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Between the rocks

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You may have never set foot on the Hauer Ranch just outside Moab, Utah, but wander around long enough and it may seem a little familiar. That’s because it’s been the location of several major motion pictures, including two John Wayne films, one Disney movie and “City Slickers 2.”

With a towering backdrop of Castle Valley and the Fisher Towers on one side, and the mighty Colorado River on the other, the rugged beauty of the natural landscape isn’t the only captivating element.

On the banks of the river, you’ll find the Rock House.

“When I bought this place in 1989, I looked all over it and I saw these two huge rocks, and I thought it’d be pretty neat to have a house between the two of them,” said ranch owner John Hauer.

He reached out to an architect with two small requests: The ranch has to be between the two rocks, and it has to have a window where a natural opening was found.

What rose from the sand came in the shape of an old saloon with the words “El rocco y puesto duro” carved in a sign, Spanglish for the rock and a hard place.

The Moab Rock House features perhaps one of the most extraordinary bay windows in the world, where builders used a rock saw to cut a slot in the stone, then fit the glass to the shape of the rock and sealed it in.

The western-decorated, fully furnished three story Rock House sleeps seven, with three bathrooms. There is a full kitchen, a covered front deck and upper level patio with a picnic table atop a sandstone perch overlooking the Colorado River. There are two adjacent houses that provide extra accommodations.

While staying at the rock house, guests can take horseback trail rides throughout the canyons and mesas that abound, pass through Onion Creek to water the horses and travel among the red rocks before dusk, better known as the light show at Hauer Ranch.

From a wooden chair on the front porch, Hauer, who’s traveled across the globe, said that, to him, the land is more personal. He hasn’t been everywhere on the planet, but he’s “seen a good piece of it.”

“I really believe it’s the most beautiful place in the world.”

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