The Salton Sea area is hands-down the freakiest and most fabulous place in all the desert…if not in the entire USA. If you’ve never heard of it, check out the documentary John Waters made about it: Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea!
The Sea is the biggest lake in California, yet most people have never heard of it. It was created by accident, from rainwater and agricultural runoff that collected into a giant cesspool when a dam broke during a huge storm one year.
Back in the day, the water was actually fairly clean and lovely, and it was a hi-class resort for people from L.A. But since the only source feeding it is agricultural runoff, over the years the water has gotten more and more salty…until now it’s just a stinking pit of death and decay!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There are still some die-hard nut jobs who live out there in these bombed-out looking trailer parks in Bombay Beach and other weird little settlements around the shore of the Sea…but for the most part, it’s a desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland. FAB-u-LOUS!
The Salton Sea is down near Palm Springs, in a REALLY weird, dusty, forgotten corner of California. If you’ve never been there, I highly recommend it. The place is bizarre, with many attractions. To wit:
Nearby in Niland is this fantastic arts-n-crafts monument to Jebus called Salvation Mountain. Some kooky old man built the entire thing out of decoupaged hay bales, and he was more than happy to tell you allllllllll about it if you only asked; before his death he gave tours and talked to tourists all day long. He was amazing, and volunteers still maintain the site.
Another amazing thing in the area near Niland is this old naval base that was demolished long ago, leaving only the concrete foundation slabs of the buildings…which hippies, weirdos and snowbirds camp out on all winter long, every winter. Hundreds of them live there basically permanently, and they call it Slab City. It’s sort of like a permanent Burning Man encampment…only methier!!!
The best part of Slab City is this annex of crazy artists, who built a sort of enclave off to the side called East Jesus. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE ENOUGH HOW COOL THIS PLACE IS! It’s full of amazing art, and the people there were super friendly when I dropped in, and gave me a tour and everything. I have many more photos here.
Just outside Slab City there’s even a hot spring/mudhole…but it’s pretty gross, since all the hippies and kooks pretty much use it as their bathtub. It’s also the only hot spring I’ve ever been in that is carpeted — for some reason, they figured it would be a good idea to lay carpet down on the mud bottom. The carpet is really soggy and gross, but I guess they do change it out periodically. WEIRD!
Anyway, I’ve been to Slab City and the Salton Sea twice…but I can’t wait to go back!!!!!! I need to spend at least a month out there; failing that, I at least need to camp out there sometime on a Saturday when they have an open mic party on the stage in the middle of “town.”
I remember the first time I came here, I saw this freaky circus-type tent camped down on the shore of the Sea…some kind of weird traveling hippies were living there, and it made me so jealous. At the time, I had a job I had to get back to in Vegas…but nowadays I have no such albatrosses tying me down. So……………… who wants to go??????