The Salton Sea is one of the largest inland seas in the world, and its existence is entirely an accident. While historical records suggest that the sea may have naturally filled and drained repeatedly in the past as the Colorado River shifted course, the sea did not exist at the turn of the last century.
In 1905 a canal gate on the Colorado River was breached during a flood and the river once again flowed into California's Imperial Valley. It would not be until two years later in 1907 that the breech was repaired. Meanwhile, the Salton Sea was reborn in the valley at 227 feet below sea level.
In the years since, the Salton Sea has become an ecological disaster with increasing salinity resulting in fewer species of fish in the water. The State of California continues to consider remedial options to restore the sea, but local residents have expressed their dissatisfaction with the progress according to news reports.
We stopped for a short view as we were leaving Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the spring this year, but did not explore too much as we were towing the car behind the van. Stepping out of the vehicle near the Salton Sea we were immediately presented with an odd aroma that permeated the air around the sea.