Saturday 14 December we got our heads out to explore Salton Sea, a lake, which we have not visited before. We didn’t know very much about the lake, other than that it is a salt lake, which was born due to human errors and accident in 1905. As a result of our decision we experienced one of the most unforgettable destinations in the world where I’ve been!
If you want to see very quickly what we experienced throughout the lake during this rotation, look at the bottom of the case slide 🙂 If you ever plan to visit Salton Sea I however recommend you to read the full story here!
“Accidentally born Sea”
Before the trip, we looked at the net, where you should go over there and what to do. We found that the lake environment has changed a number of times after its origination and for example on the beaches you should see thousands of dead fishes, as well as abandoned and destroyed former houses, So visitin the area raised doubts: is this like Detroit abandoned housing areas with drug gangs? So we looked at the crime statistics, and we found that it is something quite different.
Our first target along this 35 miles long and 15 miles wide lake located was the Visitors Center in the north-west corner of Salton Sea. This was a wise choice, because you can get familiar with Salton Sea birth, developments and collapse, as well as suggestion from the friendly staff for further places of interest around the lake. Salton Sea weas born “by accident” in 1905, when the Colorado River flooded and partly by illegally via Mexico built irrigation channel dams collapsed and all Colorado River waters flowed directly into that time empty Salton Sink, well below sea level. Colorado River waters flowed into the desert all 16 months to form of the lake 332 feet below sea level before the flooding was stopped.
Few people know that the Salton Sea State Recreation Area was in 1950’s a more popular destination than Yosemite National Park near San Francisco. The reason was that the lake can be reached easily from Los Angeles region, in three hours. Several houses and facilities were built in 1950’s and 1960’s formin great beach destinations where you could soak up the sun, swim, fish, boat and hike in the desert areas around the lake. Visitor Center was built to serve the tourists and I really suggest first go to there for an overview of the lake and recommendations to the various destinations around it. Beach area of the Centeer is in itself a sign of special nature of the lake: a lot of water birds on the lake between the mountains, fishermen – and on the beach salt formations as well as thousands of dead fish.
Salton Sea is a fickle area
Not only was Salton Sea created by accident, but many environmental problems have shaped it during its existence of more than a hundred years. According to scientists the lake has also affected other parts of California quite a bit. Salton Sea is located on top of San Jacinto and San Andereas faults and researchers have concluded that the sudden birth of a lake there has affected to earthquakes in particular along San Andreas fault from Los Angeles to San Francisco. One of the beneficial side effects of the lake in the early days was the decision to prevent the flooding of the Colorado River, and as a result the famous Hoover Dam was built upstream of the flooding area.
Since Salton Sea is below sea level the only way water goes away is by evaporation. This together with flows from the surrounding residential and agricultural areas brings a variety of concentrates, resulting in salinity of the water constantly increasing and now stands at about 4.5 per cent, which is considerably higher than in the Pacific Ocean. With this salinity only salt water tilapia fish manages to reproduce, and so they are the delight for fishermen and needed food for waterfowl.
As a result of a pair of hurricanes in the 1970s flush waters caused a rapid rise of water level in the lake, it expanded rapidly, and pretty much all of the buildings near the beach were rejected in a hurry. Population of surrounding cities decreased to a fraction, and population has begun to increase only in the 2000’s, mainly due to low-cost housing and housing costs. And commuting time to work is not very bad, when the area is less than an hour from Palm Springs.
Now the water has fallen to approximately to 1950’s levels and especially in Bombay Beach and Salton Beach you can see the consequences of events as abandoned and collapsed buildings on the shores. You may also see thousands of fish in bones for example at the beach beside the the Visitor Center.
Salton Sea also offers opportunities for life
This lake was created by accident, when the farmers had discovered soil in the area to be very fertile, and tried to bring more and more water for growth in the area. Currently areas around Salton Sea in the north-west and even more in the south-east occupy huge farms that grow vegetables, grains and fruits. The farms reach in some areas as far as the eye can see, and here and there small factories process the products of these farms.
The accidentally born lake is a major benefit for birds, and actually on the lake lives about 30 percent of California’s all white pelicans. According to experts the lake is very crucial for many endangered species of birds, but also useful for migrating birds as a resting and feeding place. During autumn and spring migration more than 90 percent of all along the west coast migrating birds stop at the lake and the busiest days there’s more than one and a half million calculated birds on the lake. A real birdwatcher’s paradise!
The third benefit is an interesting urban recovery during the 2000’s. The population has increased in all the lakeside towns and near the small town of Niland exists a bizarre “Salvation Mountain” – a work of one ecclectic man during 30 years. You can climb on top of man-made Salvation Mountain following “The Yellow Brick Road” like Alice in Wonderland for a salvation experience, reading texts that God and Jesus love everyone.
In addition to a my series of pictures from Salton Sea, an American made a video on YouTube describing the birth and nature of the lake like it really is.