California Deserts, August 1999
page 3 of 7
Salton Sea and Borrego Springs
Next on my lizard-watching agenda was the huge Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, in California's extreme south. On the way down from Coachella Valley, I drove down past the Salton Sea and stopped for a smell, er, a look. The Salton Sea is a body of water with a bizarre history. It was created accidentally in the 1930's when overflowing aqueducts and an exceptionally wet year caused the Colorado River to break from its course and pour into this desert basin for three years. The river was eventually restored to its natural course and the Salton Sea has been slowly evaporating ever since. But it's still huge. Migratory birds are happy to find such a large body of fresh(ish) water in the middle of the desert. But there was something seriously wrong with the Salton Sea when I stopped by. Its shore was littered with large floating dead fish, and it smelled that way. I have no idea why.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is donut-shaped. In its center is the town of Borrego Springs, grandfathered in when the state park was declared. Borrego Springs is probably a lively place in the spring, and maybe even in the winter, but in the dead of summer it's practically vacant. That was good for me, because rooms at the stylish Hacienda del Sol were both cheap and plentiful.
I could have opted for the luxurious Casa del Zorro instead, but it probably didn't have semi-tame desert cottontails and roadrunners living on the grounds like the Hacienda. Where do you think George Hamilton would have stayed?

Next: Yawn, show me some more animals!