The Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, and Slab City (CA)

The Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, and Slab City (CA)

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If you decide to go gallivanting in southeast California, for the love of puppies get gas before you get all the way out here. Trust me. There’s a lot of long, open, non-gas-giving road in between civilization and these crazy curiosities.

Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is an interesting place. According to their video (that they will play for you in a tiny theater in the back of the visitor’s center, which is awkwardly a bit too long to be engaging but just too short to excuse yourself from) the Salton Sea used to be a hopping place to be back in the 70s.

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Nowadays it is practically barren. The campsites are empty, dead fish line the shore, and the flies can be pretty unbearable. But I’d still recommend it. It’s like a recreational ghost town. And plus, nearby is the Painted Canyon, a bat cave nestled in a butte I have yet to find (but dagnabit I hear it’s out there) and weirdest of all, Salvation Mountain and Slab City.

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The first time I found Salvation Mountain was an accident caused by almost running out of gas on the way back from the Salton Sea, and wandering my way into Niland. The second time was to show Liz the splendor of…whatever this is.


Salvation Mountain is something along the lines of half Wizard of Oz, half Blair Witch Project, imagined out of full religious obsession. If you get weirded out by shrines made from hay and car parts, maybe take a pass here. Otherwise dive on in.

Slab City

Slab City is a bit further on down the road. Located in Calipatria, CA, Slab City is coined the “Last Free Place in America“. There’s no rent paid, and hey it even comes with a shoe tree.

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