Flickr album link: Thunder Mountain Monument
Interstate Highway 80 is a long boring stretch of road that runs from Wendover to Reno in northern Nevada. This major thoroughfare is basically the worlds longest fly by zone, since most travelers are trying to make good time driving to and from Reno and Salt Lake City further east. There are a few historic towns to experience along the way that are gateways to adventures in the great outdoors, which include Elko and Winnemucca. There actually is plenty to see and do in this end of the state, but the distances between points of interest is lengthy, so fuel management becomes first and foremost. The travel distances in northern Nevada act as a deterrence for casual tourists, so it is easy to see why the majority of drivers on I-80 simply set the cruise control and fall into a hypnotic state.
Fortunately there are a few roadside attractions along I-80 and these spots certainly are good places to take a break to stretch the legs. One such place to keep an eye out for is the Thunder Mountain Monument, which is located between Lovelock and Winnemucca. Thunder Mountain originated as a visionary work of outdoor art created by Frank Van Zant, who was an Oklahoma Creek native and a highly distinguished military veteran. This outdoor exhibit covers a few acres of land next to the highway and it is easy to access. Upon arrival a visitor will notice that the entire Thunder Mountain complex is in an arrested state of decay, just like so many other classic roadside attractions throughout the west.
A donation funding box is located at the gate and guests are encouraged to contribute to the restoration of this unique display of visionary art. The design of Thunder Mountain is based upon indigenous spirituality beliefs and every step reveals something interesting to interpret. The buildings were hand crafted with stone block and recyclable materials which create a sight and sound experience. Parts of the structures incorporate old fashioned bottle house framework, while the multi story design portrays lessons to be taught and learned in the spirit world. Junkyard art adorns this complex as a representation of the future apocalypse and the overall theme has to do with injustices done to the indigenous people. Thunder Mountain was constructed in an era when the hippy movement was in full swing, so a visitor can spend hours upon hours interpreting the messages conveyed. Thunder Mountain Monument definitely is well worth checking out when doing the long boring drive on I-80 and be sure to leave a drop in the donation bucket so this one of a kind spiritual attraction remains on the map for many years to come!
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