My Winter Campout

Christmas week the family and I gassed up the in-law’s motor home and loaded up the Jeeps and went down to Salton Sea for a 4-day camping trip. This was only the second time my wife and son have been to Salton Sea, only the second or third time my Father in Law has been there and the first time for the Mother in Law. I knew that camping in December would be more pleasant for the family than camping in summer time and I was hoping they would enjoy it.  There were no training walks for The Big Event in June 2015, just sight-seeing and enjoying what the lake has to offer. I brought along my iPhone and trusty Nikon to capture some of the beauty of Salton Sea.

We setup camp at the State State Recreation Area Headquarters about 100 yards north of Varner Harbor within sight of the Visitor Center a short walk from the shore.Salton Sea Visitor Center sign

Not long after we set up camp we enjoyed our first sunset.Salton Sea pelicans at sunsetSunset at the campground

The second night the sky was much clearer and less dramatic, but the sunset was still photo-worthy.Sunset on a clear night at Salton Sea

The first morning we jumped into the Jeeps and went for a 4×4 ride into Painted Canyon, Little-Box Canyon and back toward Salton Sea on the Meccacopia Trail. Even though the signs at Painted Canyon warned that only 4-wheel drive vehicles could survive the trail, it was flat, hard, and an easy drive. There were several 2WD trucks and even regular cars that made it with no problem.  The Little Box Canyon area had some soft sand areas that would not be passable without 4-wheel drive and the Meccacopia Trail had sand, steep hills and a few obstacles that also required 4-wheel drive and a bit of skill.A Jeep parked in Painted CanyonLooking into one of the canyons in Painted Canyon

The second night was clear and the stars and Milky Way were so clear it seemed you could reach up and touch them. I grabbed the Nikon and did my first-ever “night shoot”.

Night photo of Desert Shores from the Salton Sea State Park campground

Looking across Salton Sea toward Desert Shores

Night photo of the stars and the campgroundNight photography at Salton Sea

The next morning we gassed up the Jeeps and headed south to the abandoned Navy Base, one of my favorite places to visit at Salton Sea.  My father in law was determined to beat the sand-dunes that we got stuck in on our first trip a few months ago.  This time instead of taking the “easy” route into the Navy Base by going around the sand dunes, we drove right down the paved road to the end where it is completely covered, then went up and right over the sand dunes!

Our first stop was the ammo-bunkers about 1/2 mile inland from the shore.  There are two bunkers, the larger one in the pictures below and a smaller one about 100 yards away that is virtually covered by the dunes with only the air-vent exposed.The Jeep next to the large ammo bunker

A Jeep on top of the ammo bunker

The ammo-bunker dominated!

After the bunkers we headed toward the shore to check out the pier and the remaining buildings.The Jeep on the pier at the Navy BaseJeeps next to Building A1 at the Navy Base

We had a great time and once again Salton Sea did not disappoint!


  1. I live in Salton Sea Beach had lots of trips to the Navy Base loved them. I’m spending hour looking at every thing about you’re walk can’t wait. good luck will be with you every mine.

  2. It always amazes me how you can just drive off road and I assume it’s perfectly legal to do so.

    Here in the UK almost all of the land that is wild is either private or public with no vehicular access. Off-road driving is normally done on private land or farm land by the farmer!

    Love the photos, looked great fun.

    • There are a LOT of areas where “off roading” is not permitted. Also a lot of restricted or private/no trespassing areas.. But there is a LOT of open area where you can do (almost) anything.

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