By Andrew Rice
Copyright 1996, Outside magazine

The Northern California mountains have long been known as bigfoot country. Sightings date back to the 1880s, but it was
Roger Patterson's now famous (and never discredited) 1967 film of a female bigfoot in the woods near Willow Creek that really launched the craze.

Sensing a boon, the tiny town of Willow Creek grabbed onto the bigfoot as its chief attraction. Now you can play nine holes at the Bigfoot Country Club, attend a meeting of the Bigfoot Chapter of the Lion's Club, witness the Labor Day Bigfoot Parade, and buy bigfoot memorabilia.

When the Bigfoot Research Project published its hot line number in 1993, operators were overwhelmed. "The first month we had the 800 number we had about 3,000 calls, but 95 percent of them were crank calls," reported project administrator Deborah Wolman. Of the "real" calls, most are reports of giant footprints or people claiming they smelled a bigfoot, which ostensibly exudes "a gut-wrenching stench, the worst possible sticky B.O. you can imagine, combined with urine."

And the sightings continue: Last March, a former Playboy model and photographers shooting a fashion video near Redwood National Park captured a brief and shaky clip of what they claimed was a bigfoot crossing the road. Hard Copy ran a segment on the sighting, but Ray Crowe, a bigfoot believer who runs the Western Bigfoot Society, thinks this one was a hoax. "I put that tape on freeze frame, and the bottom of the bigfoot's feet are white," said Crowe. "This was a rainy, muddy night. I think it was wearing tennis shoes."

Copyright 1996, Outside magazine