The 2007 Sean Penn film “Into The Wild,” which was based on true events, filmed across quite a few locations, including Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, South Dakota, Mexico, California and Alaska.
Tracy, played by Kristen Stewart, invites Chris McCandless, living under the alias of Alexander Supertramp and played by Emile Hirsch, to take a walk over to Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is a hillside sculpture created by Leonard Knight in Calipartia, Californa. It is located near Slab City and not far from the Salton Sea. Despite appearing quite remote in the film, Salvation Mountain is actually not far from nearby towns, such as Niland.
LOCATION: Salvation Mountain, Beal Rd, Calipatria, CA 92233
Leonard Knight appears as himself in the film, giving the characters a guided tour through his creation. Leonard unfortunately passed away in 2014.
Originally built in 1984, the initial attempt at the project collapsed in 1989. Knight, however, rebuilt the sculpture with more sturdy materials and it remains standing to this day.
After Leonard’s passing, a public charity was established to preserve and maintain the site.
The “magic bus” seen in the film is not the actual bus Chris McCandless stayed in. It was also not filmed at the real location in Alaska, both out of respect for the family, as well as the major logistical issues of filming at the real site. Instead, a set was built about 50 miles south of the real bus, in the town of Cantwell, Alaska, with all traces of the set since removed. However, the replica bus featured in the film can be found at the 49th State Brewing Company in Healy, Alaska (248 Parks Hwy 5 mile, Healy, AK 99743).
In spite of the film’s use of an alternate site, many hikers still made the trek out to the real “magic bus” location, located on the Stampede Trail. The real site presents many dangers, much like those that McCandless encountered. After numerous cases of visitors needing rescued, with some even losing their lives, the bus was extracted by helicopter on June 19, 2020, due to public safety concerns. Officials stated the real bus may be put on display at a safe location someday in the future.