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4.0
10 votes

Thunder Mountain Monument

800 Highway Dr, Imlay, Nevada 89418 USA

$
$$$$
Budget
  • Independent
  • Pet Friendly

“A classic roadside atraction”

Van Zant’s three-story monument started out as a one-room travel trailer, which he gradually rocked over until it came to resemble Barney Rubble’s stone-age bungalow.  As materials became available, he added corridors and stairways leading to upstairs bedrooms formed of daub-and-bottle walls and slate ceilings.  He  turned automobile windshields into picture windows, scrap iron and galvanized pipe into rebar, concrete and chicken wire into ornamental statuary.  Virtually every square foot of the monument’s exterior is covered with friezes and bas-relief tableaux depicting historic massacres and/or bureaucratic betrayals visited upon the American Indian.  The roof is adorned with still more statues and multiple arches, the tallest of which soars fifty feet into the sky. At the very top is perched a carved wooden eagle, which only recently was restored to perpendicular by a courageous local, Jim Lacey.  

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Reviewed by
Krystal Bailey

  • Road Warrior
  • 19 Reviews
  • 61 Helpful
June 22, 2014
Rated 5.0

Thank you roadtrippers for this gem. My husband and I were on our way to Yellowstone and I insisted we stopped here. We were alone most of the time. A few people stopped in and seemed really disturbed and left. I got TONS of awesome photos and we did a lot of exploring. This place is a real trip. Loved it!

5 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
wanderlustandgo

  • 9 Reviews
  • 12 Helpful
December 17, 2013

Just as a quick note, this monument has a suggested donation of $2 per group upon entry. There wasn't anyone monitoring the site as far as we could tell, but $2 isn't much.

I'm glad we stopped, but this is a pretty weird place. We weren't actually able to enter the center of the monument (where the trailer and main part is), and I'm not sure if anyone is able to anymore. You are free to roam all around it, and can still see pretty much everything. There are a lot of "junk" items such as old cars, TVs, electronics and home goods which are included in the mix. There are also bones and old children's toys and other random things.

Parts of the monument reminded me of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The use of cement and piecing together of many different items almost imitates Gaudi's "dripping" architectural style and the many facades on the Sagrada Familia. I'm pretty sure this is unintentional, but that was one of the things I appreciated about the monument.

Other than that, overall, it was pretty creepy. Maybe it's just being out in the middle of nowhere in what feels like a semi-evil place (old toy baby doll resting in some animal bone), or maybe being with more than one other person would make it feel less isolating.

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Shortsaler

  • 33 Reviews
  • 5 Helpful
March 13, 2017
Rated 3.0

Stopped here last summer (2016), no one was around so we toured the place on our own. What was once the main house is no longer accessible but there was a lot to look at anyways. Worth taking a short detour off the highway to see & stretch the legs.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Lauren

  • 9 Reviews
  • 11 Helpful
June 17, 2014

Taking the Imlay exit is a good idea. I went a little later in the evening, it was cloudy, I was alone and this place was quite eerie - still cool and interesting though, got some great pictures. It was a great stop in the middle of nowhere, but toward the end of my visit I got so creeped out that I had to give a friend a call to have someone to talk to while I walked through the park. I would like to stop again on a sunny day when I had more time.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Kanderson00

  • 2 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
July 23, 2017
Rated 5.0

Very interesting place. I stopped here with my mom when passing through the area. You have to take a gravel/dirt road to get to the monument and it has a bit of an eerie feeling. As two women traveling alone, I am not sure how we would have felt about exploring the place had there not been a family there at the same time. They made us feel more comfortable, so we took our time we walk around the grounds and explore the property. I'm super happy the family was there because this is an interesting, indescribable place. I have tried to explain this to several people, but it really has to be seen in person to understand how unique this place really is. Definitely worth checking out.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
thetimidtravelerUS

  • 5 Reviews
  • 6 Helpful
June 15, 2016
Rated 5.0

A nice little slice of history and a dose of outsider art to wake you up along the road. You can easily spend a half hour to an hour walking the site, taking photos and discovering interesting little relics of the past. There is a good amount of history and info on the bulletin board as you walk-in. Sign the guest book and ... make sure to wear shoes, not sandals. Lots of glass and tons of crickets(? or some type of grasshopper looking insect). There are snakes too! So keep your car/rv closed!

Definitely not for everyone, but as a lover of art, this was a highlight on our way to Yellowstone.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
judy.r.norris.3

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
March 25, 2014

He was a recycler before it was cool. A lot of his materials were what he found abandon along roadways. It is really cool because no matter how hard you look, there is always another angle that produces something new to see.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
kenzielombardi

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
January 12, 2014

Creepy, bizarre, and absolutely fabulous. A perfect unique road trip stop.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
chiofelix

  • 4 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
July 12, 2014

Stopped here on June 21, 2014. It was a great and slightly odd spot, but very enjoyable. The best way to get here (from the west) is to take the Imlay exit, turn right, then make an immediate left onto the first street. Continue onto the dirt road and Thunder Mountain Monument will be on your left. If you pass it on the freeway then you went too far.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
teapots06

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
June 25, 2014

Stopped here today, June 24th, 2014 and you can only look from behind a fence that has no trespassing signs all around it. Very disappointed about not being able to get a close look.

1 person found this review helpful

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