Salton Sea Region of California

The Salton Sea is a large, shallow, saline lake located southeast of the Coachella Valley, in Southern California within Riverside County and Imperial County. While the dimensions vary depending upon rain and agricultural runoff, it averages 35 miles by 15 miles with a maximum depth of 44 feet. It is the largest lake in California. The lake's salinity is greater than the Pacific Ocean, but less than that of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The level of salt has been increasing over the years limiting the types of fish that can survive. The primary inflows are the Alamo River, the New River, and the Whitewater River. There are no major outflows. There are a number of groups, including the Salton Sea Authority and the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge organization, working on strategies to save the Salton Sea. Towns along the Salton Sea include: Bombay Beach, Desert Beach, Desert Shores, Salton City, Salton Sea Beach, and North Shore.

Drought conditions and the Salton Sea crisis in California are mostly self-inflicted by the California legislature because it has that has refused to utilize our existing water resources. According to the City of Los Angeles website LA River Facts ( the average daily discharge of the Los Angeles River into the Pacific Ocean is 207 million gallons of water per day. This is not a typo. This water could be used for many purposes including recharging aquifers, car washes, farming, parks, golf courses, freeway areas, and other landscaped areas.

The Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, named after Congressman Sonny Bono, is located in the Imperial Valley at the southern end of the Salton Sea. The refuge contains marine, freshwater, wetland, and agricultural habitats which provide sanctuary for hundreds of birds and wetland species, including some that are endangered. The refuge has a visitor center and walking trails.

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area, located on the northeastern side of the Salton Sea offers camping, fishing, and swimming to visitors. The Salton Sea State Recreation Area is administered by the California Department Parks and Recreation.

The Salton Sea Landowners Association was formed in 1993 to act as an advocate for property owners on the west shore and to keep its members informed about those issues affecting land values. The organization is a voluntary membership organization that distributes a newsletter to its members.

Many investors are acquiring rural land, including desert land in California for commercial campsites, solar farms, and wind farms, all of which can generate monthly income. Others, including land bankers, acquire such land for recreational purposes or long-term investment.

Bombay Beach

A census-designated place located on the eastern shore of the Salton Sea in Imperial County.

Desert Shores

A census-designated place adjacent to Salton City in Imperial County, located on the western shore of the Salton Sea.


A census-designated place in Imperial County, located approximately two miles southeast of the Salton Sea within the Colorado Desert. Niland is part of EI Centro Metropolitan Statistical Area and was formerly known as Old Beach and Imperial Junction.

North Shore

A census-designated place located on the northeast shore of the Salton Sea in southeastern Riverside County. Home of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.

Salton City

A census designated place adjacent to Desert Shores in Imperial County located on the western side of the Salton Sea.

Salton Sea Beach

A census-designated place located on the western shore of the Salton Sea, south of Desert Shores and north of Salton City in Imperial County.


An unincorporated community in the Coachella Valley region of Riverside County located about 25 miles southeast of Palm Springs and 9.5 miles north of the Salton Sea.

Salton Sea Airport

The Salton Sea Airport is a privately owned, public use airport located approximately one mile southwest of Salton City in Imperial County. The airport has one runway and has about 350 general aviation operations each month. It serves Bombay Beach, Desert Shores, North Shore, Salton City, Salton Sea Beach, Thermal, and the surrounding areas.

Tributaries of the Salton Sea:

  • The Alamo River flows north and west from the Mexicali Valley in Baja California 52 miles across the Imperial Valley into the Salton Sea.
  • The New River flows north from the Mexicali Valley in Baja California through the city of Calexico in the Imperial Valley into the Salton Sea.
  • The Whitewater River is a small permanent stream with its headwaters in southwestern San Bernardino County. From the San Bernardino Mountains, the river flows south into the Mojave Desert and Salton Sea.
  • Salt Creek is a 26-mile intermittent stream with its headwaters in Riverside County. The stream discharges at the north side of the Salton Sea just north of Salt Creek Beach which is in the Salton Sea Recreation Area.
  • San Felipe Creek is a stream in Imperial County and San Diego County. Its headwater are the Volcan Mountains in San Diego County. The perennial creek runs from the mountains eastward before it empties into the Salton Sea. The San Felipe Creek has been designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

Salton Sea History Museum

The Salton Sea History Museum, a non-profit organization, established at the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club, on the Salton Sea, is temporarily closed but expects to reopen soon. The museum has extensive photos and memorabilia from the 1960s and 1970s. The organization is seeking funding from both Riverside County and Imperial County.

Salton Sea Authority

The Salton Sea Authority is a Joint Powers Authority (JPA), empowered to revitalize the Salton Sea in consultation and cooperation with state and federal governments and agencies which include Imperial County, Riverside County, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Natural Resources Agency, the Imperial Irrigation District and others. The Salton Sea Authority has an extensive website that describes its activities, plans, and recent developments. The organization is headquartered in Indio which is located in the Coachella Valley just north of the Salton Sea.

Lithium Valley

Lithium is a vital mineral in the rechargeable batteries used by consumers In portable computing devices, electric vehicles and battery storage. Today, the United States has only 1% of global lithium being mined and processed, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earth deep below the southern portion of the Salton Sea, which is located in Imperial County, is rich in hot, mineral-abundant geothermal brine that contains some of the world's largest deposits of lithium. It is estimated that Imperial County may hold as much as fifteen million metric tons of lithium, in addition to other rare minerals.

Imperial County officials and industry professionals envision a "Lithium Valley" in Imperial County that would establish California as a global production hub that could employ thousands of workers and propel the economic future of Imperial County residents for generations to come.



Historical Timeline - Coachella Valley

Timeline of Salton Sea