* Temporarily closed to the public due to COVID-19 *
Giant Rock is a gigantic boulder right here within the Morongo Basin at Landers. This boulder, which is considered sacred to many Native American tribes, covers 5,800 square feet of ground and is an amazing seven stories high. At one point, Giant Rock was rumored to be the largest free standing boulder in the world. However, a large piece of the boulder broke off in 2000, revealing an interior of white granite.
In the 1930s, a man named Frank Critzer moved out to Giant Rock and dug out a home underneath the north side of the rock using dynamite. He engineered a rainwater-collection system and a tunnel for ventilation. It was reported that the underground home was never hotter than 80 degrees and never cooler than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Critzer later built an airstrip on the nearby ancient lakebed, which soon averaged a plane a day in 1941. Frank Critzer perished in a dynamite explosion in his underground home on July 24th of 1942, as he was being interviewed by local police. In the 1950s it was a gathering point for UFO believers.
In 2000, fulfilling some doomsday predictions, a portion of Giant Rock (about one-eighth) split off and crashed to the desert floor.
IMAGE: Explorers hike the fresh wound. Image provided by the Hi-Desert Star
Giant Rock is located on land which was at that time leased by George Van Tassel, a friend of Critzer's, who organized the many UFO conventions at the site. Back in 1947, George Van Tassel of Los Angeles, a former aircraft inspector, leased the property from the Bureau of Land Management and moved to Giant Rock with his wife and three children. Van Tassel soon built the nearby Integratron and a cafe, store, gas station and a small airport in the vicinity, which he operated from 1947 to 1975.
Van Tassel claimed that his Integratron was capable of rejuvenating the human body, of producing anti-gravity effects and even time travel. He built the structure following instructions that Van Tassel claimed he had received from aliens from the planet Venus. Work on the Integratron first started in 1957 and the structure was finished in 1959. It was financed predominantly by donations, including funds from Howard Hughes.
After Van Tassel died in 1978, the building had a series of owners and ended up in various states of disrepair before sisters Joanne, Nancy, and Patty Karl bought it in the early 2000s. The Karl sisters promote the Integratron as an "acoustically perfect structure," give tours and offer "sound baths" they describe as "meditation-like sessions accompanied by tones from quartz bowls."