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Monday, January 21, 2013

Salton Sea, East Shore - "squadrons of pelicans flew in formation"

After visiting the seaside town of Bombay Beach we drove along the eastern shore of the Salton Sea to Salt Creek Beach.
 We set up camp at a site near the seashore. Contrary to what we were expecting there was no intense odor at our site.
 Enjoy walking on salt encrusted shorelines? Then the Salton Sea is the place you except for...
the thousands of dessicated Tilapia carcasses. A park ranger told us that fish die offs are a common occurrence at the sea. "The summer sun, paired with the nourishment of fertilizers in the runoff, cues massive blooms of algae that spread shore to shore. When this algae dies, the bacteria that feeds on it consumes what little oxygen there is left in the Sea. Tilapia caught in these miles-wide blooms haven’t the slightest chance of escape." - Wired Magazine
 Jan and I both had to admit that, fish carcasses aside, camping by the Salton Sea was spectacular. Thousands of birds inhabit the area and were in constant motion.
 After sunset squadrons of pelicans flew in formation past our camp.
 We sat outside, ate dinner and watched the show. Evening temperatures were moderate with an overnight low of 48 degrees.
 The light show continued long after we finished dinner.
Mount San Jacinto, 10,834 feet, (San Jacinto Peak) loomed far to the north. The light on the peak's shoulder is the upper station of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway at an elevation of 8,516 ft. Hiked to the top of San Jacinto in December of 2005. It was windy and cold on the summit.
 Dawn on the shore of the Salton Sea.
 View through our window.
 After a leisurely breakfast we drove north to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area headquarters. The state built an excellent boat ramp and harbor at this location. It was a simple and easy process to launch. We paddled about 1/2 mile off shore and let the wind blow us back to the harbor. Then we paddled south along the shore and drifted back once again. Number of dead fish sighted - one.
After finishing our paddle we used the nearby boat wash to rinse off the kayak/gear and ate lunch while everything dried. After that it was time to pack up and head for home.

Both Jan and I were pleasantly surprised with how much we enjoyed our stay at the Salton Sea and plan to return.


  1. Oh my gosh, you camped at my husband's favorite place on earth. We camped there a few years ago when the campgrounds were still open. The first time he ever took me there it was summer and they had had a huge fish die off, he warned me before I opened the door to be prepared, it was horrible. We were actually fishing for the fun of it and the park ranger came by with an LA Times reporter who interviewed us and put the article in the paper.

  2. I drove to the sea years ago during the summer and the tremendous stink was in the air miles before we reached the water. The cooler months bring mild temperatures and stench free camping.