Fresno Nightcrawlers: What are these oddly lovable silt-like creatures? Ghosts of campers past, strange aliens, or is this just one really big hoax? TAP TO GET PODCAST
Yosemite National Park is home to some of the most gorgeous views. From mountaintop trails to scenic campsites, there’s truly something for every nature lover. But be aware. You might even catch a glimpse of a wandering ghost.
The dogs wouldn’t stop barking. This had been the 4th night in a row that the family could not sleep. It seemed every night, around the same time, their two dogs had been spooked awake by something outside their bedroom window. But they were perplexed every time the couple peered through their bedroom blinds. Although they never saw anything out of the ordinary or heard any strange noises that would cause the dogs disturbance, they were beginning to feel nervous. While their neighborhood was a relatively safe community with its typically quiet demeanor and friendly, smiling-faced neighbors, their suspicions of something darker started to grow. And with the dogs becoming easily spooked at night, the couple began wondering if trespassers were secretly monitoring their house.
That following day, the couple got up, got their kids ready for school, and headed to the store to pick up a security camera to ease their worries. Later that evening, the couple installed their security camera right outside the garage. It was fixed in a position that faced the front lawn where they could see anyone, or anything, walking across their yard. Confident that whatever had spooked the dogs, they’d find out that the following day. Like clockwork, the couple was yet again awoken by their two dogs. And once again, the couple saw nothing suspicious outside their blinds. But they returned to bed this time, hoping to find the true culprit in the morning. And rest assured, they indeed found something they couldn’t quite explain.
After getting their kids ready for school, the couple ate breakfast and prepared coffee before heading to work. After making his coffee just as he likes, the husband sat at the kitchen table and began rolling back the footage from last night. As the wife began pouring her coffee with the coffee pot in one hand and her favorite mug in the other, she looked up as the recording played back the dogs barking. Completely ridden with fear, nothing could have prepared her for what she saw. As she let go of the coffee pot with the dark brown liquid crashing around the floor, the screen showed two unidentified creatures moving smoothly and fluidly across the front lawn.
But these weren’t the legs of trespassers trying to steal tools out from the shed. No, these were pale, disembodied, stilt-like legs that appeared to be loose pants flowing in the wind. Only the creatures had no arms, no head, and no legs. It had seemed as if her linens had come to life, unclipped themselves off the clothesline, and magically walked down the sidewalk.
While you may scoff at the idea of magical floating pants being the cause of such turmoil, the couple genuinely feared the worst. Before the tape had even finished playing all the way through, the couple quickly grabbed the phone and dialed 911. Once police arrived, they explained in detail how their dogs had repeatedly woken them up with their barking every night. Then, they explained what they had caught on film the night before and replayed the footage for the police to see. Since this was the 90s, though, unfortunately, the video was pretty grainy and low-quality. But that didn’t stop the media from quickly picking it up. And it wouldn’t be long before these creatures officially had a name: The Fresno Nightcrawlers.
Although the initial story of these cryptids grew in popularity during the 90s, their growing popularity quickly faded with the turn of the century. While a few faint whispers echoed of strange things caught on trail cams, no official sightings or documentation remotely signaled their return. And over time, the Fresno Nightcrawlers had soon become a thing of the past.
That is, until March of 2011.
When park rangers at California’s Yosemite National Park were suspicious of intruders vandalizing, they wanted to catch the culprit red-handed. The thing was, there weren’t any natural disturbances in the forest. Nothing had been stolen, and there weren’t any real signs of street vandalism unless you count the empty water bottles left behind from deserted campsites. Still, the park rangers wanted to be sure.
One spring morning, a few park rangers decided to set up surveillance cameras. With several cameras conveniently located around the vicinity, being sure to grab all the different angles, they were satisfied with their day’s work. As the rangers switched out their shifts for the night, they were sure that whatever initially sparked their previous suspicions would finally be unveiled to them that next morning. And they were right.
Except, what they found on camera weren’t vandals after all.
The following morning, the Parker rangers from the day before met together in the welcome center to discuss what they had found in the footage. As they were taking turns pouring coffee into styrofoam cups, looking over their shoulders at the desktop behind them, suddenly they froze in fear. With the hairs on their arms standing up and sweaty palms grabbing their coffee cups, they couldn’t believe what they saw.
Walking down the trail, there were two ghost-like figures with long, spindly white legs. Unlike the previous sighting from the 90s, where the family claimed to have seen a pair of disembodied, floating trousers, these figures looked as if their heads were attached straight onto their legs. No neck, no arms, and no torso. Just one small head and long, lean, white legs. The rangers had no idea what to make of this strange sight. They almost would have preferred dealing with vandals because at least then they had proof of who was messing with them. But this? They couldn’t charge ghosts for simply existing.
And much like the story before of the family catching these entities on their trail cameras, the news quickly traveled. Only this time, the Fresno Nightcrawlers’ wild popularity stuck. Even now, over a decade removed from the Yosemite National Park footage found in 2011, the Fresno Nightcrawlers have become a household name for many. From cute plushes and fan art to witty memes and official MetaZoo cards, the Fresno Nightcrawlers are here to stay. However, it is worth mentioning that there aren’t any other sightings of these creatures. Sure, some people have claimed to see them in their backyard. But other than the famous national park footage and the footage found from the previous family’s trail cam, there’s not much proof these things exist.
While many other cryptids have more believable evidence, such as Bigfoot markings in the ground or weird sonar readings from mysterious big fish, the lack of evidence makes them so popular. They’re strange but oddly adorable. They won’t wreak havoc other than the sleep loss from dogs barking late at night. And they pretty much stay in their lane. If these are just floating ghost pants, it’s pretty cute that they, too, enjoy a walk through the park, admiring all that nature offers them. One could even argue that these floating ghost pants are nothing more than the manifestation of campers from long ago simply trekking through Yosemite National Park one last time.
While there’s little else to share about these strange creatures due to a lack of credible sightings, I have one more story. Although this specific story may have a different name for these cryptids, many believe that they’re one and the same.
It was a cold December night. Everyone in Ohio was out prepping for holiday parties and getting last-minute gifts for their families. The roads were extra busy, the malls full of children not-so-patiently awaiting their turn for pictures with Santa, and local coffee shops were filled with people trying to stay warm from the wintry weather.
About a month prior, a 60-year-old former Marine and his wife had just moved to the area. About an hour and a half from Cincinnati, this couple found a small, sleepy town in Carmel, around the Fort Hill area. Wanting to celebrate Christmas and ring in 2015 in a new home, they instantly fell in love with this small town. It was quiet but only a little far out if they wanted to spend the weekend in the city.
The only strange thing about their new home was a small patch of grass in the shape of a perfect circle that stayed fresh and green no matter how chilly the late, frosty Autumn nights had gotten. While this was odd and seemingly impossible, given the weather conditions, they didn’t think much of it. If the only bad thing you can say about your new home is that you have green grass, it’s not much to worry about. However, their oddly green grass would be far from the strangest thing they’d notice as the holidays grew closer.
The couple was beyond tired. They had been up since 7 a.m. to get an early start on holiday shopping in the city. Even with their early morning, heavy interstate traffic, and long lines at each store, the couple wanted nothing more than to curl up in their comfy beds. That winding road back to their home was all they could think about. And since they’d been living here for over a month, they were thoroughly accustomed to the different roads they had to take. You turn onto Carmel Road. Then you go around the curve by the Carmel Church. And then you drive up a slight hill. Continue driving a little ways, and you’re practically there.
But as they drove up the hill, standing nearly 10 feet away from their car was something the former marine couldn’t quite explain. He saw it while his wife had been roughly asleep on the drive back. The former marine would later describe the figure as “a 7ft tall, slim, gray creature with muscular legs that walked like its knees were backward”. In his words, “[It was standing there] in front of our truck, [and then] the “alien” ran across the road and into the woods.”
Not knowing what to make of this strange sighting, he gently nudged his wife awake and asked if she witnessed the figure for herself. Although she had no idea what he was talking about, she noticed her husband was shocked. She felt uneasy for him but looked out the window and saw nothing. Thinking it must be the exhaustion from a long day or the streetlight casting weird shadows, she told him to draw the figure for her once they got home. After sitting idle for a few minutes to get his bearings, he slowly drove down their dirt road as they sat silently. Once they pulled up, they quickly exited the car and walked up the front porch steps.
As the wife began putting on her nightgown and getting ready for bed, she looked at her husband sitting in his study. When she approached him, she looked down and noticed the strange figure he swore he had just seen moments ago. The sketch depicted the prominent and lanky strange figure as having no arms and mostly long legs.
Later, in an interview with the Ohio division of the Mutual UFO Network, the former marine’s wife shared, “My husband is a skeptic. He wouldn’t have admitted to seeing it if he hadn’t been in shock. I had him draw it for me when we got to the house. He says it was asphalt gray and about 7ft tall, no arms that he could see, but muscular in the legs area; [there was] no jawline and its legs were bent backward as it leaned forward as it ran.”
Although this is the only sighting of long and lanky legs darting through the woods at night in small-town Ohio, it goes by a couple of names. Some call it the Carmel Area Creature or the Carmel Mystery Crawler. However, if you ask a few cryptid enthusiasts, they’d tell you that the Carmel Area Creature is none other than a Fresno Nightcrawler simply enjoying a late-night stroll through the Midwest.
But what exactly is the Fresno Nightcrawler? Indeed, floating ghost pants aren’t a real thing, right? Well, many skeptics believe that these nightcrawlers are, in fact, floating ghost pants. But in the way of puppeteering. And maybe a little Photoshop.
A popular YouTuber, Captain Disillusion, created his version of this cryptid using a large fruit. Recording himself walking down an alleyway carrying a melon, he removed the top half of his body with digital editing to create the illusion of a floating body. In this video, he shares how easy it is to fake footage. With this comical GIF of a walking fruit, many believe the Fresno Nightcrawler is simply a hoax. Nothing more than a digitally altered rendering.
However, it is worth mentioning that the second episode of the SyFy show, Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, features the Fresno Nightcrawlers. No matter how hard they tried, the paranormal team couldn’t re-create this cryptid and deemed it “unexplainable.”
But maybe we can explain this strange cryptid in a way that doesn’t include fancy video edits. Perhaps in a more natural way. Many believe these peculiar creatures are just deer standing upright. I could see it being terrifying at night if you didn’t know what you were looking at. And it’s standard for deer to stand on their hind legs, reaching for food on a tree or bucking up to another deer to show dominance.
However, if you google “not deer,” the legend behind these creatures might be scarier than floating pants. Oh, and don’t forget the terrifying chronic wasting disease that makes deer, let’s say, go crazy.
As far as the Ohio Carmel Creature, this one can be explained as an animal, but less mammal and more bird. In fact, due to its backward-pointing legs and seeming lack of arms, many believe this creature is simply a stork or crane. These animals have long and lanky legs, and I’m sure they could be creepy at night in the middle of the road.
And then you have those who believe that the Fresno Nightcrawlers are entirely accurate. But not in the specter type of way. If you remember, the wife who shared her husband’s drawing and supposed sighting spoke to the Ohio division of the Mutual UFO network.
Meaning these aren’t ghosts after all, but rather, aliens. And if you’ve been following all of the recent news with the US government sharing that aliens have indeed visited Earth, then this encounter doesn’t seem all that strange. So many of our stories have an “alien theory” somewhere, so it might not be that far off from the truth.
But maybe the Fresno Nightcrawlers aren’t alien, either. If they can’t be explained by internet hoaxes, animals found in the wild, ghost nature lovers, or foreign aliens, then what else could they be? Well, some believe they have more in common with the Navajo Skinwalkers, which we will cover in a later episode.
While many a cryptid has gone on to become the face of witty memes, like Bigfoot being the world-class hide-and-seek player, the Fresno Nightcrawlers captured the hearts of both young and old. However, we know very little about these cryptids. There are very few sightings and even less information covering their origins. But that doesn’t mean we love them any less.
These Fresno Nightcrawlers are perhaps the cutest and most non-evasive cryptids we know of. While the strange images on the trail cam footage may have been initially creepy, the Fresno Nightcrawlers are pretty harmless. I mean, I’m not sure how maniacal a pair of floating pants can be. Honestly, this sounds more like a case from Tsukumogami.
If you remember, a few episodes back when we took a detour through Japan, we covered these “tool spirits” where inanimate objects can take on a life of their own.
And, if you’re familiar with Dr. Seuss, then floating pants with a life of their own shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. In his 1961 book, What Was I Scared of, the main character is a “young, bear-like creature” who stumbles upon a pair of green pants with no one inside them as he treks through the woods. He then becomes terrified of these floating ghost pants.
All I’m saying is that if Woody and Buzz from Toy Story can come to life when we’re not looking, or instruments can strum sweet melodies on their own, maybe it’s not too far-fetched an idea that these traveling pants were just passing through.
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Thanks for touring Cryptids Across the Atlas. Until next time, keep your eyes open. You never know what you might see just on the edge of the road.