The Death of Salton Sea

During the summer, Joseph and I stayed at Indian Wells (near Palm Springs) for a few days. At that time, we made our way out of the hotel territory (where air conditioning and a cool pool was readily available) out to the Salton Sea that’s located near the Coachella valley.

Going there, I knew nothing about the sea. But as we drove to it, there was just an eerie feeling of abandonment. It started with run-down / abandoned general store just outside of the park’s entrance. Then, as we drove to the entrance gate, there was no guard at the guard post (it seemed like you had to pay for parking, but .. you also didn’t.. We were confused for a while). Once we reached the visitor’s center, there were only two other cars in the visitor’s lot.

As soon as we got out of the car, two things hit me like a ton of bricks – the extremely hot weather and the smell of fish in the air.

I have a memory of a fly, so although I watched a whole 6 minute video about this place, I can only tell you snippets of it. From what I remember, at one point, the Salton Sea was the place to be, according to the Visitor Center’s video on the place. In the 50’s and 60’s, the Sea drew in half a million of visitors annually and was even a bigger vacation destination than Yosemite! Yet somewhere down the line, the water lessened drastically, agricultural waste from nearby areas began to make its way into the sea, and the water became increasingly salty. Millions of fishes end up dying, with their skeletons making its way onto the shore.

Yeah.. I didn’t realize that there were fish skeletons scattered on the shore while I was walking towards the water. I just thought they were rocks(?) until I was pretty far in and Joseph cried out from behind me to look down. The lurch in my stomach when I saw what I was standing near….still gives me the heebee-jeebeez.

There were some birds that flew in the area (like that beautiful crane bird pictured above) but the water is getting too salty for them to drink out of anymore.

It’s crazy how much has changed in fifty years for this place. To think, this location was on the top of so many family’s vacation plans at one point, to .. nobody, unless you’re in the area.

If I had known how bad of a condition this place currently is, I might not have agreed to have gone. The stink, the fish, the heat – not ideal at all. But actually being surrounded by it all felt pretty surreal.

It seems like California is trying to do something to preserve the Salton Sea and make it habitable again.

Have you been to this part of Coachella Valley? What were your experiences like?

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