The Bizarre Salvation Mountain, California
As you take the repetitive drive down the never-ending straight roads, surrounded by the flat and barren Southern Californian Lower Desert, you will not believe your eyes when Salvation Mountain comes into your view. From the dull desert ground, a mound awash with colour and life stands tall. This colourful hill is none other than Salvation Mountain.
Our main reason for visiting California was due to us having tickets for Coachella. After 26 hours we had finally arrived in LA from Melbourne. Of course, the jet lag was kicking in instantly. The next 3 days in LA were spent wandering around like a zombie, fitting in all the hiking and sight-seeing we could.
It was while we were in our hostel in LA that we were first told about Salvation Mountain. I had never heard anything about Salvation Mountain prior to that one afternoon in LA. We got chatting to one of the workers at the hostel and told him about our plans for Coachella. “You have to go to Salvation Mountain, it’s crazy” he said.
To be honest, all the excitement of Coachella made me forget about Salvation Mountain. That was until we met some Americans on the campsite who started talking to us about the desert artwork. It was at that moment, we decided after Coachella we had to drive into the desert and check out what all the hype is about.
Without much knowledge of what on earth we were visiting, I typed Salvation Mountain into Google Maps and we found ourselves driving an hour into the lower desert of Southern California.
What is Salvation Mountain?
Salvation Mountain is the brainchild of Leonard Knight. In effect, the impressive artwork is a tribute to God, with the main and compelling message; God is Love.
28 years ago Leonard began his monument by layering cement and paint by the side of the riverbank. What began as a small mound of cement, has ended up as a renowned, yet rather bizarre work of art. The 28 years didn’t pass by without any hiccups. The original cement mountain ended up in a pile of rubble after falling down due to a lack of stability. However, this didn’t discourage the optimistic Leonard Knight and he thanked God for showing him that the mountain was unstable. Nowadays the mountain is completely made up of local adobe clay and paint.
The site of Salvation Mountain is completely unique. I can guarantee you will not have seen anything like this in your life before. At 50 foot in height and with a width of 150 foot, you will be in awe when you first lay eyes on Leonard Knight’s sometimes misunderstood masterpiece.
Here’s a fact for you, Leonard predicts that he’s used over 100,000 gallons of paint on Salvation Mountain. Luckily for Leonard, he didn’t have to spend all his spare cash at the local hardware store, as people have come from far and wide with donations of paint.
Is it Worth the Drive to Salvation Mountain?
In a word, yes. It is well worth the hour drive from Indio, or 1-hour 30-minute drive from Palm Springs. Trust me on this, there’s nothing else like this you will ever see in your life. What’s a couple of hours of your life when it comes between seeing and not seeing a 28 year in the making one-man masterpiece? Don’t get me wrong, the drive won’t be the most exhilarating of your life, but it is well worth it when you arrive.
Where Exactly is Salvation Mountain?
The simple answer to that question is, in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
However, that answer is no help to you whatsoever. I’m rather surprised to discover that Salvation Mountain has a physical address. I simply entered Salvation Mountain into Google Maps and I was on my way. Failing that, the address is; 603 Beal Rd, Niland, CA 92257.
Once You’re There…
Once you finally reach Salvation Mountain, you can park your car in the car parking spots just outside the site. Step out of the air conditioned haven of your car and feel the hot, humid desert air smack you right in the face.
Luckily for us, the complete site of Salvation Mountain is accessible, so you can take your time and check out all the weird and wonderful objects and structures.
It’s also possible to climb the purpose made, yellow brick road to the top of the mountain. There’s a sign stating to stay on the yellow path. I’d advise sticking by the sign’s advice or you’ll more than likely end up tumbling down the unsteady looking mountain, like Bambi on roller blades. The walk up the faded yellow path and unsteady looking stairs are nerve-wracking, to say the least. Once you do reach the top of the mountain, you’ll get the reward of expansive views of the surrounding desert. You can truly appreciate the scale of Salvation Mountain from the top.
Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, it’s impossible to deny that Salvation Mountain is a true stroke of genius. To think that one man has worked for 28 years to build this structure in the middle of the Californian desert is incredible. Walking around the mountain and surrounding objects and structures is a surreal experience, it kind of feels like the scene from a horror movie (note to self, horror movie scenes don’t really sell it to most people). I am delighted to have the experience of witnessing Salvation Mountain first hand. I would urge you to do the same if you find yourself in the area. Salvation Mountain is something that you have to see in person to truly appreciate it.
Leonard Knight has some imagination and it shows through the unusual, yet fascinating Salvation Mountain.
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If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section.
Are you planning a trip to California? Will you now take a detour to Salvation Mountain? Have you been to Salvation Mountain before?
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