International Car Forest
International Car Forest Overview
There are some interesting items out in the Nevada desert and this unusual open-air art installation is another to add to your road trip bucket list.
Located in the Mohave Desert outside of Goldfield, Nevada, the International Car Forest of the Last Church was created by longtime Goldfield resident Mark Rippie, whose vision was to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest car forest in the United States. Except there isn’t a record for this in the records… seriously, check it out for yourself – search the Guinness World Records. Supposedly, Michael isn’t much of an artist, he just wanted his name in the record book.
Presently, the International Car Forest is made up of several dozens of vehicles consisting of old sedans, vans, limos, delivery trucks, and school buses delicately balanced and spread over several acres. Each with their nose partially buried into the ground, stacked on top of each other, hollowed out on wooden stages, or dirt tunnels around them.
Today, it is a bit abandoned since the two installers had a falling out and in 2013 Mark Rippie served two years in federal prison for possession and attempting to buy firearms. (See more below under A Look at Michael Rippie.)
International Car Forest History
What do you do when you personally own over 40 cars and 80 acres of land? Build a car forest of course!
It took nine years (2002 – 2011) to finalize the project in hopes to earn bragging rights in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most vehicles stacked into the ground. (But again, there isn’t a record so not sure if he didn’t get it approved or if this is a local legend.)
With help from Reno local, Chad Sorg, the two scattered various vehicles over a blank canvas of land to create the Car Forest. Sorg was driving through the area and saw one of the vehicles and stopped to talk to Rippie. Then, in 2004 Sorg moved to the area to help Rippe and they spent many hours moving land with a backhoe to “plant” vehicles into the ground and stack them on top of each other.
The goal was to build an area for artists to leave their contributions and leave their mark but today, a lot of the “art” is covered by graffiti.
How to Get to International Car Forest
South edge of town. From US Hwy 95, turn east onto Crystal Avenue, which is a dirt road (look for a cinderblock wall on the west side of the highway).
Drive a couple of blocks until the road ends, then keep going just a little further.
You’ll see the cars up ahead, on the right. Look for the big blue upside-down bus.
NOTE – The bumpy dirt roads are not maintained and depending on the time of year and amount of recent rain, the area may not be suitable for vehicles with low ground clearance.
1111 East Crystal Avenue – Goldfield, Nevada 89013
Admission to the Car Forest is free but donations are accepted!
The International Car Forest of the Last Church is open and accessible 24/7, though best enjoyed from sunrise to sunset.
For more information on planning your trip to the Car Forest and specific directions on how to find it, get in touch with the current owners who run The Goldfield General Store at (775) 485-3477.
A Look at Michael Rippie
From the United States Attorney’s Office – District of Nevada website:
Michael Rippie, 67, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gloria M. Navarro. Rippie was convicted by a jury on Aug. 9, 2013, of possession of a firearm by a person previously found to be a mental defective and committed to a mental institution and making false statements to acquire firearms. Rippie, who was arrested and charged in April 2013, had been released pending trial with special conditions and was residing in Pahrump with his former wife. Rippie was placed in federal custody immediately following sentencing.
On about Sept. 10, 2010, Rippie knowingly made a false written statement to a firearms dealer in Tonopah, Nev., in an attempt to purchase a long gun, stating that he had not been adjudicated a mental defective or committed to a mental institution. On April 10, 2013, Rippie was arrested at his home in Goldfield with 15 firearms, including two loaded semi-automatic assault-type rifles with extended 30-round clips and a loaded semi-automatic .40 caliber pistol. Rippie also possessed over 22,000 rounds of ammunition at his residence. Rippie was well-known to law enforcement and others in the Goldfield and Tonopah areas and had one conviction and 13 arrests over the last 48 years, including six involving firearms.
At this time we have not published a lot of this area but have this cool ghost town visit that is an hour away: