Collecting and sharing the folktales & ghost stories of Southern California. 

These are our stories. Let us tell them once more & re-enchant our world.

Episode 9: THE GIANT ROCK OF LANDERS with guest Barbara Harris

Susan Burns

20 Nov, 2016


Sacred to Native Americans, ufologists and New Agers - what's so special about one giant rock?


Today's guest is local historian and folklorist Barbara Harris.  Barbara

serves on the Morongo Basin Historical Society, is one of the organizers

behind the annual event Contact In The Desert and is the founder of

The Giant Rock Project.

The Giant Rock Project

Facebook page for The Giant Rock Project

Morongo Basin Historical Society

Contact in the Desert

Special Thanks:

Barbara Harris

The Giant Rock Project

Morongo Basin Historical Society

James Conroy

Podcast Garden

The Story of The Legend of Giant Rock

There are a few special spots around the world – spiritual vortexes if you will - where, historically, people have been drawn for energy, healing and divination. These are places recognized throughout centuries, regardless of the nationality or background of the pilgrim- for possessing unique, impossible-to-define qualities. Stonehenge in Scotland might come immediately to mind for many of you. But we

have such a place right here in Southern California.  In a town called Landers, just north of Joshua Tree National Park, there is a place that has been described over the years as having electromagnetic forces, being the heart of Mother Earth, and as a point of contact for otherworldly beings. This place has been drawing people for thousands of years: Native American chiefs, scientists, ufologists, New Agers and plenty of the merely curious. While times continue to change, the explanation for what makes this place so special has changed right along with it. But the PLACE...  the place remains the same.  And that place is Giant Rock.

If you drive east from Los Angeles on the 10, then go north on Hwy 62 to Hwy 247, you’ll come to Reche Road in Landers. A couple of more quick turns and you’ll see signs for “Sound Baths” and you’ll pass a white-domed structure known as the Integratron.  But... if you continue on past and around that property, you’ll find yourself on a dirt road leading to what is believed to be a Native American spiritual

center of prophecy known as Giant Rock. 

Giant Rock is a large freestanding boulder in the Mojave Desert. It covers 5,800 square feet of ground and is seven stories high. Giant Rock is purported to be the largest free standing boulder in the world.

The granite stone and surrounding ground had been held as holy ground by the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, the Mohave, and the Cahuilla. It was reported by early white settlers that the tribes convened here to celebrate seasons, draw spiritual strength and prophesy.

During the 1930’s a prospector with an interest in short-wave radio named Frank Critzer staked a claim in the Giant Rock area. He dug a


400 square foot room for himself directly beneath Giant Rock, creating a single large subterranean home where he lived for a number of years.  What happened next is  told many different ways, but ultimately a trio of sheriffs came knocking on his cavern door, an exchange was had, dynamite was ignited and Critzer died in the blast.

The burned out room was closed off for while... but something about Critzer's death resonated with a friend named George Van Tassel. Eventually, Van Tassel bought the property, gaining access to his late friend’s cavernous room . He began meditating regularly there.

It was during one of Van Tassel’s mediations beneath Giant Rock that Van Tassel began to believe he was receiving telepathic communications from alien beings from Venus. The beings told him that the human body was an electrical device, and

aging was caused by a loss of power. Soon, Van Tassel acquired a group of believers, who gathered regularly for his Friday  night meditation and channeling sessions in Critzer’s old bunker beneath the base of Giant Rock (the room  has since been filled in).

By August 1953, Van Tassel believed the alien beings had given him a technique to rejuvenate human cell tissue.  Van Tassel now claimed to have even been transported to an alien space ship, where he met a wise group of aliens known as the "Council of Seven Lights." Tassel said this extraterrestrial meeting, along with ideas from scientists such as Nikola Tesla, inspired the construction of a nearby building/device which was to be a "rejuvenation machine" he dubbed "The Integratron."

While Van Tassel may have moved his source of spiritual inspiration a couple of miles down the road, others certainly never lost sight of the power at Giant Rock. Even today it beckons those who wish to meditate, pray or simply stand in awe of Mother Nature. And there are some who believe that in the year 2000, Giant Rock spoke back.

On February 19th and 20th  of that year, Shri Natha Devi Premananda, founder of Eagle Wings of Enlightenment Center in Los Angeles, has said she was inspired to bring a number of her followers to the desert near Giant Rock to pray and meditate. She said that the Native people were no longer doing ceremony and ritual in this area and that the earth itself was going to react with a violent upheaval. If Mother

Earth accepted the prayers that they offered, she asserted, then Giant Rock wouldcrack at the side. If the prayer offerings were not accepted, then Giant Rock would split directly down the middle.

Although Giant Rock had not moved in a million years, on the morning of February 21, 2000 a piece of the rock indeed split and broke away, exposing a shining white granite interior. Shri Natha Devi said that “the Mother had opened her arms to us, cracking open her heart for the whole world to see.” Whether the rock actually cracked as a result of a spiritual gathering or because of other more pedestrian

causes is just part of the latest curious folklore to surround the enormous boulder. It’s been sixteen years since the split of Giant Rock. Parts of the exterior surface and some of the exposed interior surface have been ruined by graffiti. Sitting on public

land, the Bureau of Land Management lacks the resources to monitor or even clean up after the constant dumping of garbage and debris, the shooting of fire arms and the tacky graffiti blighting the area.

But over the years, people have been returning to the rock once more – called by their spirituality to this area like so many before them. Encountering this geological icon is breathtaking, and many visitors depart with a yearning to clean and restore

Giant Rock to its rightful place as a revered and unique historical site. This brings us to today’s guest, Barbara Harris. Barbara is the woman behind the Giant Rock Project, a group of primarily local volunteers who have a passion to educate, preserve and promote the legend of Giant Rock .


The Morongo Basin Historical Society

"Giant Rock". Web.

"Giant Rock". Wikipedia. Web.

"Life On Other Planets: The House the Venusians Built". The Independent. May 4 2006. Web.

LeGrange, Barbara. "The Intrigue of Giant Rock." via High Desert Star newspaper, Yucca Valley, Feb 2000.

Royce. "The Amazing Splitting Of Van Tassel's 'Giant Rock' - A Prophecy Fulfilled?". March 5 2000. Web.

Twyman, James. "Prophecy Rock Splits and Fulfills Native American Prophecy." 2012. Web. 


Fact from Fiction

  • While a spiritual group from Los Angeles reported that they prayed and drummed for the rock to crack as a sign from Mother Earth - and the rock did crack a couple of days later - it was also reported in the news media that a local family had set fire to an old motor underneath the rock and it was the intense heat of the fire that resulted in the rock's break.
  • Frank Critzer's family and friends acknowledge that he was a Nazi sympathizer BUT he was not German  - nor was he an immigrant (he was born in Virginia of English ancestry).
  • Our knowledge of the Native American's use of the rock comes entirely from a handwritten account by George Van Tassell as given to him by early area settler Charles Reche.  No part of it has been able to be confirmed outside of that single account, however there is a large pictogram of a scorpion that was made onto the rock by a Native American at some point in the rock's past.  
  • Giant Rock is a boulder that was spewed out from a nearby volcano and is not rooted to any additional rock beneath the ground - tectonic plates or otherwise.