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Spooky Roadside Stops: The Mystery Spot

Spooky Season has arrived! 

The wind is chilled, the leaves are changing, and through this period of transition, we find a reinvigorated sense of adventure. 

Happy Campers RV Rentals is here to inspire and encourage your new found Fall feelings! Let’s dig into the spirit of the season together, as we take you on a journey to some of the best Spooky Roadside Stops on the West Coast! It’s time to pack up your costumes, consolidate your candy, and hit the open road on a Halloween destination vacation. 

The second destination on our tour of Spooky Roadside Stops is the one, the only, the world famous Mystery Spot of Santa Cruz, California!

"This roadside attraction established in 1941 is the first and most significant example of its type in California, a "tilt-box" or "gravity house" roadside attraction that gained popularity in the mid-twentieth century. Established by George Prather, the Mystery Spot became a popular roadside attraction under the stewardship of Prather's son Bruce in the late 1940s and 1950s."

Table of Contents

A Brief History of The Mystery Spot

The Mystery Spot was first discovered in 1939 by a Fresno inventor by the name of George Prather. Upon the discovery of seemingly gravity defying phenomena, The Mystery Spot was opened to the public in 1940.

According to a newspaper report, Prather bought three acres on the hill in 1940 after he felt slightly dizzy while walking and was interested in his dizziness. The newspaper also reported that during further exploration of his property, he found his compass jittering. He built a “crazy house” and opened the site to the public in June 1941. Tour guides lead visitors through the attraction and perform various demonstrations to showcase the site’s unusual effects.

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly that has been stupefying travelers and researchers for decades. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feed (46 meters) in diameter. Within the confounds of The Mystery Spot, visitors are stunned as perceptions and the laws of physics seem to bend. Phenomena that can be observed include balls rolling uphill, water flowing uphill, and people leaning farther than normally possible without falling down. 

There have been many theories as to where The Mystery Spot gets its mystery, some more convincing than the others. It was once believed that giant metal cones were buried in the ground around the site, creating magnetic field disturbances that created fantastical circumstances. There are few who took the metal cone theory to the next level, claiming it was part of an extraterrestrial navigation system. Another proposed theory is that a meteor once fell to this location hundreds of years ago and left a “magic circle,” or otherwise, an alternative electromagnetic field that creates strange occurrences and deters animals from getting close. 

The Mystery Spot was listed in the California Register as a California Historical Landmark, countersigned by the Director of California State Parks on August 22, 2014. The Mystery Spot is California Historical Landmark number 1055.


The Mystery Spot is currently open and operational. We recommend purchasing tickets through their website in advance of your visit, especially if you’re traveling on weekends or holidays! 

The Mystery Spot Quick Facts

  1. 1
    The First Of Its Kind
    After becoming inspired by the Oregon Vortex, founder George Prather decided to set out and discover his own mysteries. The Mystery Spot was the very first establishment of it's kind to exist in California. Described as an "ineffable, natural phenomenon that cannot be described or explained,” the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, California is one of many such “gravitational anomalies” located around the world. Similar “Mystery spots” are found in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Wisconsin Dells, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Jerusalem.
  2. 2
    Mystery Of The Mind
    The secret of dozens of magnetic hills, anti-gravity hills, and mystery spots around the world lies not in any paranormal force, but in the peculiarities of our own minds. As our brains attempt to orient themselves, we use horizontal and vertical cues around us to establish our place in space. When we don’t have a recognizable horizon line, our brains can make some surprising mistakes! Even more curious is that when our bodies are put at an angle, perceptual distortion doubles, making odd illusions even more perplexing.
  3. 3
    Then And Now
    Out of darkness comes light. There are more than a dozen similar roadside anomalies location across the nation, but The Mystery Spot was one of the first. It is believed that roadside attractions started to become popular after The Great Depression, when people truly needed an escape from reality. After 70 years of operation, The Mystery Spot is now affectionately deemed "The Bermuda Triangle of the Redwoods." People from all corners of the world now come to experience the magic. One gift shop worker says that in seven years of work, they met people from Yugoslavia, Iceland, Nigeria, and Japan.
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