Salvation Mountain Colors Desert Palette Near Salton Sea

This three story tall spiritual monument was created by Leonard Knight, who passed away in February.

Photos and Video by Michele McManmon


“God is Love” is one powerful statement visible from high atop the colorful palette called Salvation Mountain.

This three story tall spiritual monument, created by Leonard Knight, disrupts the rugged hilly terrain that lies just southeast of the Salton Sea.

Located in a squatter’s village called “Slab City”, inside the town of Niland, the area is still alive with tourists, artists, and souls looking for a higher purpose.

Knight’s recent death at 82 years old this past February signified a passing of his torch to those devotees that still remain. Signs asking visitors if they “got paint” are placed at the entrance. Campers, trucks, and a make shift empty “Welcome” center are strewn across the government-owned property.

Immortalized in the 2007 Sean Penn film, Into The Wild, Knight played himself in a small cameo piece. Documentaries have been made and a photo of Salvation Mountain graces the cover of the book. Self Made Worlds: Visionary Folk Art Environments.

Originally from New England, Knight’s truck was dismantled and put on display at a museum in Baltimore.

Spending more than three decades of his life creating Salvation Mountain, thousands of donated gallons of paint rest upon adobe and straw.

“Love Jesus and keep it simple” was Knight’s philosophy, which is apparent in the biblical verses that repeat everywhere on the site of his life’s visionary art installation piece. Knight may be gone, but his legacy lives on for all to continue to experience.

Directions to Salvation Mountain: Take Interstate 10 east to Route 86 south toward the Salton Sea. Turn left on Route 195, then right onto 111 South (Grapefruit Boulevard). Take Grapefruit Boulevard down to Niland and take a left onto Main Street leading straight to the destination. From Palm Springs, it’s about a 90-minute drive.

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.


VIDEO: Take a visual tour of Salvation Mountain.

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

Halloween 2014: Glam it Up With Help From Makeup Experts

The experts at All Tressed Up on El Paseo in Palm Desert can help you glam it up for Halloween with a professional VIP makeover experience.

Bobbie Eakes Preps to 'BE' Noticed With Clothing Line

Emmy-nominated actress Bobbie Eakes is preparing to light up Palm Springs’ Uptown Design District district with the launch of her retail fashion business, Studio BE.

Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade Rolls to 50th Annual

Fifty years of Palm Desert Golf Cart parades will be celebrated Oct. 26 when the annual event treks down El Paseo.

Weekend Getaways: Terranea Resort Lives Up to Buzz

Desert residents seeking an idyllic, oceanfront escape need look no further than Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Art in the Open

Infusing character and paying homage to the community’s dedication to creativity, sculptural gardens play a major role in the desert outdoor experience. Here, we highlight three unique spaces that shine under our resplendent sunny skies.

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
2014/15 Best of the Best

2014/15 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.