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Where did this shiny monolith in Utah’s desert come from, and who put it there?

A metal monolith planted in the ground in a remote area of red rock in Utah.
A smooth, tall metal monolith planted in the ground in a remote area of red rock in southeastern Utah.
(Utah Department of Public Safety)

Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah’s red-rock desert lies a mystery: a gleaming metal monolith in one of the most remote parts of the state.

Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah’s red-rock desert lies a mystery: a gleaming metal monolith found in one of the most remote parts of the state.

The smooth, tall structure was discovered during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday.

A crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air Nov. 18 and landed to check it out during a work break.

They found a three-sided stainless-steel object about as tall as two men put together. They discovered no clues as to who might have driven it into the ground among the undulating red rocks or why, but officials discounted extraterrestrial help.

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“This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety.

Still, it’s clear that it took some planning and work both to construct the 10-to-12-foot monolith and embed it in the rock.

The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued.

The monolith evokes the one that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Some speculate that it could be an art installation, though it’s illegal to place art objects without ization on federal public land.

Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it’s been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it.

This is not the first time that a mysterious monolith has appeared in the American West. In January 2001, a squat and shiny structure materialized on a windswept Seattle hilltop, then vanished as inexplicably as it appeared.


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