The Life and Legacy of Jack Parsons - Atlas Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Pasadena, California

The Life and Legacy of Jack Parsons

The enigmatic polymath Jack Parsons—explosives expert, co-founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and infamous occultist—died an untimely death caused by a mysterious explosion in his laboratory in Pasadena. 

Hidden beneath the 210 freeway is an unusual rock formation resembling the profile of the Devil. Known as the Devil’s Gate, Jack Parsons and other 20th century occultists allegedly believed that this was one of The Seven Portals of Hell. 

Join Field Agents Erin Johnson and Siegfried Tieber as we trek deep into the Arroyo Seco in search of this geological oddity. Along the way, we'll explore the history and mysticism surrounding this outlandish location and indulge in Parsons' life and his two passions: rocketry and magic. We'll also discuss other intriguing locations around the area including NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the test site of Parson's first rocket experiments, and The Parsonage—Parsons' former residence and headquarters of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) in California. 

**Second tour added from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm**


  • Meet at the picnic table near the restrooms in Hahamongna Watershed Park: 34.190892, -118.177981
  • Parking is free, but limited, please carpool if possible.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, i.e., sneakers or hiking boots for the hike to Devil’s Gate. It could be muddy! High heels, sandals, and flip flops are not allowed. Long pants are also recommended as the path tends to be overgrown.
  • This is a two mile hike. Be prepared for steep and unsteady terrain. Walking sticks recommended! Bring water!
  • Recommended for ages 13+ (some content that may be inappropriate for children under this age)
  • Rain or shine! This tour will run as scheduled unless we're expecting dangerous weather in which case we will cancel via email. Tickets will be refunded or transferred to a rescheduled date, depending on your availability.
  • Photography is encouraged! #atlasobscura

Questions? Contact

Stay connected! Subscribe to the LA Obscura Society newsletter and like our Facebook page for a first glimpse at upcoming events.