Good for: Everyone
Price: $5/person ($6 if pre-paid online), $5 parking
In the middle of the Santa Cruz Redwoods lies a secluded area where you are welcomed to the Mystery Spot. Supposedly, this is an area of about 150′ in diameter that is affected by some unexplained gravitational anomaly. Others would argue that it’s nothing but optical illusions and clever presentation. Either way, you are in for an hour of good, clean fun! It’s not a heavily advertised attraction but one not to be missed.
When your time slot comes up, groups of about 15-20 follow their tour guide (clad in ranger-type clothes) to the first stop. Be ready for corny puns gallore – don’t worry, they’re actually pretty good. Two experiments are done involving two planks and a level, using a couple of volunteers from the group. This sets the stage for some crazy perception changes. As you hike the up the seemingly innocent incline, you notice that climb feels harder and more strenuous then it should. You are then led to an obviously skewed cabin.
Though you know the cabin is built at an angle, that doesn’t detract from the things you see. All logic in regards to gravity and how things ‘should’ act is gone. After a few demonstrations the group is set free to explore the oddities in the small two-roomed structure. Make sure to stand near the sides and rails because at some point you will start to feel light-headed and likely lose your balance. Even skeptics will have fun just trying to figure out how things are actually working. It makes for a few giggles and a whole lot of question marks hovered overhead.
After this, you are treated to some last more height changes/comparisons and then make your way back down the hill. Of course you are ‘welcome’ to tip the tour guide as he hands you a complimentary bumper sticker. If you drive anywhere in the Bay Area, you are bound to see one of these infamous yellow and black bumper stickers at one point or another. Now we know why – they give them out free after the tour. Free for you and free promotion for them. Pretty good marketing if you ask me.
Obscuring the horizon, building things at an angle, and carefully constructed items can explain much of the ‘mysteries’. What I couldn’t find answers for, even after searching online for them, was the strange growth of surrounding trees. The redwoods in the immediate area have branches on only one side (away from the sun), one eucalyptus grows in a swerved corkscrew, and others stand at varying angles instead of all being vertical as they normally would. It’s a mystery…
The tour itself is about 45 minutes and will have you leaving with a smile. There’s no time limit in the parking lot, though, so you are welcome to peruse the gift shop or even take a short hike in the forest. The Mystery Spot is an inexpensive detour as you visit the rest of the Santa Cruz area, so why not add it to your next day-trip!