Salvation Mountain, Calipatria

Must see · Religious Site · Tourist Spot
Salvation Mountain is a hillside visionary environment created by local resident Leonard Knight (1931–2014) in the California Desert area of Imperial County, north of Calipatria, northeast of Niland near Slab City, and several miles from the Salton Sea.

The artwork is made of adobe bricks, discarded tires and windows, automobile parts and thousands of gallons of paint. It encompasses numerous murals and areas painted with Christian sayings and Bible verses, though its philosophy was built around the Sinner's Prayer.
The Folk Art Society of America declared it "a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection" in the year 2000. In an address to the United States Congress on May 15, 2002, California Senator Barbara Boxer described it as "a unique and visionary sculpture... a national treasure... profoundly strange and beautifully accessible, and worthy of the international acclaim it receives".
In December 2011, the 80-year-old Knight was placed in a long-term care facility in El Cajon for dementia. Leonard Knight died on February 10, 2014, in El Cajon.
Concern was raised in 2012 raised for the future of the site, which requires constant maintenance due to the harsh surrounding environment. Many visitors were bringing paint to donate to the project, and a group of volunteers was working to protect and maintain the site. In February 2011, a public charity, Salvation Mountain, Inc., was established to support the project. In 2013, the Annenberg Foundation donated $32,000 to Salvation Mountain Inc. for materials and equipment to "improve security and strengthen operations". A 2014 article stated that Salvation Mountain Inc. was operated by the nine volunteer members of its board. It still exists in 2020 and arranged to close the site for some months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Salvation Mountain reviews

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378 reviews
  • So I’ve heard about this place for a long time but never had the opportunity to visit because of its remote and isolated location near the desolate Salton Sea. But finally I went out here with a...  more »
  • Scheduled here to see if open. Was open with mask requirement. No walking allowed up to the top and tunnels on right side are closed off. Noticed some decay on the site but still wonderful to see...  more »
  • I visited Salvation Mountain several times between 2009 and 2011 before Leonard left the Mountain, and he personally guided me around at least twice. It's a weird place: a hillside covered with thousands of gallons of paint, literally poured on top of dirt and straw bails; a space that Leonard intended to be something of a dome, built out of straw and paint and sticks; an abstract walk-through sculpture, assembled from straw and paint and desert detritus scavenged (salvaged?) from the surrounding landscape; one man's testimony of his God's love. I'm not a religious person, but Leonard Knight was one of the most profoundly Christ-like, most godly men I ever met, and his Salvation Mountain is definitely worth visiting.
  • A beautiful sacred place built by one man. I don’t consider myself an artsy person but when i saw this, I’m out of words. An old man with his faith and believe to create something that he loves. This is one man action, it benefits so many of us. Definitely recommend it to go, please don’t ruin this place and don’t leave your trash.

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