Time to take a side trip from Borrego Springs to the Salton Sea. It seems that every little trip out here leads to another little trip and another and another.
You travel through Anza-Borrego State Park from Borrego Springs to reach the Salton Sea. The highway is great and as is the scenery.
On the way to the Salton Sea Bill, as usual, saw an interesting road that ran off of Hwy 86. So he took it and we ended up at Clark’s Dry Lake. I no nothing about Clark’s Dry Lake, I can’t find anything about Clark’s Dry Lake other than that it’s a cool place to go. So if anybody knows anything about it they’re not telling or it’s number 2,586 in Google Search.
The Accidental Sea and Cities that never were — the first time I ever ventured to the Salton Sea I was amazed and intrigued. Now it’s 45 years later and I’m still amazed and intrigued but for totally different reasons.
The Salton Sea was created in 1905 when high spring flooding on the Colorado River crashed the canal gates leading into the developing Imperial Valley. For 18 months water rushed into the Salton Trough and by the time engineers were finally able to stop the water in 19007 the Salton Sea was 45 miles long and 20 miles wide. For some this was a good thing and the Salton Sea State Recreation area was born and covers 14 miles of the northeastern shore. It was a popular place for campers, boaters and fishermen.
Bombay Beach, was a main area for vacationers in the 50s and 60s and it replicated the French Riviera. Now it is one of the cities that never was. Currently there are approximately 350 residents and all the buildings and trailers in the area are covered in salt. The biggest problem arose when the salinity of the Salton Sea rose. Then came the series of tropical storms during the 90s and most of the beach was gradually ruined and it just never recovered. Most of Bombay Beach was under water or buried under mud from the floods.
The Salton Sea Recreation Park area in Bombay Beach does, however, offer some activities such as fishing, skiing and bird watching. Tilapia is about the only fish to survive in the Salton Sea and the birds continue to mysteriously die.
Salton City is the largest Imperial County development on the Salton coast. When you look at the map, don’t be misled by the size because very few of the surveyed streets and road were ever developed. In the 70s most of the buildings along the shoreline were abandoned as the water rose. in the 80s and 90s the salinity levels rose and tourist related structures fell. The population in 2000 was 978. Then the housing market in California soared and land was cheap and housing costs low in Salton City. Highway 86 was improved and a casino opened. These events made Salton City an attractive location for some. By 2010 the population had grown to 3,763.
Dead fish still wash up on the shoreline; we didn’t see anyone fishing or boating. We did see a lot of decay not only on the beach, but so many of the houses showed the toll the salt had taken on them.
I was amazed that such a beautiful and amazing place looked so desolate and almost forgotten.
On the bright side, the desert near the Salton Sea has great sand dunes and the buggies still ride.