Slab City’s Salvation Mountain

It’s actually a hill made of clay and bales of hay that have been painted over with the utmost devotion. And the artist behind the mountain? His name wasΒ Leonard Knight.

After dedicating almost thirty years to his creative endeavor at the entrance of Slab City, Knight passed away three years ago, in February of 2014, at the age of 82.Β He’s left quite an artistic legacy behind for us to enjoy.

"Salvation Mountain is a literal man-made mountain 28 years in the making, covered in half a million gallons of latex paint. What started as a small monument made of dirt and painted cement became, over time, a sprawling adobe and hay-bale mountain complex." 
-- Aaron Huey, National Geographic

The best way to get a better idea of the place — apart from actually going there yourself — is via images. So here are (a shit-load of) pictures I took of the unique mountain and it’s adjacent man-made caves, which serve as interesting embellishments to Knight’s unique project.

Climbing up the mountain, you’ll see signs asking you to stay on the “yellow brick road.” The place already feels otherworldly, but the signs serve as a reminder that you’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

Views for days up top
Paint cans as art
This place is full of love!
Off to the right of where that dude is standing you’ll find the “multicolored alcove” and to the left, the “blue cave!”
Where it says “The Holy Bible” is the outside of the “blue cave.”

The Blue Cave

That’s just the name I’ve given this little chamber. I don’t know what it’s really called or if it even has a name at all. But it is painted with lots of blue!

Looking out from within the “Blue Cave.”
Still looking around within the tiny “Blue Cave.”

The Multicolored Alcove

This part I’m calling “the multicolored alcove” for obvious reasons.

The Painted Vehicles

In front of Salvation mountain, you’ll find lots of repurposed vehicles. Hey, if it’s broke, why not turn it into art?

Greg and the Mountain Cats

While walking around Salvation Mountain, snapping hundreds of pictures, I got to conversing with Greg — a hobo who’d recently been appointed to the role of greeter at what is becoming an increasingly popular destination for curious travelers.

42 thoughts on “Slab City’s Salvation Mountain”

  1. Oh man! Looking at all of your photos I’m bummed we didn’t stop here on our own cross country road trip with the kids when we moved back east. We would have loved this stop! We keep talking about a trip back out west, so I think I’m adding Slab City to our ever growing list.

  2. We’ve just returned from nearby there and am so sad we didn’t know about Salvation Mountain. Looks amazing. It will have to go on our list for our next US road trip.

  3. We are planning a California road trip for next Summer, so this is really interesting! It’s easy to plan in the big cities but the quirky more out of the way ones are great to find.

  4. Wow. This is incredible. If only I’d known it existed a few months ago when we were on our road trip in California…this would have been a great additional stop. Great pictures!

  5. one of my favorite movies ‘Into the Wild’ is when I first heard about Slab City, next month I’ll be talking a road trip California and plans are to stop at slab city, Into the Wild is on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

  6. It’s so funny how Instagram fuels our sense of wanderlust for these things, isn’t it?! You saw Slab City on the social media site, went and blogged. Now I’ve read your blog, I really want to go myself! Thanks for sharing, I’m adding to my bucket list! x

    1. So true, Becca! That’s how I ended up in Chefchaouen last year as well! Thanks for reading! Take care and happy travels! πŸ™‚

  7. I too have never heard of this place but looks like a really cool place to go and visit πŸ˜€ Love how it’s been decorated, the artwork brings just brings it to life. It does look like a place that looks like it’s been made up for a movie rather than out there in there in the middle of nowhere πŸ˜€ – Gonna have to see this place with my own eyes someday πŸ˜€
    amit recently posted…Marrakech, Morocco: A spontaneous tripMy Profile

  8. Love hearing about new places like this especially when It’s a bit off the beaten path ! I guess that the Salvation Mountain is something you really gotta see yourself, right ? It’s like no other… In the middle of desert a huge colorful piece of artwork mountain praising God., so amazing !
    C-Ludik recently posted…Normandy, between β€œWar and Peace”My Profile

    1. Yes, I definitely recommend seeing it for yourself! Hope you’ll get the chance to go sometime, C-Ludik! πŸ™‚

  9. Really interesting place!! I actually JUST saw a photo of this for the first time on Instagram today, but had no idea where it was or what it was. How crazy! I will definitely head out to it next time I’m in the area — looking forward to learning about East Jesus πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks, Kristen! Yeah, I also only heard about it for the first time within the last year! Happy travels! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Followingtheriviera, Salvation Mountain is not in Vegas! It’s in Imperial County, California, about five hours south of Las Vegas! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks so much, Raksha! I’ve definitely got to watch “Into the Wild” now! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  10. Never knew such places existed. Thanks to Instagram I should say and thanks to you for sharing it. I have Uncle who lives in Palm Spring, so I guess I have the reason the visit the place too. Nice photos! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Joy! Hope you make it out there sometime to see your family and to check out all that the area has to offer! Palm Springs is a fun place to visit too!

  11. The number of times I’ve visited a place just because i saw lovely pictures on Instagram – I can totally relate to you when you say that! I have never heard of the salvation mountain myself and I can see why you wanted to visit after seeing pictures- it looks very interesting!

  12. I haven’t spent much time in America and had no idea this place existed! Looks super cool though. I’d love to do a road trip at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later. thanks for sharing.

  13. I’ve not heard of Slab City – this needs to be added when we eventually do our USA road trip. Instagram is great to find new places to travel to. Salvation is so vibrant – love the colours and the artwork! Where does the yellow brick road lead to? Well done on completing the half marathon!

    1. Thank you Whodoldo! The yellow brick road was the path to stay on for viewing the mountain without stepping on and possibly damaging the rest of the art. Plus, Greg told me it’s also for people’s safety! πŸ™‚

  14. I’ve been to Vegas but never knew about these hidden gems. Thanks to you I now know where I’m definitely going on my next trip to the US. Apart from driving, is there any other way to get to Salvation mountain?

    1. Hi Chandrima,
      Unfortunately there’s not really another way of getting out there. I suppose a person could hitchhike if comfortable with that, but it’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere! Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  15. I had never heard about this place before you mentioned it but looks super interesting and colorful. Also i am really intrigued about the sleeping cat on those colorful rugs. Is it from a shop in the same area?

    1. Hi Ketki,
      Actually, the cat is just a header picture on my website, so it doesn’t have anything to do with Salvation Mountain. Although, there were some really cool cats hanging around the mountain, which I’ll be posting more about in a post dedicated solely to cats soon! (I love taking cat pics when I travel!) But to answer your question, the pic of the cat sleeping on colorful rugs was taken in Istanbul! Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  16. sounds like a great road trip! I think I’ve seen a few pictures of Salvation Mountain in Slab City but I had no idea exactly where it is. May have to add that to my SoCal Bucket List when I return to visit friends and family in San Diego. I mean who wouldn’t want to go to East Jesus

    1. Yeah, who wouldn’t want to go?! Hope you get to make it there sometime soon, Eric! Thanks for stopping by!

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