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The U.S.A.'s Weirdest Roadside Attractions

by Colleen Clark

Salvation Mountain, Niland, California

En route from: Los Angeles to Phoenix

Roadside attraction: The salt pans and crested dunes of California's Mojave Desert are otherworldly enough. But things get weirder as you travel south on Route 111 past the saline expanse of the Salton Sea to Salvation Mountain, a 50-foot-tall, man-made mound. When Leonard Knight's DIY hot air balloon project failed to get off the ground in the 1980s, he opted for a more down-to-earth method of getting closer to God. Since then he has piled concrete upon straw upon adobe and covered it all in more than 100,000 gallons of rainbow-hued paints spelling out religious slogans.

Should you stop? You might want to think twice about leaving your air-conditioned car during the worst of the midday desert heat. Otherwise, careening around this Technicolor playground is fun for all ages. Knight, who lives in a cabin mounted on the back of a 1930s Chevrolet, gives tours of the property, which the Folk Art Society of America declared a national treasure in 2002.

Motor lodge: Hightail it away from the decaying motels around the Salton Sea and drive an hour and 40 minutes north to the Ace Hotel Palm Springs, a converted 1965 HoJo that now attracts L.A.'s arty set.

Salvation Mountain
Beal Road
Niland, California

Ace Hotel Palm Springs
701 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, California
Tel: 760 325 9900

Next: Going to Texas? Don't forget the spray paint >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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