Visiting Salvation Mountain

If you’ve ever seen the film Into the Wild then these photos may be familiar to you because Salvation Mountain is featured in the film. If you haven’t seen the film or read the book then I strongly recommend you add it to your list because both are brilliant, especially if you have a nomadic, adventurous streak (which I’m sure you do if you’re reading this blog!)

Salvation Mountain is one man’s tribute to God and the result of 28 years of colourful dedication.

Leonard Knight was the creator of Salvation Mountain. He began work in 1984 in Niland, California; 190 miles south of Los Angeles and his work slowly grew and evolved.

Salvation Mountain is now as tall as a three-story building and as wide as a football field. This entire space is covered with the message, ‘God is Love’.

Jesus loves you Salvation Mountain

God is love Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Creating Salvation Mountain

When Knight began creating Salvation Mountain he used concrete and sand but it soon collapsed. Undeterred, he started again using adobe clay and hay bales for the main structure and window putty for the decorative details. The majority of the materials were donated by people who loved Knight’s work.

Unfortunately, Leonard Knight has now passed away but there are people who are continuing his legacy. He described Salvation Mountain as a love story: “I painted the mountain because I love God and I love people.”

If this had happened anywhere else then I’m sure that the local council would have destroyed the mountain and removed Knight from the land but this is almost no-man’s land. There’s nothing to see for miles around other than desert and tiny, ramshackle towns with nothing more than a grocery store and rusting cars.

In the far distance you can see the odd caravan through the blurry haze of heat where hardy nomads prove it is possible to survive in this unforgiving climate.

Desert surrounding Salvation Mountain

Standing on the top of Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain on The Travel Hack blog

Salvation Mountain Jesus

Prayers at Salvation Mountain

Visiting Salvation Mountain

As I step outside the van an intense heat makes me feel like I’m inside a hair-dryer. We immediately pin ourselves to the four-inch strip of shade created by the van and long for the air-conditioning. The moisture was sucked from my lungs while the heat attacked my body. It was so hot I struggled to breathe!

I explored the old cars of Salvation Mountain first and examined the intricate detail and religious words that covered every inch. It suddenly dawned on me how long this took and how much patience was involved. One car alone could have easily taken six months to decorate.

Car at salvation Mountain

Truck at Salvation Mountain

 This is the truck that Leonard Knight lived in.

You begin walking up to Salvation Mountain via the faded Yellow Brick Road so you can’t help but feel like you’ve been transported to a kid’s storybook. Giant, colourful flowers look like sweets that you could pluck right out of the ground and chew on for days.

Religious text is all over Salvation Mountain with a strangely moving effect, whether or not you’re religious. Maybe it was the heat getting to my head but I was blown away and silenced by the mountain.

I nervously climbed the wonky steps to the top where the heat became even more intense. It wasn’t even summer, how could anyone live here!?

Leaning against a giant cross at the top and I was able to see the surrounding desert and admire the scale of Salvation Mountain.

To the right and there are small rooms that must have taken years to mold. The rooms are strangely cosy with details that look like picture frames on the walls. It felt like a nana’s living room family photos replaces by words of love.

An unfinished section of Salvation Mountain lies to the right and this feels like a mixture between a colourful forest and a frightening home. It’s like stepping inside a friendlier version of the House of Horrors at a fairground. Knight intended for this to be a museum and he made it using hay bales and disguarded objects likes tires and utility poles.

Please stay on the yellow brick road | Salvation Mountain


Yellow Brick Road Salvation Mountain

Walking along the yellow brick road at Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain | The Travel Hack

Rooms at Salvation Mountain

Inside Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain pictures

Painted flowers Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain museum

The Lord's Prayer Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain Digger

We didn’t spend too long at Salvation Mountain quite simply because it was far too hot, but if you’re passing by I would strongly recommend a visit.

Trek America at Salvation Mountain

I visited Salvation Mountain  during my Westerner 2 Trek America road trip. This has recently been added to the Trek America itinerary when travelling between San Diego and Lake Havasu.

TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (11)
  1. It’s like Dr. Seuss decided to make a magical land of love and worship in the middle of the desert. pretty cool thing to happen upon while traveling to the desert.

  2. crazy! and interesting too. not sure i’d go…i get overwhelmed by too much religious anything. but i love all the colors! 🙂

  3. Same here with Mrs O. Didn’t even know this place exists. Reminds me a bit of a ceramic sort of wonderland I saw in Cuba, similar in quirkiness (but no religious stuff). Incredible! Apart from the Jesus quotes, this could look interesting in a place like Burning Man.

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

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