History

Giant Rock

Giant Rock is purported to be the largest freestanding boulder in the world. It’s seven stories high, and covers 5,800 square feet of the Mojave Desert, in Landers, California.


My wife walking toward Giant Rock.

I think we humans have rocks in our heads. Unusual rocks seem to fascinate us, and Giant Rock is no exception. Native Americans considered it sacred, for crying out loud. For thousands of years before the arrival of European settlers, tribes from hundreds of miles away would gather at Giant Rock for holy celebrations and shamanistic rituals.

In the 1930’s a German prospector named Frank Critzer staked a claim at Giant Rock. He excavated beneath the boulder and built a 400 square foot room that kept him cool in the summer and warm in the winter.


The north side of Giant Rock. The entrance to Frank Critzer’s room is at the base. It’s now sealed off. Apparently, people with rocks in their heads like to build campfires here, which has left a burn scar on the rock.

But Frank Critzer was a man of strange and off-putting behavior, who the locals avoided. Seems this nut had more than the ordinary amount of rocks in his head. He also had an odd fascination for shortwave radios, and placed an antenna on top of Giant Rock.

During World War II, in all their rock-headed war hysteria, local law enforcement began to suspect Critzer was a German spy. They laid siege to his underground home in 1942, and during the battle that ensued, a dynamite explosion killed this crazy prospector.

A few years before Critzer’s demise, he met and befriended George van Tassel. Van Tassel was the top flight inspector at Hughes Aircraft, a company owned by Howard Hughes, and he often flew with Howard Hughes. After Critzer died, Tassel managed to secure a federal lease around Giant Rock, for purposes of developing an airstrip that Critzer had initially established.

He eventually built a home, cafe, and dude ranch beside the rock. Howard Hughes and other guests would land at the airstrip to visit this unique site.


The south side of Giant Rock. A large piece of it broke off in the year 2000. As you can see, graffiti artists with rocks in their heads have turned the broken piece into their canvas.

But in 1953, things got a little weird. Seems van Tassel’s head started to accumulate more rocks. He began hosting group meditations in the room beneath the rock, that Frank Critzer had excavated. One day that year, van Tassel reported that an alien from the planet Venus had visited him, and had brought him aboard a spaceship. There he was taught a technique for rejuvenating the human body.

In 1954, van Tassel, along with some volunteers, began building an unusual domed structure called the “Integratron.” The purpose of this building was to research time-travel, anti-gravity, and methods for rejuvenating the cells of the body. He claimed that no metal whatsoever was used in the construction of this Integratron; not even screws or nails.

Howard Hughes, a man known for the many rocks residing in his own head, and many other rock-headed folks, gave donations toward the completion of the all-wood Integratron. And during the 24 years required for its completion, van Tassel held annual UFO conventions to raise money for the project. 1959 was the peak year for these events, when 11,000 ufologists and enthusiasts attended a convention at Giant Rock.

In 1978, two weeks before the Integratron was slated to hold its grand opening, George van Tassel dropped over dead at the age of 68. The poor man missed the opportunity to rejuvenate the cells of his body, by a mere fortnight.

Due to his death, the Integratron did not open, and sat vacant for several decades. But in the year 2000, van Tassel’s three sisters purchased the Integratron and began operating it as a tourist attraction. Coincidentally, that same year, Giant Rock split. A huge slab peeled off its southern end, revealing a beautiful white granite interior.


The white granite interior that was exposed in the year 2000, when Giant Rock split.

Nobody knows why Giant Rock split. My guess is, the dynamite blast that killed Frank Critzer in 1942, also formed a hidden crack in the rock. The crack gradually grew until it split the boulder 58 years later.

Today, Giant Rock sits beside a lonely dirt road, a few miles away from the Integratron. You can reach it by motor vehicle, but the road is a little bit rough. You can also tour the Integratron, and experience a “sound bath” from sound frequencies produced by quartz bowls. I understand it’s very rejuvenating. It’s also extremely expensive.

The Integratron.

The Giant Rock airstrip is no longer used, but is thought by some to be a landing area for UFO’s.

I don’t know if George van Tassel ever actually came into contact with aliens from Venus. But I do have great respect for him. This is because he stayed in his element, and never ran for political office.

I have never run for political office, either. And I was once abducted by aliens from outer space. You can read about that eldritch incident by clicking this link, which will beam you to the post.

Am I crazy? Yes. Completely. Do I have rocks in my head? Of course.

That’s why I blog.


This is me standing near the airstrip, which is to the left. I’m waiting for a UFO.

Categories: History

100 replies »

  1. And for Australian rock heads:

    Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s arid “Red Centre”. The nearest large town is Alice Springs, 450km away. Uluru is sacred to indigenous Australians and is thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hey- this was awesome to learn about and I always thinking the dynamite in 42 caused the spilt in 2000 (ot it was Y2K that somehow traveled to the rock because it never showed up in computers- lol)

    The photos of you and your wife really help us to feel the scale
    Of this large Boulder!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Quick! Stop waiting for the UFO, they may abduct you again and what if you don’t escape this time??
    OH, so now we know the reason behind the compulsion that we have to blog. Its due to the rocks in our heads. Makes sense.

    This was an interesting story, thanks for sharing. That rock is ginormous, I am thinking of how small I would look if I stood next to it. I like the picture of white, granite interior.
    Now to read all the comments that I see you have and if my guess is correct I will probably be …smacking my head!

    Liked by 1 person

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