Salvation Mountain and the Salton Sea

Two words: Holy Hell.

Located in what I would appropriately call the middle of nowhere, Salvation Mountain exists in the arid desertscape of Slab City. About 10 miles east of the toxic Salton Sea, the paint covered hill is a must see for anyone visiting or living in California.

Getting to Salvation Mountain from San Diego is no simple trip, however. A three hour drive is required to reach Slab City, and in summer, temperatures are at a constant 110 degrees.

Air Conditioning is required to survive the ride.

Despite the heat and the seemingly neverending drive past miles and miles of nothing but rocks and sand, the reward at the end of the road is well worth it: A beautiful piece of art created by years and years of hard work from Leonard Knight; the mountain’s artist and creator.

photo by Kyriana Tarr

Salvation Mountain is more than the colorful paint that covers it though. Inside are several little hollowed areas and caves, which allow visitors to enter and leave pictures, books, poems, and signatures within the walls of the construct.


We wrote our names on the walls of this amazing place, wanting to leave some sort of mark.

It was truly inspiring to walk through the inside of a place that had been visited and photographed by so many people who had driven to this little corner of the Earth for one reason: to see what all the hype was about. And I’m sure that my friends and I weren’t the only ones whose hopes hadn’t been disappointed.

photo by Connor Toro

I had dreamed of seeing this place for as long as I had begun exploring San Diego. I feel truly lucky that I had the chance to.

However, after being dehydrated in the blistering desert sun for about half an hour, we decided it was time to leave. But after a three hour drive, we weren’t quite ready to return home.

So after a quick stop at a local liquor store for some much needed water and a chat with some very interesting locals, we went to the Salton Sea.

And it was here that I decided I knew what hell was.

The air has a strong scent of sulfuric fish on the once utopia-like man made sea; the beaches littered with dead fish and trash. As Luke screams at the top of his lungs that he “needs to go swimming,” he jumps out of the car with a towel and flattens it on the shore of Bombay Beach, a mostly abandoned area of the Salton Sea. We very quickly realize that this is not Moonlight beach, and definitely not fit for swimming.

dead fish, toxic water, and mangoes: paradise
some ruins on the shore of bombay beach ft. juli and kyri

Overall, my trip to Salvation Mountain and the Salton Sea was, well, something. I found inspiration at Salvation. I found death at Salton. Life may be far from ideal, but there are little wins here and there. I’d say this was one of them.

To check out more pictures from Salvation and Salton, check out the gallery below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2 thoughts on “Salvation Mountain and the Salton Sea

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s