Salvation Mountain: Photos and Stories from a Truly Unique Mountain

Salvation Mountain is one of those little know gems that you stumble upon and can’t really decide whether it is awesome or inspiring or both. It is nested in the heart of the Salton Sea (which has its own unique backstory) in a town called Niland and truly does have to be experienced to be believed.

Salvation mountain and sign

This quote explains what Salvation Mountain is directly from their website

“Salvation Mountain is Leonard’s tribute to God and his gift to the world with its simple yet powerful message: “God Is Love.”Leonard’s passion has lovingly created this brilliant “outsider art ” masterpiece resplendent with not only biblical and religious scripture such as the Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16, and the Sinner’s Prayer, but also including flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns, bluebirds, and many other fascinating and colorful objects. Salvation Mountain must be seen to be fully appreciated as those who have made the journey will attest. Its 50 foot height and 150 foot breadth is made totally of local adobe clay and donated paint and is truly unique in the United States and probably the world. From its Sea of Galilee at the bottom, to the big red heart in the middle, to the cross at the very top, the reoccurring theme of “Love” is everywhere at Salvation Mountain.”

I had been to Salvation Mountain in the past but decided to take the trip out again with Amie since she had never seen it. After about two hours in the car we finally arrived. The mountain is in a small town with buildings that have been burned and never rebuilt as well as more trailers then houses. All of this adds to the uniqueness of the mountain and its surrounding community. You can see the mountain for atleast a mile due to its size, and when you arrive it is truly a unique sight to behold.

If you have seen the mountain before it is most likely from books such as Weird California or movies such as Into the Wild. All of them spotlight the man, Leonard Knight, who has spent 30 years of his life building it. He is usually at the mountain from 11 to 3 but had just laid down for a nap right before we showed up in this unique truck.

Truck at salvation mountain


We started to explore as there were only three other people taking in the sites, not counting a man who was there to answer all of your questions. What is truly unique about Salvation mountain is that it is filled with bible verses and references to the Bible which sets it apart from many modern pieces of art.

Vintage Salvation mountain picture

You are free to climb the mountain as long as you stay on the yellow brick road, and even though it doesn’t look huge it is over three stories when you have made it to the top. The top itself provides a great view of the surrounding desert and town.

view of salvation mountain


In addition to the mountain there is also a museum that Leonard is building made of clay, tires, car doors, and many other items.

Entrance to salvation mountain

The museum is a lot of fun to walk around in, and really shows you how much of an artist Leonard is. He is able to use so many things people consider trash to turn this mountain into a living piece of art. There is everything from windows and branches to trophies and frames located in the museum.

God is love salvation mountain


After walking around for a half an hour other visitors started to show up. The guide said they get atleast 50 visitors on most days and it was clear to see that others had heard the great stories of Salvation Mountain as well.

Salvation mountain sign black and white

At about 2 hours from LA there is no excuse not to make the trek to see Leonard’s mountain atleast once in your life. It is a beautiful place in its own right, and something that you will be able to talk about with your friends for years.

Salvation mountain mailbox black and white
I’ll end this with a picture of the paint buckets that are a small amount of what has no doubt been used over the last 30 years at Salvation Mountain.

Black and white paint cans


Make sure you check out the rest of the pictures and leave a comment!


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Center map

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About JoshMc

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  • Anna Pham

    Hi Josh! Is there any camp ground at Salvation Mountain? Thanks for sharing your experience with locations. It’s very helpful.

    • I do not believe there are any official campgrounds in the area. There may be camping at Slab City but I am not sure.

  • Jami Broom

    thanks! looking forward to checking this out along with the Salton Sea!

  • memo hernandez

    Place looks awesome. What time should someone arrive to come and see Salvation Mountain before it starts getting crowded? Thanks.

  • Nicole Rosenbaum

    Love. This. Spot. Love the message, loved the drive around the Salton Sea, love off beat desert spots. Thanks for the scoop!

    • Looks like you had quite an adventure with all the desert spots you hit! Glad I could provide some fun recommendations!

  • Unusual One

    This place looks awesome.

    • It is, definitely add it to your list to check out!

      • Unusual One

        The temperature there easily reaches 110 degrees during the summer so I doubt I will visit there anytime soon. But I have seen videos that bloggers have put on You Tube and it deserves at least one visit by everyone.

        • Yea, I would agree that it is not a spot I would recommend in the summer

  • Heilie

    Do you know how far this is from L.A.?

    • It’s about 3 hours from Los Angeles.