salton sea state recreaion area park brochure

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  • 8/9/2019 Salton Sea State Recreaion Area Park Brochure


    At the Salton Sea,millions o migrating

    birds, teen hundred

    campsites, and

    generous shing

    limits entice more

    than 100,000 visitors

    each year.

    Salton SeaState Recreation Area

    2008 California State Parks Printed on Recycled Paper

    Our MissionThe mission otheCaliornia Department oParks and Recreation is to provide or the

    health, inspiration and education o the

    people o Caliornia by helping to preserve

    the states extraordinary biological diversity,

    protecting its most valued natural and

    cultural resources, and creating opportunitiesor high-quality outdoor recreation.

    Salton Sea State Recreation Area

    100-225 State Park RoadNorth Shore, CA 92254

    (760) 393-3059 or (760) 331-9944

    Caliornia State Parks supports equal access.

    Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities whoneed assistance should contact the park at

    (760) 393-3059. To receive this publication in

    an alternate ormat, contact:


    P. O. Box 942896Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

    For inormation call: (800) 777-0369(916) 653-6995, outside the U.S.

    711, TTY relay service

    Discover the many states of California.

  • 8/9/2019 Salton Sea State Recreaion Area Park Brochure



    Salton Sea

    long the

    northeastern edge

    of the Salton Sea

    one o the worlds

    most important

    winter stops or

    birds traveling thePacic Flyway

    Salton Sea State

    Recreation Area is a

    birdwatchers delight. Birds begin arriving by

    tens o thousands in October. By January the

    wings o more than 400 species o migrating

    birds orm living clouds across crystal clear

    skies. By May most o them have continued

    to their ultimate destinations, but while theymake use o the Salton Seas rich oerings,

    the birds are an unorgettable sight.

    Typical o the Colorado Desert area,

    average low and high temperatures in spring

    and all range rom about 50 to 85 degrees.

    July and August are the hottest months, with

    75-degree mornings and aternoons well

    over 100 degrees. Winter days average 60

    degrees, but nights can drop to reezing.


    Native People

    Perhaps two

    thousand years ago,

    the Cahuilla and

    other native groups

    occupied theselands. When they

    rst arrived, the

    Salton Sink held a

    much larger body o waterthe ancient Lake

    Cahuillawell above sea level. Cahuilla oral

    traditions told o a huge reshwater lake, ull

    o sh and teeming with abundant wildlie.

    Archaeological proo o the ancient lakes

    existence comes rom early house pits,middens and various artiacts ound along

    ormer sandbars, creeks and washes.

    Tradition held that this enormous lake

    covered the entire valley. As it shrank, the

    people moved their villages down rom

    the mountains and settled in the areas

    once covered by water. Their shing camps

    generally ollowed the contours o that

    ancient lake, and they built sh traps o

    stones in the lakes shallower waters.

    The native people may have met their

    rst Europeans in 1540 when Melchior

    Diaz explored the area or Hernn Corts.

    Later Juan Bautista de Anza, looking or a

    trade route, traveled through the Salton

    Sink in 1774.

    Historians estimate that as many as10,000 Cahuilla once lived here. Their rst

    encounter with Anglo-Americans came in

    the 1840s, when they permitted travelers

    to pass through their lands. By the 1850s

    the Cahuilla lands had been given to

    settlers, and the native people lost the

    resources they needed to survive. Finally,

    the introduction o diseases to which

    they had no immunity nearly decimatedthe Cahuilla. Today, about 3,000 Cahuilla

    descendants live on reservations

    administered by elected tribal councils.

    The Cahuilla have revived their traditional

    ceremonies, languages and crats, and

    they are passing these skills on to the next


  • 8/9/2019 Salton Sea State Recreaion Area Park Brochure












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    In 1905, the fooding Colorado River was

    accidentally diverted into the Salton

    Sink, thus creating the current Salton Sea.


    Geologically, the Salton Sink is a

    landlocked extension o the Gul o

    Caliornia. The Salton Sea, Caliornias

    largest lake, is 35 miles long, 15 miles

    wide, and 227 eet below sea level. Unlike

    most lakes, it has no natural outlet fowingto the ocean; whatever fows in, including

    agricultural runo, does not fow out.

    The sea is bordered by the Santa Rosa

    and Coyote Mountains to the west, the

    Orocopia Mountains to the north, and the

    Chocolate Mountains to the east. This

    present body o water is only the latest

    o many lakes that have lled this basin

    over the years, sometimes or centuriesat a time, which explains the remains o

    both reshwater and sea creatures that can

    be seen high in the surrounding hills and


    The Salton Sink basin was originally

    the northern part o what is now the Gul

    o Caliornia. Flowing rom the Rocky

    Mountains to the gul, the river scoured

    out the ormations o Arizonas GrandCanyon. In wet times, the river would ll

    the sink; at other times, it would bypass the

    sink, causing the lake to shrink or even to


    At times the gul waters would fow

    upwards to meet the river, depositing salt

    water and sediment. With nowhere else

    to fow, these deposits ormed a deltaa

    an-shaped plainsoutheast o the Salton


    THE SALTON SEA, 1905

    2008 California State Parks

  • 8/9/2019 Salton Sea State Recreaion Area Park Brochure


    Sunset over an palms and scrub

    Wintering birds


    During the late 1800s, the Caliornia

    Development Company (CDC)

    envisioned an agricultural empire in

    the Colorado Desert. But they needed

    water to irrigate the elds and

    orchards they dreamed about. By1901 the Colorado River

    had been tapped or this

    purpose; in two years it

    was irrigating more than

    100,000 acres in what was even

    then being called the Imperial Valley.

    However, the CDC had not provided

    an eective method or dealing with

    irrigation runo or high water levels. In1905, ater an unusually wet winter, the

    Colorado River broke through poorly

    constructed canals and gates; or about

    18 months, the rivers entire volume

    poured unchecked into the nearest low

    spotthe Salton Sink. Water inundated

    entire communities, the main line

    o the Southern Pacic Railroad, the

    Torres-Martinez Reservation, and the

    New Liverpool Salt Company, a long-

    standing operation that mined the pure

    salt deposits rom around the lake.

    The Southern Pacic had re-routed

    orty miles o track, but another food

    season could jeopardize the new

    route. In 1907, the railroad built a

    trestle and gathered tons o ll matter

    and boulders that they dumped into

    the streambed. When the last loads

    were dumped, cars and all, the water

    subsided. By then the lake had fooded

    nearly 350,000 acres in the alluvial plain.

    The Salton Sea is so large that rom some

    vantage points, the earths curvature

    hides the opposite shore.

    By the 1950s, the Salton Sea had

    become a popular resort area withtwo yacht clubs. A large marina

    and a championship gol

    course attracted celebrities,

    but by the 1960s, increasing

    salinity had marred the dream o a

    desert Eden.


    Over centuries the ragile ecosystem o

    the Salton Sea has provided sanctuary

    to an extremely diverse collection o

    wildlie and the critical habitats that

    nurture them. The sea holds hundreds

    o millions o sh that eed millions o

    wintering birds, including egrets, brown

    and white pelicans, Canada geese, snow

    geese, and northern pintails. Resident

    birds include Gambels quail, greaterroadrunners, and endangered Yuma

    clapper rails. Birds o prey arrive in the

    spring, among them rough-legged hawks

    and peregrine alcons.

    The vegetation includes drought-

    tolerant desert scrub, creosote bush,

    several varieties o desert saltbush,

    an palms, and tamarisk. Cottonwoods

    and willows grow alongside reshwaterstreams, springs and salt marshes.


    The Salton Sea supports signicant

    segments o many migratory bird

    populations that eat sh. Unortunately,

    the seas rising salinity threatens its

    vital importance to more than 400 bird

    species. With less than three inches orainall per year and limited sources o

    resh water fow, the sea is now about 30

    percent saltier than the ocean itsel.

  • 8/9/2019 Salton Sea State Recreaion Area Park Brochure


    Fishing is popular at Salton Sea.

    The Salton Sea lacks any outlet,

    with infow rom only a ew sources

    the Whitewater River to the north,

    the Alamo and New rivers to the

    south, runo rom surrounding

    agricultural elds, and some municipal

    efuent and storm water. Growingconcentrations o salt may cause all but

    the hardy tilapia to stop reproducing.

    As salinity increases, dissolved oxygen

    in the water decreases, making the sea

    unsustainable or most species o sh.

    Less ood or migrating birds could

    eventually mean ewer birds overall.

    CAN IT BE SAVED?The sea presently supports 80 to

    90 percent o the North American

    endangered bird populations. With

    more than 90 percent o Caliornias

    wetlands converted to other uses,

    at least 50 species o birds listed as

    threatened, endangered, or o concern

    rely upon the Salton Sea or survival

    during migration.Federal, state, tribal, and local

    entities, as well as concerned interest

    groups and individuals, are now

    working together to try to save Salton

    Sea. In 2003 the Caliornia legislature

    passed the Salton Sea Restoration Act,

    directing the State to undertake the

    restoration o the Salton Sea ecosystem

    and the permanent protection o thewildlie dependent on that ecosystem.

    Finding eective methods to save this

    extraordinary resource is urgent.


    At least 100,000 visitors

    annually enjoy such ac-

    tivities as camping, pic-

    nicking, shing, boating,

    water sports, kayaking,

    bird watching and hikingthe trails.

    Bird Watching

    Annually, as many as 1.5

    million eared grebes and

    nearly hal o Caliornias

    population o white-

    aced ibis have been

    counted at the sea.

    Cormorants and cattleegrets maintain year-

    round nesting colonies.

    From November through February, ranger

    sta oers guided boat tours; visitors may

    see tens o thousands o snow geese, Rosss

    and Canada geese, and scores o thousands

    o ducks. Marsh birds, shore birds, and

    waterowl o nearly every description stop

    over to replenish themselves.FishingAlthough rising salinity limits

    the diversity o sh that thrive here,

    shing is still excellent. Tilapia (similar to

    perch) abound and have no legal limits.

    Occasional mullet and bass are also

    caught. As a solution to the seas salinity

    is developed, there may be hope or

    the return o the locally amous corvina

    and sargo. Both shore and boat shing

    are equally successul. A shing jetty is

    available at Varner Harbor.

    BoatingThe Salton

    Sea is called the astest

    lake in the U.S. because

    its high salt content

    allows boats to be more

    buoyant, while its below-

    sea-level elevation givesengines greater operating

    eciency. Obey all posted

    speed limits.


    campgrounds oer a

    total o 1,500 campsites,

    including some with ull

    hookups. Reserve a site

    at (800) 444-7275

    HeadquartersThis area has two

    campgrounds. Headquarters, near the

    visitor center, has 15 sites with hookups.

    New Camp has access to hiking trails,

    a shing jetty, the main boat ramp,

    sanitation stations and a boat washing

    area. Flush toilets, showers, and somehookups, plus a group camp without

    hookups, are on site.

    Bombay Beacha popular primitive

    campground with beach camping,

    chemical toilets and piped water. This

    campground is at the southern end o the

    park near the town o Bombay Beach.

    Salt Creek BeachSalt Creek fows

    through a primitive campground withchemical toilets, beach camping and bird


  • 8/9/2019 Salton Sea State Recreaion Area Park Brochure


    Corvina Beacha primitive

    campground, popular or shing,

    with chemical toilets and water.

    Access to the beach is not as

    convenient as at others; it has a

    drop-o that can be dicult.

    Mecca Beacha large, developedcampground or swimmers, boaters,

    and anglers, with easy beach access,

    fush toilets, showers and some ull


    HikingNature trails loop around

    each campground. The best hiking can

    be ound along the lakes shoreline.


    Accessibility is continually improving.For details, call the park or see small

    Visitor Center at the park is generally


    CampingVarner Harbor Campground

    has one site near the harbor that

    is generally accessible. The harbor

    restroom is usable and has accessible

    parking nearby. Showers are generally


    Picnic AreaVarner Harbor has oneaccessibly-designed picnic site on a

    concrete pad at the jetty. No water is

    available. Accessible parking and a

    portable toilet are nearby.

    FishingNo designated shing acilities

    exist in the park, but many visitors sh

    rom the Varner Harbor picnic area. A

    concrete pad at the accessible picnic

    site reaches nearly to the waters edge,permitting persons with mobility

    impairments to sh, but without railings

    or edge protection.


    In desert country, carry extra water and

    other essential supplies, and stay on

    authorized roads. In case o trouble,

    remain near vehicles and in shade until

    help arrives.

    Nopetsareallowedonbeaches.Petsmust be kept on a six-oot leash, and

    in a vehicle or tent at night. Please

    clean up ater pets.


    and may not be disturbed or collected.


    must be allowed to decompose

    naturally. Firewood is sold at most

    campgrounds. Eachanglerovertheageof16must

    possess a valid Caliornia shing




    San Diego via Highways 78 and 79 rom

    the east and west, and via I-8 rom the

    south (760) 767-5311OcotilloWellsStateVehicular

    Recreation Area, in east San Diego

    County via Highway 78 (760) 767-5391


    Highway 243, Idyllwild, CA 92549

    (951) 659-2607

    A day at the beach at Salton Sea SRA

    This park receives support in part through a nonprotorganization. For more inormation, contact

    Sea and Desert Interpretive Association

    100-225 State Park Road, North Shore, CA 92254

    (760) 393-3810

  • 8/9/2019 Salton Sea State Recreaion Area Park Brochure