It seems like Instagram opportunities are everywhere you look. I mean, a beautiful breakfast or a fun tile floor can qualify especially since IG is an app that lets you post whatever you feel like. It also seems like there are opportunities created just for the ‘gram like The Museum of Ice Cream or Color Factory.
And then there are candy colored boulders stacked in the middle of the desert which must be visited to be understood.
What is it?
Seven Magic Mountains is a site-specific large-scale art installation alongside Interstate 15 south of Las Vegas. Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone opened it to the public in May 2016 and it will be up for two years (we are closing in on the latter part of the installation).
How to get to Seven Magic Mountains
I knew that the installation was on the way to Las Vegas but I didn’t know how easily accessible it is. For comparison, I drove 22 miles out of the way to see ancient native glyphs and I have visited Salvation Mountain which is really out in the middle of nowhere.
To reach Seven Magic Mountains one simply has to keep an eye out and take exit 12 or 25 on the I-15 in Nevada and then take the side road. There are signs alerting you to the exits. We passed it (accidentally!) but it was a very quick backtrack on the access road. You can definitely see the installation from the freeway, but if you’re cruising at 75 or 80 miles per hour, blink and you will miss it.
There is something about the way the bright colors stand out against the muted desert landscape of brush growth and the purple mountains as a backdrop that makes these “magic mountains” all the more impressive and inspiring. Similar to Levitated Mass in Los Angeles, photos aren’t really able to convey the enormity until you see a person next to one of the pillars.
Arriving during sunrise or golden hour would produce some wonderful shots, I’m sure. The sun can be intense out there so make sure to use a filter on your camera (I only have a basic one* currently but would like to learn more about different filters). Thinking about how I could improve my photos has also resulted in these two hoods* sitting in my Amazon cart right now.
Playing with framing and angles is the best way to avoid unintentional bystanders in your photos. It is a popular place for selfies!
It’s pretty hot out there in the desert. I was photographing for maybe 10 to 15 minutes in May, and I got pretty parched. Definitely bring a water bottle with you if you plan on being out much longer. Oh, and there are no bathroom facilities so don’t expect anything like that.
I’m so happy we pulled off the freeway and backtracked to see these pillars. I’m even more grateful now that I know that they are part of a two-year installation and won’t be around forever. Have you visited Seven Magic Mountains or any other roadside art? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments.
If you’re headed to Las Vegas make sure to check out Viator for the best deals on shows and tours*.
All photos by Staci Jackson for The Voyageer.
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