Friday, December 4, 2015

Salvation Mountain

We drove more than 180 miles yesterday.   Salvation Mountain and the Slabs are so close, but so far.

We drove south of the Salton Sea through some seriously agricultural areas in the Imperial valley near Westmorland.  

Huge fields of hay and lots of rows of leafy things that we couldn't identify at highway speeds.    Many of the fields were being flooded, attracting lots of birds.

We drove through tiny, seriously depressed Niland, California and turned down its Main street heading for Salvation Mountain.   It was the vision and passion of a local man, Leonard Knight (recently deceased).     Salvation Mountain was his tribute to God with a simple and powerful message "God is Love".

His folk art masterpiece covers the end of a hill in the Colorado Desert several miles from the shore of the Salton Sea, and at the entrance of an area called "The Slabs" (another post.....)

It is constructed of locally made adobe and donated paint, 50 feet high and about 150 wide.     Mr. Knight proudly greeted any and all visitors to his mountain and in his memory all are welcome to visit, crawl over and under and inside it, take photographs and enjoy his creation.   Donations of paint are gratefully accepted.

Mr. Knight lived here where he could wake and see his mountain

his "home" is parked directly in front of the mountain

We were happy to see that someone has taken over the stewardship of this gem and is at work repairing and repainting areas where the harsh desert climate has taken its toll.

In addition to his religious themes, he has painted flowers, birds, trees, and fanciful geometric shapes in a riot of bright color.   Its hard to describe, one really needs to experience it.

Dave stands atop and looks out over the slabs

back of a work in progress

hay bales and tree trunks and paint

simple building materials

follow the yellow brick road.....

The inside was as fanciful as the outside.   Tiny rooms filled with paintings and left offerings.    Huge neon rooms filled with tree trunks and flowers.  I felt like Alice in Wonderland.

Salvation Mountain was proclaimed a "national treasure" by the Congressional
Record of the United States and the Folk Art Society of America declared it "a folk art site worthy of protection and preservation".

Leonard Knight

a tired worker?

All in the middle of nowhere, in the dusty brown desert.


  1. I hadn't heard that Leonard died, only that he had to leave his beloved mountain for an assisted living place. Glad to know others have picked up the paintbrush and are maintaining all his art. You got great pics - I especially love the interior. Can't wait to show Bill in a few weeks!!

  2. I am attaching our blog post for you to look at and compare to what you saw. It looks like they have added quite a bit to the structure running up the mountain and the "open building." John didn't include that many photos, but I think you will be able to compare since you were just there. Your photos are great, especially showing the construction. I am so glad it is being care for. It is such a unique and creative place.

  3. This is a place we've thought about visiting but were never really certain that it was worth the detour. After seeing your photos, I know that I definitely want to visit! Very cool that it has been recognized as a folk art site worthy of protection. Thanks for the great tour!