Exploring the Salton Sea

Added by Julie Cash

Unbelievable sunsets and natural light. Great wildlife viewing. Urban exploration among the ruins.

The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, created when irrigation canals from the Colorado River broke. In the 50's and 60's the area saw a boom in resorts and recreation as new "beach front" property was available and attracted hordes of people. Those days are long gone and although the ultra saline sea is dwindling, the area has become somewhat of a wildlife haven for birds. The juxtaposition of urban decay and flourishing wildlife make this an eerily magical place. Be forewarned; it can be a little smelly at first, but you'll get used to it.

The sea is very large so there are many areas to explore but the best location by far is Bombay Beach on the south east portion. I recommend getting here about 1-1.5 hours before the sun goes down so you can see explore for a while before watching the dramatic sunset. There are plenty of places to park and you can start exploring in any direction. The lower section of the town was flooded decades ago but many decrepit treasures remain to explore; ruins of piers and docks, abandoned structures, power lines, and corroding car bodies.

Once the sun goes down the real beauty starts as the sky turns an amazing pink and the water reflects the sky's gradient colors. The water is so still and the reflection of the sky so clear that it can be hard to see where the sky ends and the water begins. Move to different parts of the beach and play with the reflections as they make for excellent photos. Depending on what time of year you visit, you might be able to see the Milky Way once it gets dark as there is not a lot of light pollution.

After dark, head on over to the Ski Inn for a patty melt (Bourdain approved). I also recommend grabbing a $3 Fat Tire and chatting with the locals about the area. It always makes for a perfect end to the day.

To get to Bombay Beach from San Diego, take I-8 East for 132 miles then take the exit for CA 111 North towards Imperial County. Follow the 111 for 38 miles and take the Avenue A exit towards Bombay Beach.

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Photography
Hiking
Adult Beverages
Easy Parking
Food Nearby
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Awesome, artistic, beautiful and quirky place

Awesome, artistic, beautiful and quirky place

ūü•ČContributor

over 4 years ago

Dead Fish Fun...

Whatever you do, don't get in the water! From certain areas (like the little marina) you would think it's just a nice lake- but then venture to abandoned Bombay beach and you realize you are walking through a waste land of dead fish and bizarre left items- we saw a grand piano just sitting on the beach... The town sitting against the beach is pretty run down and mostly empty (sort of creepy) but we drove past a soccer field full of children playing and mini vans so I know the whole area can't be that way. Definitely worth a stop if you're passing through- but I wouldn't make a trip of it.

Stay Nearby

Unnamed Road

Jumbo Rocks Campground

Overview Jumbo Rocks Campground lies amid the huge, steep rock formations for which Joshua Tree National Park is known. Close proximity to many boulders and rock formations, it is a popular camping...

From $15/night

Unnamed Road

Sheep Pass Group

Overview Sheep Pass Group Campground is centrally located within Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California and is easily accessible to hiking trails and rock climbing routes. It is one of th...

From $40/night

Twentynine Palms, California

Cottonwood Campground (Ca)

Overview Cottonwood Campground is one of the best places in Joshua Tree National Park for stargazing and wildflower viewing. Easy access from Interstate 10, makes it a popular stopover for traveler...

From $20/night

La Quinta, California

Pga West Home & Casita With Pool, Fairway Views

‚ÄĘ TurnKey photo-verifies this home is professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. ‚ÄĘThis 4BR/4.5BA luxury home is located inside the PGA West community with vi...

From $592/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Night Photography at the Salton Sea

    Heading from the Los Angeles area, hop on the I-10 East, eventually keep righ to continue on CA-86 South signs for Brawley/El Centro/865 Expy, then a left on 195 East, then a right onto CA-111 South, shortly after you will be riding alongside the ...

  • Explore the Mud Volcanoes of the Salton Sea

    It should be noted that extreme caution should be practiced when going to the mud volcanoes. While the photographs above appear close, they were taken on a zoom lens from a safe distance. The ground here is soft and misleading. Collapses can occu...

    4 miles

  • Camp at the Salton Sea

    The Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a good place to camp. It has bathrooms with running water and showers. There are 3 options for camping RV camping with hookups is $30 per night. Tent camping at New Camp (on the map to the right) or Mecca Be...

  • Hike the Calcite Mine Trail in the Anza-Borrego Desert

    Open from March until October - but I would not particularly recommend this hike in the summer months, unless you started in the wee almost dark hours. This is the desert and it gets hot early and quickly.This is a former calcite mine with slot ca...

    4 miles 830 ft gain