Salton Sea State Recreation Area, CA

Dedicated in 1955, the Salton Sea State Recreation Area is the largest recreation provider on the Salton Sea. Operated by the California State Park Service, it is located on the northeastern shores of the Sea. This large recreation area extends from the town of North Shore to Bombay Beach. It has 1,400 campsites, day-use and picnic sites, hiking trails, a visitor center, playground, boat ramp, and boat wash areas.

Salton Sea State Recreation Area is popular with snowbirds and other campers, birders, and boaters. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over 150,000 people visit this popular recreation area each year. Popular activities include boating, water-skiing, fishing, jet-skiing, hiking, birdwatching, and sailboarding. Stores and gas stations are available in North Shore.

Neighboring attractions include the Coachella Valley, 30 miles north; General Patton Museum, 40 miles northeast; and the Dos Palmas Preserve and historical area just to the east of the state park.

Varner Harbor, at the park’s headquarters, offers a fishing jetty where many fish are caught. Tilapia, a perch-like fish, are plentiful. Other sport fish include corvina, presently caught with a fair degree of success at the south end of the Sea. Croaker are being taken at the north end, but not in great number. And a few sargo are being seen. Also found in rare instances are mullet and striped bass.

The Visitor Center, located at the park’s headquarters, offers examples of the many birds and animals that are present around the Salton Sea. Video presentations demonstrate how the Sea was created and its human history. The State Park Rangers offer a variety of interpretive presentations, including lecture series, campfire programs, and Jr. Ranger programs. A boat ramp gives boaters access to almost 400 square miles of water.

 

Salton Sea State Recreation Area is a birders' paradise. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bird watchingis very good at the park, as it is all over the Salton Sea. Migrating birds begin to be seen on the Sea as early as October. They fill the air by January and generally leave by May. Four million birds are estimated to use the Sea each day in the winter, more than any other resource in the nation.

The park has 1,400 campsites in five campgrounds. Three campgrounds are primitive, two are developed, and one offers full hookups. Camping at the Salton Sea State Recreation Area is best from October through May. The park is open all year, but summer temperatures can be extreme.

Headquarters Area offers two campgrounds with different types of services. Los Frijoles is developed with flush toilets and showers. It provides easy access to hiking trails, a fishing jetty, the park’s main boat ramp, sanitary stations, and boat wash stations.

Located nearby is the park’s visitor center, a small playground, full hook-up camping sites, and restrooms and showers. It is located in front of the park’s largest beach where many activities take place. There is also a sheltered meeting area for groups.

Bombay Beach is located at the extreme southern end of the recreation area, next to the small town of Bombay Beach. It offers beach camping with chemical toilets and water. This is a popular campground for fishermen. Some services are available in the adjacent town.

 

For tranquility and warm winter temperatures, point the RV in the direction of Salton Sea State Recreation Area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Salt Creek Beachhas on-the-beach primitive camping with chemical toilets. It is popular with fishermen and bird watchers. Salt Creek runs through the campground and is host to many species of birds. The endangered pupfish also live in Salt Creek.

Corvina Beach has primitive camping with water and chemical toilets; it is popular with groups. While this campground is on the shores of the Sea, it has a drop off to the beach and access can be difficult. However, many winter fishermen spend the weekends at Corvina Beach.

Mecca Beach Campground is a large developed campground with good beach access. Mecca Beach has flush toilets and showers and a limited number of partial hook-up sites. Good fishing is found off Mecca Beach and many swimmers and boaters enjoy the easy access to the water. Mecca Beach Campground is one of the more active areas in the state recreation area.

Worth Pondering…
Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—you miss the sense of where you’re going and why.
—Eddie Cantor

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