Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea, California

I for one am obsessed with travel shows and the idea of exploring this incredible world we live in, especially forgotten and abandoned locations. One travel host in particular I find greatly entertaining is Anthony Bourdain. On one episode of his show No Reservations he stopped at the infamous Bombay Beach located on the Salton Sea.

I encourage you to check out the quick 6 minute clip from No Reservations on You Tube: No Reservations: Bombay Beach

At the time I originally watched this episode I found Bombay Beach to be both bizarre and intriguing, but never thought I would wind up there with a chance to experience it first hand until early in 2014 when I joined a group of friends in heading to the Coachella Music Festival located in Indio, California. The Salton Sea was only 60 minute drive southeast of Indio so on an extra day after the festival was over I decided to make the trip out.

The Salton Sea was originally a dried up lake bed until in the early 1900's heavy rainfall caused the Colorado River to overflow the engineered irrigation canal in place sending millions of gallons of water over a two year period into the California desert. Many considered this to be a blessing.

Later in the 1950's and 1960's it was branded as the "Salton Riviera" and many also called it the "miracle in the desert". It soon became a massive tourist attraction which saw over half a million visitors each year! Yacht clubs, homes, and hotels started popping up around its shores and in turn the property demands skyrocketed. 

Fish were also introduced to the lake early on, and it became a sport fishing and speedboat destination as well. The lake was also being used at the same time to pump water out around the valley for irrigation. One of the many problems with this was that the Salton Sea did not have an outlet, causing it to become very salty. Adding to the problem was the water being pumped out to the valley naturally running downhill back into the Salton Sea and along with it dissolved salts, pesticides, and fertilizers from the soil in the valley.

Rapidly depleting oxygen levels along with the salts, pesticides and fertilizers caused the fish to die off in mass numbers eventually to wash up on shore and rot away in the California sun. Around 1896 the California government had warned that everyone should avoid consumption of any fish caught in the Salton Sea for fears of high toxicity levels.

While the glory days of "miracle in the desert" have long washed away, a census conducted back in 2010 listed Bombay Beach as having around 300 residents who remain in the community. Many of those utilize golf carts to get around as the nearest gas station is around 20 miles away.

If you watched the clip earlier from No Reservations you'll have seen that Anthony stopped at the Ski Inn, while I too stopped there (you cant really miss it actually as its on the main drag in and out of town) I decided to keep my adventures to the exterior of the building :D

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, California

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, California

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, California

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, California

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, California

Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, California

Ski Inn at Bombay Beach, Salton Sea, California


  1. I was there in February also, possibly we crossed paths and didn't know it. Nice work. Here are mine, if you are interested.

    1. Great shots, thanks for checking out my post and sharing your link!