Salton Sea


A Short History of the Sea

The Imperial Valley lies between the Sand Dunes on the east side and the Laguna Mountains on the west side.  Millions of years ago it was the delta of the Colorado River until sediments created a dam across its mouth, and created a huge lake.  Since that time the valley has alternately been home to deserts and lakes, depending on climate and river flows.  The valley is exceedingly fertile, and in 1901, after a 40-mile canal had been built to provide water for irrigation, 300,000 acres were being farmed.  In 1905 a flood caused a breach in the canal, and almost the entire Colorado River started to flow into the old lake bed of the Imperial Valley.  Until the river was turned back 18 months later, some 63 billion gallons of water a day emptied into what became a lake 35 miles long and 15 miles wide, the Salton Sea. 


Getting There

From Yuma - take I-8 thirty-nine miles to Highway 115 (about 45 minutes), drive north thirty-two miles on 115 to Calipatria (about 40 minutes), continue north several miles to the Salton Sea NWR turnoff.  Turn left (west) and go 4 miles to refuge headquarters.


Salton Sea Links   - home page for the Salton Sea Birding Festival (the dates for 2001 are February 17-19) - lots of Salton Sea birding, local info, and bird photos, probably the best Imperial Valley bird site around.  Excellent!  - California birding info organized by county

Photo of black-necked stilts at Red Hill Marina
Black-necked Stilts at Red Hill Marina

Sunset over the Salton Sea

Birding Hot Spots in the area
Ramer Lake
Finney Lake
Refuge Headquarters
Red Hill Trail
Red Hill Marina & Alamo River
New River Delta
Whitewater Delta
State Recreation Area

Future updates will list directions to these sites and let you know what to look for!

Birding Trips with PHOTOS!
16 Jan 2000
29 Jan 2000
18-21 Feb 2000
2 Mar 2000
10 Mar 2000
29 May 2000
25 Jun 2000
4 Jul 2000
9 Oct 2000
18 Nov 2000
20 Nov 2000
24 Dec 2000
28 Dec 2000
10 Jan 2001
18-19 Jan 2001
15 Apr 2001

Salton Sea 2001 Birding Festival List
16-19 Feb 2000

Click for gull ID table

Photos Henry D. Detwiler