Six miles from Mount Rushmore, the Cosmos Mystery Area claims the power of a mysterious force that seems to defy the laws of nature. According to the guides, two college students scouting territory for a summer cabin discovered the area in 1952. Noticing a weird imbalance of energy, the duo decided to build an attraction where the public could safely experience this peculiar anomaly, and a popular Black Hills roadside attraction was born.
That’s the official story. The mysterious force is actually the result of skewed construction techniques, but is nevertheless entertaining for a 30-minute tour (and even educational for guests with an interest in deciphering the scientific explanations behind the odd sensations). After ascending a steep hill, visitors enter a rough-hewn cabin where perceptions suddenly appear to go haywire. For instance, walking across a level floor takes great effort, and everyone seems to be standing at an odd angle that doesn't seem physically possible.
Guides conduct a series of demonstrations that include water running uphill, balls changing direction in midair, and visitors growing or shrinking in height depending upon where they're standing. For $9.50 adult admission (kids under 11 get in free), Cosmos offers a fun chance to experience what feels like an alternative physical reality.