“We’re going on an adventure! Wake up, wake up!” I shook Dave awake, jumping around the hotel room anxiously waiting our next adventure. Technically we were already on one adventure but I loved layering our adventures and adding more and more as we went.
Once again, we were up before the sun and making our way southeast for another ‘can’t be missed attraction.’ This time our destination was a 50 foot high, colorful piece of artwork that has become quite famous – Salvation Mountain.
Created by Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain is another hour or so from Palm Springs so we wanted to get a head start to not only beat traffic, but also beat the sun since we were going further into the desert.
We set on our way, following along the Salton Sea as we drove south. At one point, we decided to pull over and check out the Salton Sea. This sea, which sets in the middle of the California desert, boasts more salt than the Pacific Ocean! You could tell. Not only could you see chunks of salt along the shores but also the scent was undeniable. The beach was covered with fish skeleton and fish heads – making it not one of our fondest stops however, something we have both wanted to see.
Back in the car, we drove through the tiny small city of Niland, California. I felt as if we had travelled back in time or at least made our way to the set of a horror film. Everything looked so run down and poor. There were loose dogs roaming the streets and trailers that lined the one street town. The few buildings that were still standing were either boarded up or in dyer need of a re-paint. I could feel the chills run through my spine as we drove through – I was thankful we still had cell phone reception just incase on of the large pot holes caused us to be stranded.
Less than five miles later we spotted Salvation Mountain in the distance. It was just as bizarre yet wonderful as I had imagined. Since it was a weekday the only other people there was a band from Toronto filming a music video. Otherwise, we had the entire sculpture to ourselves. Salvation Mountain is 50 feet high and 150 feet wide. It is made completely of local adobe clay and donated paint. “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen” Dave kept whispering to me. I couldn’t help but agree. The bright and vibrant colors were hard to turn away from. “GOD IS LOVE” slaps your face, as do other religious scriptures and designs. The Lord’s Prayer, John 3:16 and the Sinner’s Prayer are all painted on the clay as are pictures of flowers, waterfalls, suns, and colorful objects. There is a yellow brick road you are welcome to use to climb to the top where a large cross completes the masterpiece.
Knight created his masterpiece as his gift to God and in return, I think he provided a unique gift for travelers in California. It’s an interesting piece to see and definitely worth the travel. The whole sight is quite magnificent and something truly unique, bizarre, beautiful and interesting all rolled into one. I love the way the bright colors dance in the sunlight as we toured the artwork – careful to stay on the yellow brick road so not to disrupt the creation.
If Salvation Mountain is not currently on your list of California Adventures I advise it be placed there ASAP. You won’t regret this unique side of the road attractive that’s well off the beaten path.