Thursday, April 21, 2016

Looking Glass Rock

Last week we went shopping in "downtown" Moab.    We were casually looking for the usual touristy things, tee shirts, sweatshirts, etc.   We found a few that we liked and we also bought a book - Charles Wells Guide to Moab, Utah Backroads and 4-Wheel-Drive Trails.

We always like to get out and explore an area on roads less traveled (autohiking) and there are plenty of those here.   Our problem is that so many of the dirt tracks and roads heading off the paved roads lead to some pretty hairy places, places we can't go and places we don't really want to go.    This book has directions and pictures to those places, detailed mile by mile directions but it also has easy dirt and gravel roads that we can do.

Yesterday, book in hand, we headed south on route 191 to Looking Glass Road in search of Looking Glass Rock.  

The road was wide and flat with only a little washboarding and the turn off to Looking Glass Rock just a couple miles down.  

We knew we must have passed this rock on the way into Moab one rt. 191 weeks ago, but we didn't remember seeing it.   Things look very different from one direction to another.

There were only 2 cars in the parking lot, always a good sign.   We could see the arch begin to appear as we climbed the slickrock.    Some people call this Looking Glass Rock and some say Looking Glass Arch.   Is it a huge hole in the rock or an arch?   I don't really know the proper name, so I'll use either term interchangeably, as I seem to when I talk about it.

It was lunch time so Dave found a good sunny spot to sit and enjoy the views and the silence.

Mr. David prepares a gourmet repast

he waits for me to join him for lunch

After a while we heard voices, and we wondered where they were coming from.
We figured they were from the folks in the other cars so we put away our lunch things and continued our hike up to the arch opening.

Ahead of me, Dave scrambled up into the arch to find he was standing on the edge of a high drop off, looking into a enormous amphitheater where a few people were free rappeling down from the top.   A man was photographing them from under the arch.   He and Dave chatted for a moment and he warned us that there was a "nest of rattlesnakes" sunning on the rock on the other side.   Thank you sir!

We needed to get around to the other side to see them (the climbers, NOT the rattlesnakes)  We tried crossing the slickrock incline, watching for snakes, but decided an easier path was through the low sandy ground  and around the end of the rock formation to the back side.

Once we got around I was shocked to see that most of the entire rock was hollow, a giant amphitheater.

can you see people on the ledge?
can you see the man suspended in mid air?

We could see the people standing on a rock ledge inside watching one person dangling down from the very top, through a small crevasse.   They were cheering for him and he appeared to be enjoying every minute of his descent.

Dave stopped dead in his tracks and quietly asked me if I wanted to see a that point you will understand that we both turned - slowly - and retraced our steps away from the snake.    Enough of Looking Glass Rock for me!

We took a slightly different route back to the car and picked up the book's instructions for the rest of our drive.

under the wire fence we went

Looking Glass Road

snowy LaSal peaks behind us

Looking Glass Rock from the road

We passed some interesting looking,  obviously abandoned cave houses that we pulled over and checked out - from outside of course.

We were heading for the Needles Overlook about 15 miles away and on the way

we passed an interesting rock formation that looked like it had a little colorful community snugged up into it.  

With my camera zoomed in I could see that the houses were not only snuggled up to the rock, they were built into the rock....with their antennas and solar panels on top!   Very interesting and colorful!   I did a little research on the Rockland Ranch and discovered that it is a polygamist community founded about 35 years ago.

Continuing along we found our turn for the Overlook.   There were lots of great looking boondocking spots along the cliffs on our left.   Not for me, of course, but for someone with no fear of heights....

Once again, there was only one other car at the spectacular overlook.   I love it!

  There was a fence in one area and it made me slightly brave so I looked through it at the sandstone spires below....they look different from up here!

can you see the truck moving along the road below?

Phew!   I used up all my "brave" so we decided to call it a day and start for home.

Once back on route 191 we were determined to see Looking Glass Rock (Arch) from the highway, the view we'd missed on the way to Moab at the beginning of our stay.    We also were on the lookout for Wilson Arch which evidently is right off the side of the road - we missed that one on the way in also!  Where were we looking, what were we doing?

Looking Glass Rock as seen from rt. 191
Knowing what we were looking for made it much easier to spot the hollow backside of Looking Glass Rock in the distance.

cool clouds

LaSal's snowy peaks in the background,
Wilson Arch in the left foreground

And Wilson Arch showed itself larger than life as we passed it this time!

Yesterday was a fun day.    Just meandering along the back roads seeing what we could see.....

Are you tired of rock pictures yet?


  1. It's not possible to get tired of pictures of this stunning part of our country!

    A "nest of rattlesnakes" sounds scary!

  2. A wonderful auto and foot hiking day. Rattlesnakes and all :-) Of course traveling with a professional caterer makes it pretty sweet. That amphitheater is amazing. The first caves-with-a-door remind me of the ones we found at Darwin, but those huge houses built in the caves are very bizarre. And I can see how you would miss Wilson Arch....after all, it's so small and hidden behind large trees, and tall buildings, and :-)))))))

  3. Thanks for the name of the book. Hope we get back out there again. Love that area.
    I bet those houses at the Ranch have great A/C for free.
    I just love looking at the snow-covered mountains.
    Never tired of looking at the rocks of Utah!

  4. So many gorgeous photos!Those mountains are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing. I can't wait to have adventures like these (even with the rattlesnakes)!

  5. I never get tired of rock pictures...keep 'em coming!

  6. Well that was certainly a day of many and varied discoveries! Rocklan Ranch is colorful in more than one way, hehe. Looking Glass Rock/Arch is beautiful -- but a nest of rattlesnakes, not so much.

  7. We aren't sure if you really saw a rattlesnake! No photos! Didn't you want to take photos of it. They wait nicely while you take photos:)

    We may have to drive down to check this area out. I really want to see the houses built into the rock...very neat!!

    Bring on more rocks:)

  8. Houses built into those rocks and Painted! Clever.

  9. I would like to see Rocklan Ranch, quite colorful and fascinating way built into the rocks. We now have a chance we extended our stay here :)