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Mystery Castle

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

800 E Mineral Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85042, USA

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

USD 10

Find it on google maps

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expert
Colm
Local tour guide
"Visit Mystery Castle early in the morning to avoid the Phoenix heat and enjoy a cooler exploration of the quirky architecture; local photographers know that's the best time for capturing the unique shadows and light play in the rooms. Also, check out the small gift shop where you can find one-of-a-kind souvenirs handpicked by the castle's caretakers – these items aren't your typical tourist fare and often have a personal connection to the history of the place."

What is Mystery Castle?

Mystery Castle sits on the foothills of South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona, an enigmatic structure resembling a bygone medieval fortress. It's an architectural curiosity, a whimsical monument of stone, adobe, automobile parts, and whatever materials the builder could find. Constructed by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou, this 18-room, 13-fireplace abode captivates visitors with its idiosyncratic charm and heartwarming backstory of a father's love and legacy.

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I often tell visitors: if walls could talk, Mystery Castle’s would speak volumes about creativity and devotion. The castle, which stretches over three stories, is interspersed with charming nooks, imaginative sculptures, and even a chapel, all coming together to create a fairy-tale ambiance that juxtaposes with the arid Arizona landscape. It’s easy to feel as if you're stepping through the pages of a fantasy novel when exploring this lovingly crafted maze.


History of Mystery Castle

Boyce Luther Gulley is the mastermind behind this fortress of mystery. Diagnosed with tuberculosis in the 1920s, Gulley left his family in Seattle and traveled to Phoenix, hoping the climate would improve his health. In an act of love and possibly redemption for leaving them behind, he began to build Mystery Castle for his daughter based on the sand castles they constructed together when she was a child. In 1945, Gulley passed away, and his daughter Mary Lou and her mother were notified of their inheritance.

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Mary Lou and her mother moved to Phoenix to claim the castle, where Mary Lou lived until her passing in 2010. During her life, she fervently shared her father’s legacy, hosting tours and maintaining the property. Legend has it that Gulley built the castle using a mix of traditional building materials and whatever he could scavenge, including railroad tracks and telegraph poles. This scavenged estate is a poignant reminder of Gulley's resolve and resourcefulness in the face of his illness.

Why is Mystery Castle Important?

Mystery Castle stands as a testament to ingenuity and the human spirit. The castle is an endearing symbol of a father's love for his daughter, embodying both the whimsy of childhood and the gravity of a looming fate. Its existence challenges the traditional concept of legacy, showing that imperfections and recycled materials can come together to forge something truly magical and enduring.

Moreover, it tells a broader story of Phoenix's history, reflecting the narratives of individuals who came to the desert seeking a second chance at life. The eclectic mix of building materials and techniques also offers an eccentric snapshot into the resourcefulness of early settlers in the area. Mystery Castle is not only a place of personal significance but an artistic relic that continues to inspire wonder and imagination in all who visit.

Things to Do & See at Mystery Castle

At Mystery Castle, you can meander through the maze of rooms, each uniquely designed with its own story and peculiar artifacts. Swing by the chapel, a serene space within the castle grounds, or take in the views from the castle's rooftops, which offer a panoramic vista of Phoenix below. The Grand Room, with its robust stone fireplace and mounted animal heads, pulls you back into an era that seems both medieval and quintessentially southwestern.

  • Explore the 18 rooms, patios, and charming corners of the castle.
  • View the Southwest-inspired artwork, antiques, and family memorabilia.
  • Learn about the building techniques and recycled materials used in construction.
  • Participate in a guided tour to hear the full story and secret tales behind the castle’s construction.
  • Attend one of the castle’s seasonal events or special programs for a unique experience.

Remember to check the opening times before your visit, as the castle operates on a seasonal schedule. Once inside, you'll feel as though you've been let in on a fascinating secret, a slice of Phoenix's history tucked away in the foothills, waiting to be discovered by those curious enough to look. And trust me, it's a discovery well worth the adventure!


Frequently asked questions

What is Mystery Castle?

Mystery Castle is a historic landmark located in Phoenix, Arizona, built in the 1930s by Boyce Luther Gulley for his daughter Mary Lou. It is made of a variety of materials and features an eclectic and whimsical architecture.

How can I visit Mystery Castle?

Mystery Castle is open to the public for tours from October through May. It is recommended to check the latest visiting hours and tour schedules before planning your visit.

What are the highlights of Mystery Castle?

Highlights of Mystery Castle include its 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces, and numerous charming nooks and patios, as well as the story of Boyce Gulley and his family.

Is there an admission fee for Mystery Castle?

Yes, there is an admission fee for Mystery Castle. It is advisable to check the current fee before visiting as prices may change.

Are there any special events at Mystery Castle?

Mystery Castle occasionally hosts special events and holiday-themed tours. Visitors should check the official website or contact the castle directly for the latest event information.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

800 E Mineral Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85042, USA

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

USD 10

Find it on google maps