The Truth Is Out There

Prep for Contact in the Desert with this roundup of otherworldly reads.

Miranda Caudell Attractions, Current Guide

Contact in the Desert, dubbed “the Woodstock of UFOs,” takes place June 1-4 at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa.

Are we alone in the universe? A quick Google search of the question yields nearly 100 million results, from TED Talks and op-eds to studies in mathematical probability and algorithms. (Clearly, there’s plenty to discuss.) Contact in the Desert, dubbed “the Woodstock of UFOs,” has grown to become one of the most attended UFO conferences in the United States, drawing those looking for answers. Now in its sixth year, the event features four days of lectures, workshops, and panels covering crop circles, government cover-up conspiracies, and everything in between.

Some of the biggest names in ufology and extraterrestrial research — including George Noory, host of the nationally syndicated radio talk show “Coast to Coast AM”; Giorgio Tsoukalos of Ancient Aliens fame; and Laura Eisenhower, great-granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower — are slated to attend the 2018 event. Previously held at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center (chosen for its historical connection with UFO sightings), Contact in the Desert will carry on its colloquium on close encounters June 1–4 at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa. Here’s some essential reading before you go.


Thanks to recently declassified government documents and two eyewitness accounts, former UFO investigator Nick Pope exposes the British military’s 1980 Encounter in Rendlesham Forest with an alien aircraft (St. Martin’s Press, 2014). His play-by-play of the events that occurred that night, a no-nonsense compilation of anecdotes and little hard evidence, just might convince you that Rendlesham is the new Roswell.


Investigative journalist Linda Moulton Howe embarks on a thrilling trifecta of extraterrestrials, cow mutilations, and government conspiracies in her self-published 
1989 book An Alien Harvest and tackles crop circles in her 2002 follow-up, Mysterious Lights and Crop Circles.


Michael E. Salla, Ph.D., a former researcher-in-residence at American University, quit academics to pursue a taboo subject, documented in Exposing U.S. Government Policies on Extraterrestrial Life (The Exopolitics Institute, 2009). Salla’s book is a well-researched discourse of political science meets outer space, with some eyewitness accounts and evidence of alien “treaties” thrown in for good measure.


In Chariots of the Gods (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969), Erich von Däniken claims aliens have been visiting Earth for millennia, sharing technology and shaping history. His theories, often disputed, led to an outbreak of “Dänikenitis” in the ’70s, catapulting the Swiss author into flying-saucer fame. Almost 30 years later, Däniken looks into The Eyes of the Sphinx (Berkley, 1996) for evidence of Egypt’s extraterrestrial past.


Contact in the Desert alum Jacques Vallee is fascinated by Wonders in the Sky (Tarcher/Penguin, 2010); he and co-author Chris Aubeck analyze 500 accounts of mysterious aerial phenomena (lights, objects, abductions) from biblical times up to 1879 and their impact on human culture and beliefs.