Tanja Barnes


Salvation Mountain: Leonard Knight’s Interactive Vision in the Desert

View on Google Maps Street View


Leonard Knight, 79, has been building “Salvation Mountain” an on-going art installation near Slab City in the Salton Sea, California, for the past 27 years. Its sole purpose is to convey the simple message “God is love.”

Because of Knight’s dedication, it seemed fitting to see Salvation Mountain on Easter.  So last Sunday along with my sister we set out for a visit, and while we were there, we had an opportunity to meet the artist.  Knight is a sweet, kind soul as evidenced in the video clip below. He has only recently returned to the mountain after being hospitalized for heart complications about six weeks ago. Despite his weakened condition, the artist remains cheerful and vibrant sharing his message and giving gifts of postcards, stickers and a DVD featuring a documentary about his work to all who come to visit.

The mountain was fabricated from an adobe mixture that Knight mixes himself using dirt from the desert floor and straw.  The structure is then lovingly lavished with color using thousands of gallons of paint.

(Above) Artist Leonard Knight was featured in the in the 2009 film Into The Wild directed by Sean Penn who happened to be visiting the same day I was accompanied by his gal pal Scarlett Johansson.

Whether it’s Easter Sunday or not, anytime is a great time to visit Salvation Mountain but more so now while Knight is still alive and kickin’.  According to his friend Kevin Eubanks, due to his health Knight will no longer be sleeping in his truck near the mountain at night but instead staying at a house nearby in Niland with visits to the site during the day.  You can keep up with the latest developments at Salvation Mountain’s Facebook page.