Salton Sea State Recreation Area ~ Mecca, CA …

After a few lovely days by the river at Camp Davis in Bullhead, AZ, we continued our adventure and headed to The Salton Sea State Recreation Area in Mecca, California. We crossed the big, dry, desolate Mojave Desert.  I am a desert rat and have seen a lot of deserts in my life and this was by far the most desolate of them.  We didn’t even see any shrub brush or yucca for miles at a time.

We had never even heard of the Salton Sea. Initially we planned to stay in Joshua Tree (our ultimate destination), which is about an hour from the Salton Sea, but we waited too long to make a reservation. (Note: The campgrounds at Joshua Tree fill up around Spring break, so make your reservation early, or you can stay at the Salton Sea!) There were some RV parks near Joshua Tree, but R happened to come upon the Salton Sea State Recreation Area, conveniently located equidistant from Palm Springs and Joshua Tree.

Must-haves for the RV

Body Pillows!

Rio Grande Albuquerque (KUNM/Laura Paskus)

As we were planning our trip to Salton Sea we envisioned swimming, floaties, watching the boats go by and sitting on the beach with our Piña Coladas. If that is your plan, do NOT go to The Salton Sea. It has a sad story of human invasion & destruction.

The Salton Sea was a naturally formed lake that is in the low point of Mojave Desert called the Salton Sink, formed by flood water from the Colorado River for 1000s of years. Humans (pesky creatures we are) were building an irrigation canal off the Colorado River that failed, and the Salton Sea—as it exists now—was created. It’s the largest lake in California as well as the lowest point in the US.

The area around the Salton Sea is very agricultural. There are huge orchards and fields everywhere you look. The runoff from the agriculture primarily feeds the lake now and it is contaminated with nasty agricultural stuff, like pesticides & fertilizers and whatever other toxic junk they use to grow food. Once a celebrity destination famous for bird watching and water activities, now is a cesspool of death. It was a thriving vacation spot. It’s proximity to Hollywood and Palm Springs brought many Socialites & movie stars there. It was one of Sonny Bono’s favorite vacation spots and he learned to water ski there! Unfortunately, now the sand/dust is sickening and killing nearby residents, and I suspect gave us headaches.

Sonny Bono
Salton Sea Bunny

The water and breezes are still beautiful. The sunrise above the lake and the mountains in the distance was completely gorgeous. Although the water is killing off most of the wildlife, we saw a few ducks. We also saw some cute little bunnies running around. They came every morning like clockwork to drink from the sprinklers. Every time I drove along the road and walked around the lake, I imagined what it used to be like. My mind looked like the scene in Cars when Sally took McQueen down memory road of the mother road before the new one got built.

When we went there, the campground was only 50% open and there were only a few other people there. Park details:

The RV sites are paved blacktop, very much a parking lot

  • Back-in & pull-through spots, full hook ups, partial hookups, dry RV camping and primitive tent camping are all available.
  • It is very affordable.
  • Flush toilets and running water.
  • The showers were in stalls with short walls and doors—I could easily see over them (If I were a dirty-bird)—and the water was heated by solar power which didn’t work consistently. I got a cold shower. Later that day and R and the teen got lasting hot water.

Must-haves for the RV

Neck Pillows!

Here are some places we really wanted to visit, were closed because of stupid COVID. Let us know what you think if get to either!

The International BANANA Museum (How cool does that sound???)

The Bautista Date Farm (T loves dates. R… not so much.)

Here are some websites I found about the Salton Sea’s tragic and glamorous history:

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