Salton Sea State Recreation Area

Update (Jan 31, 2021): With the Regional Stay at Home Order lifted, State Parks is reopening campground sites for existing reservation holders. The department will be using a phased approach to reopen other campground sites for new reservations, starting January 28. The public is advised that not all campground sites are open to the public due to the pandemic, wildfire impacts and other issues. Additionally, group campsites remain closed. Day use outdoor areas of park units currently open to the public remain open.

As State Parks increases access to the State Park System, it is critical that Californians continue to recreate responsibly in the outdoors as the pandemic is far from over.

Please take the time to read the information contained on this webpage to find out what is open and closed, and the COVID-19 guidelines for Salton Sea State Recreation Area.

What is open now?
  • Day-use parking lots, including the Park Headquarters Area, Mecca Beach, Corvina Beach, and Salt Creek.  
  • Developed and undeveloped campgrounds, including Headquarters Camp, New Camp, Mecca Beach, Corvina Beach, and Salt Creek. You can book reservations with ReserveCalifornia.
  • Picnic tables, hiking trails, and shoreline access are available for recreational use. These activities must be limited to a single household and must distance themselves away from other small family gatherings.
  • Biking, hiking, kayaking, wading, and wildlife watching are also permitted.
  • Only restrooms in the proximity of the park headquarters area, New Camp, Mecca Beach, Corvina Beach, and Salt Creek will be available.
  • Showers located in New Camp and Mecca Beach are open.
  • We request that visitors pay by credit/debit card or bring the exact dollar amount.

What is currently closed at this park and throughout the State Park System?
At this park:
  • Group campgrounds and group picnic areas including New Camp and the Horseshoe Pit remain closed.
  • Camp Store.
  • Visitor Center.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.
Statewide:
  • Some park units and campground sites continue to be temporarily closed due to the pandemic, impacts from wildfires or other issues. Please visit the webpage of your local outdoor destination to find out if it is open.
  • High public-use indoor facilities, including museums and visitor centers.
  • Special events and tours continue to be canceled until further notice.

Are there any new visitor guidelines?
State Parks has implemented the following guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the outdoors:
  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead
    • The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic and fluid. Prior to leaving home, check the webpage of your outdoor destination you plan to visit to find out if it is open, if parking is available, and what visitor guidelines are in effect.
    • Learn what safety precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
    • SNO-PARKS: Make sure your vehicle is snow ready. A permit is required for each vehicle parked at a SNO-PARK site. Parking is on a first come, first-serve basis at all SNO-PARK sites. The public is advised that parking lots are filling up early in the day. Illegal parking is prohibited. More information can be found at ohv.parks.ca.gov/SNOPARKS.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Your guests should only include those within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties. If there are too many people to maintain the required physical distance, please visit us on a different day. 
    • Boating: Do not raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to other recreators.
    • Off-highway Vehicle Recreation: Do not ride next to others or pull up next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others. Stage 10 feet or more from each other during unloading and loading.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash. Park units are experiencing heavy use and you can help alleviate the impact on park facilities.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Although law enforcement entities have the authority to issue citations, the expectation is that the public is responsible for adhering to the advice of public health officials, visitor guidelines and closures.

California State Parks continues to work with local and state officials on a phased and regionally driven approach to increase access to state park units where compliance with state and local public health ordinances can be achieved. However, the situation remains fluid and park operations can change at any time. For information on statewide current closures and available services, please visit parks.ca.gov/FlattenTheCurve.

Phone Number

(760) 393-3052

Max. Trailer Lengths

Trailer: Up to 35 Feet
Camper/Motorhome: Up to 35 Feet

Park Hours

Day use and campground open all day and all night.

Dogs Allowed?

Yes
Dogs allowed in developed areas such as roads and campgrounds. Dogs not allowed on beaches or trails.

Driving Directions to Salton Sea SRA

Located 30 miles south of Indio on Hwy 111.

Camping and Lodging

Visitors will be able to reserve campsites and lodging six months in advance from the current date. Bookings may extend from the arrival date to the desired departure date – based on availability and the park’s maximum stay rules.

Upcoming Park Events

No events scheduled at this moment.

BOATING
Boating
Boat Ramps
OVERNIGHT FACILITIES
En route Campsites
Family Campsites
Group Campsites
Hike or Bike Campsites
Primitive Camping
RV Sites w/Hookups
RV Dump Station
RV Access
TRAIL USE
Hiking Trails
DAY-USE ACTIVITIES & FACILITIES
Historical/Cultural Site
Picnic Areas
Env. Learning/Visitor Center
Exhibits and Programs
Fishing
Guided Tours
Interpretive Exhibits
Beach Area
Swimming
Nature & Wildlife Viewing
Windsurfing/Surfing
Museums
Family Programs
Geocaching
OTHER FACILITIES & VISITOR INFORMATION
Parking
Restrooms / Showers
Restrooms
Drinking Water Available

Notice:

Bombay Beach will remain closed.

Varner Harbor is closed to vessel access until further notice.  The Department of Parks and Recreation is meeting to determine the best course of action with regard to the decreasing water level of the Salton Sea and recreational boating access.  At this time, you may access the Sea by wheeling or carrying your non-motorized vessel (or motorized, depending on how heavy it is) across the beach directly to the water.  At this time we know of no other motorized access to the water on the Salton Sea.  At no time are visitors permitted to drive vehicles on the beach in the Salton Sea State Recreation Area.  Please stay tuned to the website for further updates as they become available.

One of the world's largest inland seas and lowest spots on earth at -227 below sea level, Salton Sea was re-created in 1905 when high spring flooding on the Colorado River crashed the canal gates leading into the developing Imperial Valley.  For the next 18 months the entire volume of the Colorado River rushed downward into the Salton Trough.  By the time engineers were finally able to stop the breaching water in 1907, the Salton Sea had been born at 45 miles long and 20 miles wide – equaling about 130 miles of shoreline.  Salton Sea State Recreation Area covers 14 miles of the northeastern shore and has long been a popular site for campers, boaters and anglers.  Increasing salinity in the Salton Sea basin has limited the number of types of fish that can be found there, and most fish currently caught are Tilapia.  Varner Harbor within the SRA provides easy access to the sea for boating and water skiing.  Kayakers, campers, birdwatchers, photographers and hikers can enjoy the site's many recreation opportunities.

Location-Directions
30 miles south of Indio on Highway 111.  Located on the north shore of the Salton Sea, it is about a three hour drive from the Los Angeles or San Diego areas.  From Los Angeles, take Interstate 10 east to Indio, take 86S exit then turn left at Avenue 66, then right onto Highway 111.  Go south about 12 miles to the Salton Sea SRA Headquarters entrance.  From San Diego take Highway 78 east, then left (north) on Highway 86 .  Turn right at Avenue 66 and then right onto Highway 111.  Go south about 12 miles to the Salton Sea SRA Headquarters entrance.

Fees:

Day use area for Fishing, Visitor Center, Picnic, Birding, Sightseeing. $7.00 ($5.00 for Seniors)
Headquarters full RV hookups $30.00
New Camp developed campground $20.00
Boat Launch $5.00
Extra Vehicle Fee $7.00
Bus Fees: 10-24 persons $50.00
Bus Fees: 25 persons or more $100.00

Seasons/ Climate/ Recommendations

Off Season Jun. - Sept.  70-115 degrees - Very hot, water, hat, sunscreen, best fishing season
On Season Oct.-May  50-70 degrees- Best time to visit the park for any activity

Sea and Desert Interpretive Association

Discover important information about The Salton Sea State Recreation Area and Picacho State Recreation Area at this link: Sea and Desert Interpretive Association and find out how you can help care for these magnificent parks.

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