I first learned of Salvation Mountain while watching the biographical adventure film Into the Wild, which is based on the book by Jon Krakauer. The story explores the life and untimely death of Christopher McCandless. As I watched the film I became captivated by this mysterious place and its eccentric creator, named Leonard Knight (who plays himself in the movie). I made a mental note that I would be sure to visit Salvation Mountain the next time I found myself in the region. Fourteen years later, a global pandemic would force me to travel across county by car and provide that opportunity.
Located southeast of the Salton Sea and next to the Slab City squatter/art community, Salvation Mountain is a brilliant manifestation of creativity and spirituality. During our recent visit in January 2021, there were only a few other people on site to view Knight’s creation. Also, due to the pandemic, visitors were limited to the perimeter of the installation; all interior areas were closed for safety reasons.
I won’t try to describe Salvation Mountain. Instead, you can learn more by hearing from Leonard, in his own words, by watching these brief interviews with the Oakland Museum of California and Vice.