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Odd Roadside Attractions

Via readers suggest visiting nine kooky roadside attractions such as the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, Calif., and the Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Ore.

Via Readers
Gilgal Sculpture Garden, image
Photo caption
Visit Gilgal Sculpture Garden in Salt Lake City to see the face of a prominent Utah figure on a sphinx.


Gold Bug Park and Mine Placerville, Calif. “Enjoy hiking, picnicking, and gem panning at this mine, which operated from 1888 until 1942,” writes Marsha Porter. “Tours include a hard hat—fun for pictures—and panning gear is offered in the gift shop.”

Mystery Spot Santa Cruz, Calif. “Amazes science buffs of all ages,” says Michelle Goldberg. “A whole family can have fun seeing this ‘gravitational anomaly’ in the redwoods. Items seem to roll uphill and people’s height varies depending on where they’re standing.”

World’s Largest Redwood Tree Service Station Ukiah, Calif. “Once a gas station and now a car wash, tire shop, and oil-change service, this business is home to a free one-room museum,” says Joy Shapiro.“The displays are inside a section of 1,500-year-old red- wood trunk with the bark still attached.”


Darlingtonia State Natural Site Florence, Ore. “An unexpected wonder,” says Mia MacCollin. “A lovely boardwalk takes you around the 18-acre park and winds through an improbable stand of insect-eating plants, some of them two feet high. A great place for lunch or an afternoon break, right off Highway 101.”

Petersen’s Rock Garden Redmond, Ore. “In the 1930s, Danish immigrant Rasmus Petersen began using rocks he’d collected years earlier to build the bridges, monuments, and miniature structures that cover four acres here,” writes Dominix Aberasturi.

The Oregon Vortex and House of Mystery Gold Hill, Ore. “This spot, with its gold-assay office built in 1904, is really weird,” says Dave Taube. “Items seem to roll uphill and peoples’ heights vary depending on where they’re standing.” AAA members get 10 percent off the admission price.


Thunder Mountain Monument Imlay, Nev. “A man known locally as Chief Rolling Thunder built this installation,” says Paula Riley. “There are stone buildings, sculptures, spirit totems, found objects, and mes- sages lamenting cultural, political, and racial injustices. It’s a state historic site, right off I-80.”


Gilgal Sculpture Garden Salt Lake City. “Thomas Battersby Child Jr. labored for 18 years creating these works,” says Arnold Erickson. “There’s a sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith, a large grasshopper, and a life-size version of Child in brick pants.”


Hisey Park Dinosaurs Granger, Wash. “On a trip through the Walla Walla and Yakima wine countries, we discovered this town with dinosaur sculptures everywhere,” says Sharon Carnes. “You don’t even have to look for them.

Photography by Robert Hyrum Hirschi

This article was first published in November 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.