Return to Moab – Drive to Looking Glass Rock

Moab, UT

On Sunday (4/16) we left Bluff and drove north a hundred miles to Moab.  The drive up US-191 is very scenic, with the snow covered La Sal Mountains coming into view in many spots along the way.

Wilson Arch viewed from US 191

Sandstone bluffs as we near Moab

The Moab Rim as we head into town

The view to the east from our site in Portal RV Resort

It didn’t take us long to settle into our site in Portal RV Resort, a beautiful (but expensive!) park just north of town.  The park is divided into two sections.  The first section is the campground, a normal RV arrangement with narrow gravel sites.  Drive through the campground and you enter the “resort.”  This section has very wide concrete sites that are owned by individuals who place them into a rental pool when the owners are not there.

During the first couple of days here we took some time off from the hiking trail to do some “normal” activities – hair appointment, new tires on the Jeep, etc.  One of our first exploration activities was a drive out a dirt road to check out a large arch.  Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) had driven this route last year and it looked interesting.  So we headed south on US 191 for about 25 miles and turned west on to Looking Glass Road, a well-maintained dirt road.  After just a few miles we came to a very large sandstone rock formation.  As we drove around it, we looked back and spotted Looking Glass Arch.

We pulled into the parking area on the west side of the formation and headed up the slickrock to get up close and personal with the arch.

John is giving some perspective

Looking at the Abajo Mountains 30 miles to the south

We climbed back down from the arch and hiked around the rock formation to see it from the east side.  From there we could see some climbers up on top.  We waited a bit, hoping that they would repel down, but a descent didn’t seem imminent.

Can you see the climbers?

The climbers ascended the rocks at this point (we stayed down on the ground!)

After circling the rock formation we got back in the Jeep and continued west on Looking Glass Road.  Soon we came to an interesting couple of rooms built into a rock wall.

We couldn’t find any information on these two one room abodes, but some old furniture in one of them indicates that someone lived there once upon a time.

Driving further west we came upon Rockland Ranch.  A small community of fundamentalist Mormons, about 15 polygamist and monogamist families, have established a unique home for themselves there, living in modern homes literally carved into the side of the massive sandstone Hatch Rock in the desert.

Rockland Ranch was founded about 35 years ago by Robert Dean Foster, who set out to create a safe, remote space for a Christian community that embraced plural marriage. Large houses were built by using dynamite to blast caves into the sandstone cliff, then finished into relatively modern homes.  The community is entirely self-sufficient complete with running water, electricity, internet access, and a working farm.  It also houses three and a half years worth of pickled and jarred food for seven families (adding up to about 100 people including all the children) in case the apocalypse strikes (better safe than sorry!).

We turned around at Rockland Ranch and headed back toward Moab.  As we headed east we were treated to a great view of Looking Glass Rock from the west side.

David, Karen, and Cody have joined us in Moab and are staying in the campground section of Portal RV.  We have a number of “outings” planned with them during the two weeks we are in town.  We’re still way behind in the blog but will be working hard to catch up, so look for more blogs coming real soon.

More on that later . . .

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20 Responses to Return to Moab – Drive to Looking Glass Rock

  1. Debbie L says:

    Amazing views! Wow, so interesting. Loved the interior furniture-so original, not!
    Again interesting history.

  2. Obviously those people own that rock and land?? In May, 2015 when we were at Looking Glass we spotted an owl nest way up high on the back side with residents–mama and two babies.

  3. Sue says:

    We really enjoyed that drive, we continued past the Rockland Community before returning to Moab. Love the Early American couch in the cave but the mattress looks like people not only lived there, but died there too! Ewwwww.

  4. Jodee Gravel says:

    Such a beautiful area! You two stayed on the ground????? That community is so fascinating, I imagine the house temps must stay a constant temperature. Read some books based in Moab and a similar community was included, surely based on Rockland.

  5. Laurel says:

    How fun that you’re back in Moab! I’m looking forward to your hikes there. How are the crowds this time of year? The last time we were in Moab was in early October several years ago, and there were way too many people. Looks like you have a great site—we stayed at Portal RV once, but in the commoner’s section. :-))

    • placestheygo says:

      Laurel, we arrived on Easter Sunday which is the last day of the Jeep Safari Week so the big crowd was pretty much gone. The town is still busy but not too bad. There are so many things to do that it spreads out the visitors. The trails we have hiked have been almost empty, which is great for us. The grocery store gets busy later in the afternoon as everyone is finishing up for the day. We have gone into town for dinner twice and didn’t have any trouble. But it certainly is more popular than it was when we first came four years ago.

      • Laurel says:

        Good to know — we’ll consider a spring visit one of these years. We first visited Moab about 15 years ago and even the Devil’s Garden trail was almost deserted! The last time we were there it looked like a trail of ants climbing up the slickrock.

      • placestheygo says:

        Laurel, it really depends where you go in Moab. Arches seems to be packed everyday. As we drove away today, the line to get into Arches was all the way to the main road. Two years ago we took David and Karen to Devil’s Garden and it was a line of people all the way to the Double O Arch. The only place that isn’t crowded in the park is Tower Arch. I believe that is because it is so far out and there is a dirt road and it scares the tourists. The dirt road is well maintained by the park.

  6. geogypsy2u says:

    Loved that drive to Moab even though Bill and I didn’t stay near town. Hard to believe you two climbers stayed on the ground. Maybe those first deserted rooms were the groups first attempt at rock houses. I too look forward to adding more hikes to my list as you explore that area.

  7. girlonahike says:

    Looking Glass has been on my Moab to-do list forever! Can’t wait to head back.

    Alicia @

  8. So many great hikes here but so many people. Wait. It was Jeep Week. Great pictures.

    • placestheygo says:

      We didn’t arrive until Easter Sunday which was the official last day of Jeep Week. We always time our arrival for after that week. It is crowded enough without all the extra jeepers.

  9. Sherry says:

    What a lovely drive to Moab. We stayed at Portal as well. We thought it was actually closer to the park and certainly to town than the NP campground which of course is boondocking. Very interesting about Rockland Ranch. Wonder what they do about polygamy being illegal now in Utah and no longer sanctioned by the church?

  10. Gay says:

    The ride on north Hwy 191 always makes my heart beat faster!
    Also, you and John might want to check out Cameo Cliffs. There is a short hike to the back of Wilson Arch…very pretty!

  11. pmbweaver says:

    Oh how we love that area. Just amazing scenery every where you look. I love the backside of Looking Glass Arch. Surely the nimble hiker was itching to join those climbers, but I bet her partner put his foot down.
    I love those La Sal Mts. So pretty with the blue sky.

  12. Fascinating!

    Since we are done with red rock country for now, I’m really enjoying your adventures vicariously!

  13. LuAnn says:

    Interested to read more as we will be taking some time to explore this area in the fall.

  14. David & Kim Nowell says:

    Enjoy reading your blogs. Thanks for sharing. We started fulltime and love it. I had bookmarked your blog on Moab and today we went and checked out the looking glass arch and the community in the rocks. That was very interesting to see.

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