You simply can’t resist the lure of US 191’s most famous tourist attraction. With its big, white painted letters on a sandstone mountainside, Hole N” The Rock simply commands you to stop.
Hole N” The Rock is, more accurately, a home in the rock. The 5,000 square foot living area, kitchen, and gift shop were all blasted and hand carved from sandstone by Albert Christensen over the course of 12 years.
Even after his death, his wife Gladys continued to live here, providing tours of her home and in the process creating the attraction that exists today.
You don’t need a ticket to walk inside the rock. There’s a small gift shop in the first room that’s filled with cheesy, cheap items — the kind that also graced the shelves of many 1970’s Stuckey’s stores (sorry, no pecan logs). Sadly, the gift shop didn’t offer many souvenirs that were specific to Hole N” The Rock itself.
The tour begins through the swinging doors. Unfortunately, Hole N” The Rock has a strict No Photographs policy, which at first I figured was intended to preserve the surprise of what awaited on the tour. Later, I figured out it was just an attempt to sell a packet of pictures of the home. (Hole N” The Rock also posts pictures of the home on its website, so if you want a preview, click here.)
Unhappily, I holstered my camera, and began the tour. The green room, immediately through the swinging doors, is the kitchen. Before there was a home here (in the early days of the excavation process), there was a restaurant. Health codes required the walls to be painted. For that reason, the kitchen became the only painted room in the house.
The kitchen has cabinets carefully fitted into the contours of the rock walls and ceiling. It also has a deep fryer that’s carved into the rock.
Once you pass through the kitchen, you enter the main living area, which is just one big hollowed-out chamber, divided into several separate “rooms” by the remaining support columns of rock. There’s also a bathroom (complete with a deep bathtub carved out of rock).
The tour points out Albert’s work area and some of his taxidermy subjects, as well as Gladys’s jewelry-making station. Her necklaces and bracelets helped pay the bills after Albert passed, although she never revealed the source of her “Desert Glass” (broken 7-up and beer bottle fragments, tumbled and polished into jewels).
Scroll back up the page a ways, and you’ll see the home’s only windows. They let plenty of light in, and thankfully so, since electricity didn’t arrive at Hole N” The Rock for years after the Christensens moved in.
Back on the outside…
… Albert and Gladys have become a part of Hole N” The Rock for all time. Their gravesite is inside a hollowed-out alcove around the side of the mountain.
There’s plenty more to see on the outside of Hole N” The Rock, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial, carved by Albert.
The area next to the home has become an outdoor museum, filled with all kinds of stuff that varies from historical artifact to kitschy junk.
There are a few neat neon signs preserved here. The Silver Spur in Durango, Colorado once welcomed John Wayne (he stayed repeatedly in Room 5 while shooting movies nearby).
You’ll probably also notice about a dozen signs promising a “Bigfoot” sighting near the back of the property.
The signs don’t lie.