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Exploring Our Backyard: Nevada's 'Seven Magic Mountains' a sight to behold

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View of the Seven Magic Mountains from the entrance. (Shannon Kelly/NSN)

If you’re ever in Las Vegas and driving on Interstate-15 South toward California, you’ll notice big colorful boulders. Those are the Seven Magic Mountains.

My sister, Corinne, one of my closest friend’s, Torri, and I decided to check them out over the weekend since the exhibit has been there for almost four years. The three of us were born and raised in Las Vegas and have never seen anything quite like it. While going south on Interstate 15, you get off at the Sloan exit and follow the signs that say “Seven Magic Mountains." After eight miles on Las Vegas Boulevard, you’ll run into the exhibit. You can’t miss it.

When we arrived, I thought, "How did these rocks get here and why this spot?" My sister asked, "How do they stay together?” Also a good question. I haven’t been to a museum since I was a child, and while I’m not too big into viewing art, I was fascinated by them.

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The signs at the beginning of the exhibit share the history behind the seven totems and why Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone chose to place them in that area, which is on BLM land. Rondinone wanted them there because it's close to Jean Dry Lake, which was the home of land art in the 1960s by artists Michael Heizer and Jean Tinguely.

Rondinone said the Seven Magic Mountains are “an artwork of thresholds and crossings, of balanced marvels and excessive colors, of casting and gathering and the contrary air between the desert and city lights” ... “elicits continuities and solidarities by human and nature, artificial and nature, then and now. What centers this amalgam of contradictions is the spiritual aspiration, one that bruises, elevates and transcends.”

We walked around to check out the different totems, and it was amazing to see how unique each structure is and how you feel like you’re in the middle of what felt like nowhere with just miles of desert in the distance on one side and the freeway on the other. I never would have imagined seeing something like this in the middle of the desert so close to Las Vegas. We took some pictures and soaked in the one-of-a-kind scenery before heading out. After seeing it, I have a new appreciation for art.

I was curious of the history behind Rondinone’s artwork after viewing the "Seven Magic Mountains." He is known for creating artwork with materials such as wax, stone and stained glass to explore the different themes of time, space and memory and has been creating art for more than two decades. One of his most famous exhibits was "Human Nature" at Rockefeller Center, which also looked amazing.

The 33 different boulders average about 40,000 pounds each with the largest being 56,000 pounds, consisting of all different shapes and sizes. With some help from the Nevada Museum of Art and Art Production Fund, the exhibit took five years to complete from start to finish.

If you ever pass through the area or visit Las Vegas, take a few minutes to check it out. You won’t regret it!

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Shannon Kelly is a Multimedia Journalist for Nevada Sports Net. You can contact her at or via Twitter @shannonkelly_2.

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