A new camp at the Salton Sea and “Spikey, you didn’t!”

Our destination today is the Salton Sea.

Hey, I figure everyone should smell the Salton Sea at least once in their lifetime.  My expectations may be lower than usual, but I’m still happy to be on the road again with my crew.

From the south entrance of Joshua Tree, the crew and I travel Interstate 10 to Indio where we turn onto Highways 86S and 111 to go southward through Coachella Valley.  We pass by rows of date palms, lemon trees, grape vines, and green vegetables which I’m guessing is lettuce.

Our first glimpse and smell of the Salton Sea is at Mecca Beach State Park.

Bridget, Spike, and I hurry down toward the water.

Hey, this is lovely!  It doesn’t smell bad — a bit of “eau de fishmarket” . . .

The sea is a pleasure to see in spite of this being a dark, cloudy day.

The state park campground is a parking lot with hook-ups.  It costs $20 ($18 with senior pass).

I pack up the crew and we head out. 

My anticipation grows as we turn into Salt Creek Primitive Area.  First thing we come upon is a self-pay station.  Darn!  Fee: $10 regular, $8 with senior pass.

Then the sea comes into view like a blue-grey mirage.

I set us up near a picnic table with our door seaside.  While the crew explore, I look around.  What’s so bad about this?  I like this!  There’s a slight smell which is stronger by the water.  Fortunately the gravel area for camping is far enough away from the water to make the smell not a problem, at least this time of year.

I grab my laptop and air card and set them up on my little table inside the BLT.

Yay!  I’m connected!  I hop online.  I reply to comments.  I’m happy, happy, happy.  Then I’m hit with a terrible odor.

Oh no, the Salton Sea Stinkies have arrived!  Just when I thought this place was going to be a great camp!  I don’t wanna’ move now.

I look down at Spike who’s leaning up against me.

“Spike!  What have you done!” I exclaim.  Spike jumps off the bed and runs outside.  I follow him out.  “Oh for heaven’s sake, Spike.  Look at you!  You’re a mess!”

Irrefutable evidence!

I scramble around for the dog shampoo, washcloths, a towel and a wash tub.  I pour out one of my gallon jugs of water into the tub. Spike stands at attention with his green ring-around-the-terrier.

I have to laugh.  “Spike, with you, it’s always something!”

Bridget, Spike and I walk up where the birds are clustered together at the shoreline.  There must be hundreds of them!

Pelicans, gulls, herons, and smaller water birds.  We don’t get close enough for photos.  I don’t want to disturb them.

Bridget, being a good girl

Later, as the day darkens, the three of us watch a light show in the clouds.

The sky and water change out of their blue-grey hue.

  As the sun sets behind the mountains on the far shore of the sea, gold glimmers across the dark, silken water.



About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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62 Responses to A new camp at the Salton Sea and “Spikey, you didn’t!”

  1. klbexplores says:

    It you can stand any smell, canine or otherwise it looks like an awesome place to camp. Quite a change from the places you have been. Time to make some nice smelling tea!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      It’s really a good camp. I can’t detect any smell at all until around 11 a.m. and then it’s not bad at all. There’s no need to mask any odor… except Spikey when he brings the sea into the BLT!

  2. Shawna says:

    Thank you Sue and Crew for being so faithful as to keeping us informed of your adventures. I so look for ward to each and every post!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Shawna! I tried to post yesterday. I don’t understand why I couldn’t get connected all day. Thursday I got online, no problem, and today (Saturday) I’m online. I kept trying Friday with no luck. It’s nice to know you look forward to my posts, but I feel awful when I can’t get online!

  3. Nan says:

    We saw it from a distance as we traveled to and from Anza Borrego. It was beautiful! Possibly this year, we will be able to experience the perfume!

  4. Jim says:

    Okay, so you may be there at a “good time”. I’ve been there several times and it smelled horrible. It might well be dependent upon either water level or weather but you can have my share Sue. It is an interesting body of extremely salty of water. It has an interesting birth story and history. More recently it has been the subject of “smell”. I’m glad you caught it when it was tolerable….Have fun Sue!!! PS Check it out on Google for interesting facts about it.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The fish die-off is dried up. I understand that there are occasional bird die-offs, too. That must be horrible. Right now, it’s not offensive and I’m enjoying it here.

  5. libertatemamo says:

    Glad you found a nice place to camp. The Salton Sea is a fickle gal…when she’s fine, she’s fine, but when she’s bad she’s very, very bad. Looks like you got there during an OK smell period. Sometimes the smell gets so bad it wafts all the way to San Diego!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      We must be here at a good time. A walk up to the fee station and you don’t smell it at all. It’s odor-free at our campsite until around 11 a.m. and then it’s not offensive at all.

  6. Pat says:

    Glad you made it to Salton Sea, I have drove and stopped on both sides. Maybe one day I will get to camp there. Enjoy your journey to AZ…… I am headed there from the east. Love the pics and Spikes mis-adventure with the water……

  7. EmilyO says:

    If you like dates, you must try a date shake. Grew up on them, yum, yum (for me at least).

  8. Have you checked out Slab City? It is outside of Niland on the east side of the Salton Sea. It is free to camp there and they have a whole community there. If you have not heard of it I found this website:


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Oh yes, I’ve heard of Slab City and Salvation Mountain. I plan on going over there when I leave the Salton Sea. I’ve heard it’s a place that “you either love it or hate it.” Thanks for putting the link here, Nancy.

  9. gingerda says:

    I grew up in Calif but never made it to the Salton Sea. I always heard it smelled pretty bad. I like the picture of the blue/gray sky and water.
    It doesn’t look like anyone else is there.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re right. It isn’t crowded here. A fifth wheel came in last night so there are two other rigs besides mine and we’re spaced far apart. I decided we’ll stay through the weekend because it’s rare to be in a pretty spot without hordes of people around on a weekend. Plus I’m still enjoying it here.

  10. Sra. Julia says:

    I have found some folks exaggerate the bad stuff and minimize the good stuff …. why that is puzzles me! I guess it is human nature. Spikey sounds like a typical male always pushing the limits 🙂

  11. Neita says:

    I had never heard of the Salton Sea until your blog. But it does look like a very beautiful place. I like how you captured the sunset; very pretty pictures.

  12. Karen (Pearl, Rattles and Pixey's mother) says:

    You have the knack for capturing a picture-worthy moment wherever you are, Sue. I’ve visited the Salton Sea many times, but never saw the beauty that you found. Perhaps I need to get better glasses (or a better eye for beauty).

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Karen,

      I apologize for spelling Pixey’s name as Pixie. The Salton Sea at Salt Creek is bird-watcher heaven. Between watching the birds and taking photographs, I’m having a grand time. It is warm and sunny today. The sea is all sparkles!

  13. geogypsy2u says:

    Glad you can enjoy the Sea at a not smelly time. When that happens the flies are also terribly obnoxious. It’s a great place for birding. Yes, everyone on the road should see The Slabs.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello… I see you had a visit with Al and Kelly! Shame on Al for hauling out that old photo… I’ve worked hard to get rid of that fat! I love getting up before dawn here. The birds put on quite a show for a couple hours each morning.

  14. Rita says:

    Loved Spike’s ‘green ring-around-the-terrier.’ LOL He was the source of the smell he brought from the S.Sea. Years ago in the 1970’s the S.Sea didn’t smell….the water level was high then. I haven’t been back since. The camp area looks beautiful….hope the smell stays away. A couple of months ago, thousands of fish died and the odor was all the way into Los Angeles.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I recently read some history of the Salton Sea. Here is an excerpt from http://www.damninteresting.com:

      In the Sonoran Desert of southern California there is a valley that, like Death Valley, lies far below sea level. Geology suggests that this valley has been flooded and dried multiple times through the eons, but so far as US history goes, the Salton Sea came into being in 1905. It was an accident stemming from a canal that diverted water from the Colorado River to the agricultural area of the Imperial Valley. There was an overflow, an unplanned change of course, and an inland sea was reborn.

      • Rita says:

        I will check the site out…the link didn’t have the Salton Sea excerpt. Thank you for the info….I always thought S.Sea was like Salt Lake. I see a lot of dry lake beds from the air when I traveled back & forth when I was working and made my imagination run wild about how the earth must have looked in the beginning.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          I posted the link for the website. The home page changes frequently. Once at the website, you need to open the Search box at the site, type in Salton Sea, and the article comes up.

  15. cinandjules says:

    Glad it wasn’t that bad………….until of course Spike decided to roll in something green. Irrefutable evidence is classic. Green ring around the terrier..we were roaring!! Been there done that!

    Driving/moving across the US in our 24 ft Class C. We get to a place called Waukee Iowa….pouring down rainstorm/thunderstorm. Sara has to go potty….so I take her out. In a nanosecond she has rolled in something dead….goo of an unknown animal is on her neck and collar!
    We don’t want it inside the rv….too confined to begin with. So I give her a bath outside…using her waterdish. Our next door neighbors are hearing me saying…”momma hates you!” (not really but I was frustrated).
    Meanwhile, Adirondack, our cat, is scared of the t-storms and proceeds to have diarrea. Can’t have that in the confined space either. Well he gets some on his paws. Yikes. Can’t have that tracked around! Jules is making dinner and doesn’t have an extra hand to help. So I scoop him and his now clubbed foot ….up…and run to the bathroom to wash it off. Mind you he doesn’t like water. He proceeds to struggle….steps on the cup holding our toothbrushes which flies off the counter…and knocks the tp into the toilet. The tp that disentegrates in your hand stuff.
    Needless to say dinner is on hold….because I’m now covered in poo…….I remove my clothes….throw them away..take a shower. Ah…nice, clean and warm.
    Guess what??? Sara has to go potty again……..I look at her and say,”Don’t you dare!”

    At least the BLT has the outside shower spigot…in case you need it. Wish ours had that feature. Do you keep the hot H20 heater on for you?

  16. rvsueandcrew says:

    Hello! That’s quite a story! Why is it that everything happens at once? I could see it all unfolding… Thanks for the laugh.

    Spikey didn’t roll in something… He took a soak in the Salton Sea, thus the telltale ring-around-the-terrier.

    I hardly ever use the outdoor shower. I’d rather pour water in a basin, and I get that water from a spigot, if available, or from one of my gallon water jugs. I like to leave the tank water for flushing the toilet, brushing teeth, washing hands. Just about everything else, I use a basin. Thus I don’t turn on the hot water heater very often either.

  17. Virginia says:

    Read Al’s blog and saw the picture and did not even know it was you until I thought about it. You look great. I, too, am taking some off myself. Love the pics of you and crew. Spike looks to be saying “no one is perfect.” Bridget looks to be saying, “I keep my eye on him don’t you worry.” My male cat (RIP, miss him terribly) was like Spike. Everytime it rained, he was out in it and would come home soaked to the gills and happy as a clam. He was pure white so every bit of dirt showed up. Will be interested to hear your take on the Slabs. I think I would lock all my doors and then some. It might just be a pit stop for you but who knows, you might meet that naked guy that works in the book store and hit it off. LOL!

  18. cinandjules says:

    Glad you got a chuckle…..We can laugh now…but it wasn’t a good day when it happened. We will always remember Waukee!

    Guess if you needed some warm/hot water you could use the stove top. Our H20 heater was pretty efficient/fast and didn’t take alot of propane. Once heated it would last awhile….after a shower we would let it heat up again and then turn it off. I like warm water when I brush my teeth.

  19. Glenda Cornwill says:

    Oh Spike !!! Hi Sue………I have been away and am now catching up with your activities over the last week. Loved Joshua Tree and what lovely shots at the sea, especially the sunsets. Truly beautiful. I read all your comments as well as your blog and I was so upset to hear that Bob of Wagonteamster has had another accident and that he has abadoned trip #4. I was so relieved that he is safe and that Doc, Bill and Bob were not hurt. I have been following his blog ever since you mentioned his site after meeting up with him some weeks ago. I hope that he can get everything shipshape and be on the road again when he feels up to it. I will miss him!!
    Meanwhile I will keep checking his blog for progress.
    Loved Briget’s photo………..being a “good girl”…………..butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth!!! Ha!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Glenda,

      I meant to mention Bob and the accident on my blog. Yes, it’s amazing that he’s okay. The highway I saw him on was perfect for him and his team… wide enough for three semis side by side. Most highways though don’t offer that much shoulder. I wish him and his “crew” the best.

      Yes, I thought the contrast between Bridget and Spike was very telling. She sits in her bed like a knicknack on a shelf while Spike is out looking for trouble to get into! I thought he’d have enough sense not to soak in the Salton Sea!

      • Connie & Mugsy says:

        Thanks for the news of Bob and his team. I hadn’t visited his site for awhile and had missed it. Isn’t it ironic that the part of the US that seems to pride itself so much on its “cowboy” roots was the place that stopped him because it just isn’t “horse friendly” for his travels?

  20. DeAnne says:

    Hey Sue! I’m one more step closer…spent $6.00 today on clothesline, clothes pins and sticky hooks. Strung two clotheslines in the spare bedroom that gets full sun all day. Clothes are in the washer now; will hang them up tonight before bed. One less dryer load=more in my pocket! The pictures are gorgeous–added another “must see” to my list.

  21. Mark Watson says:

    Att – a – way Spikey… go get in that water….err…. brine.

  22. LuAnn says:

    Glad the smell isn’t chasing you away. When we were there, it was pretty bad! 🙂

  23. Rattlesnake Joe says:

    You can take a garden hose and attach it to the water faucet in the bathroom with a ” water thief “, then run the hose out the bathroom window for an outside shower. Shower tents are good for privacy. I’m 6’3” tall and 300 lbs and don’t fit in my little Casita bathroom. They make a few shower tents that are 4.5 feet wide x 7.5 feet tall and are great for Boondocking. There use to be an old wooden sailing ship out near the Salton Sea that would be uncovered by the wind blowing the sand away. Old desert rats would swear they saw it but when people went out to investigate the wind had covered up the ship again. Could it have been an old Spanish treasure ship that had sailed up the wide Colorado river and then got land locked in an inland sea then abandoned by the Spaniards? Did they have time to remove all that heavy Gold from the treasure ship and is it still awaiting discovery? Who better to find it than rv sue and her k-9 crew.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Interesting, about the sailing ship…. Your last line gave me a laugh. Wouldn’t that make one heckuva blog post? Photos of Spike and Bridget sitting on a pile of gold bullion! Me, my neck draped in bling, hat askew, drinking wine out of a gold goblet! The sitemeter would spin out of control!

  24. stan watkins says:

    I wanted to thank you for your blog. I took my middle kid Patrick out on a recon mission last night and today to Sawtooth Canyon where we stayed the night and drove around it in the morning. We had lunch at Owl Canyon CG .We then went up to Rainbow Valley and did the loop where we encountered a tortoise in the road. We had just enough room to get by. Without your blog we would probably never have known about Sawtooth Canyon sinse it is not on any maps and Rainbow Valley is also a place I never heard of. A fan, Stan

    • stan watkins says:

      I forgot to mention we will be taking our Big Bounder out to Sawtooth for Thanksgiving. We took the class b out today. Be safe.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You’re welcome, Stan. I am jealous. All those days at Owl Canyon, Sawtooth, and Rainbow Basin and I did not see one desert tortoise! I’m glad you and your son had that experience. Aren’t the rocks at Owl Canyon fascinating? I loved the pale blue-green formations directly in front of our campsite (#24). If you hike, be sure to take the trail leading out from the campground (There’s a sign at the trailhead.).

      Have a great Thanksgiving at Sawtooth. The property on the entrance end of the campground is private property. However, at the far end of the campground, you can hike to the lower end of the canyon. Follow the path. It eventually ascends (not difficult) to a place where you can look out over the valley.

      You’ll probably see a lot of rock-climbing going on that weekend. We were in campsite #3 which kept us away from the climbing activity.

      • Stan watkins says:

        I see you’ve moved far from Sawtooth but I must report that my wife and our oldest (Alfredo 19) and youngest (Erica 14) really loved the place.I met a guy in a BLM truck who I took to be the host when the family hiked up to the south end of the canyon by that last shelter that is technically not a site.A gal had just pulled up in her tough looking Land Rover and her K9 crew and asked if it was a campsite.He explained that it wasn’t really but he allowed it because there are only 13 sites for such a big place. I am truly disappointed in my fellow man when I see all the broken glass.I even climbed that high hill behind site 6 and found glass all the way at the top..Sorry about the long post but really just wanted to say thanks again.

  25. BAYFIELD AL. says:

    Spent a couple nights at the southeast end of the Salton Sea earlier this year. Near the Sonny Bono center. A hauntingly beautufil place in it’;s own right with half a dozen large power plants in the area.. Would have stayed a few more days but the dead fish smell of the Sea was too intense. We could smell that pungent odor in our Motorhome for a couple days after we left the area. You are not far from either Slab City or Borrego Springs California. Would suggest Slab City for the experience of something different & Borrego Springs simply because it’s a neat-o little place..

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Apparently we found the Salton Sea at the best time. Everyone reporting here and in other blogs I’ve read seems to have encountered intolerable odor. As I type this there is no smell at our campsite and there won’t be any until near noon. Then it isn’t bad, certainly doesn’t smell up the BLT. The only time I smell it in the BLT is when Spike soaks in the water and brings it inside! A one-time event, I hope!

  26. Brent and Tammy says:

    Hey Sue,
    We just saw you driving into the Slabs and Salvation Mountain. Welcome.

  27. Hello! I’ve been reading your web site for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas! Just wanted to mention keep up the good job!

  28. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I
    will be waiting for your next write ups thank you once again.

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