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Escape to Santa Cruz: The Mystery Spot

My adventure this week explored unknown territory, containing unexplained and mysterious oddities that defied gravity and logic. I visited the Mystery Spot!

Where: The Mystery Spot, Santa Cruz
Difficulty: Easy (but there is one steep section with rails to hold on)
Elevational Range: About 300 to 340′
Date: September 24, 2017

I had plans to meet some “old” friends at Santa Cruz, decided to come in a day early and have some sort of adventure in the area. I googled things to do in Santa Cruz and the Mystery Spot sounded interesting. I went to their website and read up a bit on this strange place.

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter. Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned. But don’t take our word for it, come and decide for yourself!

The Mystery Spot was discovered in 1939 by a group of surveyors and opened to the public in 1940. The Mystery Spot has amazed and perplexed hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, and many return time and time again to experience these puzzling variations of gravity, perspective, and height.

Some speculate that cones of metal were secretly brought here and buried in our earth as guidance systems for their spacecraft. Some think that it is in fact the spacecraft itself buried deep within the ground. Other theories include carbon dioxide permeating from the earth, a hole in the ozone layer, a magma vortex, the highest dielectric biocosmic radiation known anywhere in the world, and radiesthesia. Whatever the cause is, it remains a mystery.

The Mystery Spot is fun for all ages! It is a great place to spend a few hours with the whole family from the 45 minute fully guided tour to our wonderful hiking trail. We have a gift store with all things Mystery Spot and more! Come and join us for a refreshing day of outdoor fun!


How could I resist not checking this out? You can purchase your tickets online and I recommend that you do this, especially on the weekend. I didn’t do that and since I was alone, I was able to get in on the next tour, but I saw some groups trying to purchase tickets there and the wait was a few hours.


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 official press release by the CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION issued on July 30, 2014 reads:

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.

As I waited a few minutes for the tour to being, I read about this George Prather that established The Mystery Spot. That Prather surname got me to wondering if I could be related so I did a bit of research when I got home. George William Prather was born November 22, 1890 in Selma, California and died January 28, 1846 in Santa Cruz. His wife’s name was Nellie May Wilcox and she was born January 10, 1893 in Dayton, Wisconsin. I have quite a bit of research accumulated on Prathers because my grandmother was out of this surname and I was able to figure out the relationship. Are you ready for this? George William Prather is my half 6th cousin once removed. I guess I should have asked for the family discount.

George W. Prather Obituary (Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 30, 1946)

Our small group waited patiently by the turnstyle, led by this brave young man!

When it was our time we were let in and met Skylar, our guide for the approximately 45 minute tour. He was really an entertainer, full of interesting facts and humor.

He shared information with us about the history and how the Mystery Spot is confined to a small area, showing us some physical indications of those boundaries. He demonstrated with a level on a flat area to show us one of the anomalies of this unique spot.

He then asked for two volunteers and placed them on that flat, level area to show how the appearance of their size changed when they changed places. I took the picture of them in the same location and you can see from my picture how the perception of their size changed. How can this be?










Then we walked up the cement path, which had railing that you could grab to help you walk up that steep slope. They say that slope was 55% at the steepest and the cabin was at the top of the climb. They shared that the cabin had slid down to its current location and position long ago.

Things got stranger and stranger. Water flowed uphill, people could stand at impossible angles, a plum bob hanging from the ceiling helped show how crooked the scene was, and billiard balls rolled uphill. How can that be?








We had time to explore the inside of the cabin on our own and demonstrate for ourselves how difficult walking on the floor was or how we could defy gravity by climbing up the side of the wall, then we gathered at the backside of the cabin to ask more questions (and hear more jokes).

I guess that the strange phenomena could have been from an ancient spacecraft that is buried below the site. I couldn’t see that hole in the ozone layer that they talked about from where I was. The magma vortex theory was explained to me that at the center of the earth, the magma rotates one way and it rotates the opposite way directly under this spot. I don’t have a clue what dielectric biocosmic radiation is and don’t pretend to try and understand how it could be the highest known anywhere in the world here. I had to look up radiesthesia and it is defined as a sensitiveness held to enable a person with the aid of divining rod or pendulum to detect things (such as the presence of underground water, the nature of an illness, or the guilt of a suspected person); also: dowsing, divining. Or could the engineering of the Mystery Spot help create optical illusions that trick our eye? The one thing that I do know is that it was an entertaining tour and I am glad that I did it. It was a different adventure for me and a fun afternoon.

If you decide to go to the Mystery Spot, their website has a ton of information but here are a few things that you should know to help you decide if the physical aspects of this tour are a good fit for you:

  • Portions of the Mystery Spot tour are on a 55 degree slope and ​thus can​ be difficult for people with limited physical abilities to negotiate.
  • The Mystery Spot Cabin, a central part of the tour, has stairs and uneven surfaces that make it difficult for persons with limited physical abilities or service animals to negotiate.
  • They do not allow family pets inside the Mystery Spot gates but they do allow family pets on their hiking trail and parking lot area. All service animals are allowed at the Mystery Spot.


Detailed directions are available on the Mystery Spot’s website (link under Sources).


The Mystery Spot Home Page

Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 30, 1946

 Radiesthesia Definition



  1. Be sure to read the online wikipedia information before spending your money on this sham. The distortions are all visual and they are caused by the cabin being built at a 20 degree angle from verticle.

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