One of my favorite things to find along a hike is an abandoned things.

Of course, I love a good mountain overlook. A great waterfall is always incredible but there’s just something about the bones of an old resort or mansion that has been swallowed up by nature. Every abandoned thing has a story that’s fascinating, either it’s rich in history or evidence of a changed culture. I’ve explored the foundations of an estate destroyed by fire along a popular hike in the Hudson Valley in New York and found an old hotel up in the Catskills. I’ve found the bones of a old village swallowed up by nature.

Then I stumbled upon a little place along the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea was originally created by accident when water being diverted from the Colorado River for farming broke through a canal and water drained into a dry lake bed for two years before it was fixed. By this time a massive lake was formed which became known as the Salton Sea. The lake should have dried up but it was continuously fed with water from area farmers. During the 1950s and 1960s it was an oasis in the dry, barren desert and the shores of the Salton Sea became a popular tourist destination and resorts communities sprung up at its shore. It also was a popular bird-watching destination as it became a resting spot for migrating birds.

In the 1970s scientists first started ringing the alarm bells, warning that the lake continue to shrink. Then in the 1980s disaster struck, chemicals from farming drained into the lake and contaminated the water. Massive die-offs of birds and fish occurred. The water became so salinity that large fish kills would happen, leaving the beach lined with thousands of fish carcasses and the smell drove down the tourism at the Salton Sea.

The issues with the Salton sea continued into the 90s. The water run off from farms was reduced so the sea began to shrink, the exposed lake beds led to toxic dust that affected nearby communities and reaches as far as Los Angeles.

Bombay Beach, the area I visited on my way to Palm Springs was one of those Resort towns that ran along the Salton Sea. The once popular destination for beach goers now has a population of 231 as of 2020. It’s full of a number of abandoned structures and has since become a mecca for artists and nomads.

During my visit I explored a complex of abandoned buildings covered with graffiti, a drive-in art piece, and the numerous art installations down by the water. Checkout my photo gallery for some of the items I checked out while I was in the Bombay Beach.

A modified “Sorry, We’re Closed” Sign outside an abandoned complex