The drive to Las Vegas is a tedious six hour excursion. I look for adventures to break up the monotony of the trip. Hiking to the Seven Magic Mountains is one such adventure. Well ok, it’s not really a hike, it’s more like a brief walk through the desert. You will travel 0.25 miles round trip…total! But it’s different, it’s fun and it gets your butt out of the car. It’s also important for you to know that this is not a permanent display. It is to be closed, knocked down, blown up (I actually don’t know what they are going to do with it) in May 2018. If you are going to see it, you need to make the trip soon.
Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone’s colorful large-scale, public artwork Seven Magic Mountains is a two-year exhibition located in the desert outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring seven thirty to thirty-five-foot high day-glow totems comprised of painted, locally-sourced boulders.
Visible across the desert landscape along Interstate 15, Seven Magic Mountains offers a creative critique of the simulacra of destinations like Las Vegas. According to Rondinone, the location is physically and symbolically mid-way between the natural and the artificial: the natural is expressed by the mountain ranges, desert, and Jean Dry Lake backdrop, and the artificial is expressed by the highway and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Seven Magic Mountains is produced by the Art Production Fund, New York and Nevada Museum of Art, Reno. Approximately 10 miles south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway in Henderson, the installation site is a short distance from Jean Dry Lake where Michael Heizer and Jean Tinquely created legendary land art works in the 1960s. (This information was taken from the Seven Magic Mountains website at http://sevenmagicmountains.com/about/)
If you would like to hear Ugo Rondinone discuss the Seven Magic Mountains, click here.
Type of Route: Out and Back
Distance: 0.25 miles round-trip
Elevation: 2,841 feet
Elevation Gain: 0 feet
Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty: Super Easy
Dogs Permitted: Dogs welcome
From Las Vegas: Follow I-15 S to Sloan Rd (exit 25). Turn left (east) to Las Vegas Boulevard. Drive approximately 7 miles south on Las Vegas Blvd. and the artwork will appear on your left (east).
From Los Angeles: Drive north on I-15 to Jean, NV (exit 12). Turn right (east) on NV-161 toward Las Vegas Blvd. Drive approximately 5 miles north on Las Vegas Blvd. and the artwork will appear on your right (east).
There is an onsite parking lost. Street parking is discouraged. There is no public transportation to the site.
The Seven Magic Mountains website states that the average length of visit is 20 minutes. It is in the desert and hot. If you plan on spending time here, bring water. Sunscreen and a hat are advised as well.
The hike to the Seven Magic Mountains is very straight forward. At one time there were red flags that led you to the formations but those have long since disappeared. There are small informative signs along the way. I was surprised at the number of visitors at the site. We were all there to look at art, at very bright uplifting colored boulders. It should have seemed silly walking out there, but it didn’t. There is a sense of community as you make your way out to the rock art. We were all there to see an unusual transient work of art. I was happy to see it. Each of the seven mountains were stoically waiting for us in the blistering desert sun. And as I looked around I realized how discordant each mountain was in this setting. Much like the city of Vegas is when you drive in at night.
Well that was a very fun distraction. Now to get back to writing about Topa.