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Salvation Mountain & Slab City

Salvation Mountain & Slab City
An artistic testimony to one man’s faith

Leonard Knight spent roughly three decades building this colourful mound in the Sonoran Desert as a way to share his devotion to peace, love, and a higher power. The result is Salvation Mountain: a five story high, 150 foot wide art project crowned by the words “God Is Love,” which is an exuberantly painted folk art jumble of hearts, birds, flowers, and trees. It towers over the surrounding playa and the shimmering Salton Sea, which lies roughly seven miles to the west.

Knight used hay bales, adobe clay, donated paint, plus an assortment old tires, car windows, and other found objects to construct his mountain-shaped shrine. It’s a quick three minute walk on a hand-painted yellow brick road to reach Salvation’s 50 foot summit, but why rush? Take time to explore Knight’s ingenious labyrinth of crannies and caves, complete with Technicolor biblical messages decorating the walls.

Knight’s homage to God sits at the entrance to Slab City, a 640-acre plot of concrete slabs left over from a World War II Marine base. For decades, year round squatters and seasonal snowbirds have lived here rent free on state-owned land, calling it “the last free place to live in America.” There’s no power grid, no sewer, no garbage pickup, and no building codes. Knight thought Slab City was an ideal spot to construct his mountain, so he moved onto the site and spent his days building, painting, and welcoming curious visitors. In 2007, he was featured in the film Into the Wild, based on the Jon Krakauer book of the same name, which brought even more pilgrims to Salvation Mountain.

Knight died in 2014 at age 82, but his mountain remains open daily from dawn until dusk. Volunteers live at the site and maintain the structure, which is crumbling from the desert heat and sun. Admission is free, but donated cans of paint are gratefully accepted. 

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Kodiak Greenwood

Southern California

Discover the Deserts

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24
October
Average (°C)
Sept - Nov
37°
High
16°
Low
Dec - Feb
20°
High
6°
Low
Mar - May
33°
High
11°
Low
June - Aug
41°
High
21°
Low

The strike of a golf club, the hum of the wind buffeting towering sand dunes, the splash of a dive into a perfect pool. The desert region is a sensory feast. 

Following winter rains, springtime wildflowers paint the desert with colour.

Death Valley National Park holds the record for the hottest temperature ever recorded (54°C in 1913), while the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park have giant boulders and alien-like yucca plants. At Anza Borrego, California’s largest state park, discover amazing spring wild flowers. The oasis like Palm Springs region (two hours’ east of Los Angeles and three hours north east of San Diego) has golf resorts, mid-century modern architecture and every spring, the epic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

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At 282 ft. below sea level, Badwater in Death Valley National Park is the lowest point in the contiguous United States.
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Lucas Himovitz

Luxury Resorts in the Desert

Relax at spoil-yourself spas under the desert sun

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This is the sense of the desert hills, that there is room enough and time enough.
Mary Austin
A boutique in the California Deserts region
Laura Flippen

Desert Shopping

From boutiques to bargains, vintage to boho-chic, you’ll find it here

In-the-know visitors make sure to come to the Palm Springs area with room in their suitcases. Bargain hunters make a beeline for the town of...

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Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you are in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you will find it here. Want to sample fresh fruits and...

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Prayitno/Flickr
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Kodiak Greenwood

Golf & tennis

Swing clubs and racquets where the pros do in the Coachella Valley

With world-class golf courses set against dramatic desert landscapes and top-quality tennis courts beneath towering palms, two sports get classy...

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Courtesy of Elvis Presley Estate

Mid-Century Modern Design

Swing into Sinatra cool in Palm Springs

Filled with distinctive post-World War II buildings designed by leading architects of the time, Palm Springs is America’s Mid-century Modern mecca...

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The lowest golf course in the world is Furnace Creek in Death Valley, at 214 feet below sea level.
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From edgy rock n’ roll to haute fashions, find your fest in the desert

For all of the desert’s natural splendor and outdoor destinations, creativity comes with the territory, too. Throughout the year, the region finds ways to celebrate art, design, music, and film...

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The Lumineers at Coachella by Lucas Himovitz
LGBTQ Party in Palm Springs
David A Lee

LGBTQ Travel in the Deserts

Experience a scene that really heats up when the weather starts to cool down

Fabulous pool parties. Stylish bars and impeccably designed hotels. Pampering spas and energetic nightclubs. Lavish events. There’s no question...

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Vast landscapes, spectacular desert vistas

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Joshua Tree National Park by Alex Farnum
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Courtesy of Bureau of Land Management

Amboy Crater

Hike into a 6,000-year-old volcanic remnant

Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973 and located just off historic Route 66, Amboy Crater is an example of geology creating geometry- it...

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Photo by The Greater Southwestern Exploration Company/Flickr

Fossil Falls

Rushing river, sculpted black lava

The truth is that the name Fossil Falls is a bit of a misnomer. After all, there are neither fossils nor a waterfall here. But a walk through...

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Find beauty, wildlife, and solitude in three of America’s newest national preserves

You could call it a monumental achievement: In February 2016, three new national monuments were created, protecting a combined total of 1.8 million acres of California desert. The names of the...

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Ann Marie Brown