Naz Hamid

The Salton Sea, California

I’ve been fascinated with the area ever since I saw the film of the same name, starring Val Kilmer. I read about it in depth and how, given its waters, it was meant to be a French Riviera–style extension of Palm Springs, but agricultural runoff over the years increased the salinity in the lake to toxic levels. Only tilapia can survive, and not for long at that. In comparison, the Pacific Ocean is made up of 3.5% salt water while the Salton Sea is at 4.5%, with the salinity increasing at about 1% annually. It’s high, but it’s still nowhere near as high as the Dead Sea, which stands at about 33%.

Bombay Beach in particular is the most well-known community, comprised of about 175 homes at 223 feet below sea level, the lowest in America.

There's a fine line between homes that are truly abandoned and ones that aren't.

When you visit, it feels eerily quiet, and the dilapidated nature of the town belies the fact that about 300 people reside here. We‘ve been here three times and saw none of the residents — just fellow explorers like us who were interested in the area or hipsters doing a photoshoot. It’s not uncommon: Linkin Park did one for their album, Minutes to Midnight.


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The Salton Sea, California 