by Gabrielle Antonette
Salvation Mountain, in Southern California's Colorado Desert, is a bit like a heaven on earth. It's bright and vibrant, and its painted text speaks of life in love in some beautiful ways. We don't know whether it's absurd or perfect that Salvation Mountain is exactly where it is, because its surrounding environment is about as close as we've come to experiencing hell. It was 111 degrees the day we visited, and it has been known to hit 122. Too much. Being about a three-hour drive from Los Angeles, we wouldn't recommend making a trip just to see Salvation Mountain. It's actually smaller than we expected, and can be processed in under an hour. It is most conveniently appended to a trip to Palm Springs. The drive from there is about an hour and a half.
The gist: Salvation Mountain is a hill covered in thousands of gallons of paint. It was created as a "tribute to God" by folk artist Leonard Knight, who passed away earlier this year. It has since been maintained by enthusiastic volunteers who will give you much more history when you get there, in addition to graciously offering to take photos for you. In the same tiny town, Niland, CA, is a place called East Jesus, which is an outdoor collection of folk artworks made of trash. This does not necessarily appeal to our tastes, and can even be perceived as creepy, but is worth driving the extra mile or so. Some people fall in love with it.
Both places are free to visit. They don't really have addresses, but are easy to find nonetheless. See the Salvation Mountain site for directions and then continue down Beal Road for East Jesus. Bring lots of water!
All B&W photos are by our dear friend, designer, Mary Smudde.