Looking Glass Rock is located in an area known as Canyon Rims Recreation Area located between Moab and the Indian Creek climbing area. During a sandstorm in Moab, my wife and I struggled to find an area to climb one particular morning. Thus we made out for South Six Shooter hoping to discover tamer weather. Before heading out, we stopped in at the local gear shop to ask suggestions for anything else and they recommended Looking Glass Rock as an easy climb to bag along the way. Normally when we think of Looking Glass in reference to climbing, we hone in on North Carolina. But this large sandstone dome with a massive amphitheater and huge window carved out by ferocious winds makes for a fun objective on your way to or fro the Indian Creek and/or Canyonlands National Park area.
The climb is a three pitch bolted route up the southwest ridge of the dome section of Looking Glass Rock. It only requires a few 5.7 moves, mostly smearing on a dust covered sandstone ramp. The real exposure of this climb is that if you fall off to the right on lead, or just as likely, the wind knocks you off your feet to the right, you will have to be prepared to make a free air ascent back up the rope with ascenders and/or prussics. The summit is broad and grants you incredible isolated views of Canyonlands National Park to the west. The highlight of this climb is the two rope rappel (photo) through the keyhole slot down and to the southwest from the actual summit cairn and register. This is a complete and 100% free air rap from the get go. You might want to lower any of your less experienced partners as this can be a frightening rap for some, particularly if the wind is twirling them around a little.
Domes similar to Looking Glass Rock were more than likely created by salt bed movement of some sort during the Jurassic Period. There are many cool objectives up and down Highway 191. Looking Glass is a fairly obscure climb despite its easy access and you won’t find much beta on line or in the guide books. The one route is fairly straight forward. As with all sandstone, one should climb Looking Glass Rock in dry conditions.
Take Highway 191 south of Moab for approximately 25 miles. You are looking for a graded road on your right known as Hatch Wash road. They were grading it when we were there in 2006, so it is fairly well maintained. Turn right and travel west a few kilometers looking to turn left onto a deep sand road that angles to the southeast corner of Looking Glass Rock. A rancher uses this road for access to some horses more southeast. Right before you dead end into his fence, turn right and follow the fence to the base of Looking Glass. Cross the fence on a large rock and circumvent the dome to the south. Turn the corner right (facing the huge window) and the route starts right here (photo). If you want to get a look at that keyhole (photo) for the rap, follow the inside ramp of Looking Glass towards the window. As you arrive in the amphitheater, look up and you will see the key hole and if you have real good vision, you might even see the anchors from below.
Most of Canyon Rims Recreation Area is Public Land administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Included within the boundary of Canyon Rims are scattered sections of Utah state land and several parcels of private land. Utah state land is available to the general public for recreation purposes. Private land may be posted and visitors must respect the rights of private land owners.
Activities are restricted in several areas within the Canyon Rims Recreation Area. The Dark Canyon Primitive Area is formally closed to off-highway vehicle use. The Indian Creek, Bridger Jack Mesa, Middle Point and Butler Wash wilderness study areas are essentially closed to vehicle use and most development activities pending the outcome of a wilderness review process.
In Moab, our overall faviorite place for food, internet and coffee is the EklectiCafe at 352 North Main Street. The Fiesta Mexicana, 202 South Main Street, has super margaritas and is good for dinner.
When to Climb
The average high in Moab in July is 98F. The average high in January is 41F. Moab is at 4000’+/- therefore the winter rock climbing can be a touch on the cold side compared to southwestern Utah. Climbing in the middle of the day during the summer in southern Utah is not recommended. Carry plenty of water regardless. Afternoon thunderstorms are common from mid-July through mid-September. Storms may produce waterfalls as well as flash floods. Sandstone is weak when wet, so avoid climbing in damp areas or right after a rain.
Canyon Rims Recreation Area for the most part is primitive and undeveloped. Developed facilities include three public campgrounds and a commercial resort. The BLM operates Wind Whistle Campground which has 17 campsites and is adjacent to the paved road to Needles Overlook about 6 miles from U.S. 191. A second BLM campground, Hatch Point, has 9 campsites and is located just off the graveled road to Anticline Overlook about 24 miles from U.S. 191. These campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fees are charged for camping at the two BLM campgrounds from April through October, when drinking water is provided.
The BLM maintains picnic tables and pit toilets at two primitive camping locations along the southern part of the Lockhart Basin OHV trail near Indian Creek. The commercial resort is near Utah 211, just east of the entrance to Canyonlands National Park.