Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea

Jan 28

Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea – that sounds like a band name.  Or a Harry Potter book. Actually, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California (and the second largest in the country). We’ve spent the last few days at the Palm Canyon campground which is tucked up against some mountains near the park headquarters. For one of the first times on this trip, we really feel like we’re camping. The vistas are wonderful and the sunrises have been stellar.

This is the view just steps from our trailer each morning.

This is the view just steps from our trailer each morning.

The nearest town, Borrego Springs, was designated as California’s first International Dark-Sky Community which means the nighttime sky is just as impressive. With very little light pollution, the stars are stunning. Yesterday was a work day so we spent part of it sitting outside at our table and as it got dark we could just look up to see the night sky dissolve into an immense field of stars.

Anza-Borrego-5366

One of my favorite office locations, ever.

Today we made our way down to Salton City on the Salton Sea. Rich told us that the east side of the Salton Sea was much prettier, and I totally believe that but we really wanted to see Salton Sea Beach. Back in the 50’s Salton City was going to be the next big resort destination. Another Palm Springs. They designed a pretty big city, laid all the roads and ran the utilities. Then people just didn’t move in. By 2000, only 978 people lived there and while it’s up to nearly 4,000 now, that is still a very small percentage of the intended population. Much of the original infrastructure is gone now but there are still some areas that are abandoned – modern ghost town stuff.

Waterfront property in Salton Sea Beach. Not quite what they originally envisioned, yet a great photo location.

Waterfront property in Salton Sea Beach. Not quite what they originally envisioned, yet a great photo location.

The Salton Sea is a popular place for birds, though. We drove down Seaport Avenue near Yacht Club Drive (where there is neither a sea port nor a yacht club) and saw lots of white and brown pelicans, seagulls, egrets and some species of crane that did a great pterodactyl impression. I found it interesting that the birds tended to segregate themselves by species. Maybe they just don’t speak the same language, or perhaps the seagulls can’t afford the same waterfront lots that the pelicans get.

The pelicans get the water's edge.  The seagulls stayed further inland - until they all took to the air.

The pelicans get the water’s edge. The seagulls stayed further inland – until they all took to the air.

The beach itself is unusual. Since Salton Sea has a high salinity (and it is increasing each year), a lot of fish can’t survive there. Add in the aforementioned birds and what you end up with is a beach covered with fish skeletons, many with their scales still visible and covered in either salt or some calcium encrustation.

Creepy fish

Creepy fish

Between the Salton Sea and Anza-Borrego is a badlands area that is home to lots of ATV and motorcycle riders as well as RV boondockers. Around the Palm Canyon campground are a number of hiking trails that we didn’t even get a chance to try. I took the panoramic overlook trails but didn’t bring my camera with me, so you’ll just need to imagine a panoramic view of desert hills. While I didn’t do the hike at sunrise, you should think of it then. I’m sure it would be awesome.

Anza-Borrego is definitely the kind of place that you need to come back to many times and I hope we’ll have the chance to do that so we can explore more of the area.

3 comments

  1. When you have time, check out Ricardo Breceda’s fantastic metal sculptures in the Galleta Meadows Estate in various areas of Borrego Springs.

    Welcome to Airstreaming!

    • We saw them as we were leaving. They look awesome! I want to get some photos next time we go back.

  2. We had the same reaction as you at Salton Sea. Eerie! We hiked up Palm Canyon and experienced a true oasis. Anza Borrego has a special allure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *