If nature-centric architecture is your thing, you’ll really be able to appreciate Utah’s Hole N” the Rock. This one-of-a-kind home-turned-attraction is located right off of Highway 191, about 12 miles south of Moab.
Without the addition of its many roadside markings, parking lot, gift shop, and massive Hollywood-sign-esque white letters sticking out of the sandstone hillside, it’s unlikely that anyone would know this structure ever existed. That’s because it’s actually carved into the rock cave-style. But this is no cave. Through intense dedication and countless hours of work, owners Albert and Gladys Christensen transformed the rock face into a 5,000 square-foot-home.
The Christensen family originally created a homestead on the 80-acre parcel in the early 20th century. Although it began as a simple alcove for their sons to play in, Albert and his brother quickly hollowed out a cave to use as lodgings for cowboys pushing cattle through the area. Later, they added even more space to it and turned it into The Hole N” the Rock Diner: a wayside restaurant for hungry travelers.
Thanks to all those gradual additions over a twenty-year period, the monument now stands as an architectural wonder. This is evidenced by its 65-foot chimney and unique pillars that support its 14 rooms. Further taking advantage of the local surroundings, the bathtub has also been carved directly out of the rock.
Entering the home via built-in rock stairs, you’ll pass a rock garden filled with a large cupid statue surrounded by native cacti and other local plants. The inside is decorated with family heirlooms like Gladys’s original doll collection and vintage tools, many of which were used in the construction of the home. This gives visitors a better understanding of how Albert was able to move 50,000 cubic feet of sandstone all those years ago.
The house also showcases other items that highlight Albert’s skills as a craftsman and artist. For example, he carved a sculpture of Franklin D. Roosevelt that resides above the main entryway. Visitors can also take a closer look at his now-famous Sermon on the Mount painting here.
The massive Hole N” the Rock has withstood the test of many different times, silently watching the area change hands from travelers on the old Spanish trail to early Mormon settlers, wild west cattle ranchers, miners, and, today, a steady stream of tourists.
When Albert died in 1957, Gladys picked up the baton and completed the structure. She added a gift shop and provided personal tours of the structure until her own death in 1974. To this day, both Albert and Gladys are buried side by side in a small alcove in a nearby rock.
Now more of a roadside attraction than a home, the property has persevered in the many years since the Christensens’ passings and continues to shine a light on the site’s history. It even boasts its own petting zoo now, catering to the masses for birthday parties and group events alike. As if all that wasn’t reason enough to visit, private tours only run around $7.