in its backyard shed

Photo courtesy of the Abita Mystery House

Abita Mystery House
Abita Springs, Louisiana
Artist John Preble throws nothing away—a habit reflected in the curation of his roadside folk-art attraction. After entering through a vintage 1930s gas station, visitors wind through a series of halls crammed with found-art sculptures and animated dioramas containing bawdy depictions of life in Louisiana (one scene shows a Mardi Gras parade route; another, a half-dressed preacher leaving a brothel). Although there are several fanciful bayou beasts to see, the star is Buford the Bassigator, a 22-foot-long bass-alligator hybrid that can be found under a shed behind the museum.

The Mothman Museum houses historical documents, rare original press clippings, and a wide assortment of props and models

Photo courtesy of The Mothman Museum

Mothman Museum
Point Pleasant, West Virginia
This downtown gallery investigates the mysteries surrounding an eerie, winged entity that terrorized townsfolk between 1966 and 1967. From extraterrestrial invader to demonic presence, theories regarding its origins abound, but you can form your own opinion after examining the many archival press clippings, police sketches, and original handwritten depositions. In addition to nearly a dozen Mothman replicas lurking inside, the museum showcases props from the film adaptation of The Mothman Prophecies.

The skunk ape, a type of swamp yeti, is the focus at this roadside attraction

Photo courtesy of the Skunk Ape Headquarters

Skunk Ape Research Headquarters
Ochopee, Florida
This offbeat 30-acre operation is ground zero for all things Skunk Ape, a Southern Sasquatch named for its pungent odor and rumored to wander Florida’s wetlands. From the headquarters, guests can embark on a guided pole boat ecotour through the Everglades or book lodging in one of the property’s traditional chickee huts built by members of the local Seminole tribe. If you aren’t lucky enough to score an elusive Skunk Ape sighting, there are still plenty of animals to see at the facility’s zoo, which houses alligators, tropical birds, and a 24-foot-long reticulated python named Goldie.

South Carolina Cotton Museum
Bishopville, South Carolina
In the summer of 1988, Lee County residents reported sightings of a seven-foot-tall creature with scaly skin and clawed fingers. Dubbed the Lizard Man and said to reside in Scape Ore Swamp, it had a penchant for mauling cars before suddenly disappearing that fall. Today, the cryptid-curious can find a supposed plaster cast of the Lizard Man’s footprints and a selection of news articles tracing its many appearances at the South Carolina Cotton Museum, which also presents a history of the Southern crop.  Be sure to snag an “I believe” T-shirt at the gift shop.

Monster Mart
Fouke, Arkansas
Equal parts museum, gift shop, and convenience store, this roadside attraction highlights the folklore of the Boggy Creek Monster, a hairy, ape-like creature popularized by the 1972 docudrama The Legend of Boggy Creek. Browse an expansive collection of cryptid-related books, pick up a bottle of spicy “Monster Sauce,” and pose for photos with the mart’s various murals and cutouts of the beast. Every spring and fall the store also hosts a campout at Alex Smith County Park, with fireside stories, foil-packet meals, and a nighttime excursion along the Sulphur River, the alleged stomping grounds of the “Swamp Stalker.”

This article appears in the Winter 2024 issue of Southbound.