Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

Leonard Knight tried to sew his own hot air balloon for 14 years to spread the message of God’s love but it just wouldn’t fly. So he started building a mountain instead. His Salvation Mountain is a mass of adobe, hay bales and wood structures encrusted with paint in the desert near Niland, California. It is located in or on the outskirts of an abandoned military compound that has become a haven for RV squatters and dubbed Slab City. There is a palpable sense of anarchy about the whole area.

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

Jungle Ben, Jenny and I visited Leonard a year or two ago, as dozens of tourists do every day.

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

Leonard talked to us about the wonders of the internet and how the word has spread about him and his mission exponentially since its mass acceptance.

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

Apparently some of his neighbors in Slab City think he is a fraud and scam artist. Yeah, Leonard sure is putting one over on us living in luxury in a 6’x4′ flatbed truck. He sure is scamming the hell out of everybody by accepting donations from his visitors that help him eat, buy paint, and buy food for all the cats and dogs. SIKE. Whattadouche.

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

Anyways, the mountain itself is a modest ridge cut out of the desert that is covered in paint. Leonard sculpted steps straight up the front side of the main face and it was fun to climb all over his work and take in the different surreal views that he has created. From the top of the mountain looking down, there was a view of his unfinished dome/ hogan and other newer structures that are being built.

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

After he showed us around another group of tourists came, saw, and left, and then we spent the early evening with him as he fed the cats and dogs. He told us that we are always welcome to come and stay out there and that sometimes people come and camp and volunteer their help in the construction work which he greatly appreciates.

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

Finally the animals were fed and Leonard offered to take us to the hot-spring where he bathes down the road…

Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain

But when we got near he saw that there were already some people in it so we said our goodbyes and thanked him for the tour. I told him I’d “spread the word” and he said “That really turns me on to hear you say that, spread the word”. Awesome.

This area is a cool and creepy road trip guaranteed, because the infamous Salton Sea and its ruins are not far away. Get on out there and say “hi” to Leonard, he’ll be happy to see you.

15 thoughts on “Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain”

  1. Wow! I remember my father drivng me by this mountain about 18 years ago and it was amazing even then. Now its my turn to take my children to see this, it is wonderful!

  2. Helemaal te gek, voor zoiets dergelijks is in Nederland (Holland)jammer genoeg geen plaats. In Heerenveen hebben we geen woestijn!!

  3. Visited Salvation Mountain on Nov 29th 2009. Boy.. was that a sight to see! We even got to meet Leonard and take pics! What a great soul he has! He wants nothing but to share his love for GOD! What a life and sacrifice he’s making! For those that are thinking he’s a “scam”, doesn’t surprise me. There’s always going to be someone with something bad to say when someone is just trying to do some good in the world. Perhaps you should pray about it, and ask yourself what it is you’re doing to spread God’s word! Would you be willing to live in a vehicle and sacrifice all Leonard has?

  4. I am going to visit Salvation Mtn. for the first time this upcoming Sunday. I’m excited to see it. I’ve only seen it in a movie “Into the Wild” and in a Third Day music video. The funny thing is that I’ve lived in coachella valley which is a couple of miles away from the mtn. for 23 years and have not visited it. It’s a site to see.

  5. hey i remember riding my bike down this mountain before the old guy put toxic waist all over it!!!!! JUST SAYING

  6. its not boredom or what have you… its called a mission. I admire this guy and his story is amazing. 🙂 anyway to send donations via net? i’m all the way in the Philippines.

  7. Hi John, thanks for your advice, but I am spreading the word about his sculpted mountain. Both you and Leonard misinterpreted my meaning of “spreading the word,” but either way it’s not a big deal, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

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