One of the world's largest inland seas and lowest spots on earth at -227 below sea level, Salton Sea was re-created in 1905 when high spring flooding on the Colorado River crashed the canal gates leading into the developing Imperial Valley. For the next 18 months the entire volume of the Colorado River rushed downward into the Salton Trough. By the time engineers were finally able to stop the breaching water in 1907, the Salton Sea had been born at 45 miles long and 20 miles wide – equaling about 130 miles of shoreline. Salton Sea State Recreation Area covers 14 miles of the northeastern shore and has long been a popular site for campers, boaters and anglers. Increasing salinity in the Salton Sea basin has limited the number of types of fish that can be found there, and most fish currently caught are Tilapia. Varner Harbor within the SRA provides easy access to the sea for boating and water skiing. Kayakers, campers, birdwatchers, photographers and hikers can enjoy the site's many recreation opportunities.
Bird Watching—Marsh birds, shore birds, and waterfowl of nearly every description stop over to replenish themselves. Annually, as many as 1.5 million eared grebes and nearly half of California’s population of white-faced ibis have been counted at the sea. Cormorants and cattle egrets maintain year-round nesting colonies. From November through February, park staff offer guided kayak tours and other programs, where visitors may see a variety of water-dependent bird life.
Fishing—Although rising salinity limits the diversity of fish that thrive here, fishing is still excellent. Tilapia (similar to crappie) abound and have no catch limits. As a solution to the sea’s salinity is developed, there may be hope for the return of the locally famous corvina and sargo. Both shore and boat tilapia fishing are equally successful. A fishing jetty is available at Varner Harbor.
Boating—The Salton Sea is called the fastest lake in the U.S. because its high salt content allows boats to be more buoyant, while its below-sea-level elevation gives engines greater operating efficiency. Obey all posted speed limits.
Camping—Five campgrounds offer more than 200 campsites, including some with full hookups.
Hiking—Nature trails loop around each campground. The best hiking can be found along the shoreline.
Fishing—No designated accessible fishing facilities exist in the park, but many visitors fish from the Varner Harbor picnic area. The visitor center and camp store are accessible.
En route Campsites
Hike or Bike Campsites
RV Sites w/Hookups
RV Dump Station
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Env. Learning/Visitor Center
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