You will want to pack a sense of adventure when visiting Southern California’s Salton Sea. One of the world’s largest inland seas, this surreal place in the middle of the desert attracts an interesting mix of snowbirds, artists, vagrants, and lovers of wide-open spaces.
This area is best experienced in the winter and spring, but if you can stand the heat summer will have no crowds.
Once part of a large inland sea, the Salton Sea was a popular tourist area in the 1950s. Due to increased salinity and agricultural pollution of the water, most of the resort areas and homes were abandoned.
Consequently, the shallow sea then became an attraction for those interested in urban decay and the slowly degrading environment.
With over 100 miles of shoreline, the sea still attracts birdwatchers, fishermen, boaters, and RVers. From luxurious to rustic, here are five places to park your RV in this unusual area.
1. Bashford’s Hot Mineral Spa
The Salton Sea is located right on the San Andreas Fault in California’s Imperial and Coachella Valleys. This makes for some interesting hot springs right in the middle of the desert. Bashford’s Hot Mineral Spa is located on the east side of the sea and has a mineral-rich well that seeps out of the ground hot and ready for soaking.
The campground has daily, weekly, and monthly rates for full hookups. Their spots with no hookups are very reasonable at $26.50 for a night. Amenities include special events, warms pools, and amazing desert vistas.
2. Oasis Palms RV Resort
For the ultimate luxurious desert camping, Oasis Palms RV Resort has it all. Located near the northern shore of the Salton Sea, this resort is close to the lush Coachella Valley.
Campsites include full hookups for $40 per day, partial hookups for $35 per day, and tent camping for $30 per day. In addition, the campground is pet-friendly, has free high-speed WiFi and laundry facilities. The green grounds are full of palm and fruit trees, and guests can enjoy the pool and spa under the desert sky.
3. Fountain of Youth Spa and RV Resort
Located near the middle of the Salton Sea, the Fountain of Youth Spa and RV Resort is what the Salton Sea was in its heyday. This family-run, 1,000-site resort offers short-term and long-term RV sites that start at $47 per day.
Dry camping is a great deal at only $24 per day. The facilities include a fitness center, individual mineral water baths, pools, and bike trails. Nights are even more special with outdoor fire pits and a pet-friendly atmosphere.
4. Bombay Beach Campground
If you don’t mind camping in a more primitive area, the Bombay Beach Campground on the east shore of the Salton Sea is located in one of the former resort areas.
This camping area is full of decaying, old structures perfect for people who love photography. The campground has piped water and chemical toilets and is a popular place for fishing and kayaking.
5. Slab City
If you want to camp in a free, interesting place, try Slab City. This lawless “town” was once a Marine Corps base and is now home to an odd mix of drifters, squatters, snowbirds, and full-time dwellers.
More of a dynamic art exhibit, Slab City is home to several well-known pieces of art including Salvation Mountain and the Church of Broken Toys. There are about 30 paved and sandy campsites in Slab City, but no facilities.
Locals might sell you water and you will need to pack out your own sewage and trash. The nearest store for food and laundry is located in the small town of Niland, California.