The Salton Sea
Desert Road Trip Part 2 of 4:
The Salton Sea
There are so many interesting things to do in the SoCal desert. After ATVing Ocotillo Wells we went to the nearby shore to view the largest lake in California, the Salton Sea. The lake bed was historically dry until 1905, when an engineering problem happened and the lake was flooded. When you gaze out at the Sea it’s so vast it looks like the ocean. It’s beautiful and almost looks like a desert mirage when you first view it. Now because of it’s high salinity and no outlet, many fish end up here to die. We visited the south side of the sea. When we stepped out of the cars to head to the shoreline at sunset, there was a pungent smell of rotting fish. Then as we walked out to the white sandy beach we realized that it’s not sand at all, it’s fish bones. The blue water is a reflection of the sky, and is actually a murky brown. The rocks lying still in the lake are fish corpses.
Salton Sea was once a popular tourist attraction in the 50s and 60s. It was a resort town, but doomed to fail because the sea soaked in the surrounding salt and pesticides from local farming. Soon it was too contaminated to get into, and the waters were full of dead fish. We didn’t visit Bombay Beach on this trip, but I’ve been there before and it’s a great place to photograph odd things like half sunken trailers, tvs, and ruins of old buildings. Hopefully one day there will be a plan to bring back to life this massive body of water. Until then, it’s still a pretty intriguing place to go visit if you’re in the area.
Map of Desert Road Trip locations:
The ghost town of Amboy was once a major stop along Route 66 until Interstate 40 was opened. The city only has 10 remaining buildings, Roy's gas station and motel cafe being the biggest landmark.
When Angelino's think of the California Desert, they think of Palm Springs. Below I've listed seven other quirky destinations in the high desert, not far from the mid century modern mecca.
Salvation Mountain is a great work of art by the late Leonard Knight. It’s quite a beautiful site, vibrant and colorful against the desert landscape.
A day of hiking Anza Borrego Desert Park and checking out the Galetta Meadows life size animal sculptures.
When you gaze out at the Salton Sea, California's largest lake, it’s so vast it looks like the ocean. Now because of it’s high salinity and no outlet, many fish end up here to die.
More then 85,000 acres of magnificent desert are open for off-highway exploration and recreation within the boundaries of the Ocotillo Wells, just a 3 hour drive from Los Angeles.