On a Summer day with no plans and a full tank of gas, we decided to drive east towards the Salton Sea. A college friend, Lily, was in town visiting for a couple of days and she had hoped to do something out of the ordinary and that could only be found in the area.

“Something hippy” she said. “Something I couldn’t experience anywhere but here.”

“Got it” I replied knowing exactly where to take her. I could think of nothing better than a trip to the colorful man-made mountain in the desert.

I first heard about Salvation Mountain through my World Religions class in college. My teacher at the time commented briefly on the life of Leonard Knight who made it his life purpose to spread the message of God is Love. He was a humble man, with a simple yet powerful non-denominational message he believed all should know: God is Love.

When the church found his message to be overly simplistic, he took it upon himself to spread it to the masses, first via a hot air balloon (failed) and later in a last attempt via a small monument of dirt, cement and paint near the entrance of Slab City. It was there that he would dedicate his life.

Over the next 28 years, the Mountain would become his message, his meditation practice, and his legacy.

Salvation Mountain is certainly a sight to see, albeit I would not visit again in the summer. I will admit that while I went with Lily expecting a connection to Knight’s message of Love, the degree of heat in the desert made it harder to stay any longer than we absolutely had to.

Location: 603 Beal Rd, Niland, CA 92257

Tips:

  • The trip is a little over two hours leaving from San Diego, and about 45 minutes from El Centro and Calexico.
  • Know that while it is close to these areas, there are relatively few places to stop and a grab or drink nearby.
  • Plan ahead in the summer, the Imperial Valley can get really hot. I found it was difficult for us to stay out there very long and actually had to take off my necklace as the metal began to burn after a while.
  • The mountain is free to access but they do accept donations online and on site in their donation box.
  • Pets are accepted on leash, but I would not leave them at home if you plan to visit on a warm day.
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