3.8
5 votes

Abandoned Salton Riviera

Salton City, California USA

  • Independent
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“once a lush resort oasis, now a wasteland”

This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner. Although maps at first view show Salton City to be a sizable community, very few of the surveyed streets and roads were ever developed. The town was developed in the 1950s and established in 1958 primarily by M. Penn Phillips and the Holly Sugar Corporation as a resort community on the Salton Sea, a saline, endorheic rift lake located directly on the San Andreas Fault, yet very little development was achieved due to its isolation and lack of local employment opportunities. Salton City was mapped out on the west shore of the Salton Sea in 1958 The ambitious resort development was laid out with 25,000 residential lots. Builders paved more than 250 miles of roads, and installed all necessary supporting electrical power, water, and sewage infrastructure. Urban planning by Albert Frey included designs for the entire business district, as well as schools, churches, parks, community services, a championship 18-hole golf course, a $500,000 luxury hotel, yacht club, and the largest marina in California along the lake. The "Salton Riviera" resort began as a major success, with $4.25 million in land sales closed on its opening weekend. Soon thereafter, it was attracting politicians, Hollywood and entertainment celebrities, and sporting events. Salton Sea had already established itself as the second most popular recreation spot in California in the early 1950s, and the resort guaranteed continued success to the 1970s. However, lot purchases were mostly made for investment and few homes were built. The community ended mostly in collapse by the end of the 1970s. In the 1970s, most of the buildings constructed along the shoreline were abandoned due to rising sea elevation, including the city's marina. In the 1980s, the Imperial Irrigation District took proactive water conservation measures to reduce the flow of unused canal water into the Salton Sea. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, as salinity and suspected pollution levels in the Salton Sea increased, the attraction of the Salton Sea as a recreational destination diminished. Most of the original tourist related structures fell during this time, including the Truckhaven Cafe, the Salton Bay Yacht Club hotel and restaurant, and the Holly House motel and restaurant (later renamed Desser House and then the Sundowner).

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Reviewed by
Matt Derrick

  • 3 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
July 29, 2015
Rated 4.0

I'm not sure if this is pointing at the wrong spot or if the description text is wrong. I've lived in this area for a while, and the Yacht Club is no where near this spot on the map. It's on the east side of the Salton Sea.

So, minus a few points for lack of accuracy.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Tatiana Danger

  • Road Warrior
  • 1,169 Reviews
  • 887 Helpful
August 31, 2014
Rated 4.0

The Salton Riviera and Bombay Beach were once a thriving resort community, just a few miles outside of Los Angeles. The ambitious development included 25,000 residential lots and over 250 miles of paved roads (along with electrical power, water and sewage). Today it’s a ghost town. And it smells really, really bad.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
irishk0101

  • 2 Reviews
  • 4 Helpful
April 05, 2014

Visited in January 2014, unsure of what to expect, but with an open mind. Many of the cool buildings my brother had previously photographed were torn down. But it was worth the trip out, because it's like a place I had never seen before. Amazing photo op standing behind the yacht club looking out over Salton towards the mountains. It is a beautiful, eerie, ghostlike scene. Coming in from Palm Springs, there is an awesome place that makes incredible date shakes. We also happened upon the world's largest banana museum on the way to Salton Sea, which was small but had every piece of weird banana pop culture kitsch you can think of , and also made shakes and ice cream. Salvation Mountain and Slab City are interesting. Not an ideal haul if you're seeking thrills, but more for unique culture/roadside America buffs. Glad we visited!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
charles.w.barnes.7

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
October 03, 2013

If you are in the area check out nearby Slab City, Salvation Mountain and East Jesus. All are on the same land...

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Jamie

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
October 02, 2013

Most of the buildings have been torn down due to looters and squatters. Not much to see other than dead fish and a smelly lake.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
thefoth

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
August 29, 2013

Visually it is interesting but the smell is like nothing else I've ever experienced. I'm not saying it's a good thing, just intense. Also it's HOT, so the air is salty and muggy. It's a magical place... worth a visit.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
ethan.hensley1

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
August 08, 2013

most of the interesting abandoned buildings are gone now. Not much to see. Not worth the 35 min drive from the main highway. Pretty disappointing .

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
kerryltorres

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 17, 2020
Rated 3.0

I live in Vista Del Mar it is just north of Salton City . I moved here after retirement. The town is small but the people there are very friendly. There are newer homes built in 2005 & 2006. There is not much work but most either commute to other city to work or work as truck drivers. A lot are retired or disabled. As for the older building the are gone or abandon . In the winter this is a really beautiful place to be.

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Reviewed by
Kiley Quan

  • 4 Reviews
  • 0 Helpful
March 25, 2020
Rated 3.0

Not many of the abandoned sites were still there, and getting to the ones that are still standing was quite difficult because of how spread out they are with no address. I would recommend going for those of whom are willing to explore with an open mind.

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Reviewed by
marysmith3

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
September 11, 2017

The info you have listed is all wrong. It's not Salton City, but Salton Sea Beach and the BEACH sign is long gone. More people then you think still live there, if look at the houses as you drive in. The IID is drying up the Salton Sea for geothermal energy on the San Andreas Fault. The bad smell is only going to get worse as the Salton Sea dries up and the toxic dust blows all over southern California. You can Thank Gov. Jerry Brown for the stinking mess because he's been governor in CA for almost 16 years total and has done nothing for Southern California but steal tax money for Northern California. Wake up!

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Abandoned Salton Riviera

Salton City, California
USA

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