The Abandoned Boats Of Salton Sea

During the one-year of planning for my walk around Salton Sea, and during the walk itself, I came across every abandoned boat left within a few hundred yards of the shoreline.  Although I don’t remember when, at some point during my planning and mapping missions I decided to get pictures of every boat I came across. I’ve posted many of these pictures of  the old boats here in my blog and on my Facebook Page but I’m only now, 3 years after completing the walk around Salton Sea, putting them all together on one page.

The boats are listed in the same order I did my walk. Starting at the North Shore Yacht Club, going south to the southern tip of Salton Sea, then back north to the Whitewater River, then south again back to the Yacht Club.  There are a few boats that I missed getting photos of, mostly if they were too far from the shore, but that list is short.

East Shore – Corvina Estates

The first abandoned boats I came across were at the Corvina Estates Mobile Home park. The mobile home park has since been bulldozed, and I’m not sure if any of these boats are still there.

Old abandoned boat near Corvina Estates at Salton Sea

Abandoned boat on the east shore of Salton Sea

Abandoned boat at Salton Sea

Several abandoned boats at Salton Sea

Boat at Salton Sea

Of course, my favorite old abandoned boat at Salton Sea is the “Godzilla” speed boat which was just a few hundred yards north of Corvina Estates.  When I did my first mapping mission in this area in 2014 Godzilla was partially under water.

Godzilla the speed boat at Salton Sea

Godzilla in June 2014

But sadly, due to the rapidly receding water at Salton Sea, by the time I did my walk in June of 2015, Godzilla was at least 50 yards from the nearest water.

The speed boat Godzilla at Salton Sea in 2015

Godzilla in June 2015

You can read some history of “Godzilla”, written by it’s original owner, complete with photos of the speed boat in it’s heyday, here: Godzilla – The Fastest Boat At Salton Sea

East Shore – Near Bombay Beach

Somewhere, several miles north of Bombay Beach are two other favorite boats: “Hope for the Best” and “Prepare for the Worst” – names that sum up the plan for my walk around Salton Sea!

a boat that has "Hope for the best" painted on it

Boat with "Prepare for the worst" painted on the side

East Shore – Wister Wildlife Area

Only 5 or 6 miles south of Niland Marina, in the Wister Wildlife area, is this old boat, probably left by duck hunters.

Boat abandoned in the Wister Wildlife area at Salton Sea

South-East Shore – New River Delta Area

Another of my favorite abandoned boats at Salton Sea, and the largest by at least a factor of 10, is the “mystery barge” of Salton Sea.  40 or 50 feet long, and under water up until just 2013 or so.

Abandoned barge on the shore of Salton Sea

You can read more about this old barge and some of the theories about it’s history, here: The Abandoned Barge of Salton Sea

South-West Shore Areas

This old speed-boat is at least 500 yards from the nearest water, roughly 5 miles north of Poe Road.

abandoned speed boat at Salton Sea

The Navy Base

The only boat remaining at the abandoned Navy Base is this PT Boat literally ‘petrified’ in sandstone with only it’s bow showing.Navy PT boat in the sand at the Salton Sea Navy Base

There are several boats in the Marinas of Salton City, Salton Sea Beach and Desert Shores, but because most of these probably still have owners, I didn’t think it was a good idea to go do a “Captain Morgan” pose on them so I have no photos of them.

North West Shore Area

On the west shore in the Torres-Martinez Reservation area you will find these:

Abandoned speed boat

Small boat abandoned at Salton Sea

North-East Shores

In the north-shore area between The Whitewater River and the North Shore Yacht Club are these two small boats. The red and blue one still floats – we sailed it a few hundred yards down the canal it was stuck in and dragged it out for me to take the photo!

Small boat abandoned at Salton Sea

She’s still sea-worthy!

This old paddle boat is just a few miles north of the North Shore Yacht club, outside of an old abandoned resort.old paddle boat at Salton Sea

Over time more and more of these boats will likely be removed, but as the shoreline continues to shrink I am sure even more old sunken boats will appear to take their place.


  1. Not sure if I missed it… but how long did it take to walk around the Salton Sea?

  2. Thanks for your posts. My Dad used to take us camping down at the Salton Sea every Easter vacation when we were kids and even continued as we all got married. This was from the mid sixties through to the late seventies. So much different back then and always packed at both campgrounds.

  3. Why of all Months did you do this in June? I stay away from there June,July,and August.

    • Because to do the walk in cooler months would have been too easy/less challenging! Heck ANYBODY can walk around Salton Sea when it’s cool!

  4. How fast is the salton sea shrinking, and do people still take their boats out there for pleasure purposes?

    • You can see how much it shrank in one year (about 100 yards) in the two photos of the Godzilla boat above (2014 vs 2015).
      On Jan 1 2018 the State of California “turned off” all of the water that had been flowing into salton sea so it will now start shrinking at a dramatically faster rate. It is estimated that by 2023 the shoreline could recede by as much as 1 mile in places and only a few more years after that, Salton Sea will be no more than a giant mud puddle.
      Currently, because the water level has dropped so much, there are no functioning marinas – no place to drop a large boat into the water.

  5. I enjoyed reading your adventure of the walk and your desire to protect the Salton Sea. I’m from Missouri and not very clear on what the issue is. I first heard it was contaminated by the run-offs of the chemicals from the farm lands but then I heard it was a political thing, Why have they shut off the flow to it? I found your website from your article was the Salton Sea a lake or ocean?

    • The current salton sea issues are complicated, but I’ll try to boil it down:
      *The water is not contaminated, but years of agricultural runoff IS trapped in the mud at the bottom of Salton Sea (it’s all heavy, so it sinks).
      *Salton Sea has only remained as large as it is from all of this run-off from farms for the last 100 years or so
      *25 years or so ago, the water companies decided to start selling all of the Colorado river water to San Diego instead of the farmers. This would result no more farm-runoff and in Salton Sea shrinking and exposing all of that mud to the air. That mud would then turn to dust and the extreme wind in the area would then blow that toxic dust all over the state.
      The State of California decreed that they would would keep the water flowing into to Salton Sea until Jan 1, 2018, and in those intervening 25 years the state would come up with a plan to prevent the dust storms and maintain salton sea in at least some way.

      Fast forward to Jan 1 2018: The water stopped as planned, Salton Sea is already shrinking (100’s of yards in the last year or so because they have been ramping-down the inflow over the last few years) and The State of California has done VIRTUALLY NOTHING to “Save Salton Sea” or at least prevent the impending toxic dust storms..This is partially because the clowns in Sacramento don’t care/can’t do their jobs, and because of funding..
      HOWEVER, The State of California has found billions of dollars to build “the worlds slowest bullet train to Bakersfield, that nobody will ever use” as well as subsidize illegal aliens, etc.. This is partially why it’s political..

      • Thanks for the good explanation. I think its absurd for California to basically eliminate the largest lake in California. Why not keep the lake at a proper level then sell the lake water to San Diego to me that is a no-brainer, everybody wins even the farmers. California could then reap the benefits of both worlds (keeping SD supplied and the lake as a resort again) instead of killing one (draining the lake) and creating another (chemical dust from the dried up lake) problem.
        A few years ago on our motorcycle we bypassed the lake since we heard it was abandoned and drove on thru Ocotillo Wells and was caught in the worst sand storm ever like 45 mph scariest I’ve ever drove in. I could just image the problems with the new dust from the mud will bring. I would think this would hurt the sport of all the sand dune events as well. Just doesn’t make sense but like you said its certainly complicated or is it just the liberals.

      • Amazing accomplishment. And thank you for the real breakdown of the Salton Sea. I live in Palm Desert, 40 miles away, and the story is never clear… I’m heading to Bombay Beach with my camera. Was there something amazing that you saw there?

  6. I have made many trips to the salton sea area and I was shock to see the change for the worst. I hope they can get the funds to help repair the sea. It would a great loss.

  7. Just wondering bhow you were able to deal with the smell for 6 days?

    • I didnt have to.. The smell is mostly only in the north-east sections, and a little in the north-west.. the rest smells pretty much like any other large lake or beach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.