Palm Springs Salton Sea

This year I was fortunate to be able to spend Christmas and bring in the New Year in Palm Springs with my Dad. Although the weather was not the best because of the torrential rain and flooding that hit most of Southern California, I did manage to get in some pool time, check out the Real Estate Market, see some of the sights and do some power shopping at Cabazon Outlet Mall – more on all of this in another post.

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En Route to Salton Sea

One of the first things that I wanted to see this trip was the Salton Sea. The last time I was in Palm Springs I got a glimpse of the Salton Sea from a distance and it has stayed in my memory ever since. I was so transfixed by this far away glimpse that when I got back to Vancouver I tried to recreate an image of it in a piece of artwork. So on this trip an all day outing was planned. I was anxious to see if the Salton Sea was really like what I had painted it to be. The night before, in preparation for the trip, we watched an informative video of the history of the area. Early in the morning we loaded up the car with a picnic lunch of sandwiches of leftover Christmas ham, trifle for dessert and beverages and we set off on an all day adventure.  

Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Rest Area

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Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge Rest Area

The Salton Sea is a salt water lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault in Southern California. The lake occupies the lowest elevation in the Colorado Desert in Southern California.  It is currently 226 ft below sea level.

The creation of the Salton Sea of today started in 1905, when heavy rainfall and snowmelt caused the Colorado River to swell, overrunning a set of head gates for the Alamo Canal. The resulting flood poured down the canal and breached an Imperial Valley dike. Over a period of approximately two years this newly created river sporadically carried the entire volume of the Colorado River into the Salton Sink.

The Southern Pacific Railroad attempted to stop the flooding by dumping earth into the canal's head gates area, but the effort was not fast enough, and as the river eroded deeper and deeper into the dry desert sand of the Imperial Valley the basin filled and it resulted in the formation of the Salton Sea.

In the 1920s, the Salton Sea developed into a tourist attraction, because of its water recreation, and waterfowl attracted to the area. Celebrities used to trail their toes in the brine, but few people dare take a dip today.

The Salton Sea has had some success as a resort area in the past but today it is not exactly a thriving area as evidenced by what I saw in the town of Bombay Beach which was built on the eastern shore in the 1950s. Today the inhabitants of Bombay Beach live below the poverty level.

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Bombay Beach Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is a major sanctuary for migrating and wading birds.  When Sonny Bono was alive he was a major activist in promoting the preservation of this area.  It is now feared that without intervention and support the lake will dry up.

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Parched Earth Salton Sea 
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Vegetation Salton Sea

Vegetation on the shore of the Salton Sea

Palm Springs Dec 2010 066My Dad taking pictures with his new camera. Around the Salton Sea geothermal plants are being built to harness the heated water below the earth’s surface to power electrical generators. The Salton Sea area is located on the San Andreas Fault.

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A view of the rich farming fields around the Salton Sea which are a feeding frenzy for wintering birds.

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Salvation Mountain at Slab City

Slab City is an off-the-grid community where squatters and seasonal snowbirds live in RVs and vehicles among the concrete remnants of an abandoned Navy base. Located close to the Salton Sea, east of Niland, Slab City isn't actually a city at all - it's more a loose community of squatters, snowbirds and nomads who've pitched camps across 640 acres of open desert.  Slab City and Salvation Mountain are quite a site to see, although a bit scary for my eyes.  It seems to be locked in the 1960s with the only evidence of current times being solar panels, satellite dishes, fancy RVs and off road toys.

 Salton Sea Patricia Gray 
Salton Sea 23" x 36" Mixed Media on Paper Patricia Gray

Painting of my vision of The Salton Sea

Photographs Patricia Gray 

Other travel posts you might like:
Cabo San Lucas 
New York
Palm Springs Post Modern Architecture
Drinks at the Viceroy Palm Springs
Sunday in Milan
VENICE - Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, Giudecca Island, Redentore
ROME - Hotel Mascagni, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Barberini
FLORENCE - Hotel Santa Maria Novella, Uffizi, Accademia Gallery

Patricia Gray Inc is an award winning Interior Design firm in Vancouver who blogs about Lifestyle and WHAT'S HOT in the world of Interior Design.
2011 © Patricia Gray | Interior Design Blog™


  1. Anonymous9/1/11

    I love the desert! Your mixed media piece, too.
    -xo, Vanessa Elizabeth

  2. Are those your pictures? I am very impressed, but of course you are an artist...

  3. I just discovered you blog & loved it. I'm an interior designer from Melbourne, Australia & I found it very inspiring. Blogging is all new to me but I have just set up my own blog
    You may like to check it out because I had so much fun doing it. It's got a bit of everything fashion, interiors, food, travel spots - hopefully you will find something in there that you like.
    Thanks for providing me with such great entertainment!

  4. Francine Gardner10/1/11

    Really hope to make it one day. it truly looks beautiful and am also an avid birdwatcher.

  5. Oh I love the shots...especially the one with the birds. Oh you make me wish for a new camera:)

  6. Gerry11/1/11

    Oooh, that picnic table looks good.

  7. stunning... as usual... xx


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