A Utah miner used dynamite to build his own cave house into a rock and now rents it out on Airbnb for $1000 a night, reports Insider.
Grant Johnson was living in a 5-meter trailer in Utah when, in 1995, he had the opportunity to buy 16 hectares of land in the state's rugged wilderness. Johnson was told the site was abandoned in the 1970s. But it was the perfect place for his lifelong dream: to turn the rock on the property into a home using dynamite and his own hands.
Johnson, who worked in uranium mines in Utah and was a countryside guide, was inspired by the famous Moab Desert landmark and Hole N The Rock, the family home carved out of the sandstone rock.
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He spent $25 and the next 000 years upgrading his new home—and now anyone on airbnb can rent a bedroom in a dedicated space for about $350 per night and an entire three-bedroom cave for about $1000 per night.
Johnson's property is located in southern Utah, about four hours north of the Grand Canyon and close to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, famous for its cascading rock formations. Johnson lives in a cave with his partner when they are not renting it out, and they also run the property as a farm and grow tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and corn, some of which they sell.
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Johnson even raises horses, cows, pigs and turkeys and plans to build his own cave barn for them.
“This is an art project for a lifetime,” he said.
Johnson bought the dynamite from an acquaintance from his past job at the mine, who trusted him with the correct use of the equipment.
“It was in the 90s, so I could buy dynamite and just sign a paper. Now it is much more difficult,” he said.
The first explosion occurred in the winter of 1995. Johnson worked on the site for the next eight years to carve out the space he wanted. In the end, he got about 530 square meters of area. Entering the cave he created for the first time, he couldn't help but feel awe.
“There has been nothing in this space since the dinosaurs,” he said. “This stone is 100 million years old.”
In 2005, Johnson hired a construction worker friend to help complete the project. Together, they poured a cement floor and installed giant sheets of tempered glass to seal off the cavern from wildlife. There are six holes in the rock, facing different directions, that had to be sealed before the space became habitable. The last sheet was installed in January 2014 when Johnson moved into the premises.
He carved the walls by hand, using light and sound as guides. During this time, Johnson made the walls and doorways of the cave himself. He used a method in which he drilled parallel holes and tied them with rope around the perimeter - this split the rock and helped to achieve the desired shape.
“This is a very complex process,” he said.
During the construction process, he played with the light and sound of the space. In winter, he would sometimes sit in the cave, at sunset or especially at the equinox, and watch the cave refract the sunlight.
“I would just sit down and if I noticed something that didn’t fit or wasn’t properly curved, I would grab a drill,” he said.
While he was carving the stone, he also played the harmonica and corrected his actions based on the best sound he could find in the room. It paid off. Since moving in, Johnson has hosted numerous musicians, concerts, and even a group of Tibetan monks in the space.
“They did throat singing and that sound never went away,” he said.
One of Johnson's musician friends even named different rooms after different keys.
A room on the west side with a private staircase leading to a balcony is available for $350 per night. For $1000, guests can rent the entire three-bedroom property, and Johnson and his partner will vacate the space and move into a cabin nearby.
Airbnb guests are encouraged to ride the rope swing in front of the cliff house. And inside, guests are waiting for "rough stone stairs" connecting the rooms of the cave. The cave is self-contained and uses water to power outlets, although the listing notes that hair dryers and pancake pans in particular are too complex for this hydroelectric system. Another important note: no Wi-Fi.
“The desert has a special energy, and this space resonates with it. This is where you come to disconnect from the rest of the world,” one Airbnb user wrote in a May 2022 review. “The comfort, cleanliness and beauty of this place far exceeded our group members’ expectations.”
Guest tip: “Drive in a XNUMXWD vehicle. Take plenty of water with you. Appreciate the time spent there. Relax. Go hiking. Unplug and appreciate the space."
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Johnson said he enjoys watching guests marvel at the untouched nature and hearing how they feel more connected to nature while staying in the cave. He recommends that every guest go out at night to the patio in the western part and watch the silence of the desert night.
"You won't find a darker sky or a quieter place than here," he said.