This veteran buried treasure in the Rockies and left hidden clues for hunters

When veterans retire, they often set out to pursue the hobbies they never had time to do in service. For Forrest Fenn, that meant the hunt for buried treasure.

But this Air Force veteran didn’t want to go looking for others’ valuables, so he buried his own.

A decorated war hero, Fenn flew 300 missions over Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

After he retired from the Air Force in 1970, he started an art gallery with his wife Peggy in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

He successfully battled cancer, but vowed if it ever came back, he’d hike into the desert with a chest full of booty and wait for treasure hunters to find him and his loot.

buried treasure

Fenn in Vietnam (Photo from Fenn’s memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase.”)

“If it comes back, I’m going to grab a pocketful of sleeping pills, take a treasure chest filled with treasure and a copy of my bio, and I’m going to walk out into the desert,” Fenn told writer Margie Goldsmith. “Sometime they’ll find my bones and the treasure, but my bio will be inside the box, so at least they’ll know who I was.”

buried treasure

Forrest Fenn in his home. (Photo from Visit New Mexico)

But the cancer never came back. So Fenn, “tired of waiting,” went ahead and buried the treasure in the Rocky Mountains near his home.

“It’s difficult so it won’t be found right away, but it’s easy enough so that it’s not impossible to find it,” Fenn told Goldsmith who wrote about the treasure for the Huffington Post. “I want sweaty bodies out there looking for my treasure — they just have to find the clues.”
The treasure is buried in an honest-to-God treasure chest and contains gold nuggets, gold animal figurines, and gold coins, as well as some gems and valuable historical artifacts.
buried treasure

Forrest Fenn’s treasure. No joke. This is buried somewhere. (Forrest Fenn)

Before you lace up your hiking boots, note that the search may not be an easy one. More than one hiker has gone missing looking for the treasure and digging on public lands could be problematic.
One of those treasure hunters, Randy Bilyeu of Colorado, died in his search.
As of this writing, the treasure has not yet been found. Fenn, now 80 years old, advises people to wait until after the snow melts in spring to begin their search.
“The treasure is not hidden in a dangerous place,” Fenn told the Daily Mail UK. “I’ve said many times not to look for the treasure any place where an 80-year-old man couldn’t put it.”

Clues to the treasure’s location can be found in Fenn’s book about his life. “The Thrill of the Chase: A Memoir” is only available at the Collected Works Bookstore in downtown Santa Fe. Proceeds from the book benefit cancer patients who can’t pay for treatments.

Fenn says the following poem contains at least nine clues. Good luck!

As I have gone alone in there
And with my treasures bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.


Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.


From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is drawing ever nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.


If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.


So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know
I’ve done it tired, and now I’m weak


So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

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