Southern California: Does anyone rent boats on the Salton Sea?

There is a lot to read and study about the Salton Sea, California’s biggest lake, but seeing it in person is the best way to get to know it.

The Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge

The Sea had lost some of its allure as it kept shrinking, enough to make the late entertainer, Mayor of Palms Springs and Congressman Sonny Bono want to give the cause a boost by taking the importance of the wildlife in the region to Washington D.C. Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge was established.

The 2,200-acre Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge at the southern end of the Salton Sea contains wetland habitats, farm fields growing rye grass for wintering geese and tree rows. It provides breeding sites for wild creatures and carefully manages their environments. Two walking routes enable visitors to see Desert Cottontail, Merriam’s kangaroo rat, valley pocket gopher, and a variety of other creatures. The refuge, like the Sea, is along the route of the Pacific Flyway, thus bird viewing is a guarantee. This crucial migratory path is critical for several unique species of wildlife, such as the Yuma Clapper Rail, which is often heard but seldom seen.

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area (SRA) stretches 14 kilometers along the Salton Sea’s north side. Day usage, fishing, boating, picnics, and birdwatching are all options for visitors, as is overnight camping. Some highlights include:

  • You may go boating, water skiing, or learn to handle a powerboat. Due to the high salt content, boats float better, are more efficient and the best thing—they go really fast. The sea is regarded as one of the quickest lakes in the United States. Boating and water skiing are easily accessible from Varner Harbor inside the SRA. Kayaking is another popular activity.
  • Fishing is permitted if you have a valid fishing license. Due to the salt content of the water, the most common fish currently caught is Talapia.
  • Since the Area is located on the Pacific Flyway, which is a temporary home for 400 species of migrating birds, bird watching may be a full-time activity here.
  • Hiking is popular, and there are several nature routes. Ranger-led hikes are highly informative.

Around the Salton Sea

There are several significant stops to consider on your tour to the Salton Sea, whether coming in or leaving.

  • The Oasis Date Farm in Thermal, one of the country’s major date suppliers, is on its way. Since 2000, the 175-acre date farm has been certified organic. Stop by for date sampling and a delicious date shake prepared with their unique Medjool date.
  • Following your date’s drinks, go over to the Guinness Book of World Records for the biggest collection devoted to a single fruit—bananas. That is correct. The International Banana Museum has passed muster. When you see the 20,000 banana-related items: the banana lights, the monkey bowl, the photo-op banana statue, and the scratches and smell stickers on your way out, you’ll believe it. If you haven’t filled up on dates, linger for a banana split. Nevertheless, you don’t have to like bananas to enjoy this.

Interesting Facts

  • The Salton Sea is the state’s biggest lake. It is also the third largest saline lake in the nation.
  • The Salton Sea has no outlet.
  • Its surface elevation is 227 feet below sea level.
  • The Salton Sea has an average depth of 29.9 feet and a maximum depth of roughly 50 feet.
  • The Sea’s watershed is 8,000 square miles.
  • The yearly inflow is 1.3 million acre-feet, and the salt load is 4 million tons.
  • Each year, about 1.3 million acre-feet of water evaporate from the Salton Sea.
  • The Salton Sea is the only place in the United States where you may see the Yellow-footed Gull.


  • What a crazy water trip the Salton Sea has undergone from its birth by a flood in 1905 to its current leisure area. Construction of resorts, restaurants, and houses started in the 1920s, and by the 1950s, celebrity visits were common, with Frank Sinatra and Jerry Lewis attending joyous boat regattas. The nautically themed North Shore Beach & Yacht Club first opened its doors in 1959, with celebrities ranging from the Marx Brothers to the Beach Boys docking their boats there. In 1981, a flood wrecked the jetty, forcing the facility to close. The Albert Frey-designed structure, on the other hand, was repaired and reopened in 2010 as the Salton Sea History Museum and Visitor Center. Visit the museum or its visitor center to discover more about the intriguing history of the Salton Sea.
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