Off The Beaten Path in California

Giant Rock, California The Mystery of Giant Rock

Appearing almost miraculously among the barren land in Southern California’s Mojave desert, is a 25,000-ton, seven-story high, granite single-standing boulder. It sits in a desolate area, a few miles from Joshua Tree National Park. The Giant Rock, which expands over 5,800 square feet, was once considered the largest free-standing boulder in the world. Hidden from plain view are underground rooms measuring approximately 400 square feet. Even more miraculous, one February night in the year 2000, Giant Rock split. The story behind the Giant Rock is a mystery.  Some attribute the split to a Hopi prophecy.  Others suggest a campfire on a stress fracture may have caused it to break off.

But there are so many other-worldly things about this part of the high desert.  The area is special for many reasons. First, for an unusually high number of UFO sightings. Second, for being historic sacred Indian ground. Northern and Southern Tribes gathered here routinely. Interestingly, only the shamans and chiefs could approach the Giant Rock which was deemed a symbol of the Great Spirit.

Barbara Harris is a Pennsylvania born-and-bred historian who moved to the desert 16 years ago. This area became her and her husband’s playground.

“My story is just as strange and weird as the whole thing. After I graduated from the Art Institute, I moved here to California, and I lived on the coast. I met a man who eventually became my husband and introduced me to the Mojave desert. He showed me this place called Giant Rock.”

Otherworldly Landmark in the Desert

They intuitively knew this was a special area.  Decades before she moved to California, the first Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention was held at Giant Rock. According to newspaper records Harris peruses, thousands made their way to this isolated landmark in the desert. They convened from all over the globe. A few years later, the founder of that convention, George Van Tassel, claimed to have made contact with an extra-terrestrial who gave him plans to build the Integratron. It took Van Tassel 18 years to construct his structure that supposedly connected humans to extra-terrestrials, among other things.

Back when Harris and her husband started roaming this part of the desert, they would stand at the gates of the Integratron.  At the time, closed to the public, they would knock and shout, hoping to have access to explore. “We were never able to get into the property.”

In the year 2000, Harris (by coincidence) was able to meet the new owners of the Integratron land who opened the gate to her and the public.

“My husband and I were coming out here almost every day until we moved to the Morongo Basin permanently. We were so fascinated with the history. The energy. We thought everybody wanted to be there. We were so happy to be coming out to the desert and feeling what happened here. The history alone was amazing. We thought everyone else should know about it.”

Historic, Spiritual, E-T or Photography Tours

Harris’ main focus now is to preserve and maintain the history of the Integratron and Giant Rock. As such, she offers educational presentations and periodically leads tours of the area, including flora and fauna, historic and anecdotal data.

On four consecutive nights in May, Harris will lead five- to six-hour modestly-priced caravan expeditions to Giant Rock as part of the 5th Annual Contact in the Desert festival.

“Contact in the Desert is so cool. It’s been growing so much. Well over a hundred attend (my tours) in small groups. They get very personalized attention. There is nothing out there, just an open desert. This year we are adding to our program. As a tribute to the Native Americans of Giant Rock, we’ll be doing ceremony, drumming, and chanting in addition to our walks to Crystal Hill and star watching.”

Harris notes that the experience can vary dramatically from one person to the next. “If you’re a photographer, I’ve timed my tour. We drive back roads so the sun is setting. You’ll get some of the most beautiful desert photos. If you’re a hiker, we keep to smaller groups because not everyone likes the same things. Some people will sit in chairs and hear a lecture.  Sometimes people get out there and just want to sit and be quiet. It becomes very spiritual for them. Many have never experienced anything like that before.”

Heightened spirituality may be a result of the power of the Ley lines, which are like tectonic plate ridges, on which Joshua Tree sits. For example, Harris says that Van Tassel was very grounded in spiritual Christianity. He tapped into his channeling powers while grounding them in Christianity. She adds that many others with high levels of spirituality were drawn to the area, throughout history, including visionaries Eddie Garver and Frank Antone Martin from Desert Christ Park.  Also, Cabot Yerxa, a Mason who believed in independent thinking and self-actualization. Yerxa discovered the now-famous mineral hot springs waters of Desert Hot Springs.

In 1941, Ding Le Mei brought his Mentalphysics Spiritual Teaching and Retreat Center to 420 acres of desert land in Joshua Tree — the site for the upcoming Contact in the Desert. Having traveled extensively in India, Tibet, and China, Ding Le Mei combined the ancient learnings of the East with religious knowledge of the West to form his own amalgamation of yoga.

“It caught my interest right off the bat. For some reason, he was called here, to this desert. We also are on the same energy gathering as the great pyramids of Giza. We share that energy. We have scientists who come to the area with magnetometers. Each time their equipment will show high levels of energy that will go off the charts.”

With Giant Rock, explains Harris, the massive weight of the boulder that dates back millions of years is like an acupressure point for the earth. “People can feel the difference. It’s just one of those things. It’s just there.”

Harris coordinates her tours for people from all walks of life. “If anything, it’s a nice vacation. There’s something here for everyone. (Plus) the national park is just down the road and up the hill.”

To book a tour, or for more information about Contact in the Desert, visit

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