Arizona’s Hidden Gems: Mystery Castle in Phoenix

Richard Cox  •  Fun All Year in Phoenix  •  

Phoenix Point of PrideThis destination is designated as a Phoenix Point of Pride.

Built in the foothills of South Mountain, in the city of Phoenix, is Mystery Castle.

Constructed from found or inexpensive materials in 1930 by Boyce Luther Gulley, this imaginative conglomeration is a monument to his love for his daughter, Mary Lou Gulley. Unfortunately, Gulley died fifteen years later after suffering from tuberculosis, leaving parts of the castle unfinished. The home was inherited by Gulley’s wife and daughter.

The whole story caught the attention of locals and by 1948 Life Magazine did a story with the headline “Life Visits a Mystery Castle: A Young Girl Rules Over the Strange Secrets of a Fairy Tale Dream House in the Arizona Desert.” Enjoying their new-found notary, the Gulley’s started giving tours of their home.

You would be hard-pressed to find a material that has not been used in the construction of this large 18-room complex. Legend has it that mortar and goat’s milk holds the whole thing together. Eighteen rooms, cantilevered stair-cases, and a chapel, cantina, and of course, a dungeon will all be part of your tour.

The interior is fully of the strange, the weird and the wonderful, reminiscent of how a child might fill their fairytale castle. Be sure to bring your camera, because once you leave, you will wonder if you made the whole thing up!

Strangely off-set by the encroachment of modern civilization, the castle remains a relic of love from a different time. A huge hit with people of all ages, this is a must-see hidden gem.

mystery-castle
mystery-castle-pottery

South Mountain Area Information

Most Notable Flora: The Elephant Tree. Only 10 feet tall, this rare tree has very short, and very stout, tapered trunk and branches (hence the name). Notable for being the northernmost species of this aromatic family.

Most Notable Fauna: Chuckwallas. From the ancient Greek, the name means ‘Flat Lizard’. Part of the Iguanidae family, the chuckawallas of South Mountain are special in two ways. Only in this area does this species boast the orange “Carrot Tail”. This region also boasts the highest density ever reported. This means that your chance of spotting one of these shy creatures is good, if you are patient.


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How about tooling up the road to the lookout point a 1000 feet  above the desert floor in a shiny red Corvette Grand Sport Convertible?

What could be better than seeing the 16,283 acres of native desert vegetation in the South Mountain Park preserves without having to leave your car?  Call (888) 308-5995 or go here to reserve online today!