Exploring the Zone of Silence

Between Durango and Coahuila, The Zone Of Silence Beckons

The Zone of Silence, Zona del Silencio, is one of the weirdest places on Earth

Editor's note: this trip to the Zone of Silence was taken in the 1990's. Much has changed and the directions are no doubt of little value. Read this as "historic nonfiction" and enjoy. If you truly want to experience the Zone of Silence, contact Walter Bishop in Durango

Land of contrasts -- or landing zone for UFO's? The Zona del Silencio in the Chihuahua desert is one of the eeriest places on the planet. To me, it was like what I imagined the surface of the moon to be like. There are literally millions of meteorites covering the ground in some parts. In other parts, there are inches of a fine, white, powdery dust that covers everything. Fossils litter the area. If you drive too far into it, your engine will cease working. Some have said that it is because of the strong electromagnetic fields surrounding the area. Low-flying planes avoid it and Loran doesn't work there. Others have said that is a lot of bunk, and that the area must be the site of some government hanky-panky, so they have perpetuated the myths. Me, I don't know, but it surely is a spooky place -- and I don't mean the kind that works for the CIA, either.

To get to the Zone of Silence, go north from Torreon, Coah, towards Chihuahua on Hwy #45 for 83 miles. You'll pass the road to Mapimi, another of my undiscovered places. You can also approach the Zona del Silencio from Chihuahua. It's 190 miles south of the city on Hwy #45. Be sure to fill with gas before you leave and top it off with any unleaded station you see on the way. Although I didn't, and came back, it was foolish as there is no gas in the Zona. Although finding unleaded gas is no longer a problem in Mexico, this is one area where an extra gas can could come in handy. If you were just driving to Chihuahua, you'd have no problem whatever.

Once you've turned off from the main road, you'll be on dirt tracks. From time to time, you'll see little wooden signs with arrows saying "Zona". Don't count on 'em always being where you need them. You can tell if you are going the right way by using a flat-topped mountain ahead of you as a landmark. Keep that bluff on your left going in and on your right coming back. My companion on the trip penned the phrase, "Be kind to that mountain "you will need it later." She was right. It looks very much like the one in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Many believe that flying saucers land there. The National Enquirer did a story about it. Of course, the three headed sheep and "deformed creatures and people" they claimed lived there must have been sleeping during our visit. I've heard (but haven't been able to verify) that, during the 30's a group of believers in extraterrestrials from the U.S. went there and hung out for awhile, awaiting visitation. We camped out in the Zone and I tried to contact any aliens around, but they must have all gotten their green cards. My companion just gave me one of those looks that women give men they don't love for centuries.

You'll come to several fences along the way. They enclose small communities of five to ten houses. Please close them (or leave them open if that's the way you found 'em) as you go through. The last thing those folks need is for some thoughtless gringo to aid their recalcitrant cows in making a run for it. The folks you'll pass here and there are shy and suspicious of strangers. I'm sure they'd help you out in a pinch, but they have no welcome wagon.

After 36.6 miles, the scenery becomes abruptly lush. There are pockets of green, green trees, tall grass and shade. Just as abruptly, you are thrust back into the trackless, shadeless, inhospitable desert.

After 37.8 miles (assuming you have been very lucky and not taken too many wrong turns -- remember the mountain), you'll drive on the top of a levee, or irrigation ditch. --- miles farther, take a left and get ready for the real stuff. You'll go through a meteor graveyard. You'll be surrounded by millions of meteorites for the next few miles. Some have been made into letters and numbers. Some may think it's to signal UFO's, but they are probably to warn more conventional aircraft to stay away.

2.8 miles farther, you will see a small bluff dead ahead. That's the end of your journey. Drive to the top of it. You'll find circles made of meteorites with crosses in the middle and the remains of campfires. These are obviously religious symbols and some people have come here to do some sort of worship. Imagine the scene of fires roaring in the black desert night, miles from civilization, and light-years from the rest of the world. Perhaps there are naked people dancing around the fires, chanting. Would they have welcomed us if we showed up during their ritual? Or? Of course there were also some Tecate cans spread about, so I guess some of them worshiped the god of brew.

Far off in the distance from the bluff is a giant crater. How giant, I don't know, but it looked as big as Crater Lake in Oregon from where I stood. I choose not to test the theory of engines not working and didn't drive any farther. The trip back was only somewhat easier and we caught a cemetery with quite an spooky and sad feel to it. That didn't stop me from taking pictures, but I felt guilty about disturbing something that should have been left alone.