Slab City’s the Range from a different perspective. The center of nightlife in a remote “squattersville” that is often referred to by locals as “the last free place in America,” the Range is a free outdoor venue that provides residents and visitors (Slab City was prominently featured in Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild) with regular concerts, plays and poetry readings. To read more about this colorful and bizarre community of societal dropouts, click here.
Just down the road from Salvation Mountain is Slab City, an off-grid RV settlement comprised of an eclectic and highly-eccentric mix of snowbirds, hippies, veterans, drug addicts, retirees, and anarchists. Situated on the site of an abandoned WWII Marine barracks, this lawless and fee-free community (no fees equal no water, electricity or sanitation services) is home to about 2500 people during the winter months while only about 200 much-hardier souls stick around for the summer when desert temps can reach 120 degrees. Both Salvation Mountain and Slab City (including its open-air nightclub The Range, pictured here) were featured prominently in Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild.
Among my many stops while out and about near the Salton Sea last week was a quick visit to Salvation Mountain. The creation of the late Leonard Knight, an artist who lived and worked in the desert for nearly 30 years on what is now widely regarded as a folk-art masterpiece, Salvation Mountain is a spectacular three-story mound of adobe adorned with colorful pastoral designs and biblical quotations.
The heart motif in this photo wasn’t there the last time I visited and, while it’s evocative of Leonard’s work, it appears to have been added recently. Either way, it’s good to know that there are people, whether they be visitors or the full-time caretakers who now live at Salvation Mountain, who value Leonard’s work enough to preserve and even embellish it.
The abandoned Salton Sea tire store featured in my last few posts from a different perspective. The bush pictured here wasn’t in evidence the last time I visited this near-ghost town, one of many indications I saw this time around of nature moving in and beginning to reclaim what was once a thriving tourist destination.