Seven Magic Mountains

Just outside of Las Vegas, beyond the twinkling neon lights and unenthusiastic workers handing out strip club cards, lies the Seven Magic Mountains, a public art installation by Ugo Rondinone.

There is no public transport to the Seven Magic Mountains, so you’ll have to catch a ride there somehow. It is located only 10 miles/16km south (or about 20 minutes, for those of us who measure distance in time) of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, Nevada. The Seven Magic Mountains even has its own location on google maps, so you can just GPS your way there. If you’re coming from Las Vegas, hop on I-15 S and there will also be signs pointing you in the right direction.

There is a parking lot, so please park there instead of randomly driving onto the dirt. There are no restrooms or any amenities (what?? no spa???) at the Seven Magic Mountains, or anything other than rocks and dust. So be prepared for that and bring your own water.

Yah, I know, the quality is like really bad. IT WAS DUSTY, OKAY?? Anyways, this view is from the parking lot, just before the little trail to the site. You can see the Seven Magic Mountains in the distance. One of them is hidden behind, can you spot it?

As you approach the mountains, there are a few signs along the way. One, warning of venomous snakes (thx Nevada), so explore the grounds at your own risk.

Two,

“These stone sculptures are works of art intended for your visual enjoyment. For your safety and the safety of others, please do not attempt to climb on, move, dislodge, deface or disturb the sculptures.”

One more time for the people in the back.

“DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CLIMB ON, MOVE, DISLODGE, DEFACE, OR DISTURB THE SCULPTURES.”

Okay, moving on.

The “mountains” are massive. This art instillation actually took 5 years from concept to completion. Rondinone describes this piece as a mix of pop art (one of my favorite kinds of art) and land art (an emerging favorite of mine). While land art usually blends in to nature and its surroundings, pop art does the exact opposite.

Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between human nature, artificial and natural, then and now,” states Rondinone.

The boulders themselves are around 40-50 thousand pounds each. Before they were stacked, holes were drilled through the cores of the boulders, then hoisted on top of each other. A lot of heavy lifting went into putting these seven magic mountains together!

Rondinone describes the color scheme as the most artificial colors possible, to draw a stark contrast between the Nevada landscape. The mountains give resemblance to hoodoo mountains, which are all over the world, but also highly concentrated in southwest USA (think Bryce Canyon, Utah). They also give the same calm aura of balanced stones.

We arrived around 8pm, close to sunset. From the pictures I’ve seen, earlier in the day is probably more popular. Perhaps because the lighting would be better for Instagram with less shadows. Perhaps because people hate sunsets. The world will never know. Even so, there were still a handful of visitors wandering through.

In fact, there were a few group of teenagers just hanging around and chatting about teenager stuff. It was like the Seven Magic Mountains had become the new Taco Bell after school loitering spot. Then, of course, there were also photographers busting out some crazy poses to get the perfect angle in the light. There were also simple art admirers, who didn’t take a single photo. They just stared up at the mountains in silence with a faint smile across their lips.

UGH, then there were the annoying people trying to climb the art. Not to point anyone out, but they were jumping all over them, getting their scuffy shoes on the nice paint and run-jumping off of them for the perfect boomerang or whatever. It really grinded my gears. I couldn’t understand how a full grown human could act that way. A few little kiddos also tried to climb on them, but their mother’s usually threatened them and they got off very quickly. This was art, it was someone’s work. Get out of the way and go climb a tree. #disrespk

Anyways, enough of the ranting. I’m not usually an art snob by any means, but I couldn’t roll my eyes enough to express my vexation of the blatant disregard for rules and common sense. Moving on.

You don’t really get a full sense of the piece until you’re in it. It was exciting to see from far away, but standing between all of them at once took my breath away. It was a pretty awesome feeling.

I took a couple pictures, but we didn’t stay long. It was still in the upper 90s-100s (35-38 celcsius) so I was ready to go after I artistically pondered reality in the desert after a good twenty minutes. It may look like I’m glowing with youthful energy, but really it’s just sweat.

The Seven Magic Mountains is only a two year instillation. It was opened in May 2016, so I’m guessing it’ll be down around May 2018. I 100% recommend checking it out, and I’m not just saying that because Ugo Rondinone is one of my favorite contemporary artists. I think it’s important to expose yourself to art and culture every once in a while, and even more important to get out into nature. So why not do both at the same time?

I’ll leave you with a few parting things to think about:

  1. What do these seven magic mountains make you think of?
  2. Have you ever balanced stones anywhere in nature?
  3. Do you like land art? What about pop art?? What about pop land art???

Let me know in the comments! If you would like any more information (or better pictures), visit the official Seven Magic Mountains website.

-K.

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29 Comments

  1. September 8, 2017 / 9:24 am

    I think land art is pretty cool! I can’t wait to visit here- thanks for sharing✨ The snakes scared me a bit, but not enough not to go. Lol

    • Kay
      September 8, 2017 / 8:31 pm

      I think it’s awesome too! I went on a full land art exhibition across Coachella Valley last year that had like a dozen different artists! If it makes you feel better, I didn’t see any snakes, but I also stayed close to the path so.

  2. September 8, 2017 / 2:33 pm

    Loved the rant about morons jumping on the art. People are dumb. I full on tut tutted at a kid I caught trying to catch fish while we were snorkelling. Teachers never off duty!

    • Kay
      September 8, 2017 / 8:29 pm

      RIGHT?! Omg poor little fish! It was probably terrified hahah. At least the kid will know better for the future (hopefully??)

  3. September 8, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Gorgeous! I’ve been wanting to go and need to go ASAP before it’s over! I’m shocked sunset time wasn’t busy- I feel like that would be such a pretty time for pics!

    • Kay
      September 8, 2017 / 10:04 pm

      You still have a few months! I was pretty surprised too! Maybe people were pre-gaming for the club haha

  4. September 8, 2017 / 9:40 pm

    This place doesn’t even look real, so trippy! Wish I had’ve known about it when I went to Vegas last year. I balanced stones at Fish River Canyon, Namibia, for one of my favourite photos I’ve taken.

    • Kay
      September 8, 2017 / 10:03 pm

      I love seeing balanced stones on hikes! Especially near water, it’s so peaceful!

  5. September 8, 2017 / 10:06 pm

    This looks amazing; so different! I’d love to see it! I’d be annoyed at people climbing them too…no need!

    • Kay
      September 8, 2017 / 10:53 pm

      Yeah! I love that all of his work is kind of shocking !

  6. September 9, 2017 / 12:01 am

    What a beautiful art installation! Thank you for all the details. I would love to pay it a visit, so I hope I make it down to Nevada in time.

    • Kay
      September 10, 2017 / 7:01 am

      I hope you do as well! Thanks for reading! It really is something

  7. Karen
    September 9, 2017 / 4:49 am

    Ever since seeing a photo of these, I’d love to visit. I’m always amazed how many people ignore the rules at tourist attractions as well!

  8. September 9, 2017 / 4:59 am

    Pop land art… now I’ve really seen it all! I swear there is literally nothing you can’t find in the USA 😮 Love your pics and hey once Trump has finished his reign of terror, maybe I’ll visit the states and see it too!

  9. September 9, 2017 / 5:30 am

    So interesting. I love quirky things! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Andrea Mayfield
    September 9, 2017 / 5:48 am

    Your photos are so pretty! I have seen many photos of these magic rocks and I really want to see them! Great read!

  11. September 9, 2017 / 6:02 am

    I had so much fun in Las Vegas last time I went but I didn’t leave the strip. I need to get back out to the state and enjoy this!

  12. September 9, 2017 / 7:19 am

    I’ve seen these in Vegas earlier this year and it was definitely a memorable experinece. We were there around 4pm and it was busy but not overrun. I also don’t understand why people feel it’s ok to climb these. Maybe because it’s the desert and not an actual art gallery? Who knows. Glad you got to see it though!

  13. September 9, 2017 / 7:48 am

    I love this land art installation and hope to one day make it out to visit.

    I have had my fair share of rants on people taking selfies at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

    Respect the art. Respect the culture. And respect the people around you.

  14. September 9, 2017 / 2:33 pm

    I’ve seen photos of these, but never bothered to look and see what they are. This looks like a fun little getaway from Vegas and a spot for some cool photo opps. I’m with you on the rule breakers, ugh. So annoying. Today I saw some tourists inching towards a buffalo at a state park…people can be so dumb!

  15. September 9, 2017 / 8:21 pm

    I loved this place! Great photos! Love all the colorful rocks!

  16. September 9, 2017 / 10:30 pm

    Wow this looks so cool!What a great background for photos!!

  17. September 10, 2017 / 1:25 am

    WOW! That looks absolutely incredible – the colours of those rocks is insane!!

  18. September 10, 2017 / 8:25 am

    This looks amazing! The first time I’ve heard of this place and I will definitely be visiting!

    • Kay
      September 12, 2017 / 10:29 am

      Thanks for the read! I appreciate it! And yes, you definitely have to see it in person!

  19. September 10, 2017 / 11:33 am

    Been wanting to go! Always thought it was close to six flags in SoCal due to the “magic mountain” in the name, haha! Just came back to LA from Vegas couple weeks ago, totally missed my opportunity! Will try to visit before May 2018! and nice photos!

    • Kay
      September 12, 2017 / 10:30 am

      AHH! Thank you so much for the read! And I know! When I first heard of it, I was like “They added another mountain at six flags??” Hahah, luckily LA isn’t too far!

  20. September 12, 2017 / 8:44 pm

    Love this post! I visited about a month ago when I was in Vegas and loved it! Luckily when I was there nobody was jumping on the art, but I could tell people did at one point by the scuff marks on some of the boulders. It looks like you had a great opportunity for photos when you were there as well.. I went earlier in the day and it was super crowded.

    • Kay
      September 12, 2017 / 10:59 pm

      Woohoo thanks! And yeah, I figured it would be busier in earlier in the day! I’m glad you were still able to enjoy it though!

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