God is love these are the three words that stand out on Salvation Mountain, a real artificial mountain built with recycled materials, hay and adobe over the course of 25 years by the visionary artist Leonard Knight
This place became known all over the world because it was the set for some scenes of the film Into the Wild and since its release in cinemas, the flow of tourists to Salvation Mountain has significantly intensified, so much so that many tourists now consider it an essential stop on their California itinerary.
- Where is it and how to get there
- When to visit
- Short story
- To see
- Slab City
- East Jesus
- Attractions and parks nearby
- Where to sleep in the area
Where is it and how to get there
Salvation Mountain is located in California near the eastern shore of the Salton Sea, about an hour and a half drive from Palm Springs. The closest town is Niland, although it would be more correct to define it as a small agglomeration of houses, and the border with Mexico is just over 70 kilometers away.
When to visit
Salvation Mountain can be accessed from sunrise to sunset every day of the year including holidays. There is no need to pay an entrance ticket, if you want to leave a donation you can do it in the special box near the mountain. Parking is wherever you feel safe to leave your car, make sure you stay at an acceptable distance from Salvation Mountain.
During the first few days of his stay around Niland, Leonard Knight thought of using small balloons to convey his message of universal love. Not happy with this, he began sketching a building on the course of an old river using concrete, paint and anything else that could be useful. The work continued for the following months until this first mountain reached 50 meters in height.
After four years, however, this mountain collapsed on itself but Leonard Knight instead of being discouraged began to build Salvation Mountain, the one you can still see today. It will take well 28 years of work but visitors who come to these latitudes from all corners of the world will prove to be the best possible reward.
Since Leonard Knight passed away, a charity of volunteers has been taking care of the mountain and continuing to spread its philosophy and its message.
Salvation Mountain stands out over the surrounding landscape not only for its height but also for its height bright colors and the large cross that surmounts the whole structure. You can climb the mountain taking care not to damage the structure and follow the path indicated by a yellow strip. Surely you will find many possibilities to take original photos and to walk inside the galleries that Leonard Knight has created within his creature.
In addition to looking around and filling the memory of your camera, there is not much else to do, even the most curious should therefore consider spending a maximum of an hour in the surroundings of Salvation Mountain, before resuming the itinerary.
If you have been fascinated by the atmosphere that reigns in this place, you should know that in the surroundings of Salvation Mountain there are two other places that are certainly unusual.
What was once a military base of the marines active during the Second World War is today the meeting place for those who want to escape from society and its rules. Its inhabitants consist of squatters and snowbirds that is people who live in the north of the United States or Canada and during the winter come down here in search of a milder climate. There are no buildings but only campers, tents and at most caravans adapted in the most imaginative ways. Here there is no electricity or running water and there is no sewerage, which is why every inhabitant gets by as best he can with solar panels and with a lot of inventiveness.
Although rising on Californian soil, and therefore also in the United States, this "city" is defined lawless, not so much because everything is allowed as because there is no representative of public order to enforce the rule of law. Keep this in mind if you decide to venture to Slab City because any problem could be bigger than its real size. Here, too, some scenes of the film were shot Into the Wild.
It is very difficult to rationally define this place. We can venture to call it a kind of experimental museum in continuous change and evolution, inside which are exhibited "works of art" born from the more or less lucid minds of local pseudo artists.
If you really want to go know that admission is free but before setting foot I recommend that you carefully read this "survival guide" to East Jesus written directly by the managers of this place.
Attractions and parks nearby
- Biscuit Meadows Estate: located near the Anza-Borrego State Park is certainly one of the most curious attractions in California. Over 130 giant metal sculptures created by the artist Ricardo Breceda depict the most disparate themes, from dinosaurs, to dragons, passing from giant scorpions to religious themes.
- Salton Sea: once a popular holiday resort today, due to water pollution, the whole Salton Sea area looks like a post apocalyptic movie set. Ghost Town, abandoned beaches and dead fish carcasses along the shores of the lake; this is all that Salton Sea has to offer nowadays. If you are among those who find what is described fascinating, you know which route to set in your navigator.
- Joshua Tree National Park: one of the most famous and visited parks in California where the famous Yucca trees with twisted branches are the masters.
Where to sleep in the area
The area of California where Salvation Mountain is located is not very busy with the classic tourist routes. As we have mentioned, the most important city is Palm Springs which we recommend you consider if you are looking for accommodation in the area. If you want some more information, read our section dedicated to where to sleep in Palm Springs.