Somewhere north of Santa Fe in the Rocky Mountains, the hidden Fenn treasure sits, waiting for its lucky claimer. 84-year-old Forrest Fenn, a multimillionaire, former military pilot and artifacts dealer, hid a chest worth more than a million dollars, or so he says.
While battling kidney cancer years ago, Fenn was told he had a 20 percent chance of living. Thinking he was going to die, he decided to leave a box full of personal treasures in the Rockies for someone to find. He felt it was a way to leave his legacy behind, in a thrilling style that suited him. He claims his legacy, contained in the chest, includes rare coins, gold nuggets, gems, jewelry, a 17th-Century Spanish ring, ancient figurines and countless other rare finds.
The real kicker? Fenn has not yet passed away, and the treasure has yet to be found, although thousands of hopefuls search every year. Travel Channel's Expedition Unknown did a whole episode covering Fenn's Treasure. Gates got to ask Fenn himself what Fenn's motive was for hiding the treasure, to which Fenn replied, "To get the people out in the sunshine again. To smell the pine needles in the mountains."
So, how can you find the treasure for yourself? Fenn wrote an autobiography titled The Thrill of the Chase, and in it, he included a 24-line poem of clues leading people to the treasure. He has also dropped additional clues over the years. Here are some things we know for sure about the treasure apart from the riddle in his book:
- A map Fenn released in another book shows the search area as Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
- It is hidden north of Sante Fe and 5,000 feet above sea level.
- Fenn has said it's not associated with any structure and it's not buried in a graveyard.
- He has also given the clue that the treasure chest is "wet", but then later joked that everything in the Rockies is technically wet.
- Fenn has given the advice not to look anywhere a 79 to 80-year-old man can't put something, teasing that he can't climb to 14,000 feet.
Fenn is a man who loves adventure. Don't believe me? His beloved pet, Beowolf was a Louisana gator that he hand-fed. He's spent years of his life exploring and digging up artifacts across the world himself, and he even claims he was kicked out of Pompeii three times. Talk about living large.
Fenn's main motivation for hiding the treasure? To get people outside in nature, exploring their surroundings, experiencing the thrill of the search, and maybe finding themselves along the way. In an interview with CBS News, Fenn was asked who ideally would find the treasure in his mind. His response:
"A family that is joined together and gone out lookin' for the treasure four or five or ten or 50 times. Take a tent and sleeping bags and your fishing pole and go out looking. That was my primary motive."
Has it been found, is it still out there somewhere or is it all an elaborate hoax created and perpetuated by Fenn to encourage people to explore? Whatever the truth may be, it has certainly sparked a sense of adventure and appreciation of the outdoors in thousands of people across the country. With that, it's time to grab your family, your trusty metal detector and make your way to the Rockies.