Want to go and see the uber-cool Seven Magic Mountains art installation in Las Vegas – here’s what you need to know. And, if you love art, we’ll also suggest a few other ideas for where to find amazing art – from street murals to immersive digital experiences – in Las Vegas.
What is Seven Magic Mountains?
As I said, it’s a Las Vegas art installation.
That’s them below – seven 30ft high colourful pillars of limestone created by the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone.
If you’ve ever seen a group of colourful rocks on the way to Las Vegas you’ve already spotted them from the freeway.
They went up in the middle of the Nevada desert in May 2016 – and are due to stay put until at least the end of 2021 – although when I first wrote this post, they had said they were taking them down in May 2018 so who knows.
If we’re really lucky they might stay put forever.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which mean I earn a small commission if you use them to book. This does not cost you any extra.
What Does Seven Magic Mountains Mean?
Seven Magic Mountains has been described as a psychedelic Stonehenge and was estimated that in it’s first two years, over 16 million people will have seen it, even if only from the nearby freeway.
The idea behind Seven Magic Mountains is that it reflects the stone signals people used to leave for each other in the past – they’d stack up little piles of stones (called cairns) to tell others which path to take.
And, while it might look like they are precariously balanced, there’s actually an iron spike going through the middle of them to keep them stable.
I think the thing I like about it most is that wherever you stand it looks different. Face it one way and all the totems are in a row, but walk to the side and they cluster together in a fabulous flouro eye assault.
Images from Seven Magic Mountains used with permission
As the site has aged, more facilities have grown up around the site.
Originally, they were literally just some coloured rocks near Vegas with no explanation or information at the site, but now there are signs explaining the artwork and you can also call a local number which gives you a guided tour by cellphone which is pretty cool.
How Much Does Seven Magic Mountains Cost
Nothing, it’s free, free, free to visit.
This is even more amazing when you discover that the work cost $3.5 million to build.
There is parking at the site and this is also free.
The Best Time of Day to Visit Seven Magic Mountains
It’s beautiful all day – but, it’s probably best to avoid going in the middle of the day.
The rocks are literally in the middle of the desert and it can get very hot out there in the middle of the day – and there’s no shade around the installation itself.
You also don’t want to be there when the light is super bright overhead as it’ll wash out the colours.
If you want to beat the crowds, then the google time map shows the site is least busy before 10am and after 5pm – so if that works with daylight hours when you’re in Vegas you’d be best to head there then.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are the least busy days
Also be wary if it’s been raining as the area is prone to flash floods.
How to Get to Seven Magic Mountains
They are located about a half an hour drive South of Las Vegas on the I-15 close to the town of Jean. Here are the official instructions from the Seven Magic Mountains team – complete with handy maps in the links.
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).
Please park in the onsite parking lot. Street parking is discouraged. No public transportation is available to the installation site.
You can get rideshare to the site, but it’ll cost about $100.
Can You Take a Seven Magic Mountains Tour?
When I first wrote this there weren’t any tours, but as I update it in 2021 you can book a Las Vegas Seven Magic Mountain tour that takes in the colored boulders, Las Vegas’ famous sign, the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon all in one day.
The Seven Magic Mountains full day tour tour picks up from your hotel on the strip gets you home around 8pm ready to hit the Strip at night.
If that sounds like fun – and it really is the ultimate Las Vegas Experience, you can book the tour here.
If you’ve seen the Grand Canyon, or, just don’t want to be out all day, you can also book a shorter 5 hour tour that goes to the Magic Mountains and Red Rock Canyon. See more about that trip here.
Is the Site Accessible?
Yes, there’s a short walkway to it that is wheelchair accessible.
It’s also dog friendly so you can bring a service dog – or any other furry friend you might be travelling with.
Other Things to do Near Seven Magic Mountains
Compared to the excitements of The Strip it’s a bit quiet around here, but there are still a few things nearby you might want to check out…
History: The site of the Last Spike might interest history fans. This was the point where the two teams working on the railroad between Salt Lake City and Los Angles met and the last spike was added joining together this essential commerce route. There was a marker here, but apparently, it’s missing right now – but it’s still marked on google maps.
The Town of Jean: Jean is the nearest town to Seven Magic Mountains (and the closest public restroom). It’s home to the fabulously named Terrible’s Hotel and Casino which, unfortunately, is closed as I write this as no-one is quite sure what’s going to happen to the site – but, if it does reopen in its current form, it’s also home to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame which car lovers might like.
I’m also strangely fascinated by the fact that Jean is home to the World’s Largest Chevron Station which has 96 gas pumps – and a beer cave! Personally I’d be stopping just to see that – but I run a blog called Differentville so….
Supercars: If you’re more into driving cars than filling them up with gas – you’ll also find the SpeedVegas track down here which lets you race Lamborghinis, Porsche, Ferrari and other fast pointy cars around Las Vegas’s longest, fastest track which sounds kind of fun!
Shops: Shopping fans might to want to drive to a little bit past the site to Primm where you’ll find the Prizm Outlet – this has as few outlet stores including Michael Kors, Aeropostale, Kate Spade and Calvin Klein. It’s also a must-stop for art lovers – but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Bonnie & Clyde Death Car! Bit grisly, but in Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm you’ll find the car in which the famous bank robbers met their demise (well, possibly) and a small museum dedicated to them.
Desperado Rollercoaster: It’s currently closed due to you know what, but the fast and rattly Desperado can be found at Buffalo Bills Resort and Casino in Primm
What If They Close Seven Magic Mountains
Well, they’re trying to keep it in place – and, as I say, the closing date of Seven Magic Mountains does keep moving, but if it does happen the original plan was to keep one of Seven Magic Mountains in Vegas in the Park entertainment district behind New York, New York. They were going to take one of the totems to display there.
I’m not sure if that’s still the plan. I do notice that the site is currently sponsored by the Aria Casino – which as you’ll see has a lot of public art, so, it might be that they give some -or all of it – a home if it does have to move.
There is also a single totem by Rondinone in Miami in Collins Park. Called Miami Mountain it’s made of five huge boulders and slightly taller than the Vegas Mountains, but one just doesn’t have the same impact as all seven together so if you can, head to the desert ASAP.
So, there you have all the information on this cool art installation in Las Vegas, but it’s not the only amazing art you’ll find in the city, here’s where else you should check out…
Other Places to See Art in Las Vegas
I mentioned the shopping mall here as one of the other things to do near Seven Magic Mountains but that’s not the only reason you should visit. It’s also one of the world’s largest collections of street art murals in one place.
There’s 126 murals on display including work from 34 international, and internationally renowned, street artists including Vans the Omega, Fintan McGee,Sofles and Scottie Marsh from Australia. And Roids, Aryz and Bent from Europe.
This Immersive Art Experience opened in September 2020 – and specialises in massive art installations.
But also has heaps of entertainment, shops, bars and other experiences for those who aren’t so into art.
General entrance to the site is free, but you pay for the special exhibitions.
Not surprisingly, it’s the Las Vegas home to big attractions like the immersive Van Gogh Experience (you might have seen it on Emily in Paris) and the Georgia O’Keefe 100 Flowers Exhibition.
These events are VERY popular so check the Area 15 website to book your tickets in advance.
This place looks insanely creative so definitely check it out on your next Las Vegas trip – it’s located off the Strip at 3215 South Rancho Drive.
The Aria Hotel
This has an amazing public art collection just scattered around the hotel. They offer a free daily walking tour that takes you past the sights, or last time I was there, I went on the Indoor Hike which combines calorie burning and art education in one.
Trust me, you haven’t done tricep dips properly until you’ve done them right next to a priceless Henry Moore sculpture!
Guide Rocket also tells you heaps of interesting arty facts – for example, there’s an ice-based sculpture called Glacia in the Crystals shopping mall that never looks the same two days running. Every night the poles of ice descend back into the ground to refreeze and, as they come back out tiny pieces chip off them so they never look exactly the same twice.
There’s also a ‘secret’ piece of art by James Turrell (we first came across him when we visited the Naoshima art island in Japan) in the Louis Vuitton store at Crystals.
It’s called Akhob. You need to call ahead and book a visit on 702) 730-3150.
It’s very popular so ring far in advance of your visit.
You can also download a guide to the Aria art collection. It tells you where to find things and what they are.
The Bellagio and Venetian
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art is described as where ‘art goes on vacation’. It hosts roaming exhibitions often from private collections which means you won’t see these paintings anywhere else in the world.
The Venetian also has a few notable sculptures dotted around the public areas.
Has a mix of canvas art and digital art – but, gets a special mention because of their art vending machines.
The machines are old cigarette vending machines that now sell tiny works of art. There are six of them in the hotel,
See more about their collection here.
The Delano also has regular art exhibitions. You find a list of what’s on here.
The Neon Museum
But art in Vegas doesn’t just come in the form of paintings, sculptures and other stuff you got taught in art class – the signs, the buildings and the bright lights of Las Vegas are also a form of art.
Walk up and down the Strip to view the current ‘exhibition’ but for the art of days gone by you have to visit the Neon Boneyard.
This is where all the fabulous old neon signs of Vegas past have gone to retire – they have over 200 in all.
I’d seen photoshoots of this in magazines but when I’d been to Vegas before it wasn’t open to the public.
In 2012 though they opened it as a museum and so I finally got the chance to visit on my last Vegas trip. I was literally on the first tour the morning I arrived and I loved every second of it – and took about 250 photos!.
I’ll just share one here – if you want to see more, check out my post on Nine Reasons Why I Love the Neon Museum.
Here’s where to find more details on the Neon Museum.
Las Vegas Street Art
There’s a lot of murals around the Gateway District, the Arts District and Freemont Street.
FindMASA is aiming to create a full list of street art in the US and you’ll find a heap of locations for murals on their site.
I haven’t been to Vegas for a while, but, there were still some dodgy bits of town around Downtown and off the Strip so just keep your wits about you if you do go mural hunting.
If you’re prefer to go with a guided tour, check out the Downtown Las Vegas Street Art Tour from locals Rikko and David
Desert Art near Las Vegas
Lastly, if you’re driving from LA to Vegas, you might want to take a detour on the drive between Las Vegas and Los Angeles to Elmer Long’s Bottle Tree Ranch.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in Vegas – some good, some bad, some now knocked down and with signs in the Neon Boneyard – but on my last trip we stayed in the Vdara.
It’s toward the southern end of the strip and we liked it because it’s completely smoke-free and dog-friendly which made for super cute fun every morning around the coffee shop.
It doesn’t have its own casino, but considering you’re not exactly lacking in those nearby that’s no hardship.
We chose it because even the cheapest category of rooms, the Studio Suite, was huge at 54sq metres. It’s the sister property to the Aria and so it’s just a short walk between them. It’s also very easy to walk to the Cosmopolitan and Bellagio – so perfect to check out heaps of the art on our list.
If you’re looking for some other ideas – and trying to price up your trip to Vegas, there’s heaps of info in this piece from Katie on just how spendy Vegas is (or isn’t). It’s pretty useful.
What to Read Next
You might want to check out our post on Cadillac Ranch which is located in Amarillo, Texas. It actually started life as an art installation.
Who Writes Differentville?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a journalist and author living in Sydney.
My travel articles have been published in titles including The Australian, Body & Soul at the Sunday Telegraph, RAC Horizons, Jetstar magazine and more.
I like the weird, the wonderful and anything that makes me jump and down with glee like I’m about three. That’s what you’ll find here.
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All images of Seven Magic Mountains in this post are used with permission. Ugo Rondinone: Seven Magic Mountains, Las Vegas Nevada, 2016. Photo by Gianfranco Gorgoni, Courtesy of Art Production Fund and Nevada Museum of Art
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