Visiting Salvation Mountain has been high on my “to see” list since living in San Diego. While casually browsing through Instagram, I saw a photo of Salvation Mountain and thought it looked super unique and intriguing! Having never heard of it before, I immediately started googling and got excited when I found out it was only a few hour’s drive from San Diego, California. I quickly checked my calendar for an open weekend and (dragging along my bestie) decided to road trip out into the California desert to see this most unique landmark.
After my visit I decided to put together a guide on what to expect when visiting Salvation Mountain, enjoy! 🙂
A Guide to Visiting Salvation Mountain
603 Beal Rd
Niland, CA 92257
Hours: 6:30am – 7pm (dawn until dusk)
Salvation Mountain is located in Southeastern California, south of Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park and east of the Salton Sea.
- From Los Angeles, CA: Roughly 3-hour drive
- From San Diego, CA: Roughly 2.5 hour drive
- From Las Vegas, NV: Roughly 5-hour drive
- From Phoenix, AZ: Roughly 4-hour drive
About Salvation Mountain
The amazing thing about Salvation Mountain is it’s entirely man-made! It was designed and created solely by one man’s determination and vision, Leonard Knight. Leonard was a local resident, and the creator and heartbeat behind this 28 year-long passion project. He was passionate about spreading the message of God’s love, and actually tried twice to create Salvation Mountain. His first Mountain was at least 50 feet or higher, but unfortunately it collapsed into a pile of rubble due to a poor foundation. Undeterred, Leonard decided to create the Mountain again, this time ensuring it was done properly and would be safe to walk on.
Leonard decided his second attempt of Salvation Mountain would be made out of adobe clay mixed with straw, and then would be coated with lead-free paint. This kept the mountain from being blown away or eroding over time. The more coats of paint that was added, the stronger the mountain became. People came from all over to donate paint, and Leonard estimates that at least 10,000 gallons of paint went into the making of Salvation Mountain.
After years of hard work and determination, Salvation Mountain began to gain notoriety. The Folk Art Society of America declared it “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection”. Sadly Leonard Knight passed away in 2014, but his message and life’s work lives on.
Visiting Salvation Mountain
The focal point of Salvation Mountain is the giant letters reading “God is Love”, with the Sinner’s Prayer written inside of a red heart directly below it.
I love that there is a yellow walkway (yellow brick road) where you can walk right up to the top of the Mountain and get a nice view of the surrounding area.
Salvation Mountain is made up of multiple murals, bible verses, and prayers painted onto the Mountain. Some major prayers represented is the Lord’s Prayer and the Sinner’s Prayer. Guided tours can be arranged with advance notice by emailing Info@salvationmountain.org.
In 1998, Leonard decided he wanted to start experimenting with creating a hogan. A hogan is a domed-shaped home of adobe and sticks used by the native Navajo. He made it out of bales of straw and adobe clay to create a 10-foot domed room. He coated the entire hogan with paint to match the style of the rest of the Mountain. The hogan was designed to be a living space to protect him from the 115+ desert heat, but he never actually moved in.
Salvation Mountain is a wonderful roadside attraction representing the simple, yet powerful, message of God’s love. ❤️
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