A giant man-made mountain in the middle of the Sonoran desert, constructed from thousands of gallons of paint, hay bales, adobe, and a whole lot of love.
It’s appeared in all kinds of media, news, and folklore. You probably heard about it from a friend around a dinner table, or a friend of a friend who explored the California desert, or maybe you stumbled across a picture of it on the Internet. The fact remains, that no matter what you hear, read, or see about it, there’s just no substitute for visiting it in person.
That being said, we’ll do our best to give you a little history and context, in the hopes you will come to appreciate it as much as we, and many others, do too.
Salvation Mountain is a must-see destination for anyone spending time in Southern California, especially those inclined to day-tripping adventures. We can guarantee you one thing: visiting Salvation Mountain is a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s been described as a “national treasure” and “visionary” environmental art installation, and the story behind its creation is as inspiring as it is quirky. A tremendous work of energy, passion, and enthusiasm, you’ll walk away with a new appreciation for what the human spirit can accomplish in a lifetime.
The man behind this behemoth work of art, Leonard Knight, passed away in 2014, after dedicating 28 years of his life to constructing, maintaining, and growing Salvation Mountain and its adjoining pieces. These attached structures, built with inspiration from Navajo architecture, can also be explored and admired. One of these structures, which Leonard called “the museum,” houses significant items and gifts from friends and visitors. To this day, fans of Knight and his message of God’s Love continue to come from far and wide to pray and leave tokens of gratitude behind.
Since its initial “ground breaking” day in 1984, the mountain has seen two iterations, the current version being Leonard’s second attempt after the first collapsed under its own weight. A determined Knight studied techniques from the Navajo and experimented with the native adobe clay (and more paint) until he came up with a stronger methodology. Today, continued donations and help from devoted volunteers are keeping Salvation Mountain alive and open to the public. Typical visiting hours are roughly sunrise to sunset, or 6:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
If you’re staying at the Fountain of Youth Spa RV Resort, it’s a straightforward and easy car ride. From the “front door” of FOY to Salvation Mountain, you’re looking at a little under a 25-minute drive. Count on bringing some water or refreshments with you to stay hydrated, especially on warm days, in case you get carried away in the majestic grounds of Salvation Mountain. (Quick note: on the corner of Highway 111 and Main St. in Niland – on the way to the mountain — you’ll find United Food Center, a grocery store with ice-cold drinks and snacks.)
It’s not often you find yourself witnessing something that is truly larger than life. You know the feeling, the sense of wonder, it stops you in your tracks and all you can muster is “wow,” or “ah.” It’s a rare feeling, and perhaps one of the hidden gifts of humanity to find. This is the feeling we hope you’ll experience on your first visit to Salvation Mountain.