The Salton Sea: a perfectly weird getaway

The Salton Sea stinks. Literally. The moment you step out of your sterile air conditioned vehicle, you are confronted with an all-out attack on your sense of smell. Dead fish. Agricultural runoff. Stenches of questionable origin.

It’s hard to imagine this place was once a playground for the rich and famous. Here they congregated at places with names like Salton Sea Beach, Salton City and Desert Shores. You can still see the remnants of their accidental paradise.

Faded street signs identify Shore Gem Avenue, Treasure Drive, Flamingo Avenue and Yacht Club Drive. The  Salton Bay Yacht Club is nothing but eroded pilings. Its beaches are covered in a thick layer of tilapia, the result of algae blooms and subsequent fish die off.

Curbs and buildings have been reduced to rubble. Subdivisions were planned. Many of them never materialized. Denuded palm trees line once-majestic avenues.

The shores of the Salton Sea were long ago bustling with leisurely pursuits. For now, though, there is nothing but an eerie desert breeze, quietly carrying the ghosts of a thousand lost dreams dead fish.

Go to the Salton Sea. You shouldn’t even be online researching the topic. Circle the shoreline, leisurely. Take in boats buried in sand, random brush fires, trashed computers piled high. The former good life, down and out. Don’t miss it.




    1. The fact that I had to think about this for a while proves I’ve been to my share of weird places. I’d have to say it’s a tie between Venice Beach and the Kings Canyon Lodge. The Salton Sea is definitely up there, too.

      What’s the weirdest place you’ve visited?

      1. I haven’t been to many, but I want to go to Island of the Dolls in Mexico.
        I’ve been to Bachelor’s Grove (haunted cemetery in Illinois). I’ve seen the Phantom House when I was young & didn’t know of the stories behind Bachelor’s Grove, but ever since then I haven’t seen/experienced anything there since. And the house I once saw, is gone…..not even a trace or even a foundation of its existence is left. It’s all very wooded forest.

  1. Sounds like somewhere I’d like to visit! Thanks for the heads-up on the smell though, I’ll remember to take a nose peg if I ever make it there! Somewhere that could be semi-weirdo is the petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. It’s a little off the beaten track, and isn’t your typical National Park affair. Amazing though, and well worth a day trip if you ever get the opportunity.

    1. Yeah, the Salton Sea isn’t something you’ll experience anywhere else. It’s pretty far out. If you get a chance, you should watch the documentary Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea (

      You know, I lived in Flagstaff for a few years and never got out to the Petrified Forest. Next time I’m in the area I’ll have to make a stop.

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