Either you’ve heard of it, seen it, or have no idea what it is, but… it’s located about 45 minutes from Coachella valley near a small town called Niland, also near slab city!
The ride there was gorgeous along the Salton Sea which almost seemed out of place. Small mountains on the opposite side, farms all around and miles of seashore. Almost thought we made a wrong turn and stumbled upon the Pacific coast. But man it was sunny, quite a sweaty workout on a bike and after we hit Niland, refueled, it was about a mile or two across the railroad tracks to the mountain of salvation.
Like a lot of people I’m sure I first saw it in the Into the Wild movie and thought it would be really fun to visit. A guy named Leonard Knight spent years basically decorating a little hill with adobe mud and brick, and decorated it with paint. It’s an awesome piece of folk art all representing his love for all people and God. It’s got a lot of scripture and isn’t just for Christians, it’s really amazing to visit and see how much work he put into it. He’s currently in a retirement home so a foundation is taking care of it for him.
We got there around 3ish and spent an hour walking around the multi-colored hill which is full of dozens of little nooks and crannies, small rooms, phrases, photos and so on. It’s quite surprising that one man did this all by himself in the middle of the desert. We also sat in one of the small rooms for maybe half an hour to relax, read, and gaze around at this little technicolor gem. It’s a little rough around the edges, but you could feel the love emanating from this folk art, the dedication. There’s the main “mountain” to climb of course, they ask you follow the yellow brick road painted on the ground. That’s about the left half of the site, and the right half is the side with a bunch of rooms and nooks and crannies you can explore. Everything is covered with a variety of paints, designs, ideas, phrases, shapes and so on, mostly made of adobe mud, and some sticks. One of my other favorite parts were the 5 to 10 junk cars decorated in the same fashion.
On the way out a we chatted with a local guy who told us a bit about the area, empty slabs used as swimming holes that we should check out. He even invited us to their weekly open mic night in slab city just like the one seen in the Into the Wild Movie. But we wanted to get back before sundown and send out some couchsurfs. So we drove around slab city a bit, but not too far since it turned into a dirt and gravel road, and headed out.