Passion On Display Salvation Mountain

If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out. Luke 19:40

Do you love art and creativity? Rhetorical question, I know… there is one place that art lovers are sure to find creativity on display, Slab City, California. It is an interesting place all on it’s own. You may recognize the name from the movie “Into the Wild”, but today I’m here to tell you about the “saving grace” of Slab City, aka Salvation Mountain. 

As it seems with all of our trips, we (un-expectantly) enjoyed the three-hour drive from San Diego through the scenic landscape. We drove through miles of desert canyons, palm tree farms and the haunted Salton Sea (keep an eye out for a future blog about the Saltan Sea). 

Put simply, Salvation Mountain is a massive folk art sculpture located just a few miles from the edge of the Salton Sea. The genesis of the Mountain belongs to one eccentric man, Leonard Knight (1931-2014). 

Leonard first arrived in the area in 1986, and originally wanted to launch a hot air balloon to send the, “message of God’s love to the world.” This plan didn’t quite get off the ground. Instead, he built a mountain out of hay, thrown-away fridges, cupboards, dressers and trash to get his message to the masses. He painted the mountain with bright colors and prayers of the “Word of God”. 

Leonard’s project came crashing down, quite literally. The first mountain collapsed and fell into a heap of rubble, but as with all people with a dream, Leonard never gave up and decided to build the second mountain out of adobe, straw and thousands of gallons of lead-free latex paint.

Leonard was known to be a friendly and spiritual soul. He lived a unique life – bathed in a natural spring and slept in the bed of an old, broken down fire engine. Since his passing, his life’s work is carried on through members of the Slab City community who continue to maintain the site. Even today visitors bring donations of paint to and contribute their time to maintaining Leonard’s vision.

My favorite part of the “visionary universe” is one of the caves on the side of the Mountain. This Grotto like feature on the mountain is a short series of chambers filled with written Bible verses, colorful images and messages to God. Some chambers resembled a colorful forest coated in bright colors of paint. 

I explored the site in a casual gray Dirty Rotten T-shirt (an awesome Aussie clothing brand), Levi’s shorts and Steve Madden booties. This entire casual outfit was the perfect canvas for my visit to a unique and interesting place. 

Whether or not you believe in the message that permeated Leonard Knight’s art, there’s no denying he possessed a unique spirit. He lived out his passion and made the love in his heart tangible for people in his community. What a beautiful idea to aspire to!

I highly recommend visiting Salvation Mountain at least once in your lifetime. Put this place on your bucket list immediately!

 With love + blessings,


My Outfit Details: 

Dirty Rotten T-shirt, Levi's shorts and Steve Madden booties

Photographer: JAG and Elise Anne 

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