If you find yourself driving into Las Vegas from Interstate 15, you might have seen signs for Seven Magic Mountains. The name doesn’t make the landmark easily identifiable; at first blush it sounds more like an amusement park attraction than any tourist destination. However, the totemic rock installation, described as “symbolically midway between the natural and the artificial” welcomes travelers with pops of color among a brown and barren landscape.
When I first heard about Seven Magic Mountains, I wasn’t aware of exactly what it was or its significance. Mentions of the exhibit kept popping up throughout my social media feeds, and even made an appearance once or twice in my Google News Feed. There were stories of the project getting vandalized and praise for its creative ingenuity. I decided to visit the installation on my way to Joshua Tree National park a couple months ago.
When I got out of my car and made my way to the imposing artwork, I realized that there was literally nothing around it. Unlike similar land art installations of the past, Seven Magic Mountains was designed to stand out amongst its landscape. And once you pass the town of Jean, there’s little in the way of human population until State Line. There wasn’t a large crowd when I went, which made finding a parking spot and getting close to the display much easier.
Getting to the exhibit is fairly easy, but the turnoff can be easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. You’ll have to park in the dirt since there’s no paved parking lot or parking structure. I recommend going either in the morning or the early afternoon, especially if you’ll be visiting in the summer. The only nearby shade are the rock totems themselves, so I’d also recommend taking sunglasses and plenty of water. Security patrols the display on a regular basis, but there is no easy access to food or water in the immediate area. Since the display is in the middle of a dry lake bed, I would also advise keeping an eye out for your average “desert life”, including snakes and scorpions.
The exhibit opened in the spring of 2016, and will be on view until 2018.