If the apocalypse happened, I honestly have no clue what the world would look like. Yet even without knowing or even giving that scenario any serious thought, being at Salvation Mountain immediately made me feel like the area could be a post-apocalyptic space: if people managed to survive such a disaster and ended up building a place to live, that manmade mountain in Niland would be it.
Over the weekend I drove three hours east of Los Angeles to check out Salvation Mountain, which I read in a post on Wander Onwards a few weeks ago. Up until that point, I had no idea the place even existed.
The work of art was created by Leonard Knight, who had an “unbridled enthusiasm” for the Lord, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The mountain was a result of his failed attempts to spread the Sinner’s prayer via hot air balloon.
It was late morning when I arrived there this past weekend and there were a few people here and there. I probably spent a good 30+ minutes snapping photos and walking around. I also walked on a puddle of wet paint at the top and stained my flats :/
The mountain attracts a wide spectrum of visitors, both local and international. I overheard some of the crew there say that they would prefer it if people walked on the mountain using designated paths. However, due to language barriers, it’s not always easy to convey the message. As a result, workers have to paint and perform maintenance work more frequently.
Salvation Mountain is as intriguing as it is creepy, but it’s definitely worth the drive for those both looking for a different kind of day trip and for people who just like going out for a drive to uncover new things.
Along the way on Highway 111 is easy access to the Salton Sea, California’s largest inland lake, and it’s worth swinging by if you’re looking to maximize a day trip inland to the mountain. (P.S. On the way back from Salvation Mountain, you’ll go through border patrol, where they may request ID proving residency.)
While it can smell like there are 10 million dead fish in one area, it’s a fascinating body of water with an interesting history. It was created in its current form in 1905 and was largely sustained by runoff from farms in Imperial Valley. But that runoff has been declining for years and is expected to drop sharply in 2017. With less runoff and sparse rain in California, the decreasing water levels in the Salton Sea has a negative impact on migratory birds that stop by the place. Additionally, with more of the lake bed exposed, there’s a higher chance of increased air pollution that can affect the health of residents in nearby areas, as wind can stir up the dust. If you’re interested in reading more about this, check out this article on The Desert Sun and/or this webpage on the Salton Sea Museum & Visitor Center, which was closed down in 2014.