Marfa Ghost Lights: Strangest Paranormal Mystery In Texas?

In 1957, a journalist described a set of mysteriously, seemingly otherworldly lights visible off of Route 67 in Marfa, Texas.

Hereby known as the Marfa Lights (also called the Marfa Ghost Lights), Americans far and wide have come to view this strange phenomenon.

Marfa Ghost Lights: Strangest Paranormal Mystery In Texas?

flickr/Loïc Hommel

Marfa Ghost Lights History

Updated 2/11/2020 – While the July issue of Coronet Magazine had the first publishing materials regarding the Marfa Lights, the earliest communication linked to the mysterious lights dates back from 1883.

A gentleman by the name of Robert Ellison first observed the lights in March of that year, while he was herding cattle across the Marfa plains.

According to local legend, many believe that Ellison was so transfixed by the bizarre lights in the sky, he almost walked over a nearby cliff!

The lights were observed again two years later by a couple named Joe and Anne Humphreys.

Indeed, the Marfa Lights were gaining so much public attention that locals started recording times and dates whenever they were witness.

From 1945 to 2008, the lights have been seen a total of thirty-four times.

Marfa resident Robert Bunnell built monitoring stations to record this phenomenon back in 2003.

Puzzled by the very nature of the event, a group from the University of Texas spent twenty days investigating the lights in May of 2008.

Using spectroscopic analysis, and test vehicles, the group tried to determine a scientific origin for the light in the sky.

Their final conclusion was that the Marfa Lights are not paranormal or supernatural in origin.

A Personal Encounter With The Strangest Paranormal Mystery In Texas

For Steve, a Marfa resident, science cannot explain away what he experienced one fateful night.

“I am not a sensitive or psychic medium or anything like that,” begins Steve.

“I try to keep an open mind about paranormal topics—if it can be explained by science then I accept that.

“But if it can’t, then I will stand behind the idea that in our world supernatural things do exist…

“And this is one of them,” he said, dipping his head.

What did you experience?

“My girlfriend read about the Marfa Lights on the internet.

“We don’t live too far away, so we decided to drive to the spot off 67 to see if we could see them.

“As popular as the lights have become, it was really late, so we were the only ones watching for them that night.

“We were sitting watching nothing for at least an hour, maybe more,” he admitted.

“My girlfriend was getting fidgety, but something in the back of my brain told me to just hold on a little bit longer.

“She had just dozed off in the driver seat when I saw a growing ball of light begin to get closer.

“I hesitated at first because I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was the Marfa Lights at first.

“But as the balls of light started multiplying and moving forward, I experienced the weirdest sensation…

What do you mean?

“It felt almost as if I were being watched,” Steve said.

“No, not watched—observed.”

“Like some lab rat undergoing experiments.

“’Katie, wake up!!’ I cried.

‘Katie, the Marfa Lights are here!’

“She slowly woke up and registered what I was saying.

“She looked out of the windshield excitedly but quickly lost her smile.

“’Where are they?’ she asked me.

‘They are right there, can’t you see them?!’

“She did not look amused.

“’That’s not funny,’ she growled.

‘I’m going back to sleep—don’t wake me up again unless they actually appear.’

“My jaw just…dropped.

“Here they were, plain as day, dancing before my eyes…and she couldn’t see them.

“Wouldn’t Katie have been able to see them if they were just headlights?” Steve smiled knowingly.

“When I told her everything that I saw the next morning, she was incredibly jealous and confused.

“…But now I wish that it was me who never saw the Marfa Lights,” he added glumly.

Why do you say that?

He looked up, a note of fear visible in his eyes.

“Because I feel like aliens have been coming into my room at night ever since.”

Theories Surrounding The Marfa Lights

The scientists from Texas State University analyzed their spectroscopic data and their vehicular experiments and were confident that the Marfa Lights were the result of automobile headlights on Route 67.

They also believed that the lights were actually small campfires, flickering in the distance.

Others theorize that the lights come from the Marfa Army Airfield nine miles away.

Thousands of pilots trained at this station, especially during the 1940s.

This station was used multiple times a day as part of a daily airline service.

Some scientists play off this theory, believing that light is refracted by fluctuating temperatures in the air, and are then seen off of Route 67.

While the rest of the scientific community was content with this conclusion, many individuals who have experienced the lights are firm in their belief that the lights are not from vehicles.

In fact, the lights are not man made at all.

Many locals discredit theories about car or airplane lights.

They believe these lights are the results of Unidentified Flying Objects, patrolling the skies.

Others speculate that these strange mysterious lights are spirits, in the shape of orbs, floating like lost souls along the highway.

When Are The Marfa Lights Most Active?

According to scientists, and those who have been studying the Marfa Lights for decades, the lights appear no matter the time of year.

A large part of the reason as to why so many who have witnessed the lights are convinced that they do not belong to cars or other man-made objects is because the lights are so sporadic, and finicky.

There truly is no pattern to the flight of these lights, nor for when they will make themselves known in the night sky.

While the lights are a long standing phenomenon, seeing them is a rare and extraordinary occurrence.

To demonstrate how rare they are, between 2002 and 2009, the Marfa Lights have been seen only a staggering thirty times.

In mathematical terms, that boils down to an eight percent chance of seeing the lights on any given night.

While scientific study solidifies the fact that there is no distinct pattern to when the Marfa Lights will appear, many disgruntled travelers speculate about whether or not their unpredictability is played up by locals in order to promote further paranormal tourism.

Pictures Of The Marfa Lights

If you have yet to see these eerie (terrifying to some) lights, check out these Marfa Lights images:

Theories surrounding the Marfa Lights range from aliens to ghosts

Photo credit: instagram/phenomeco

A night shot of the Marfa Lights phenomena

Photo credit:

Marfa lights shining brightly in the distance

Photo via pinterest/Jason Carr

Marfa Lights Video

Here’s is some actual video footage showing the Marfa Lights shining brightly.

Do you think it’s one of the strangest paranormal mysteries in Texas? If not, maybe you will after watching this video.

Check it out:

The Best Time To See The Marfa Lights

Many locals report that while the Marfa Lights are typically yellow-orange in hue, lights that are red, green and blue have also been witnessed.

Because of these variances in color, it is always best to view the Marfa Lights after the sun has set.

Those who have recorded the strange and mysterious lights, such as Robert Bunnell at this viewing stations, has yet to find a particular season in which the lights are more or less active.

Nor does it seem that the lights are affected by other external circumstances, such as the weather.

Some witnesses impress upon people that dusk is a great time to get to the viewing area in order to see the lights.

Still others are convinced that getting to the viewing area as late as possible is ideal.

While the area is predominantly uninhabited, many witnesses believe going late into the light will ensure viewers that the strange phenomenon they experience cannot possibly be confused with cars, campfires, or airplanes.

Still others believe that you have a greater chance of witnessing the lights around sunset.

And should you go to the viewing area on a night where they don’t appear, then at least you will be able to witness a beautiful sky.

The Best Marfa Lights Viewing Area

Since the Marfa Lights have been a large part of Texas history, there is an area off of Route 67 that has been deemed the official viewing area for the Marfa Lights.

Located southeast of Marfa, the official viewing area is located not far from the highway in what is now Presidio County.

While most locals go to this designated spot in order to view the lights, the Marfa Lights can be seen from a large area within the county.

The Marfa Lights Viewing Center (MLVC) is aligned by the left hand side to the Big Bend Telephone Company’s Tower.

The right side of the viewing area is aligned by Chinati Peak, which is part of the Chinati Mountain range.


Ultimately, we may never know the true cause of this bizarre phenomenon.

Scientists are sure that these are atmospheric conditions or light fractions, and nothing more.

But those who have experienced the light first hand argue that the lights do not follow typical patterns or cars, campfires or other man-made objects.

Perhaps with continued studies and explorations, we may someday know.

But for now, the Marfa Lights remain a beautiful and mysterious anomaly.