Have you seen those strange colorful rocks stacked in towers all over Instagram? Are you wondering what these colored rock sculptures in the desert of Las Vegas are? Below is everything you need to know about visiting the Seven Magic Mountains rock sculpture in the Las Vegas, Nevada desert.
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I remember when I first saw a photo of large, rainbow colored rocks stacked in towers on Instagram. A friend of mine had posted the image and I was immediately intrigued by the bright colorful rocks, which I quickly learned were located just outside of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert. Having an artistic background myself, I immediately dug into the background and concept behind these large sculptures in the desert.
so what exactly is “seven magic mountains”?
The Seven Magic Mountains public art installation was created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone in conjunction with the Nevada Museum of Art. Installed in 2016 right outside of Las Vegas, this artwork has gained popularity due to the stunning visual of these rainbow towers of colorful rocks against a backdrop of dry brown desert and purple mountains.
The rock towers were originally meant to come down in 2018, but because of the immense popularity, received a three year extension. Currently, the towers are expected to be removed at the end of 2021. Go see them as soon as possible, because they won’t be around forever!
Besides being visually stunning and intriguing, the artist had a concept in mind; to play with the connection between the natural and the manmade. In the artists’ own words:
“[T]he 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.”
The boulders that make up the rainbow totems are locally sourced.
If you would like to learn more from the artist himself, click here:
How Can I Find these colorful rocks near las vegas?
The rocks are just over 20 minutes outside of the Las Vegas strip, in a very random strip of desert, so you will likely not stumble upon them unless you make it a point to go there.
If you are driving from Las Vegas: Take I-15 South. Exit on Sloan Rd (exit 25) and turn left onto Las Vegas Boulevard. Drive approximately 7 miles south and the artwork will appear on your left hand side. You can’t miss them!
If you are driving 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).
Full disclosure, I was driving from neither of these locations as I had just completed several nights camping in the Mojave desert. If you are coming from elsewhere, use the Google Maps link above.
There is no public transportation available from Las Vegas that stops at these colorful rocks, unfortunately, so plan to drive yourself or hire an Uber.
There is a parking lot dedicated to the art installation, a very short walk from the rocks themselves. Handicapped parking is available.
how much does it cost to visit seven magic mountains?
You are in luck because this public art installation is free! There are no admission fees or tickets. You can show up and walk right over.
how much time can i spend there?
As much as you want!
If you want to get some good photographs of the artworks (with minimal people around), you should plan to arrive early.
If you want to spend a long time with the colorful rocks don’t come midday as the Las Vegas desert heat is intense.
Other helpful info:
- There are plaques near the parking area that visitors can read to learn more about the artwork. Most of it is covered right here in this post, or in the video linked above.
- Know in advance that there are no restrooms on site. These rock towers are truly in the middle of the desert. There are gas stations about 10 minutes away.
- Remember, since you are in the desert, plan accordingly. Temperatures can frequently reach over 100 in the summer months. Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Check out my post on desert wear for some inspiration.
- The path from the parking lot to the sculpture is unpaved. It is however quite flat, and there is handicap parking available.
- Don’t leave any trash behind! Keep our nature beautiful.
- Do not climb on or graffiti the stones. There are strict penalties for defacing the art.
I was lucky enough to visit on a truly cloudless day and had a surprising amount of time alone. I’m not sure if it was due to being a weekday or that I arrived early enough, but I certainly lucked out.
It was definitely feeling warm by 10am and as you can see there is little to no shade, except for under the rock sculptures themselves.
The art installation did not let me down – it absolutely lives up to the hype! It’s a very surreal artwork; towering neon rocks against the harsh desert backdrop. It’s beautiful and unexpected – to see the natural background against such unnaturally colored rocks. They are like something out of a cartoon.
I could easily have stayed even longer if I didn’t have plans for continuing my road trip!
Are you heading into California after your Seven Magic Mountains visit? If so I highly recommend reading about Joshua Tree National Park or the more obscure Red Rock Canyon State Park in CA, which are both worth a visit.
Whatever you choose, enjoy exploring the beautiful southwestern deserts and these amazing neon colored rocks!
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Let me know in the comments below if you have been to Seven Magic Mountains and what you thought of this work of art!