Lake Wales, FL

This famously spooky hill in Lake Wales, Florida lets you defy gravity

Evie M.
The sign telling the tale of the famous Spook Hill in Lake Wales, FLAverette at English Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

I’ve said it many times and I will say it again: If you’re bored in Florida, you’re doing Florida wrong. From day one when I rolled past the “Welcome to Florida!” sign a year ago and then into Orlando, dodging kids on bikes who decided to wheelie through traffic, I knew my time here would be very interesting.

But had I known so many creepy and haunted spots were here, I’d have started my list of must-see spots long before I coasted into town. I’m a little embarrassed that it took me until my first week here to learn from a local about one of the most famous trippy spots to visit in not only the Orlando-(ish) area, but all of Florida. And this place would be Spook Hill.

Located in Lake Wales, about an hour-and a half drive from Orlando, Spook Hill is a very curious optical illusion, though many, including those operating Spook Hill, feel there is so much more to it, and by “so much more” I mean a supernatural element.

Lake Wales isn’t shy about telling the story of Spook Hill, either. They even adopted Casper the Friendly Ghost as the mascot for the elementary school. The moment you roll up to Spook Hill, you’ll see a billboard with a smiling ghost on the front, and the legend of Spook Hill below.

There are a few iterations of the story, but the main one you will hear involves an incredible battle between a brave Native American chief and a giant gator. If you put your car on the white line in the road and set it in neutral, your car will “defy gravity” and start rolling uphill.

Located at North Wales Drive between Burns Avenue and Spook Hill Elementary in Lake Wales, the sign reads: "Many years ago an Indian village on Lake Wales was plagued by raids of a huge gator. The Chief, a great warrior, killed the gator in a battle that created a small lake. The chief was buried on the north side. Pioneer mail riders first discovered their horses laboring down hill, thus naming it ""Spook Hill."" When the road was paved, cars coasted up hill. Is this the gator seeking revenge, or the chief still trying to protect his land?"

Other versions talk about a pirate captain.

While a great story to add to this incredible phenomenon, scientists say Spook Hill is nothing more than a natural "gravity hill", and that the rolling upwards has nothing to do with ghosts. Still, Spook Hill has been a beloved tourist attraction that garnered national attention from news sources all over the world once the road was paved and people realized their cars seemed to roll uphill when they weren't.

Fun fact, not only is it one of the oldest gravity hills in the country, it is the only one in the entire state of Florida. This fact alone has to be worth the drive, right? Also, as of 2019, it is also on the Registry of National Historic Places in Florida.

Personally, I can't wait to take a drive out to Spook Hill and see for myself just what a gravity hill can do. Who's coming with me?

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"Reader beware, you're in for a scare!--R.L. Stine"

Orlando, FL

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