Our Saturday adventures didn’t stop with the Super Bloom. As we hiked back toward our car, still admiring the seemingly never ending beauty of the desert in full color, we started a bit of a “what if” conversation. We knew we were done hiking for the day…but it was still before noon, why not continue exploring?
We’d seen signs for the Salton Sea as we drove towards Borrego Springs. What if we just went further and explored the Salton Sea? We checked out the distance on Google maps…it seemed a reasonable option, so we plugged it in, pushed start, and headed east.
We drove through more patches of the desert in full bloom, watching carefully for those drivers and folks with cameras who pull off the road suddenly, flipping car doors open without remembering that they are stopped on the side of highway. We continued to drive, the view changing until it seemed we had found landscapes that time had forgotten. Sparse vegetation, windswept columns and deep valleys reminiscent of the Grand Canyon surrounded us, I almost expected to see a giant dinosaur pop its head up and look me in the eye. As we continued on, we found the hideaways of weekend RVers and their myriad dune buggies racing up and down self-made roadways. Unexpectedly, the landscape changed again. Were we seeing a mirage? The blue on the horizon looked like we were seeing the ocean in front of us. The Salton Sea is called an accidental lake, though apparently at one time it was a naturally occurring fresh water lake. It is located directly over the San Andreas fault and is known as one of the largest and saltiest inland bodies of water. (I cannot even begin to do justice to its history in this post, so if you’re interested, I encourage you to do some research–it’s super interesting!)
As we got closer, we realized that our navigation led us to the community of Salton Sea City. We drove as close to the shoreline as we could and got close enough to take it its immensity. We wanted to get closer–close enough to walk along the shoreline. We tried Google again, this time trying the search word “beach.” We had a couple of choices–one closer than the other. We headed toward the closest one…Salton Sea Beach. As we drove, we were hoping for beach access. We were surprised when we drove into a small community and the navigation told us we had arrived. Driving around a bit, we followed a road toward a shoreline where we found “No Trespassing” signs. We realized we had not driven to the beach, we had driven to the community named Salton Sea Beach! Frustration was building–surely somewhere there was access to the shoreline of the Salton Sea! Consulting Google once again, we chose that other option and headed off toward the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. Luckily, it took us mostly in the direction we would eventually head to return home. But we were surprised when the exit looped us back in the direction we started from and were even more surprised when we realized we were on the opposite shore of the Salton Sea!
But we finally got that beach access we were looking for. A short walk gave us a view of black necked stilts along with some familiar gulls. Apparently the Salton Sea has become a migratory flyway for many birds–one that is in danger. California’s water wars are most evident when it comes to the Salton Sea…the topic for yet another blog post.
My photos of this sea are not spectacular–the light was all wrong, the birds too far away. But the experience was worth the frustration and the strange driving routes through unfamiliar desert areas…definitely a Saturday adventure!