When road tripping, the roadside attractions are where it’s at for me and the funkier and weirder, the better. I love that stuff and Brian humors me as much as he can while still getting us to our destination on time. I discovered Confusion Hill during my pre-road trip research and it immediately went on my must-visit list (and Brian just rolled his eyes).
Since 1949 Confusion Hill has been welcoming curious visitors to visit the World Famous Gravity House, ride the mountain train, and explore the funky, family-friendly, roadside attraction in the beautiful Northern California Redwoods.
When you think of roadside attractions and roadside oddities, Confusion Hill is exactly what you wish it would be — funky, strange, cheesy, kitschy, over-the-top, ridiculous, and jam-packed with weird stuff everywhere. There is also a seasonal Snack Bar, a playground, majestic Coastal Redwoods, hands-on optical illusions that play on magnetism and gravity, and even a mystical creature called the chipalope.
In the middle of the parking lot, the world’s tallest freestanding redwood chainsaw carving, featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, greeted us. This totem of stacked bears started as a more than 40 foot tall dead redwood. Scaffolding was erected around it and an artist spent three months carving it. While there are larger totem poles, they were laid down to carve and then raised back up.
We then passed the bright red, storybook Redwood Shoe House, originally built in 1946 as a float in Fort Bragg’s Fourth of July parade. Today it stands out front to greet children of all ages while parents try to figure out where to go first!
To visit the World Famous Gravity House and ride the miniature mountain train, we had to visit the Gift Shop to buy tickets. Holy moly! The Confusion Hill Gift Shop is stuffed full (every nook-and-cranny is stuffed full) of local hand-crafted redwood items, toys, gifts, souvenirs, old signs, and again, weird things.
After snagging our tickets, we headed over to the Gravity House to see what this mysterious phenomenon was all about, but then we heard an announcement over the loud speaker that the train was about to leave the station and decided to ride the train first!
Mountain Train Ride
The Confusion Hill Mountain Train travels 30 minutes on 1.5 miles of 20 gauge track and uses use a unique Alpine switchback system to ascend the hillside.
The four of us squeezed in the bright red mountain train and met the Engineer, a big, tattooed, burly fellow wearing denim overalls and no shirt. He was exactly what you hoped for at an attraction like this — weird, entertaining, funny, and very friendly.
Throughout our train ride through towering redwoods, tan oaks, fir, and madrone trees, as traveled through a redwood tree and around the hilltop, he told us about the characteristics of coastal redwood trees and the historical logging equipment on display. He also cracked jokes, shared his comical political opinions, and even opened fire on us with a squirt gun!
We were cracking up the whole time at the ridiculousness of the train ride. It definitely is the most entertaining train ride we have ever done!
Up next was the mysterious vortex known as the Gravity House…
At the Confusion Hill Gravity House, gravity is wonky and you experience optical contradictions and odd physical sensations that totally confuse your senses.
The minute you step inside the door to the Gravity House, everything feels off. The structure is built to give interior visitors tilt-induced optical illusions, and when inside, you’ll experience the need to stand upright when you already are.
The sensation of standing inside the Gravity House was uncomfortable and weird. It felt like we were about to fall over, but we were really standing up straight. While I was able to snap some photos of the kids and Brian, I did it quickly and got the heck out of there because it was making me feel nauseated! Brian, Natalie, and Carter however, had fun exploring the Gravity House and the different “experiments” you can do inside to see gravity in action.
Know Before You Go
Dubbed a California State Point of Historical Interest in 2010, Confusion Hill is similar to the Oregon Vortex and the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot.
- Campbell Brothers Confusion Hill is located at 75001 US Highway 101, Piercy, California 95587 in Humboldt County. It is 3.0 miles South of the Highway 101 Piercy/627 exit and across the highway from the Redwood River Resort.
- The Confusion Hill Gift Shop and Gravity House are open 365 days a year from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm in the summer and from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the winter.
- Cost for the Gravity House is $5.00/adult, $4.00/kids ages 4-12, and free for children ages 3 and under.
- The Train and Snack Bar are seasonal and open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- Cost for Train Rides is $10.00/adult, $7.50/kids ages 4-12, and free for children ages 3 and under. The train requires a minimum of four paying customers to leave the station.
- Confusion Hill was originally built by George Hudson in 1949. It was purchased by the Campbell family in 1999.
- In January, 2010, Confusion Hill was recognized as a California State Point of Historical Interest.
- In 2016, Alex Hirsch, creator of the television series Gravity Falls, installed a statue of series villain Bill Cipher at Confusion Hill, after it was removed from its initial home of Reedsport, Oregon.