Seven Magic Mountains Sculpture Adds Splash of Color to Desert Near Las Vegas

A new, larger-than-life public art installation is adding some vibrant color to the otherwise drab desert near Las Vegas.

Take a look at Seven Magic Mountains.

Seven Magic Mountains Las Vegas

Each of the boulders in Seven Magic Mountains weighs between 20 and 25 tons, evidence of the fact they hit a Vegas buffet before being stacked.

The art consists of seven mammoth pillars, each between 30 and 35 feet tall, of brightly-colored limestone boulders.

The neon rocks artwork was five years in the making and cost $3.5 million. It was privately funded, so don’t have a freak-out.

It’s an eye-catching new attraction, and naturally we droned the living hell out of it.

The art project, by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, officially opens May 11, 2016.

Then again, when you wait for something to open officially, it’s not really a security breach. So, screw that.

colored rocks near Jean and Las Vegas

How not to not get noticed.

Seven Magic Mountains (we’re assuming Six Flags isn’t litigious), is easily seen from the I-15 freeway, the main artery connecting California to Las Vegas.

A recent survey by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority says 57% of Las Vegas visitors in 2015 arrived by ground transportation, and 29% of all Las Vegas visitors come from California, so that means a metric hell-ton of people are going to be enjoying Seven Magic Mountains during their drive.

Seven Magic Mountains will be on display for two years. After that, somebody’s going to end up with some pretty epic DayGlo paperweights.

colored rocks near Las Vegas

Deadliest game of Jenga, ever.

The sculptures are already drawing tourists for photo ops, and that’s expected to happen even more when the installation is officially open.

If you’d like a selfie with the Seven Magic Mountains, be forewarned, you can’t get there from here.

Here’s what we mean. Seven Magic Mountains is about 20 minutes from the southernmost tip of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s set back from the I-15 quite a bit, but easily accessible from Las Vegas Boulevard. Yes, Las Vegas Boulevard runs far, far south, parallel to the I-15.

The location of Seven Magic Mountains is most often described as being in Jean, Nevada, but if you’re driving from The Strip, you need to exit much earlier than the Jean exit. Take the exit for M Resort, then drive south 10 miles on Las Vegas Boulevard.

If you’re driving from California on the I-15, you need to take the Jean exit, about 10 miles before you can even see the sculptures.

colored rocks in desert Las Vegas

By our count: Six pink, five yellow, four blue, four red, three orange, three green, three black, three white, two silver. Yes, yes, we have way too much time on our hands.

Once you near the art, there’s a pull-out and parking area. Nothing fancy and no pavement. There’s a path that’s been marked by little red flags. It’s unlikely the path will be paved, so you’re on your own. It’s a desert, so expect to see critters. We did.

There are no restrooms, there’s no bar, there are no food vendors or tchotchke kiosks. Plan accordingly.

Seven Magic Mountains

The path is marked with little red flags. If you hear a rattling sound, probably best to assume it’s not somebody’s baby.

Beyond the where, there’s also the matter of why.

As artists are sometimes forced to do, Ugo Rondinone has tried to explain in human language the intent of his work. He says, “Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now.”

In the art world, this is what’s called “artsy-fartsy gobbledygook.” Which, now that we think of it, would make a pretty good band name.

Here’s what Seven Magic Mountains really is: It’s an eye-popping jolt of color in an otherwise bleak landscape.

painted rocks I-15 Las Vegas

It’s Las Vegas. We don’t do bleak.

Seven Magic Mountains is a clever take on a practice that’s taken off in recent years, rock stacking or balancing. It’s part art, part discipline, and its practitioners say rock balancing has a calming effect.

Beyond its scale, Seven Magic Mountains differs from traditional rock balancing in that it uses an inner support structure, presumably to help it withstand the desert’s high winds.

colorful rocks near Las Vegas

Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of aragonite, which we’re fairly sure is the only thing that can hurt Superman.

What Seven Magic Mountains does have in common with rock balancing is it is almost certain to spark controversy. Many say they want to experience nature in its “undisturbed state.” Those who dislike rock balancing are pretty much guaranteed to have their heads explode at the sight of the fluorescent Seven Magic Mountains.

It’s jarring. It’s disruptive. And that’s what’s great about it. It’s nature, but amplified.

Seven Mountains sculpture

Dear Los Angeles punks. If you try to tag or otherwise deface our art, we are personally going to shoot you with a high caliber rifle. This is rural Nevada, and that crap doesn’t fly.

When you think about it, Seven Magic Mountains is a lot like Las Vegas. It’s a radiant shock to the system, a glittery jewel in the middle of a barren wasteland.

The Nevada Museum of Art says of Seven Magic Mountains, “The work pays homage to the history of Land Art while also offering a contemporary critique of the simulacra in nearby Las Vegas.”

We have no idea what a “simulacra” is, but it sounds like something hotel housekeeping would need to look for with a black light.

Learn more about this new Las Vegas attraction at the official Seven Magic Mountains Web site.

What do you think? Visionary or absurd? Garish or glorious? Leave a comment with your thoughts, especially if your thoughts include complimenting us on our drone piloting.

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  • Glo XO

    Points to you for usage of “droned” as a new verb. It’s new to me, anyway. Good one. Minus points for not knowing “simulacra” is plural. You need to redo that entire sentence. As for the magic mountains; they are an excruciatingly bad use of funds, private or otherwise. But I’m irrationally fond of the Baker Thermometer, so I’m sure we will all be as fond of these…for about one month until they are covered by ugly graffiti. lock and load. But I predict it will become custom for visitors to spray paint new colors onto the mountains, so that they become ever-changing.

  • Misslaydj

    This looks really pretty

  • JWalt

    Is the orange fence going to remain? Adds some extra color!

    • Todd Sterling

      Probably have to keep the orange fence so the do-do’s don’t start climbing on them and toppling them over.

      • Troy Swezey

        People will just jump over and or break the fence eventually anyway so might as well take it down before it becomes an eyesore/hazard.

    • Hundley Fan

      I stopped by last week on May 5 on my way into town. The orange fence was gone, as were most of the little red flags marking the path to the towers. I just sort of made a beeline to the towers, taking care to avoid stepping on the strategically placed little plants. Glad I got to take photos while the colors were so vibrant and before any taggers/vandals have a go at it.

      I was the only one there, but just as I was finishing taking photos, another car pulled up. I have to admit that I got a little nervous when I saw a car approaching, as I was alone. The car circled the dirt lot for a bit, which allowed me to skedaddled back to the relative safety my car before the driver parked the car, and I was glad I did that, as two rather large guys got out of the car.

  • Todd Sterling

    Did they have to buy the land? $3.5 million for a bunch of painted rocks stacked on top of one another. Seems a little high. I guess it’s art, but wow!

  • Todd Sterling

    That was a great video Scott and the song was great for the video. Nice combination.

  • mkhnks

    They look tall… I’ll check the website in hope of finding out how tall they are.

    Sounds like something goofy I’d like to see this fall.

  • Bouldersteve

    5 years and 3.5 million dollars later…Thats it? At least it was privately funded so as a taxpayer I will not complain..but I will laugh.

  • Clemente Sabourin

    This so-called “art installation” is tacky, tacky, tacky!

    Please stop marring our view of the pristine desert, and it’s magnificent natural beauty.

    It’s bad enough that we have to tolerate that grotesque Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System just down the I-15… which has now been exposed as a giant scam that has wasted millions of dollars in taxpayer money, and doesn’t perform even 10% as well as it was promised. Not to mention it’s hazard as a danger to aerial navigation. That facility should be torn down, too.

    Our beautiful Mojave Desert is not a dumping ground for everyone’s stupid idea… or so-called “art installation,” as the case may be.

    Tear down this Seven Magic Mountains fiasco… and wash the child daycare center colors off those rocks.

    This is disgusting in it’s utter meaninglessness.The so-called “artist” is Swiss. A message to him; go create your giant public blight upon the land, in Switzerland… and leave our natural American open space alone.

    The Aria Resort can surely find much more useful and creative ways to waste their money, than on this desert monstrosity. Effective immediately, we will discontinue all our patronage of the Aria in every respect, pending removal of this eyesore.

    While driving past it yesterday on the I-15, we witnessed a multi-car accident almost take place, when one vehicle slowed down to a crawl in order to figure out why that pile of rocks was there. It would have been horrendous wreckage, exacerbated by the rain-slicked pavement.

    When an accident eventually does occur (and it will) we sincerely hope that the victims will sue the so-called artist, as well as the Aria and the BLM, for creating that giant driving distraction.

    Art is a tool, used to create beauty where there is none… such as on a blank canvas or in an empty room. Our surrounding desert is already overloaded with natural beauty and a surfeit of wonders. We do not need it to be embellished by a so-called artist from halfway around the world–who has probably never seen a desert before–and thinks that it desperately needs man-made fluorescent colors to enhance to it’s appearance.

    Before this, we used to like the Swiss.

    • MMaster

      relax your balls…i f#*k’n love it…

      • Troy Swezey

        “Relax your balls” I love that saying. I am stealing it.

        • Cassie Carter

          You have balls? 😉

    • IrishJoeyDee

      Wow. You mean you don’t like it? Relax. It’s supposed to be gone in a few years. Then all you wackos can go wander the wasteland and try to walk around in the turtle and coyote poop to your hearts content.

  • Longman

    Meantime Las Vegas education ranked worst in nation. This is a great example of ignorance and rudeness.

    • Ur mom

      Screw you

      • Longman

        Talking about people like you. Thank you for supporting my words.

  • Cassie Carter

    Mojave Desert is not a wasteland, but this so called “art” is ugly junk.

    • One of the great things about art is it’s open to interpretation, and it’s subjective.

  • Netties_Kid

    The desert isn’t “drab”. It’s one of the most vibrant, dynamic and colorful environments in the world if you disregard your city eyes and look at it for what it is. As for the so-called “art”, I’m sorry but its ugly. I have to agree with Cassie Carter. Taking paint and splashing it on rocks does not an artist make. A three-year old with mama’s paints yes, an artist… not so much.

  • Brittany Britt

    Whoever wrote this article… Kudos! It’s hilarious and informational, a tough feat to accomplish.

  • Tim Carter

    Looks like a waste of 3.5 million dollars to me.

  • IrishJoeyDee

    The Los Angeles punks graffitied it. We need a gallows about 200′ behind this thing to hang ’em.

  • Oh Dee

    I commuted to Jean NV for many years, and this is by far the UGLIEST thing I’ve ever seen on LV Blvd. Two years before this comes down won’t happen fast enough.

    • It certainly has sparked conversation!

    • Ur mom

      You are the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen commuting to NV

  • June Phillips

    Your article has me rolling in laughter as my husband drives us back into Vegas. We came out here primarily for all the national and state parks, staying in Vegas only because of timeshare. Today we drove out just to see the Joshua trees and on our way back in, everyone in the car with us practically simultaneously uttered WTH is that? By far the ugliest thing ever!!!! Your drone operation was fabulous! Glad my google search found you!

    • Scott Roeben

      Thank you. One person’s ugly is another person’s REALLY UGLY. I think it’s sort of fun. Appreciate being found, and thanks for appreciating the dronage.

  • Miguelón El Pasón

    Can i go in my dual sport motorcycle?

  • Gerald Gaxiola

    I loved your commentary. So much art is cluttered with “artspeak” to make us all feel like deplorables or unsophisticated bumpkins so that these elitist art establishment people can feel so superior to the unwashed. This is just a bunch of painted rocks that are stacked up in the desert. They are fun to look at. They don’t need some artist to blabber on about the significance of it all . Its there – we see it – and that’s it. 3.5 million…some people have too much money!

  • Pam Pyatt

    I want to see this, but the only way I go to Las Vegas is by Greyhound bus. Can it be seen from I-15? I’m thinking not, or if so, it would be about an 1/8 of an inch high. I was terribly disappointed at what I think I read. I was hoping to see it from the freeway. From Las Vegas Blvd. is just fine too. I have no desire to run into critters.

    • You can see it from I-15, but not too well. People do notice it, though, and it inspires them to turn off and try and find it.