Salton Sea State Recreation Area: Camping, Dead Fish & Amazing Sunsets

Salton Sea is worth a visit, don’t let anyone else tell you different. There is just so much to see on a trip there, from crazy art to banana museums. If you want to learn about the water and its job in shaping the area though you really need to visit the state recreation area. At the park you can find beaches full of shells and fish bones, a visitor center, tons of camping spots and sunsets that will make you forget that you are in the desert near water you don’t want to swim in. Salton Sea State Recreation Area should be visited at least once, here is the info.

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Details

  • Cost: $10 for entrance
  • Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
  • Location: 100-225 State Park Rd, Mecca, CA 92254
  • Camping info here

Camping

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One of the main attractions in the state park is camping. They have generous sites and a campground that is never really that full. The best time to visit is of course anytime other than the summer, when it is way to hot to want to be there.

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There are also a decent amount of bathrooms located near the sites so that you do not have to walk very far, and there is a playground for children.

The Beach

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Yes, the beach has a bunch of dead fish on it and yes it does not usually smell very good. That being said it is a crazy place to walk around at and just take everything in, at least I think it is.

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The saline content of the water makes these strange pools near the shore where the salt content builds up and it is unlike anything you have ever seen.

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The beach is also surrounded by birds as well and is a great place for bird watching if you are into that. 

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There are a few picnic tables for day use here, which offer beautiful views of the water and the landscape behind it.

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I would recommend visiting for the sunset as well as the sun disappears behind the mountains on the other side of the water it is an amazing thing to see and the colors are often fantastic.

Hiking

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If you are into hiking I would recommend just spending some time exploring the campground and the state park itself as it goes for 14 miles along the shore. Also, right across from the entrance to the state park is a road that will take you to two different hikes you can do to oasis in the area, I wrote about one here. These are a great way to get away from the beach and explore the surrounding area.

Food

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If you are looking for supplies I recommend heading to the small store next to the International Banana Museum which has a limited amount of supplies. If you are there when the museum is open then I suggest grabbing a milkshake as well as they are fantastic.

All in all the Salton Sea State Park is a great way to explore the area and one that I highly recommend. Just seeing the dead fish on the beach will be something you will not be able to forget. If you want to make a day out of it check out my recommendations for other things to do at the Salton Sea here.

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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Gerard Smith

    Good points about the birdwatching and the sunsets. There’s a good reason the campgrounds are not full here, even in cool weather. I almost camped here, but the stench of brackish water and rotting fish, was so strong, I drove on northward towards Joshua Tree.

    • haha I know what you mean. I haven’t camped there but I always love exploring it!

  • fattima

    On my last two visits to California from Australia I have spent time at Salton Sea. Loved my time exploring the area, great spot for photography too.

    • Thanks for the comment, I agree it is a great place for photography!

  • Mary

    Stumbling across your blog and photos put the Salton Sea on my to-do list! I frequent horse shows in Thermal, CA. This February finally go to go with my 18-year-old daughter (who was SURE she’d hate it), and our horse trainer. It was so wonderful; we got great photos and a beautiful sunset on Salvation Mountain…our daughter was blown away and had to admit…it was cool. Sent other friends for their own adventure as well. Your photos and descriptions are compelling – I’m a follower. Well done.

    • Thanks so much for the comment, I agree that the Salton Sea often gets a bad rap but is a really unique spot to explore for a day. I am glad you and your daughter enjoyed it!