Salvation Mountain: A Heap of Love in a Zombie Wasteland – Episode #5

Salvation Mountain: A Heap of Love in a Zombie Wasteland – Episode #5

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Found at the entrance of a squatter’s community on an old military base now called Slab City. In the middle of the California desert.

Next to the zombie wasteland-like shores the Salton Sea, a shallow body of salty water that has been responsible for rotten egg odors that have been experienced over 150 miles away.

Stands a 3 story tall monument constructed over the span of 30 years by one man.

Made up of over 100,000 gallons of paint, tons of adobe and hay to share one message.

God. Is. Love.

Inspired to see for ourselves, Leonard Knight’s three decades of tireless work building a lumpy mountainous tribute to God’s Love; we headed out from Orange County on a day long trek toward the eastern shores of the Salton Sea, by way of the more scenic drives through Anza-Borrego’s deserts.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, Salvation Mountain is a beautiful testament to one man’s simple but passionate life’s work.

Typically, this is a leisurely 3 hour drive from Los Angeles or 1 hour from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. But with grandiose tendencies that veer toward the most scenic routes, we’ll almost always cram in the extra miles if it means a stunning desert wildflower display or a can’t-miss roadside attraction.

Honorable Mentions

  • 2000: The Folk Art Society of America declared it a “folk art site worthy of preservation and protection”
  • 2002: Declared by the United States Congress to be a national treasure
  • 2007: Featured in the film, Into the Wild, including a touching cameo with Leonard as himself starting at 0:45 in the below clip

How To Get There

From Los Angeles or Phoenix


1. Interstate 10 to the 86 south (just east of Indio)
2. Travel south (11 miles) to 66th Avenue (Hwy 195) (big gas station and truck stop on the left – if you miss this turn, you’ll end up on the wrong side of the Salton Sea)
3. Turn left (east) and go about a ½ mile to Highway 111
4. Turn right (south) and go about 42 miles to Niland, California
5. Turn left (east) on Main Street (turns into Beal Road) and travel for a little over 3 miles
6. Look to the East – You can’t miss it

Or take the longer, more scenic way through Anza-Borego Desert State Park

1. 5 fwy south – Hwy 76 east – Hwy 79 north – S2 – S22 – follow signs to Visitor Center
2. Take Scenic Drive S22 East through the park to the Salton Sea
3. Turn Right or South East on Hwy 86- Hwy 111 North to Niland
4. Turn East on Main St (becomes Beal Road)
5. 3 miles to Salvation Mountain

From San Diego or Yuma


1. Take Interstate 8 to Highway 111 north – Niland is about 32 miles
2. Turn east on Main Street (turns into Beal Road) and go a little over 3 miles to Salvation Mountain

Other Things To Do In the Area

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The best time to visit is when the wildflowers are blooming in the spring – but the conditions can really vary from year to year. Be sure you get the most out of your trip and use one of the following options for getting information about the bloom.

1. Send a stamped self-addressed postcard in an envelope the following address, and they’ll send it back to you when they’re bloomin’! Nice, right?!

Wildflowers – A.B.D.S.P.
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 92004

2. Sign up for the Anza-Borrego Foundations’ email updates

3. Call the Wildflower Hotline:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Borego, CA
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Indio, CA
Salvation Mountain
Niland, CA

Additional Tips

It can get hot in the desert. Be sure throw some water in the cooler and check the weather before heading out.

Niland, CA
scattered clouds
humidity: 59%
wind: 6mph N
H 64 • L 63
Weather from OpenWeatherMap

Additional Resources

Your Turn!

Been here too? If so, we’d love to hear your stories and experiences! Share your photos with us and we may just mention ya’ in a future post or show! Got questions? We’re happy to help! Feeling inspired? A 5 star review on iTunes or Stitcher helps to inspire us back!

About the author

I.T. Overlord by day. 3 wheeled moto geek by night. Giving cancer the middle finger and spreading sunshine along the way.

View all articles by Lena

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