Sand dunes dominate the landscape in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness Area.
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Salton Sea

Desert Access Guide - Points of Interest

Occupying a portion of land that was once part of ancient Lake Cahuilla, the Salton Sea is the largest inland body of water in California. Summer storms in 1905 and 1907 caused heavy flooding of the Colorado River and diverted water into this below sea-level sink. The resulting body of water is approximately 35 miles long, 9 to 15 miles wide, and about 50 feet deep at its deepest point. Recreationalists visit the Salton Sea year-round for bird watching, boating, hiking, and fishing. Both the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge offer these recreation opportunities.

Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1930 as a refuge and breeding ground for wildlife. The current Salton Sea was created between 1905 to 1907 as the Colorado River broke through a canal bank and the water flowed uncontrollably into the Imperial Valley. The Sea is the largest lake in California being 35 miles long and 9 to 15 miles wide. Thousands of outdoor enthusiasts flock to Salton Sea National Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge to bird watch, as it is one of the premiere bird watching "hot spots" in the nation. Other recreational activities include wildlife observation, photography, picnicking, waterfowl hunting, fishing, and nature trails. For more information contact the Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge.

The Salton Sea, the largest lake in California, is a recreational oasis in the middle of the Colorado Desert just three hours drive from either San Diego or Los Angeles. The park is especially popular during the autumn, winter, and spring seasons when visitors have the opportunity to escape the seasonal hardships characteristic of other areas. Temperatures remain in the 70's and 80's throughout the winter and there are plenty of opportunities for camping, fishing swimming, water-skiing, boating, and sightseeing. For more information contact Salton Sea State Recreation Area.

Contrary to the number implied by the name, hundreds of fan palms sway in the breeze under bright blue skies at this unique oasis tucked between the Salton Sea and the Chocolate and Orocopia Mountains. Pools fed by artisan springs and seepage from the nearby Coachella Canal create a lush wetland area providing outstanding habitat for threatened and endangered species. Dos Palmas, including the Salt Creek drainage, led BLM to designate the area as an ACEC in 1980. Its 15,000 acres reflect the varied ownership including The Nature Conservancy and the State of California. A private organization, Ducks Unlimited, will assist by initiating engineering and design plans for wetland restoration and development in the area. Dos Palmas is located near North Shore. For more information contact the Bureau of Land Management Palm Springs-South Coast Field Office.

This unique, water-based habitat along San Felipe Creek has supplied a permanent, dependable source of water for people and wildlife since ancient times. The marsh was a stopping place for the Spanish explorer de Anza, who named it after his Indian guide Sebastian Tarabel. The marsh is the only designated critical habitat in California for the desert pupfish, an endangered species. Because of its importance in sustaining this unique marshland environment, San Felipe Creek is a registered National Natural Landmark. San Felipe Creek has also been designated an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The area around the creek and marsh are easily damaged and very sensitive. The marsh is closed to vehicle use, with closure of boundaries clearly posted. Please obey all posted signs. San Sebastian Marsh is open to hiking and is a popular area for nature study. Should you encounter archaeological resources, please leave them where you found them. San Sebastian Marsh/San Felipe Creek is located along State Highway 78, starting at State Highway 86.

Bordering Ocotillo Wells (SVRA), the Arroyo Salada Open Area contains approximately 7200 acres of rolling and open desert terrain. Due to the proximity of Ocotillo Wells SVRA, this area is popular for OHV recreation. Public lands in the area are interspersed with private property. While the lands administered by the BLM are open to cross-country OHV travel, permission must be obtained from private landowners before operating vehicles on their property.

This 40-mile-long dune system is one of the largest in the United States. Formed by windblown beach sands of ancient Lake Cahuilla, some crests reach heights of over 300 feet. These expansive dune formations offer picturesque scenery, opportunities for solitude, a chance to view rare plants and animals, and a playground for OHVs. The BLM manages portions of the dunes system for different uses. The portion of the dunes south of California State Route 78, is a popular OHV recreation area. Two BLM campgrounds along paved Gecko Road provide hard surface parking, vault toilets, and trash facilities. Visitor information and emergency medical services are available weekends during the winter season (October-May) at Cahuilla Ranger Station. Other portions of the Imperial Sand Dunes, including Mammoth Wash and Buttercup Valley, extend beyond this map to the north and south, and are depicted on the Salton Sea and Yuma Desert Access Guides.

North of State Highway 78 in the Imperial Sand Dunes, this wilderness is within one of the largest dunes systems in North America. The wilderness is divided into two distinct zones. The largest and tallest dunes are located on the west side, while the east side contains smaller dunes and numerous washes. Several unique plant and animal species make their homes in the dunes. The Algodones Dunes Wildlife Viewing Area offers and excellent staging area for hikes into the wilderness.

Approximately 2 miles north of Glamis along the Ted Kipf Road, this site offers an excellent staging area for hiking and wildlife viewing in the North Algodones Dunes Wilderness. Several washes in the vicinity of the site provide access into the wilderness.

In the early 1860's, mining equipment and supplies were transported by ship from San Francisco to the gold mines of La Paz, Arizona, by way of the Gulf of California and up the Colorado River. To reduce the time required to move the supplies in and the gold out, William Bradshaw explored an overland route from San Bernardino. Following the direction of local Indians, a stagecoach route was established, which was to become known as the Bradshaw Trail. Beginning at Dos Palmas (near what is now the Salton Sea), the trail ran through the Chuckwalla Valley and ended at Bradshaws Ferry on the Colorado River. The trail was used extensively between 1862 and 1877. After this time, gold output was reduced, and the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad track to Yuma, Arizona, virtually eliminated the need for the trail. When following the Bradshaw Trail today, you must take extreme caution to ensure that you do not accidentally enter the Chocolate Mountain Aerial Gunnery Range, which is located immediately south of the trail.

Rugged mountains surrounded by a large, gently sloping bajada laced with a network of washes best describes the terrain and land forms found with in the Little Chuckwalla Mountains Wilderness. Habitat for bighorn sheep and desert tortoise can be found in portions of this region, and the southern bajada has been identified as crucial desert tortoise habitat. Several sensitive plant species also grow within the wilderness, including the California snakeweed, Alverson's foxtail cactus and the barrel cactus.

Certain lands managed by the BLM, have been designated ACECs. ACECs are areas that contain significant natural, archeological, or historical resources. Please respect all signs regarding ACECs and their management.